How to Create the Best Custom T-Shirt: 8 Design Tips

Making a good quality custom t-shirt seems easy, and well it should be. So many companies have labored for decades to make it seem that way. But a truly high quality t-shirt still requires some expertise and planning. Here are a few ideas on how to make your shirt the best.

High Resolution Art

At minimum, the art you put on your shirt should be 300 dpi at minimum. 600 dpi is even better. The reason for this is any translation of art from one medium to another always reduces detail and quality. You want your design to be as highly detailed as possible to start.

Color Fidelity

High resolution art also helps your design maintain its color fidelity. Color-separated designs and new kinds of dye sublimation technologies can produce a huge array of vivid colors. You want to be sure your colors match the original art design closely.

Lossless Format

If at all possible you should use a lossless format for your art. JPEG (a lossy format) and its equivalents are designed to produce good photographic quality at small file sizes. PNG (a lossless format) and its equivalents are designed to preserve detail and color at the expense of file size. The lossless format will work much better.


The process of anti-aliasing reduces what are known as “jaggies” at the edge of a design. It does this by blurring the edge and modulating opacity to create the illusion of a hard edge. If your art is of high enough resolution this won’t be an issue. Anti-aliasing rarely works well on a printed design.

Quality Material

Artists spend generously on canvases. You should make sure your shirt is well made. Cheap shirts will produce cheap-looking designs no matter how good your artist is. Spend the extra few bucks and get a top quality shirt. It will be worth it in the long run.

Color Combinations

Use high-contrast color combinations like red-white, blue-yellow, green-yellow and orange-black if at all possible. Your design will stand out much better if you know how to combine your colors properly.

Match Negative Space

If you have a design with a geometric shape (circular, triangular, etc.) you should try to have as much blank space around it as possible. This will help produce a contrast that will make the design more visible at a distance and more recognizable.


Use fonts that are easily readable at a distance. Script-like fonts and highly stylized lettering work if they are an integral part of the logo. They don’t work as well for word plaques and slogans.

Getting your design right is always going to be a process of trial and error. But if you start with the right vision, you will be that much closer to the perfect t-shirt.