How To Design A Shirt That Turns Heads

A t-shirt design epitomizes a person’s statement. The design matters because it says more about the person’s interests than shirt materials and brands. Even fast-fashion companies such as Cotton On, Zara, and Forever 21 have had their shirts sell like hotcakes because of killer designs. If you’ve wanted to design a shirt, this article is an excellent place to start. 

Whether you’re a designer, business owner, or just someone who wants to pimp up his outfit for a party, designing a shirt shouldn’t be an uphill battle. 

Here are a few tips on how to design a shirt that will turn heads no matter where you are. 


Let your design express your style

nasa vegan shirt design

First off, before you hastily design a shirt, consider quality designs always. No matter how good your t-shirt design is, when you have ink blotches all over, it devalues the representation you’re going for. 

The next thing you want to think about is how you want to create the shirt design, so it depicts your purpose. 

For brands, starting with a logo design is the first option. T-shirt designs also serve as marketing mediums. That said, ensuring that you include your logo is a brilliant idea. Here are some tips to let your logos speak for your brand:

  • Let the logo be akin to your branding.
  • Think about memorability.
  • Consider scalability in case the business booms in the future.
  • Choose suitable typography.
  • Refer to color psychology when choosing the color palettes. 

If you’re designing a t-shirt for personal use, think about why you’re creating the design in the first place and how you want people to feel or react to the design. This way, you’ll know what elements to include or colors to choose. 

The fastest route might be to scour the internet for t-shirt designs, but that strips the uniqueness from your idea. Keep it unique and make it stand out.

Let’s take this ‘Vegan’ shirt logo, for example. The thing that makes this catchy is how it’s built around the NASA logo but tweaked significantly. 


Be smart with the layout 

bear shirt print

You have the entire front and back as your canvas when you design a shirt — use that to your advantage. However, you have to take into consideration an aesthetically pleasing layout. 

Your t-shirt design should be laid out in an uncluttered way. Even though you have the most creative and high-quality print, the placement could ruin everything. 

Brands aiming to advertise should place their logo in front and use the back for their tagline. If you’re designing a huge image for personal use, make sure you position it perfectly.

For instance, depending on the kind of print, putting the design in the middle could be uncomfortable when you wear it as it doesn’t let the shirt flow naturally.

Let’s take this shirt design as an example. The position of the bear is pleasantly suited at the bottom right corner of the shirt. Somehow, it looks better as when placing it in the middle.


Play with colors

mardi gras shirt design

Colors have an impact on your mood, behavior, and feeling based on color psychology. You must play with colors depending on what you want your shirt to emanate.

However, it’s vital to be smart about the color palettes that you use against the shirt color as well. 

Light-colored shirts would make the darker colors shine while dark-colored shirts would make light or pastel colors radiate. 

As you can see from this example, both black and white shirts have the same background with slight color variations.


Maintain a balance between different elements

japan tshirt design

Although it’s always good to keep it simple, you can always go all-out with a variety of elements. When you design a shirt, you have carte blanche of whatever you want to throw in there.

Take note, however, the right balance to keep all the elements in harmony with each other. 

Here’s an example of an attractively balanced shirt advertising some of Japan’s jewels. The cherry blossoms, sunset, Mount Fuji, flamingo, trees, and Japanese characters are laid out cohesively. 

The cherry blossoms on one sleeve also don’t pose as a distraction to the overall composition.


Choose your font style 

mommy and child shirt design

Your typography says a lot about what you’re representing. Pick suitable typography that also matches your brand or personality. For example, if you’re representing a financial company, maybe a lemon bird font wouldn’t credibly represent the company.

Take this shirt design, for example. All the font styles are friendly which is an excellent choice for mothers and children who can wear this shirt.

A pro tip would be to mix several typefaces but keep the limit to a maximum of three only. Mixing up different font styles also helps with the design structure and hierarchy. 

Here are some font style ideas for your shirt design:

  • Comic Sans
  • Flycatcher
  • Nomad
  • Batman Forever
  • Voyageur
  • Rustal Typo
  • Scripts
  • Handwritten Fonts


Keep it simple

surfs up shirt design

As with any other design projects, everyone knows how less is more usually comes out as more appealing. Cramming every detail in your design could make it more complicated, causing the design to be an eyesore instead of a masterpiece.

Keep it simple while still keeping all the essential elements that make up the entire concept. This is an example of a surf shirt that’s catchy enough to turn heads because of the colorful lines formed in a circle that resembles the sun. 

The typography that says “SURF’S UP” in all caps is nicely nestled within the circle. A single-fin longboard positioned underneath creates variety in shapes. However, the view of the longboard is on its side, so it’s not a burden to look at.


Use online t-shirt designing platforms

laptop on a table

If you feel like you can’t design a shirt on your own, you can always hire experts like Penji to do it for you. It’s an unlimited graphic design service that gets the job done for a flat monthly fee.

Otherwise, you can always use online t-shirt design sites. Some of those sites have ready-made designs if you feel you need a huge headstart with your shirt design. Here’s a link for the best free t-shirt design sites. 

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