How To Create Vector Artwork For Tshirt Design

Hello Everyone! I hope you are as excited as I am. Today, at Vectorguru we shall walk you through the process of creating a  Tshirt Design from scratch using Adobe Illustrator. In the process we shall explore some essential techniques, tips and tricks and also learn of possible pitfalls in designing vector for Tshirt Design.

I have used Adobe Illustrator 4 to create the artwork, but you may use any version as the options that we use in this tutorial are found in earlier and later versions of Illustrator.

This step by step tutorial for Tshirt Design is sprinkled with important tips and guidelines which will help you understand how to create vector artwork for tshirt design the right way, so that you can get it printed without hassles.

Our vector artwork for tshirt design is an Illustration for World Peace Day which is celebrated on 21 September every year. At VectorGuru we thought it would be great to dedicate a design to World Peace in a time when it is much needed; Just a little effort to spread awareness through Tshirt vector art. The design has been kept simple so that we discuss more important aspects of designing for print and don’t deviate towards learning the tools in Illustrator. We promise to cover more detailed tutorials for Illustrator soon.

Here’s how the vector tshirt design appears in the end.

 Tshirt Design

So if you’re ready, lets dive into creating the World Peace Day Illustrated Tshirt Design rightaway.

Steps to Create Vector Artwork For Tshirt Design.

Step 1:

Open Illustrator and from the Create New option choose Print Document. Else, you may go to the File menu  and choose New File to open the New Document dialog.


For our Tshirt Design let’s take page size with a width of 10 inches and a height of 12inches. Remember to keep the orientation as portrait for our artwork. You may also name your document here or choose to do it later.


Tip: Choose the right dimension.

Always remember to design in the size you intend to print it in.

Most standard are less than 10 inches in width and 12 inches in height. There are also oversized tshirt designs which may be printed right from the hem (the bottom of the tshirt ) to the collar. All-over designs are a third type where artwork is designed for the entire tshirt where the Illustration usually covers the back and front entirely.

Step 2

Select the Ellipse Tool from the Toolbar which is to the left of the window. Double Click with the Ellipse tool on the page to open the Ellipse dialog. Go ahead and input 3.5 inches for the width and height and press ‘ok’.


This would draw a circle.



Select the Line Tool from the toolbar and draw the 3 lines as shown in the figure below.


Well, we are done creating a simple Peace symbol. If you have warmed up, let’s move on to make this sign more appealing.

Step 4

Illustrator comes with several interesting brushes and we shall use one of those to add some chic to our Peace symbol.

Go to the Windows menu and choose Brushes to open the Brushes panel or pallete where you can find quite a few brushes. Besides the brushes that show up in the pallete, there are some more fascinating ones. To get to the brush we intend to use click on the icon in the left bottom of the brush panel, go to Vector Packs and select Grunge brushes vector pack from the flyout. This would open the Grunge Brushes Vector Pack panel.


Select the Peace symbol you created earler and click on the first brush from the options. Your Peace symbol should now appear like the one shown below.




Select the circle and rotate it so that the ends of the brush appear at the top. This would make our Peace sign look gleaming at the top without any additional effort. Our aim is to keep the Tshirt design as simple as we can.

Step 6


It’s time to add some beat to our artwork with some serious message. Refer to the image below for the text, font face and the font size. You may use the fonts suggested below or choose the font and font size of your choice. You may also omit the date if you like.

Step 7

Let us now add a rectangle to hold all the content. Select the Rectangle Tool in the Toolbar and click on the artboard. You may now give the rectangle a width of 8 inches with a height of 11.3 inches.


You can now use the Align Panel to align and space the objects properly. To get the Align panel, go to Windows menu and choose Align from the dropdown.

I hope you are excited to see our artwork take shape. Let’s jazz it up by adding some stimulating colors.

Step 8

We would need to add few colors to our existing swatch to use in our file; just as we added the brush in step 4.

Go to the Windows menu and choose Swatches to open the Swatches panel or pallete. Click on the icon in the left bottom of the swatch panel, go to Color Books and select PANTONE process uncoated from the flyout.


Tip: Choose the right color

Using PMS or the Pantone Matching System colors in your artwork ensures more accurate results as this process includes color mixing to achieve precise colors. PMS colors are identified by their number and each color can be achieved by mixing specific based colors. In CMYK, the colors are separated into four primary colors namely Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black which are then printed one after the other. Since the PMS colors are color coded, you can share the color codes with the printer to achieve accurate results.

Step 9

Now that we understand the advantages of Pantone colors, let’s choose the colors that we shall use in our Tshirt Design artwork.

Click on the dropdown icon in the top right corner of the Pantone swatch pallete and select the ‘Show Find Field’ and the ‘Medium Thumbnail View’ option from the flyout. A Find input field now appears at the to of the panel where you can type the color codes you are looking for.

Type PANTONE 116 U in the Find field to look for the color. You may now dbl click on the color that is highlighted to add it to swatch from where it can be later used. You may do the same for two more colors, PANTONE 1955 U and PANTONE 711 U.

Now that we have chosen the colors we would need, let’s begin coloring our vector artwork.


Step 10

Color the Text and Objects in the colors mentioned below.



Let us choose the Elegant Curl Brush set just as we did before in Step 4.


Select the rectangle and apply the ‘Floral Bulbs’ brush to the rectangle. This will add more visual interest to our rectangular frame.

Step 12

Even though our text says ‘Push The Button’, our Peace symbol is nowhere close to looking like one. I’m sure this thought may have crossed your mind too.

Copy the circle and Paste it in Place. You can do this by doing Ctrl + C and Ctrl + Shft + V. The Circle now appears above the lines in the Peace symbol. Change the outline of the circle to PANTONE 711 U.


To send the object behind the earlier circle and the lines of the symbol do the following. Right Click on the circle you just copied, go to Arrange and click on Send Backward. Repeat this step until this circle goes behind the earlier one. Now, move the circle 20 px down from its current position.


Step 13

Warping ‘World Peace Day’ would make it stand out more and would make it look pleasing as well.

Select the text ‘World Peace Day’, go to Object menu, Envelope and choose Make with Warp.

In the Warp Options dialog choose Horizontal, change the Bend value to -3 and clock OK.


We are almost done with our design. Lets now complete two important steps to make our artwork print ready.

Step 14

Go to Select menu, down to Object and choose Text Objects. All the text objects on our artboard has now been selected. Next, go to Object menu and select Expand. In the Expand dialog, make sure the Object and Fill is checked and Click OK.


Step 15

Let’s now expand our brush strokes as well. In the Select menu, go to Object and choose Brush Strokes. Now go to Object menu and click on Expand Appearance. Our artwork is now ready to go to the printer.


Tip: Making your file Print ready

The printer may or may not have the fonts or the brushes that we used in our artwork. So always remember to expand text, lines and brush strokes before sending your file to the printer as expanding converts’ text and brushes to shapes. This ensures nothing changes in your artwork even when fonts and other assets are missing at the Printer.

Tip: To ensure quality results

  • It is best you send the following details of the Tshirt design to the printer.
  • Dimension of the Artwork
  • Location of the artwork on the Tshirt
  • PMS color codes used in the artwork
  • The size and color of the blank tshirt to print your design
  • The quantity of the tshirts to be printed.
  • View your artwork in Adobe Acrobat in its actual size before sending for print.

This brings us to the end of this tutorial. I hope you’ve enjoyed this Tshirt Design tutorial and found the tips useful. In case you haven’t followed the Tshirt Design tutorial, you may download the artwork for FREE by clicking on image below.

Download Tshirt Design

Please share your views and also some tips besides the one mentioned.

We shall post tutorials more regularly, so keep posted and have a great World Peace Day!

  1. Thanks so much for the tutorial!

    I knew much of it already, but the tip to include key details (dimensions, location, size of shirt, etc.) at the end really helps when submitting for printing.

    Much appreciated!

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