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How to design t-shirts in Photoshop

Designer Robert Baldwin shows you how to make a t-shirt design in Photoshop using free custom brushes from and fonts.

Some main take-aways from the video:

  • If you use Photoshop brushes they must be “solid” you cannot have gradient going through them or shades.
  • Place each element on its own layer to make it easier to change and place on your shirt.
  • Use the color overlay layer style to quickly change colors for different element/layers on your t-shirt design.
  • Convert it into a vector image in order to print.

Watch this video to see Baldwin turn a photo into a high-contrast silk screen t-shirt design. He does not mention it in the video, but in the comments, Baldwin points out “you want to start with a high res, I use about 8×10 at 150 (dpi).”

Here’s a different tutorial  that shows you the same concept (turning a photo into art to put on a t-shirt.) This tutorial would be a great t-shirt for a garden walk or home show event.

Add textures

You can also take a created t-shirt design template, like any of these by, and add additional effects in Photoshop to make it your own. This video shows you how to easily and quickly make your own texture brush to add a grungy crackly effect to your t-shirt design by Charles Pangus.

Here’s my example after  following this tutorial.

Artwork from T-shirt design collection 5:

You can use different images for the texture of your brushes like scratches for a retro/vintage effect, TV snow and more.

You can also download brushes already created for you by other designers; either for free or for a small price. Check out this video on how to install brush sets you find online into Photoshop manually.

Once you have your brushes installed, you can change the settings like tips, shape dynamics, angles, size, spacing, scattering, texture to get the right brush effects that you want.

Check out some of these t-shirt designs made with brushes and textures for inspiration.

Getting your t-shirt ready to print

Many online t-shirt printers have excellent guides that tell you how to prepare your files for uploading to their site and printing. Some ask for .PNG files like, but others might require vector graphics like Spreadshirt asks for users to “save your vector graphic in the file format .eps to ensure the best possible compatibility.”

If you are going with a local printer, here are some general tips to prepare your artwork:

  • Use Pantone Colours
  • Convert to outlines any text you have on your shirt to ensure that the font renders properly on your design
  • Expand or thicken any fine strokes in your artwork

Keep in mind, the colors on your final printed shirt might not be as vivid as what you see on the screen. The color background of the t-shirt can also affect the vibrancy of your colors.

Some closing advice comes from Mike Ng is the Creative Director of SOYU who says in this article for, “Be inspired by what the latest trends are but don’t copy them. Chances are by the time you have seen that t-shirt produced; other designers are moving on to something else behind closed doors.”