Shop Talk

T-Shirt Tips: Designing to Complement Your Background Colors

Many designers only consider how their background t-shirt colors work with their designs when they come to upload their files but savvy designers make it part of the plan from the outset. We’ve put together a list of tips to ensure your design works perfectly on your cotton colored canvas. To get things rolling, here are a bunch of designers whose works beautifully complement their color choices.

The colors you choose should be partly dictated by your subject matter and this isn’t a bad place to start when thinking about your color palette. Depending on the complexity of your design, you’ll need to think about your line art, fill colors and colors for any shading or highlights. They need to complement each other but if you can work with a palette that complements your t-shirt as well, the design will have even greater impact. Our recent post on Color Theory is full of information which you may find useful.

There are a number of approaches you can take to ensure your design complements the background color of the tee. You might decide to design for a specific tee color like lemon and focus on making your palette work particularly well with that color. You could create a palette that works really well with a handful of tees like the greys for example. Adobe Kuler or Colourlovers are both sites which allow you to play and experiment with different palettes. If you select a base color as one of your choices, these tools will enable you to try out different combinations until you find one that works.

Another handy trick is to import the color palette into the graphics program you’re using. Copying and pasting (or placing) a screen capture of the available tee colors on the work detail page will enable you to sample the color swatches. You can create a new background layer (to be deleted later) and test your design on the t-shirt colors as you work.

Designing to Complement Your Background Colors: Tips, Tricks and Tutorials:

We’ve gathered together a bunch of t-shirt design tutorials which cover different aspects of working with color. In these tutorials you’ll see how other designers approach the use of color in their works and the considerations they make. If you have any hints tips, tutorials or links of your own, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

  1. Coloring Tips for T-shirt Designs
  2. Go Media’s Rapid-Fire Illustration Technique
  3. Sketch to vector – Illustrator Tutorial