Plastisol: Cracked Ink Textures for T-Shirt Designs

How do graphic designers get a vintage cracked ink look for their t-shirt designs?

It starts with Plastisol Ink.

Plastisol Ink is a type of Screen Printing Ink that was first used to screen T-Shirts in the 1970's. When you look at Vintage Clothing, it's the ink that cracks and flakes over time as the t-shirt gets washed, stretched out, and worn to too many Def Leppard concerts.

I've wandered through thrift shops, vintage clothing stores, and flea markets to gather only the best t-shirt specimens. These t-shirts with aged, worn, and washed cracked ink were then scanned into the computer. The scanned images have been turned into a collection of textures (bitmaps, JPEGs and Photoshop Brushes) that you can use to make your own t-shirt designs look vintage.

This collection of textures has been named "Plastisol"

This collection has 10 different 'base' textures, each with a Light, Medium, and Dark version. The "Dark" textures are the most beat-up, vintage, and abused. The "Light" textures have less weathering or "distress."

Each of these 30 Textures comes in the following formats:

• Medium-Resolution Photoshop Brushes (1500 x 1500 pixels - for ease of use and web-oriented graphics)

• High-Resolution Photoshop Brushes (2500 x 2500 pixels - maximum brush size for older versions of Photoshop)

• High-Resolution Photoshop Brushes (3000 x 3000 pixels - for real t-shirt graphic production or high-res graphics)

• Photoshop PSD (3000 x 3000 pixels - flattened greyscale files)

• Bitmap Tiff (3000 x 3000 pixels - these files are the ones you use in Illustrator) 

(Please note, there are no vector files in this collection. Use the Bitmap Tiffs in Illustrator for much more detailed texture that won't bog your computer down).

My favorite versions are the BITMAP TIFF files and the PHOTOSHOP BRUSHES! 

BITMAP TIFF: The white areas in these textures will be transparent when you place them into your Illustrator files (yes Illustrator!) on top of your vector graphics. Color these the same as your background, so it looks like the background is coming through your graphic. This method of adding texture is an old-school trick used by all the veteran t-shirt designers out there.

PHOTOSHOP BRUSH: What can I say... these are super easy to use. Just double-click on the .abr file and these brushes will load into your Photoshop Brushes Palette. Select a brush, and click to paint in your vintage texture!