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Designing an Awesome shirt

Design Tips

When creating a new image for printing:

  • it needs to be at least 3200 (height) x 2400 (width) pixels in size, 8-bit, with a transparent background.
  • Save your image in CMYK format. Our garment printers only print in the CMYK format. Please use this colour spectrum as it will give you a better idea of how the final product will look. You will still need to convert to RGB when saving the final file as a PNG.
  • We recommend using Photoshop or GIMP (which is available as a free download). This is what your settings should look like in both programs if you are creating your own document:

What graphics software do I need?

You can use any graphics software that supports PNG files. We suggest Adobe Photoshop or GIMP (which is free but a bit less user friendly). Other popular graphics programs which support the PNG format include Photoshop Elements, Adobe Illustrator, Corel Photo-Paint, Pixelmator, Inkscape (another free one), Paint Shop Pro, Pixel image editor, Paint.NET and Xara. We have also found some super helpful tutorials online either on blogs or Youtube. At the bottom of this FAQ is some of our favourites.


What is a PNG File?

We ask for t-shirt designs to be uploaded as PNG files. This is because PNG files are the smallest file size you can use with transparency (i.e. – your transparent background), and results in quicker, easier uploads.


How to make a transparent background

One of the most unique and exciting design features of designing for tees in a PNG format, is that you can utilise transparent backgrounds. This means that your image does not necessarily have to fill the entire dimensions of the tee. You can have the colour of the tee appear through or surrounding the image. Some examples can be seen below. A transparent background looks like a grey and white checkered box. If you flatten the image or fill the whole background up with black or white it will be printed on your t-shirt. Tip: If you are saving your document at any stage and you are asked to flatten layers, choose ignore.


How to remove background colour

This is a particularly handy thing to learn about if you are working with photos in your t-shirt design. There are a number of ways you can remove background colour in GIMP, Photoshop and other graphics software programs. This can take a bit of practice so you may need to have some patience. Here’s a couple of tutorials demonstrating tips for removing background colour. If these don’t suit what you’re trying to achieve, get on Google and Youtube and have a hunt around for others.  

  1. Removing Backgrounds in Gimp
  2. Removing Backgrounds in Photoshop

Another option in Photoshop is to use the Select > Colour Range option if you want to remove all trace of one particular colour from an image.


Brightening or lightening the image

You might want to increase the levels or contrast which will allow your image to ‘pop’. You might find that it will look stronger, or more vibrant, so increasing the levels, changing the contrast or brightening the image will most likely give you a crisper, more vibrant image.



When you upload your image, you may find that it appears a bit dull, or you decide you want the colours to seem more bright and vibrant. In conjunction with brightening or changing the levels, or not, yo may find increasing the saturation of your image will provide a more colour rich image!


Saving your file

Then all you have to do is save it as a PNG file which can be done using the "Save For Web" function in Photoshop and should appear in your drop down options on the saving dialogue box in GIMP. If you do not see the PNG file option in your drop down options, check your settings under Image > Mode (in Photoshop and GIMP) to make sure you have the file set to RGB.


What are vector graphics and raster graphics?

Vector graphics are made up of paths which are defined by a start and end point, along with other points, curves, and angles along the way. A path can be a line, a square, a triangle, or a curvy shape. These paths can be used to create simple drawings or complex diagrams. Pictures found on the Web and photos you import from your digital camera are raster graphics. They are made up of grid of pixels, also known as a bitmap. Because vector-based images are not made up of a specific number of dots or pixels they can be scaled to a larger or smaller size and will not lose any image quality. If you enlarge a raster graphic, it will look pixelated but if you enlarge a vector graphic, the image will stay smooth and clean no matter how big you make it. How your artwork will print The Direct to Garment Digital Printers used on t-shirts are like an enormous inkjet in principle but unlike most other inkjet printers, it has white ink. Prints are divided into lights and darks. For light coloured t-shirts it prints straight onto the shirt, for darks it lays down a white base first and then prints on top of that.

Some quick important tips:

  1. Gradients from a colour fading out to nothing on dark tees are VERY hard to render.
  2. Very fine type using white ink on dark tees can also be tricky.
  3. Very large block areas of a single colour should be avoided.


Tips and Tutorials

Some of our favourites: