Designing t-shirts: What not to do

While setting up the new t-shirt company I did my usual trick and dived into the world of designing without really thinking. As such I made quite a few mistakes early on that cost me quite a bit of time. I thought I’d share a few of those here, mostly because their funny (looking back on them) but also because there is a chance it will help someone else.

Mistake 1

I drew my design by hand to try and get a rough idea of what I was doing. Now this would seem like a really good idea except I didn’t have a scanner when I first started. Make sure if you are drawing designs by hand that either you or a lovely friend has a scanner.

Mistake 2

When I first started drawing my designs on the computer I hadn’t ever heard of drawing with vectors. Therefore I drew my design quite literally pixel by pixel (yes this was after I’d drawn it by hand and then not scanned it) and it wasn’t until I showed my husband that I found out there was a way to do it line by line and also have it scalable. Yup by drawing it with vectors.

Mistake 3

My next assumption was that any program would do as long as it drew with vectors so I pulled up my little pixel drawing in Paint shop Pro 9 and started layering my vector drawing over the top. I then emailed my first design to a friend. They couldn’t open it. Paint shop Pro wasn’t an industry standard just because my husband had it and it was on my computer. Make sure you pick a drawing program that supports a good vector format that’s relatively standard in the industry. Inkscape is a good free one apparently and probably what I’ll be using in future. At least until I can afford Adobe Illustrator.

Mistake 4

Jpgs are the format used for all pictures when you save them to send to people. No they are not, it turns out. Jpgs are for photos with lots of colour and only sometimes useful for those. For designs svg is best. It keeps those vectors nicely formatted, where as jpgs just turn it back into a pixel design and a lower quality one at that.

There are probably other mistakes I’ve made along the way but I feel I’ve embarrassed myself enough for one day. I can now safely say the best way to do my t-shirt designs though is to draw them by hand, get them scanned in, use adobe illustrator to vectorise the hand drawn scan in, (there’s a tool for that) tweak where necessary and save in svg format. It takes a few hours max as opposed to the 50-60 hours I spent trying to do my first design.

 

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