4 Essential Design Tips for Lines, Texture and Colour

4 Essential Design Tips for Lines, Texture and Colour

There’s many a way to skin a banana, and even more to create T-shirt designs. Just like in our first instalment of design tips, we’ve now put together four irresistibly easy and straightforward tips for those keen to get a knack of the basic tools of the trade. We asked four Spreadshirt designers for assistance: check out what they have to say!


“I usually draw on the computer. To generate the look of hand-sketched designs, I apply a ‘roughen filter’ with Illustrator. This filter creates irregular waves that – depending on the settings – roughen up your straight lines. Play around with the effect for a while to find out what works best for you. I also break up straight lines in several places to give them a dashed feel that looks like you’d lifted the pen while drawing.

Then I copy the whole drawing as a Smart Objekt and post it to a 4000x4000px sized Photoshop document so I can colour it. I never draw on an empty layer but on a layer mask of a colour field. The advantage here is that you can easily change the colour without quality loss. Use a new layer for every colour. To give it the hand-made feel, put a grungy mask on top.

What’s more, I start out by using a colour layer that matches the colour of the T-shirt I want to use. This is how I can bring the design in tune with the final product.“

FrauAnika – Fox Wedding

“My designs are inspired by fairytales my best friend’s daughters like. I initially used them to decorate their rooms. Now I vectorise these (sometimes based on sketches) in Illustrator before I rework them into high-definition textures with Photoshop.

For this purpose, I look for photos with a very fine texture (very fine paper with a bit of noise). I upload these with my final sketch to Photoshop and adjust the look with a few effects (e.g. multiply/intertwine, opacity etc.). The texture sometimes lies over or under the illustrations. Sometimes I work with masks and put several layers on top of each other.

You can also add a gray shade and add some visual noise to replace textures and patterns.”

nexus6 – Happy Pixel

“My goal is to give my design the look of retro computer games, which means my colour range is limited to just a few colours. This can be problematic when it e.g. comes to creating a sky with colour gradients. You should not use more than three different shades of a base colour, and that’s when you can use a little trick called “dithering“ to create a gradient that combines the three different blocks. The human eye perceives it as new shades that actually don’t really exist. Back in the day, CRT screens (cathode ray tubes) made it look more natural. This is how the colours orange, green and violet are created to in my rainbow design called ‘Happy-Pixel’.“

c0y0te7 – July 1969

“I create my T-shirt designs with separate and well-covering colours and half-tone layers to nuance them. It brings out the best out of digital prints, and the transparency effect works quite well on fabrics. Also, .png files are not as big so you can download them quicker, even in high resolution.“

Here you can read a full interview: In the studio with c0y0te7


We’d like to thank our partners for passing on some of their wisdom, and we hope you have fun putting theory into practice. Do these tricks do the trick for you, or is there any other techique you would like to learn more about? Just drop us a line in the comments below.

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