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)

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.

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

What I learned as a design student

When I was a student at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, one of the things I appreciated was that the instructors were required to also be working professionally in their chosen fields of design.

I felt this added credibility to what the instructors taught. As a student, you could be assured that the instructors' teachings were relevant to current design trends and met realistic design constraints & capabilities.

I try and do the same with my own business & teachings by designing for companies in the real world.

As some of you know, in addition to running TheVectorLab and teaching Graphic Design Workshops, I also design t-shirts and prints for the surf apparel industry.

I recently updated the blog with some graphic designs from my personal portfolio. I hope you enjoy!

Ray Dombroski

If you want to see more designs like this, have a look here:

Using Pinterest for Graphic Design Inspiration

Got creative block?  Pinterest is my number one tool to catalog graphic design inspiration and I think it could be yours too.

Here's why it's so good.

The beauty of Pinterest is that it allows you to organize (normally a left brain activity) design inspiration in a graphical right-brain sort of way.

It is such a useful tool to have when looking for new ways to combine techniques, lettering & type styles, layouts, color combinations, printing methods, design styles, drawing styles, etc.

Just look through your past pins or search for new ones. Pinterest even has a decent suggestion engine that will show you new images based on your past pins.

Pinterest stores the original source links of your pinned images so you can keep track of background information of the images. This also makes it easy to dive right back into your favorite websites for new discoveries.

Here's an excerpt from T-Shirt Design Workshop 2 demonstrating how I use Pinterest for graphic design inspiration and t-shirt design.

My top 3 Pinterest Boards for Graphic Design Inspiration

I've curated every single image on these boards for the past 6 years so there's no junk. Feel free to have a look and give the boards a follow:

1) Graphic Design Inspiration

This pin board consists of 4000+ general graphic design inspiration pins.

2) T-Shirts

Mostly men's graphic tees. 3500+ images.

3) Type & Lettering

1800 examples of unique lettering, typography, and fonts.

Lastly, here's a link to all of my pin boards:

If you liked the Pinterest video above, and want to find out more about T-Shirt Design Workshop 2, have a look here:

Graphic Design Workshops

With Graphic Design, the key to increasing your productivity is to learn new skills and acquire more knowledge.

The following 3 Workshops + Bundles are aimed at helping you improve your Lettering Designs and T-Shirt Graphics.

1) Typographic Logos Workshop

Type-based logos, also known as logotypes and wordmarks, are a powerful way to define the style of your brand. Designing custom lettering (instead of using a pre-built font) is your opportunity to make something truly unique.

Design a t-shirt like a professional: graphics, specialty printing methods, fabrics, inks, dyes, and washes. In this workshop, we'll go over all the ingredients that go into a t-shirt design.

Improving your Graphic Design skills is one of the most rewarding investments that you can make in your design career. In this workshop we cover the entire process of creating a t-shirt design, from finding ideas all the way to sending your designs out to be printed.

A Free Preview of T-Shirt Design Workshop 2

Lecture 1: Tools and Materials for T-Shirt Design

This free section of T-Shirt Design Workshop 2 is a discussion of the essential tools for t-shirt graphic design. The traditional "analog" tools are different kinds of pens, pencils, and paper. The "digital" tools are computers, software, cameras, and drawing tablets. 


T-Shirt Design Workshop 2 is a 2.5 hour course is all about CREATING T-SHIRT GRAPHICS. It is packed with loads of actionable t-shirt graphic design techniques that can’t be found anywhere else.

Video Trailer

    • Design like a pro, working seamlessly between Photoshop, Illustrator, and pencil & paper. Ensure that your designs come out as good or better than you had initially imagined.

    • Learn two different methods to create your own Color Separations (using Photoshop and Illustrator) without the need for any extra other expensive color separation software.

    • Learn the Digital and Analog tools essential to being a t-shirt graphic designer.

    • How to access and use hundreds of top quality fonts with Adobe Typekit, included at no extra charge with most Adobe Creative Cloud subscriptions.

    • Create your own Photoshop Brushes to quickly add hand-made texture and color to your graphics.

    • Make multiple colorways of your graphic so it looks great on light, dark, and colored shirts.

    • Avoid common mistakes by properly setting up your designs to be printed with the exact colors, sizing, and placement that you want.

Read the Reviews

A screen capture of reviews from Udemy.com (where the course is hosted) as of July 13, 2016.

The Course and Bundle Options

Plastisol Lettering in Progress

I've been sketching up a new lettering design & cover image for a sequel to the popular Plastisol collection of cracked t-shirt ink textures for Photoshop and Illustrator.

The original design (below) is more of a hand-drawn style that doesn't abide by the normal rules of classic lettering design. Not much structure, but it does have flow

I want the new design for Plastisol 2 to retain the spirit of the original, but I want it to be more refined. Here's one of the sketches in the development.

I have a new found love for using tracing paper while creating iterations of lettering designs. The image above is on the path to being more refined, but it lacks a dynamic feeling.

I decided to exaggerate the baseline of the lettering to make it more lively. There are still some proportional problems that I need to address, but here's how it is looking at the moment: 



Plastisol 2 isn't available yet, but have a look at the original Plastisol Collection here.

Learn more about making your own custom lettering design in the Typographic Logos Workshop.

House Industries Lettering and Printing Workshop

I just finished up attending the House Industries Lettering & Printing Workshop in Portland. It was well worth the trek up north.

The lettering portion of the workshop was led by Ken Barber from House. Ken is a true master of his craft, and is quite good at distilling the information down into a one-day workshop.

We covered hand-lettering a roundhand script. This was not a cursive writing or calligraphy workshop where each letter is quickly drawn with a pen or brush.

Instead, Ken's technique is to show how to sketch your logotype composition with a pencil, while keeping the fundamentals of hand lettering in mind. Each person enrolled in the workshop had the project of creating their own lettering design, using just paper and pencil. Have a look at the bottom image of this post to see how mine came out.

House Lettering and Printing paper

House Lettering and Printing paper

Ken Barber in the Lettering Workshop

Ken Barber in the Lettering Workshop

House Industries posters printed by David Dodde

House Industries posters printed by David Dodde

The second day of the workshop was taught by screen printing guru, David Dodde. Like Ken, David is also a true master. He has so many great tips and techniques for screen printing on wood and paper. If you ever have the chance to participate in one of his workshops, don't hesitate to sign up.

David Dodde mixing copper dust into clear base screen printing ink

David Dodde mixing copper dust into clear base screen printing ink

T-shirt packaging printed with the split fountain screen printing technique

T-shirt packaging printed with the split fountain screen printing technique

Workshop participants were able to experiment with House's screens and print their own posters

Workshop participants were able to experiment with House's screens and print their own posters

Loot stash from the Lettering and Printing Workshop

Loot stash from the Lettering and Printing Workshop

My hand drawn sketch from Ken's lettering workshop

My hand drawn sketch from Ken's lettering workshop

T-Shirt Design Workshop 01: Foundation

The T-Shirt Design Workshop has just been posted!

If you have ever wanted to learn more about T-Shirt Design, this is a must-see workshop. It covers all the elements that go into designing a t-shirt. These are things that took me 15 years of working with surf apparel and various screen printers to learn.

Go here to find out all the details about T-Shirt Design Workshop 01: Foundation.