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T-Shirt Design Software | Making T-Shirt Graphics for DTG Printing

If you’re just starting with DTG, you might be unsure about a few things…

Maybe you have an artist friend willing to help you with artwork, or you plan to source it out.

During this video, you’ll see Jerid use Adobe Photoshop, one of the most popular graphics applications used as a T-Shirt design software. (But you could also use free software, like Gimp).

Whether you’re creating the graphics yourself or editing other people’s graphics, here are a few tips to help you get started:

Keep it simple

The details of the image are important but don’t try to fit everything in the image. Often the most simple images or logos have the greatest impact. This is also true for colors.

Choose the right colors

What color of blank you’re printing on matters. But also choosing complementary colors.

Know your audience

Whether you’re creating your image or sourcing them, who is your target market? Is the design something they’ll want to wear? Do a little market research and write down who your audience is, what they like, and what other brands they might wear.


When you’re looking on the internet for images most of those images are 72 pixels per inch (ppi). In the printing world, we use dots per inch (dpi).

Looking at a file in Photoshop it may appear very pixelated, because, for example, it’s only 3 inches wide (216 pixels) with a resolution of 72 ppi. This is considered a low-resolution file. For printing, you want and need a higher resolution.

If we increase the size of the photo we start to see all the pixels. What we don’t want to do is distort the pixels. Photoshop tries to interpret the pixels the best that it can. However, because it’s such a low-resolution file and you’re trying to increase the file size, it’s going to look distorted.

In Photoshop we can go into the image information and change the ppi from 72 to 300. We can also increase the image size from 3 inches wide to 10 inches. Comparing the original image and the new one, Photoshop does the best it can to fill in the pixels.

On the other side, if you start off with a high-resolution image and size it down, it stays crisp and defined.


If you’re creating an image with just text, you can start a new file and create it at the size you’d like to print. For example, you may want an image 10 inches wide, with 300 ppi.

You also will likely want a transparent background for your design. Once you create the new file, you’ll see a checkerboard pattern to indicate there’s no color in the background.  To the right of the screen, you’ll also see a layer’s pallet, that shows layer one with a checkerboard pattern.

To create the text, select the text option from the left-hand menu and click someone on your file area. From there you simply need to type in your first word.

To change the color of the text, go to the Properties tab (right-hand side). From there you can select a color from the pallet, or type in the RGB code for the color (example, Red’s code is R=250, G=0, B=0). These codes can be found with a simple online search.

You can also change the font style under the Properties tab.

Once you have the font style you like, you may find the wording extends out beyond the width of the image. Here you have two options:

1. Change the font size under the Properties tab.

2. Under Edit, select Free Transform. This allows you to size up the text (or image) or down to fit your area.

Once your text is complete, you can go in and create other elements and layers. For example, under your red lettering, create a block of red and input white lettering.

In our image above, if we want to move the red bar and the corresponding white text down together, we need to group them. You hold the shift key and select both the layers under the Properties tab.

In our example here, instead of having the text white, we can make that lettering transparent. This way whatever color of t-shirt you print on will show through instead of printed white lettering.

To do that:

1- Right click on the layer (from the Properties tab) and select Rasterize Layer.

2- Hold the Control key and click on the Text layer again (T icon).

3- Click on the Eye icon, next to the T to shut off the lettering.

4- Select your Rectangle layer and click the Delete key.

Now you should have a reversed out image.

Once you have your final design, you can save to edit again later. Or you can merge into one layer.

To merge layersright click on any of the active layers in the Properties tab and select Merge Visible.


Many photos would not print very well because of the multitude of light, mid, and dark tones. Quite often with DTG printing, the tones blend too much.

Another aspect to look at when considering photos is whether they have a colored filter over the top. Often when editing images for Instagram or another sharing service the images get a filter such as pink or orange. Unfortunately, this is not ideal for printing onto shirts.

When you resize an image, you want to ensure you don’t have any image loss. By unselecting the