T Shirt Design Guidelines From Prep To Printing

Getting Started with a New Shirt Design

In design and pretty much everything in life, it is always imperative to have a good foundation. So let us begin with the basics.

Color Mode
RGB, 8-bit
300 DPI
  • Standard 17.5" x 19"
  • Oversized 19" x 25"
  • All-over 40" x 35"

Don’t forget that resolution depends on which platform you are using. If you are designing in vector (Illustrator), then resolution does not apply. Just make sure to expand your strokes and text!

A strong suggestion DBH always makes to artists is for them to submit their work to the Critique Section of the Forum for feedback.

Alright, now that you have your canvas setup, you probably need to start thinking of what color you want your design to be printed on. Download a PDF (also editable in Illustrator) of the t-shirt blanks we have available that come along with suggested Pantone Colors.

Ok, now the easy part... create your design! We’ll leave that up to you. Be sure to check out wotto’s section on Design 101 for some helpful pointers and tips! You can also continue reading to gain even more knowledge awesomeness before you embark on your next design!

Submitting T Shirt Artwork

Now that your magnum opus is finito, it is time to grace the masses with its presence! Ahhhh let all those fortunate enough to come to DBH bask in our glory!

First things, first, you need to make three images:

  • 320 x 240 pixels
  • Vote browse
  • Preview of design
  • 640 x 480 pixels
  • Design detail
  • Showcases entire design
  • 640 x 480 pixels
  • Design detail
  • Design mocked up on a t-shirt

YOUR FILES SHOULD BE SAVED AS JPG's! If your images aren't jpgs, the system will not accept your file(s)!

Remember, in the submission process, DBH is not yet asking for your high resolution artwork. We will ask for that file (along with a few other things) if your design is chosen as a winner. How do you know if your design is a winner? Well, we send out an email notifying you if your design has been chosen.

Now go forth and honor the world with what they have been missing all their lives! Also, keep reading for some basic guidelines to keep in mind before submitting as well as while you’re designing.

RGB Only

Anything that is web related should be composed in the RGB color mode. When designing pieces for print/press, use CMYK.

Your thumbnail, artwork and placement images should all be submitted in the RGB color mode. Otherwise your colors will come out a bit wonky.

Do you have your design already made in CMYK and need to change it to RGB without starting over? Well, right this way...

Covert CMYK to RGB Photoshop Settings

Although this is an easy fix, get into the habit of setting up your documents in the right color mode. That way it leaves no room for error (in case your forget to switch it over)!

Originality & Creativity

Taking an image off the Internet that does not belong to you, running Illustrator’s Live Trace, and/or a Photoshop filter or the like is a big no-no!

If your design calls for a clock, don’t just Google “clock” and take the first image that comes up. More often than not, chances are those images are copyrighted, and taking and using them as your own is STRICTLY PROHIBITED (it’s called plagiarism)!! Your artwork will be rejected if the curator believes the artwork is not original and does not belong to the artist.

Using an image as “inspiration” is fine so long as we can see it as an inspiration and not a straight rip, which will be decided at the curator’s discretion.

We encourage our artists to be imaginative and to take their time when constructing their artwork. Don’t be in such a hurry and slap just any old filter or throw on a two-second Live Trace on some image from a search engine. Designs that are rushed show, and is quite easy to spot. Take your time, if the design isn’t working out, leave it for a few hours/days/weeks and come back to it later with a fresh mind. Keep in thought that even the best artists get design block!

  • copyright Copyright
  • live trace Live Trace
  • filter Filter

Pulling images off the web in general is not a good idea, unless you have paid for the rights, it is a free stock image, or it is a public domain image (those that are more than 100 years old and have not had their licenses repurchased). It is very difficult to decipher whether or not it is safe to use an image, so when in doubt, just scrap it! It may take longer, but it is definitely a lot cheaper than a lawsuit!

Designs that are comprised of random brushes, splatters and textures with no obvious thought to concept and design, won’t quite cut it either. Remember we are DesignByHumans, which is why we strive to print artwork that is refreshing and thoughtful in respect to the principles of design.

  • Random Splatters Random Splatters
  • Random Brushes Random Brushes
  • Random Texture Random Texture

Designs that are just randomly copied and pasted will not be accepted. We need composition and forethought! You can use similar elements, or even the same as long as it is done in an interesting and captivating style (like blooboy’sGhostez”). Pattern designs are awesome too, check out alexmdc’s incredibly detailed “The Hidden People”.

  • Copy & Paste Copy & Paste
  • Similar Pieces Similar Pieces
  • Pattern Pattern

Your artwork should also incorporate the t-shirt as part of the artwork. A great design is one that utilizes the t-shirt canvas with the art together in perfect harmony. Just gaze upon shantyshawn’sRed Riding Hood” and rejagalu’sWhen the Sun sets in the City of Sunrise; Another View” as a perfect examples.

  • Non-Boxy Non-Boxy
  • Non-Boxy When the sun sets in the city of sunrise; another view Non-Boxy

Back prints. Are they ok? Of course! If the design calls for this conceptually, we will accept your art (as long as it follows our other design acceptance standards). A great example of a design that has a front and back print is yonil’sWe did this to ourselves.

  • Front and Back Print Front and Back Print

Last, but not least, DBH is a PG-13 website, which means, we like art and design in good taste and style. That means designs that contain profanity, nudity or obscene content will be rejected immediately and is at the discretion of the curator! Let’s keep it clean!

Design 101


Forgot Password?
Login with Facebook
  • One less password to remember
  • Easily share with your friends
  • We never post without your permission

Register, New Human!

Join DBH with Facebook
  • One less password to remember
  • Easily share with your friends
  • We never post without your permission