Go vintage or geometric? Illustration or Typography? Here are some combinations and tips that can help you when creating your printed T-shirt design

With the range of tools available for digital graphics, almost anything goes when creating a design. Personalised clothing, on the other hand, has technical limitations that need to be considered before bringing the creations to light.


The creative process is vital in a wide variety of activities from cooking to gardening. For T-shirt designers, that often means finding the right print to go with the garment. But there are times when the creative juices aren’t flowing, which is why we created this list. Here are some of the best design combinations for T-shirts and some tips about their most suitable print methods:

Faded Garment + Vintage Lettering

Everybody loves a new vintage T-shirt that looks 20 years old, so you’ve probably seen this a lot! One important thing to consider if going for this kind of design is to make the lettering work beautifully with the selected colours; a good tip is to use complementary colours for both garment and design. Organic cotton T-shirts give a soft touch as well. Printing can either be done with screen printing or DTG, though this last one has a high price on big quantities.

garment printing, personalised t-shirts, dtg t-shirts

Make it Simple + Good ol’ Typo

This style is about colours and contrast, but, above all, about the message written on it. A simple quote from a philosopher, a movie or even one you came up with yourself written in Helvetica and that’s it! This kind of tee usually prints awesomely with screen printing (for big quantities) and in cad cut vinyl as well for small print runs, since there are usually just one or two solid colours involved in the design.

typographic t-shirts, custom shirts, printed t-shirts

Geometric + Black & White

It’s all about being basic, so there’s no way to go wrong with this one. Though these T-shirts can be seen a lot more at electronic music concerts than any other places, they’re about to go mainstream. The important thing is to find the right garment so the design can be complementary. And keep it one colour, that way it remains cost-effective and suitable for screen printing.

geometric t-shirts, printed t-shirts, dtg t-shirts

Big Photos or Collages

Probably the favourite with fashion brands, everything is basically allowed! Those big celebrity faces (wearing moustaches!) or colourful collages with words and shades can be found at 9 out of 10 stores. Its most suitable printing technique is DTG, which comes with a maximum print size of 29.7x42cm (or A3, if you prefer); with time it gets a bit faded just like that cool T-shirt you loved when you were a teenager. The tricky part with this one is creating the artwork with resolution enough to print with a photographic quality at 300 d.p.i. if you’re using Photoshop; that means no low-res images from the Internet, so go ahead and take your own or look for a stock photo website!

dtg t-shirts, custom printed t-shirts, personalised t-shirts

Use Funny + Keen Illustrations

wearing sunglasses and a tuxedo, maybe even drinking tequila! The important thing is to be original and keen about what you’re printing on this one. The most suitable methods would be DTG as well as screen printing if you’re serious about having those for sale and knows how to manage vectorial files to separate the colours into layers.

funny t-shirts, cool t-shirts, printed shirts, custom t-shirtsEverybody loves a funny T-shirt; especially if it has animals on it

[content_band bg_color=”#E8F6D2″ border=”all”] [container]Are you looking for a professional way to sell T-shirt designs? ? Printsome can print garments in no time and send them to you polybagged, ready to be sold. Visit our website to find out more.[/container] [/content_band]

Geometrical Figures + Photos

Why does it look good? Simple, the geometrical figure works as a canvas for the picture, or better yet a window into the T-shirts “soul”. The straight clean lines of the geometrical figures also make an interesting contrast with the organic and complicated figures on the inside. It works particularly well if the T-shirt is white. As with any other intricate design, DTG is the way to go.

custom shirt, direct to garment t-shirts

geometrical t-shirts, custom shirts, printed shirts

Texturised Fabric + Plain Designs

Again, this one is also about contrast. Contrast is good in design because it allows the eye to navigate by telling it what’s important and what’s not. One can achieve contrast in a variety of ways, through colours, sizes and in this case, textures. The human gaze will always be attracted towards the one odd element, in this case, the plain coloured design on top of the texturized fabric. We find this pleasing because the print seems to “pop up” more than on regular T-shirts. Screen printing or cad-cut vinyl should do the trick here.

geometric shirts, custom t-shirts, printed tees


Vintage Fonts + Pastel colours

There’s just something nostalgic about pastel colours in itself and when you add a vintage font, the effect is only enhanced. White and black T-shirts take longer to look “worn” while pastels colours can have that effect from the get-go. Their softer shades make you wonder if they’ve always been like that or if they have faded. The printing technique will vary depending on the design.

vintage t-shirts, custom shirts, personalised tees

typography t-shirt, custom shirts, printed tees

Plain Coloured T-shirts + Pattern accents

Another great example of contrast. The patterned accents bring attention to the elements of a T-shirt that would normally go ignored. By embellishing the T-shirt in this manner, the designer adds value to it without complicating the process. Adding a different fabric or print onto a garment would make prices increase, but not so much as one would expect. This effect can be achieved with DTG or with a tee that’s composed of two or more types of fabric.

contrasted tee, custom t-shirt

pocket shirt, printed shirt, custom garment

Dark coloured garment + White print

This one is a cop out, we admit it, but still, it is a combination that works so we had to include it. This is yet another example of contrast. It is impossible for the eye not to concentrate on a white element if it’s surrounded by black. If you really want to make your design stand out, print white on top of a black T-shirt. The printing technique of this combination would depend on how complicated the design is. A more complex design would require DTG while something more simple either screen printing or cad-cut vinyl.

black and white tee, printed shirt, custom tees

printed t-shirts, graphic t-shirts,

[content_band bg_color=”#E8F6D2″ border=”all”] [container]Are you looking for a professional way to sell T-shirt designs? ? Printsome can print garments in no time and send them to you polybagged, ready to be sold. Visit our website to find out more.[/container] [/content_band]

#Hyperrealist Illustrations + Bold Flat Fonts

In a similar fashion to the plain print on top of the texturized fabric, the flat design on top of the hyperrealist image makes the first one “pop up”. The human eye will always be drawn to the simple design instead of the complex one, that’s why on animated films we usually see plain characters drawn on top of intricate backgrounds. The idea is for the audience to concentrate on the protagonists of the movie instead of the scenery. In the days of 2D animation, artists would spend far more time working on the backgrounds than the characters. To make sure you have the best possible effect with this combination make sure you provide images with the best possible quality (at least 300 d.p.i.).

realistic tees, nyc t-shirt, custom shirt

Colour Block

If you’re a T-shirts fan then you’ve seen this type of T-shirts all over High Street stores lately. They are easy to use and usually compliment most body types. When done well, colour block garments can make a man’s chest look wider or a woman’s waist slimmer. As the designs are fairly simple, you can achieve this look with screen printing or cad-cut vinyl. To do Colour Block with different fabrics it is also possible.

colour block t-shirt, custom made shirt,

All-over Print + Crewneck

All-over print has revolutionised the world of fashion. It used to be a design in the middle of the T-shirt, but thanks to this new technique the possibilities are almost endless. When you put crew neck T-shirts and all-over printing together, you get an interesting combination of the most classic of tees with the most radical of printing techniques. For this particular combination, you’ll need a printer that specialises in all-over print.

all over print, personalised shirt

White Pockets + Colourful Garments

This combination is the opposite of the plain coloured garments with the pattern accents. The white pocket creates a focus that calls for your attention right where the heart is. Unfortunately, not many brands have done designs such a this (it took me a long while just to find a couple of examples). Hopefully, more of them will get into it in the near future. For your very own eyes-on-your-heart look, all you’ll need is a coloured garment, some white fabric and sewing skills.

white pocket t-shirt, custom tee

T-shirt + Suede

I know what you’re thinking, this is a bit of an unexpected one, but trust me, it’s going to be very popular. Suede leather is going to be EVERYWHERE in 2016. May it be real or fake, we’re already seeing it in shoes, jackets and bags, now T-shirts are getting in the action as well. As you might guess, there is no such thing as a printing technique that can get suede into a T-shirt. The process is different. You’ll probably need to hire a professional for this job, but it will be so worth the effort. An item such as this would make you so very IN right now.

suede t-shirt, black shirt

T-shirt Printing for Designers

Thanks to our five years of experience in the apparel-printing industry, we are able to offer a service catered towards the needs of designers and creative directors. Printsome’s apparel-printing services are perfect for streetwear collections, T-shirt lines and merchandise, among many other possibilities.

From the moment you get in touch, one of our ‘printing experts’ will answer all of your questions and find efficient solutions to your needs. It is our mission to help your career flourish. Thanks to high-quality garments and cutting-edge printing techniques, we can produce almost any design. Printing T-shirts has never been this easy.

Why worry about inventory or logistics when we can take care of that? We deal with the boring stuff so you have more time to do what you love. To find out more, simply visit our website.


Harald is one of the founders of the Printsome-Insights blog! Previously, Senior Content Writer, with over five years experience writing about garment printing, he's now been whisked away into entertaining other audiences with his fabulous words. For over seven years he has been proofreading, blogging, copywriting newsletters/landing pages/social media + editing. Whilst also bringing Printsome brand to life with voice and soul. He is also well-versed in enforcing content styles and content strategies for B2B businesses.


  1. Stephen Lucas Reply

    Would love to purchase but require a couple sample T shirts to check quality, value for money etc. I am willing to pay for these 2 or 3 shirts and delivered to my home in Canada.
    Please let me know if this is possible

Write A Comment