T-Shirt Design Workshop 3: Using Photos and Type

How Hawaii, surfing, and old cars come together in a freelance t-shirt graphic:

In this one hour workshop, we’ll cover:

  • How to find and apply inspiration

  • The various analog and digital tools you will need to create t-shirt designs.

  • How to move seamlessly between Photoshop, Illustrator, and the Procreate App for iPad so your designs come out as good or better than you had initially imagined

  • Type layout using Adobe Typekit fonts in Illustrator

  • How to incorporate hand-drawn effects into a computer-based design

As a bonus you will also receive:

  • All working Photoshop and Illustrator files demonstrated in this class

  • A Photoshop texture brush for you to use with your designs

  • A custom Procreate App brush for you to use with your designs

What are the requirements?

  • Students should have some prior knowledge of Photoshop and Illustrator. Skills such as how to scan images into Photoshop, an understanding of layers, and how to size images. This is not a basic entry level course for Photoshop and Illustrator.

Curriculum (video lectures)

  1. Introduction (01:23)

  2. Tools and Materials (05:54)

  3. Pinterest (06:10)

  4. Ideation Sketching (02:01)

  5. Starting in Photoshop (19:03)

  6. Adobe Illustrator (18:14)

  7. Procreate App for iPad Pro (11:29)

  8. Ending with Photoshop (07:41)

  9. Wrapping Up (00:47)

Top 4 Resources inside T-Shirt Design Master Collection

The T-Shirt Design Master Collection is my largest bundle of t-shirt design resources: 64 t-shirt mockup templates, 605 textures for Photoshop and Illustrator, 25 logo templates, as well as T-Shirt Design Workshops 1 & 2.

My favorite resources are:

4) Ink Stamp Automator for Photoshop

Just copy & paste your design into this template to apply an instant ink stamp effect. Perfect for adding some interest to otherwise plain & simple logos or lettering.

3) Plastisol 1 & Plastisol 2 Vintage T-Shirt Textures

These cracked ink "Plastisol" textures will make your t-shirt graphics look washed & worn like and old vintage tee. Plastisol textures are ideal to add a "thrift shop" look to your real-life t-shirt screen print designs, as well as your digital portfolio. Photoshop and Illustrator compatible.

2) Men's T-Shirt Mockup Templates & Women's T-Shirt Mockup Templates

Making your t-shirt designs look real is the best way to show your designs before sending them off to be printed. These templates will help your clients and customers visualize your designs. You can even change the fabric color, add a custom neck label, and warp your graphic to match the wrinkles in the fabric. These templates are formatted for Photoshop and Illustrator, but also work with CorelDraw and Affinity Designer & Affinity Photo.

1) T-Shirt Design Workshop 1 & T-Shirt Design Workshop 2

Learn how to design a t-shirt like a pro. More than 3.5 hours of t-shirt design theory & instruction

T-Shirt Mockup Templates in Affinity, CorelDraw, Photoshop, & Illustrator

Good news for Affinity Designer, Affinity Photo, and CorelDraw users! My apparel mockup templates can be used in Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Affinity Designer, Affinity Photo, and Corel Draw!

Men's Apparel Mockup Templates

Women's Apparel Mockup Templates

Photoshop Tutorial

Illustrator Tutorial

Affinity Tutorial

Affinity Designer does not have a displacement map function (to warp your graphic). But all other mockup features work.

Affinity Photo, however, DOES have a displacement map function. It works best if you apply it to your graphic with a subtle amount of warping.

CorelDraw Tutorial

The Adobe Illustrator AI versions of the templates can be opened in CorelDraw. This applies to all of my men's & women's apparel mockup templates, except for Apparel Mockup Templates Variety Collection (because they are Photoshop only).

All mockup features work, except for the displacement map warping. CorelDraw has a displacement map feature, but I haven't been able to get reliable enough results to recommend this feature.

If you are interested in apparel mockup templates, I recommend ordering the Men's and Women's All-In-One Bundles:


Tutorial: Add Texture to Graphics in Adobe Illustrator - The #1 Method

This video shows how to use Opacity Masks in Adobe Illustrator to add texture to your t-shirt designs, logos, and lettering. It also covers how to export your design as a transparent PNG, which is a preferred file format for Direct-to-Garment (DTG) printing, Print-on-Demand (POD), and Amazon Merch.

Introducing AVISTA (my first font)

I've been designing custom lettering for years. But until now, I've never converted these designs into a functional font that can be typed out with a keyboard.

Today I am thrilled to announce the release of my first font, called AVISTA!

It has a unique mix of retro, modern, and classic styles that will instantly spice up your designs. It works well on a plain background, incorporated into a logo, as a type-based t-shirt design, or layered on top of photos (my favorite method). Go here to find out more about AVISTA.


Designing a Font

Sneak peek of a new font under construction.

New font

Details to be released soon.

Snap Crackle Textures for Photoshop & Illustrator

A set of 31 vintage cracked paint textures that will give your designs a weathered and rustic look.

Snap Crackle Textures is sourced from antique cracked paint surfaces like old signs, walls, and furniture. 

This is just what your t-shirt designs, logos, lettering, and illustrations need for that added element of interest.

Optimized for Photoshop and Illustrator, these textures will also work in virtually any other graphic design software package.

What's included:

  • 21 "Repeat" textures in Bitmap TIFF, Layered TIFF, and Photoshop Brush format. (4000 x 4000 pixels). Each texture is in seamless repeat (tileable top-to-bottom and side-to-side), so you can use them to texture ANY size graphic.
  • 10 "Spot" textures with subtle edges in Bitmap TIFF, Layered TIFF, and Photoshop Brush format. These textures are good for applying texture in specific areas.

Halftone Automator

Halftone Automator (a "smart PSD" template for Photoshop) will add vintage-style halftone effects to your designs, logos, and typography.

This template takes plain designs and instantly knocks a transparent halftone pattern right through your design.

How Halftone Automator Works:

1) Just paste in your Pixel or Vector design to the designated Smart Object layer.
2) Choose from 47 different halftone patterns, then you are done!

What's included:

  • The Halftone Automator Photoshop PSD template (4000 x 4000 pixels).

  • 47 built-in halftone patterns with various dot sizes and density.

  • Quick Start Guide PDF instructions.

The effect works best if you paste in a design that is on a transparent background. See video with tips on how to adjust the halftone effect that is applied.

Ink Stamp Automator

Recently, I created a new texture template for Photoshop to save time applying texture to logos, lettering, and t-shirt designs. It's something I've been using in my own freelance design work. And it’s a big time saver.

This new template is called the Ink Stamp Automator.

This template allows you to apply an instant Ink Stamp (or woodblock / linocut print) look to your designs in Photoshop.

Even if you aren't specifically looking for an ink stamp look, it's a great way to add some interest and texture to your designs.

Go here to see some examples of what you can do:

How Ink Stamp Automator Works:

1) Just paste in your Pixel or Vector design to the designated Smart Object layer.
2) Choose from 42 different ink stamp textures, then you are done!

What's included:

  • The Ink Stamp Automator Photoshop PSD template (4000 x 4000 pixels). 42 built in textures.

  • Quick Start Guide PDF instructions.

  • 9 Ink Stamp Shapes. These are ink stamp circles, squares, and rectangles that will help you create logo shapes (see video).

  • 42 stand alone ink stamp textures in LAYERED TIFF format (4000 x 4000 pixels). Perfect for power users who want to dig in and fine-tune the textures.

  • 42 stand alone ink stamp textures in BITMAP TIFF format (12,000 x 12,000 pixels). These are great for designers who want to use the textures in Adobe Illustrator.

Distressed Border Automator

When you are printing rectangular photos or illustrations onto t-shirts or posters, a crisp clean edge can be a bit too plain. 

With the Distressed Border Automator, you can quickly apply a transparent textured border to your t-shirt designs, poster designs, photos, and illustrations.

As shown in the video below, here's how it works:

  1. Paste your image into the Distressed Border Automator (Smart PSD Photoshop file).
  2. Choose from 24 transparent border designs.
  3. Or choose from 14 opaque border designs & apply any color to the border.
  4. Color your background or leave it transparent. Save or export your new image, then you are done!

This template is perfect for setting up your designs to be printed Direct To Garment (DTG) and Print-on-Demand with vendors like Merch by Amazon. As shown in the video below, just turn off the visibility of the background color layer. Export the file as a transparent PNG, and you are ready to send your design out for DTG printing!

Or you can order it directly here:

Plastisol Cracked T-Shirt Ink Textures

Make your t-shirt designs look washed & worn with Plastisol Textures for Photoshop and Illustrator!

What is Plastisol, and what does it have to do with Vintage T-Shirts??

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.

Plastisol is why real Thrift Shop T-Shirts look Vintage!

How easy is it to add vintage texture to your own designs? Have a look at the tutorial videos.

  • PHOTOSHOP PSD: The most versatile format. Power users can easily go in and adjust the textures to their liking.

  • BITMAP TIFF: Use the "Opacity Mask" method (shown in the Plastisol 2 tutorial) to knock transparent texture through your raster & vector designs in Adobe Illustrator (yes Illustrator)!

  • PHOTOSHOP BRUSH: 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!

So what's the difference between Plastisol 1 and Plastisol 2?

The short answer is Plastisol 1 Textures are FASTER. Plastisol 2 Textures are highly CUSTOMIZABLE.

Recent Graphic Design Work

Various projects.

Crosshatch Pattern Brushes

I've been experimenting with some new Crosshatch Pattern Brushes for Photoshop CC. These are different than normal Photoshop brushes because they paint a seamless pattern, with no overlapping effect. Good for shading lettering, logos, and even illustrations.

You can use these brushes with a tablet or a mouse. But if you use a drawing tablet, you get control of your brush size with the pen pressure.

These brushes have only been tested in Photoshop CC. I don't plan to make them backwards compatible for older versions of Photoshop, but it's possible they may work in CS5 or CS6.

To download the brushes, sign up for my email newsletter. You will gat access to them as part of Graphic Design Launch Kit (More than 40 free downloads!)

T-Shirt Design Workshop 01 on SKILLSHARE

Great news: T-Shirt Design Workshop 01: Foundation is now on Skillshare!

About the Class: Learning the possibilities and options you have when creating a t-shirt design is an essential investment in becoming a professional t-shirt designer. In this workshop, we'll go over all the ingredients that go into a t-shirt design.

Here’s the thing: I need your help to get some “momentum” behind the course. The more upfront visibility it gets, the better chance it will rank higher on Skillshare and be seen by more people.

If you can help, I will send you a free Gift Card for $20 or $150, good for any new purchases on TheVectorLab! (details below)

Go here to enroll now in T-Shirt Design Workshop 01: Foundation on Skillshare!

Important: Here are the steps to follow to help me out and also get your free Gift Card for TheVectorLab.

  1. Enroll in the class and watch ALL the lectures (at regular 1x speed, not 2x speed - important for Skillshare metrics).
  2. Post a review (in your own words) when Skillshare prompts you to do so.
  3. Post your "Inspiration Board" project in the Project Section of the class. No rushing here - your project is public and should look neat & tidy and well thought-out (It’s simple - details on the project are on the course page)
  4. On or before January 27, 2017, send me screen shots of your 1) Completed Lectures (showing green check marks), 2) Review, and 3) Posted Project to ray{at}thevectorlab . com

On January 28, 2017 I will pick my favorite project and will send the winner a $150 gift card for TheVectorLab. Everyone else will receive a $20 gift card (to be delivered Jan 28). So if you put in a little effort there’s no way to miss out!

Download this Instruction Sheet to see an example of the screen shots needed so I can email you back a gift card.

All the best,

Ray Dombroski

P.S. I think you will love this workshop!

You can give your friends who are new to Skillshare 3 months of membership for $0.99 if you use this link: http://skl.sh/2ieuNq6

Free Vector T-Shirt Template + T-Shirt Design Workshop Preview

Today I have a free download of a vector t-shirt template for you!

This template includes full size (front & back) drawings of a men's large t-shirt, perfect for sizing your art for screen printing. There is also an area to specify ink colors. You can download the free vector t-shirt template here.

Preview from T-Shirt Design Workshop 2 {Lecture 24} showing how to set up your spec sheet in Adobe Illustrator:

If you are interested in designing t-shirts, have a look at my T-Shirt Design Workshop 2 - because you should never stop learning!

~Ray Dombroski