Top 3 T-Shirt Design Rules To Follow

7 Sept 202208:00

TLDRIn the realm of t-shirt design, three key rules are highlighted to ensure success on platforms like Redbubble and Society6. First, designers should aim to fill the entire rectangle space, commonly 16 by 20 inches, to maximize the visual impact. Second, limiting the number of colors used not only keeps the design aesthetically pleasing but also helps to control costs, especially in screen printing or heat transfer processes. Lastly, simplicity is crucial; designs should be straightforward and easily understood, avoiding overcomplication. The video also recommends using Kittle for accessing a vast array of t-shirt design templates and tutorials to enhance one's design skills.


  • ๐Ÿ“ **Fill the Rectangle**: The most popular designs in print-on-demand tend to use the full rectangle space, which is commonly 16 by 20 inches.
  • ๐ŸŽจ **Limit Colors**: Use a limited color palette to make the design more aesthetically pleasing and potentially less expensive for screen printing or heat transfers.
  • ๐ŸŒŸ **Simple Design**: Keep the design simple to understand. Avoid trying to convey complex ideas or narratives on a single t-shirt.
  • ๐Ÿ” **Composition**: Combine illustrations and typography to create a full layout that avoids negative space.
  • ๐Ÿšซ **Avoid Over-Complication**: The design should be straightforward and not distract from the main message or elements.
  • ๐ŸŒˆ **Color Palette**: Even with DTG (Direct to Garment) printing, it's advised to use a limited number of colors to prevent distraction.
  • ๐Ÿ’ก **Design Aesthetics**: Focus on design aesthetics rather than realism when choosing colors for a t-shirt design.
  • ๐Ÿ“ˆ **Research Successful Designs**: For beginners, research what designs are successful and create designs that capitalize on that full composition.
  • ๐Ÿ›๏ธ **Print-on-Demand Platforms**: Platforms like Redbubble and Merch by Amazon prefer designs that utilize the full shirt space.
  • ๐Ÿ“‰ **Cost Consideration**: More colors can increase the cost of the design, especially in traditional printing methods.
  • ๐Ÿ“š **Use Templates**: Utilize templates from platforms like Kittle to start designing and to understand the rules of t-shirt design.

Q & A

  • What is the first rule of t-shirt design mentioned in the transcript?

    -The first rule of t-shirt design is to fill the rectangle, meaning to use the entire space available for the shirt design, typically a size like 16 by 20 inches.

  • What are the implications of using a full rectangle composition for t-shirt design?

    -Using a full rectangle composition helps to create a full layout by combining illustrations and typography, which can be more aesthetically pleasing than having a design element floating in the middle or bottom of the shirt with a lot of negative space.

  • Why is it recommended to limit the number of colors used in a t-shirt design?

    -Limiting the number of colors used in a t-shirt design can make the design more aesthetically pleasing and can also save money, as more colors can increase the cost of screen printing or heat transfers.

  • What is the potential downside of using too many colors in a t-shirt design?

    -Using too many colors in a t-shirt design can be distracting and may detract from the overall message or aesthetic of the design.

  • How does the simplicity of a t-shirt design relate to its effectiveness?

    -A simple t-shirt design is more effective because it is easier for the viewer to interpret and understand. It avoids over-complicating the message and ensures that the design is clear and straightforward.

  • What is the importance of using a limited color palette in t-shirt design?

    -Using a limited color palette helps maintain a balanced and aesthetically pleasing design. It prevents the design from becoming too distracting and keeps the focus on the main elements of the design.

  • How does the transcript suggest one can be creative with t-shirt design while still following the rules?

    -The transcript suggests that once the basic rules of t-shirt design are understood, designers can get creative with smaller designs for the chest or pocket areas, or by using different shapes and methods while still adhering to the principles of filling the rectangle, limiting colors, and keeping the design simple.

  • What is the advantage of using DTG (Direct to Garment) printing for t-shirt designs with many colors?

    -DTG printing allows for the use of as many colors as desired without significantly increasing the cost, making it a suitable option for designs that require a broader color palette.

  • How does the transcript describe the balance between creativity and simplicity in t-shirt design?

    -The transcript emphasizes that while creativity is important, it should not compromise the simplicity and understandability of the design. The design should be straightforward, allowing the audience to grasp the concept immediately.

  • What is the role of typography in creating a full layout for t-shirt designs?

    -Typography plays a significant role in a full layout as it can be combined with illustrations to effectively utilize the entire space on the shirt, contributing to a cohesive and visually appealing design.

  • How does the transcript suggest one can start with t-shirt design using online platforms like Kittle?

    -The transcript suggests that one can start with t-shirt design by signing up for free on platforms like Kittle, which offers hundreds or thousands of t-shirt design templates and tutorials to help beginners learn and apply the principles of t-shirt design.



๐ŸŽจ Maximizing T-Shirt Design Real Estate

The first rule of t-shirt design emphasizes the importance of utilizing the entire available space on the shirt, typically a rectangle measuring around 16 by 20 inches. This approach is particularly suitable for print-on-demand platforms like Redbubble and Merch by Amazon. While it's not a strict rule, especially for unique or minimalist designs, for beginners in print on demand, it's recommended to create designs that fully occupy the shirt's front. This not only helps with creating a balanced layout by integrating illustrations and typography but also ensures that no space is wasted. The video also mentions that while there are many templates available that follow this rule, designers can still get creative with smaller or differently placed designs.


๐Ÿ–๏ธ Selective Use of Colors in T-Shirt Design

The second rule focuses on the cautious use of colors in t-shirt design. Limiting the number of colors is advised to prevent increasing the cost of production, especially in screen printing or heat transfers. While direct-to-garment (DTG) printing allows for a broader color palette without significant added cost, the video suggests maintaining a limited color palette to avoid a distracting or overly complex design. The aim is to create a design that is aesthetically pleasing and not overwhelming to the viewer. The video provides examples of designs that, despite having multiple colors, are balanced and maintain a clear, understandable message.

๐Ÿ“ Simplifying T-Shirt Design for Clarity

The third and final rule discussed is to keep the t-shirt design simple and easily understandable. This doesn't mean the design should lack detail but rather that the message or concept should be clear at first glance. The video uses examples of designs that, while intricate, convey a straightforward message that is not overly complicated. It's advised against trying to depict an entire narrative, like a movie plot, and instead to focus on a single, clear concept. The examples given in the video demonstrate how designs can be detailed yet still simple to comprehend, adhering to the rules of filling the rectangle, using a limited color palette, and ensuring the design is uncomplicated and clear.



๐Ÿ’กT-shirt design rules

T-shirt design rules refer to the guidelines one should follow to create visually appealing and marketable t-shirt designs. In the video, these rules are crucial for individuals who are starting to get into print on demand services like Redbubble and Society6, ensuring their designs are effective and adhere to industry standards.

๐Ÿ’กPrint on demand

Print on demand is a business model where products are only produced when a customer orders them, reducing the need for inventory and allowing for a wider range of designs. The video discusses this model in the context of t-shirt design, emphasizing the importance of design rules for those looking to sell their designs on platforms like Redbubble and Merch by Amazon.

๐Ÿ’กRectangle space

The rectangle space refers to the area on a t-shirt where the design is printed, typically measuring around 16 by 20 inches. The video stresses the importance of utilizing the entire rectangle space for a balanced and full design, as opposed to having a design that only occupies a small portion of the shirt, which can leave negative space and appear less appealing.

๐Ÿ’กIllustrations and typography

Illustrations and typography are two key elements in t-shirt design that can be combined to create a cohesive and visually striking layout. The video suggests that using both elements together can help fill the rectangle space effectively, as opposed to having an isolated illustration or text that may not fully utilize the available design area.

๐Ÿ’กColor palette

A color palette refers to the set of colors used in a design. The video advises limiting the number of colors in a t-shirt design to keep it aesthetically pleasing and potentially cost-effective, especially for printing methods like screen printing where additional colors can increase the price.

๐Ÿ’กDirect to garment (DTG) printing

DTG printing is a method of printing directly onto garments with a digital printer, allowing for complex designs with multiple colors without significantly increasing costs. The video mentions that while DTG printing is more flexible with color use, designers should still aim for a balanced color palette to avoid overwhelming the viewer.

๐Ÿ’กDesign simplicity

Design simplicity means creating a design that is easy to understand and interpret at a glance. The video emphasizes that while a design can be detailed, it should not be so complex that it confuses the viewer. A simple design conveys its message clearly and is more likely to resonate with the audience.

๐Ÿ’กT-shirt templates

T-shirt templates are pre-made design layouts that can be used as a starting point for creating custom t-shirt designs. The video highlights that platforms like Kittle offer numerous templates that designers can utilize and adapt to create unique designs that still adhere to the principles of effective t-shirt design.


Kittle is a platform mentioned in the video that provides a wide range of t-shirt design templates and is user-friendly for designing t-shirts. It is presented as a resource where individuals can start creating their designs by following along with tutorials and using the available templates, which can be customized to fit various design rules.

๐Ÿ’กAesthetic appeal

Aesthetic appeal refers to the visual attractiveness or pleasing quality of a design. The video discusses how limiting the color palette and ensuring design simplicity can contribute to a design's aesthetic appeal, making it more likely to be appreciated by viewers and potential customers.

๐Ÿ’กViewer interpretation

Viewer interpretation is the ability of the audience to understand and make sense of a design. The video stresses the importance of creating designs that are easily interpretable by viewers, suggesting that designs should convey a clear message without requiring the viewer to decipher complex or overly detailed imagery.


Fill the rectangle: Use the entire space for t-shirt designs, commonly a size like 16 by 20 inches.

Utilize the full real estate of the shirt for print on demand sites like Redbubble and Merch by Amazon.

Composition filling the rectangle helps with full layout by combining illustrations and typography.

Limit the number of colors used to avoid increased costs and distraction.

For DTG (Direct to Garment) printing, a broader color palette is acceptable but still aim for a limited palette for clarity.

Select a core group of colors to maintain an aesthetically pleasing design.

Keep the t-shirt design simple to understand, avoiding overcomplication.

Ensure the design message is clear and easily interpretable by the viewer.

Designs should not attempt to explain complex narratives, focusing on clarity and simplicity.

Use Kittle for easy t-shirt design with access to hundreds of templates.

Kittle allows for creative design within the guidelines of filling the rectangle, limiting colors, and simplicity.

The design should be crafted to allow for easy color adjustments if needed for different printing methods.

Even with multiple elements, the design should come across as simple and convey a clear message.

Background elements should blend in with the overall aesthetic without being distracting.

Designs can be vibrant with multiple colors as long as they maintain simplicity and clarity.

There are no strict rules on the number of colors, but aim for a balanced and non-distracting design.

Sign up for free on Kittle to access tutorials and start creating your own t-shirt designs.

Watch additional tutorials on the channel for more in-depth guidance on t-shirt design.