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How to Create Simple Effective T-Shirt Designs and Make Money on Zazzle and Cafepress

Updated on June 15, 2014

Using Simple Self Produced Graphics

This Simple Drawing was created with Microsoft Paint and made a popular design
This Simple Drawing was created with Microsoft Paint and made a popular design | Source

Are You Artistically Challenged?

Do you consider yourself artistically challenged? Do you say 'I can't draw?"

I was never good at Art or Drawing at School, I could draw a house with four windows and a coil of smoke coming out of the chimney and a nice front door, but that was about it.

Now I have the added problem of not being able to see color very clearly and only seeing strong thick black lines with my nose pressed against my 21 inch monitor.

That is not the best place to start becoming a t-shirt designer.

But I decided to try to sell some designs and it has been somewhat successful.

So even if I can do it maybe you can too!

Basic Drawing Package

Both the designs you see on this page were created with Microsoft Paint, being a simple art creation tool it is limited but if you want cheap and cheerful you can't beat FREE with your Windows O/S.

For the best results you can if you find you need it buy a program such as Corel Draw. Such packages allow for saving with invisible backgrounds. Paint doesn't allow this so you must either modify your design for colored shirts or accept that it will be printed with a white background.

Go Modern

Become inspired by modern art. This design was suggested by the art of Piet Mondrian, famous for his straight lines and color blocks.
Become inspired by modern art. This design was suggested by the art of Piet Mondrian, famous for his straight lines and color blocks. | Source


The drawing at the top was created using some of the circle and line tools on the Paint program.

I named the German Shepherd Cartoon character Polly after my pet GSD. The dog in my profile picture.

I had tried to draw "Polly" freehand on a piece of paperusing a heavy Sharpie (permanent) marker. It was ok but the paint version was better.

You can draw freehand on a piece of paper if you like and make the picture just larger than you require, scan your drawing at the highest possible resolution and save it in JPG or JPEG format. That works for me too.

The second design was created using the line drawing and fill facillities on paint.

I followed some examples of the work of Piet Mondrian who is famous for his line and colored blocks art work. Borrow a book on modern art from your library for inspiration. There are many areas where modern art requires little ability to represent the world in photographic detail, but you can create individual artwork and design that is full of color and interesting patterns.

Mondrian was my first choice to try, but I will add more later.

Keep the design as simple as you can though. Too many small details get lost in the T-shirt printing process. Make images, patterns and colors bold and don't be afraid to use bold color combinations. But don't over use color. It can look like n explosion in a paint factory. Mind you if you like Jackson-Pollock then that is what you might want.

Saving Your Designs

When you are happy with your design. Save it to your computer as a JPG or JPEG or PNG file.

These are more easily uploaded to for you to create your products.

One way to vary a design is to simply flip it. I used this technique to add variation to my "Polly" design. Some images then face left others face right. All done at the click of the mouse. Two designs in one. Of course you can flip the Mondrian type of design four times through 90 degrees so giving more variety.

Try T-shirt design for yourself

T-shirt design is fun. I decided to try it just to see what might happen and I have had agood time designing and coming up with styles.

I have sold several shirtd so making a few dollars in income. I have also been able to expand my own t-shirt collection in my wardrobe with some good quality products.

It can also provide you with some publicity. You can become your own walking advertisement for your hubs or blogs. Just include your URL and you may find people looking you up online.

I would recommend Cafepress in particular. Their shirts are good quality and the printing is excellent.


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    • Bretsuki profile imageAUTHOR

      William Elliott 

      7 years ago from California USA

      Hello darlynn86, thanks for stopping by. Thanks for the link to your craft hub you have some great ideas for kids.

    • darlynn86 profile image


      7 years ago from Indianapolis

      I will definitely have to look more into this, I always make t-shirts for my kids birthday parties and family events. Great hub!

    • Bretsuki profile imageAUTHOR

      William Elliott 

      7 years ago from California USA

      Hello Sharyn, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. It can be great fun to create some designs. Especially if you like individual t-shirts at a reasonable price.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 

      7 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Bret,

      This is interesting. I'm going to have to check it out when I find the time. Thanks for the info.


    • Bretsuki profile imageAUTHOR

      William Elliott 

      7 years ago from California USA

      Hello Daffy, thanks for your comment. I had not thought of that aspect of the hub as I wrote it, but I see your point. Great idea.

      May be a parent could help a child using these techniques and perhaps make and buy them a shirt to wear of their own creation. That would be a great way to encourage a child too.

    • Daffy Duck profile image

      Daffy Duck 

      7 years ago from Cornelius, Oregon

      It's interesting that you wrote this hub now. This hub is about exploring your creativity and the possibility of art and design among other things. I just read a hub that helps parents keep their kids busy with art and design written by darlynn86. your hub would be great for kids as well as teens and adults. I love it!

    • Bretsuki profile imageAUTHOR

      William Elliott 

      7 years ago from California USA

      Hello davenmidtown, thank you. You are very genorous.

    • davenmidtown profile image

      David Stillwell 

      7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Another Great hub my friend! You do inspire me.


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