Top T-Shirt Design Tips – 5 Secrets For Perfect T Shirt Text (Plus One Bonus!)


If your funny t-shirts are turning out funny-looking, the problem might be your text. No matter how awesome your cool t shirt designs are whenever you imagine them, if your text is poorly designed, your shirts will always look unprofessional. But don’t fear! With these 5 tricks of professional graphic designers, you are able to quickly turn those amateur custom t shirts into perfect and polished works of t shirt art.

Whenever choosing a font for the t shirt text, make sure to pick one which supports your message. For example, if you’re designing a funny t shirt, select a font that has a funny feel to it. If you’re designing a sexy t shirt, select a font that has a sexy feel to it. And if you’re designing a t shirt for a serious, professional law firm, you most likely don’t want to use that font with letters shaped like kittens.

While this could seem like good sense, many new t shirt designers and would-be t shirt entrepreneurs skip this task and just pick any standard font they might have lying around. Unfortunately, it’s obvious in their results; what could have been an enjoyable t shirt design eventually ends up being boring and amateur-looking. If you’re careful to choose a font that represents the content of one’s words, however, you are able to avoid this fate and your shirts will be one step ahead of one’s competition.

A lot of the time, when font text is typed in to a computer program, the spaces between the letters and words really are a little uneven, and often a touch too wide. This extra and uneven space not merely makes your text look somewhat awkward and unprofessional, additionally, it causes it to be slightly more difficult to learn because the language don’t visually hold together as units. Even though the viewer doesn’t notice it, the eye and the brain need to work somewhat harder and that extra little difficulty gives the viewer a subconscious feeling of unease.

Tracking has to do with adjusting the typical spacing of letters across entire words, sentences, or selected ranges of letters. By adjusting the tracking, the t shirt artis Classic T Shirts t can either decrease the typical spacing between all the letters in the selected range (making the spacing “tighter”), otherwise increase the typical spacing (“opening up” the text), according to what’s needed. Because the raw, unadjusted spacing varies from font to font, you’ll have to decide what type is necessary for your particular t shirt design. But an excellent trick employed by professional t shirt designers is to start out by tightening the font a lot of (so the letters are too close together) and then slowly increasing the tracking until the language look right.

Kerning is much like tracking, but with one important difference: as opposed to adjusting the typical spacing across a complete range of letters, kerning only adjusts the spacing between two letters at a time. This allows a greater amount of control than tracking, and allows a t shirt artist to fine tune the spacing between single letter pairs that still don’t look quite right, even after the text has been tracked.

When the letters of a t shirt slogan have now been properly tracked and kerned, another important step is to regulate the spacing between the words. Adjusting word spacing is much like tracking and kerning — actually, it’s done the same way as kerning and is truly just kerning the spaces between words rather than letters — however the guideline for proper spacing between words is just a little different, and so word spacing is just a whole step unto itself.

Generally speaking, the most effective practice when adjusting spacing between words is to visualize the width of a lowercase “L” in the font that’s used, and then make the area between each word that wide. Which means that the width of the spaces between words is likely to be distinctive from font to font (because the size of the lowercase “L” is distinctive from font to font), but it also means that the spacing is likely to be custom made for the font in question. Creating the proper level of space between words will support the effects of one’s tracking and kerning, thus helping your words to keep together better as separate visual units and improving readability.

Another place that new t shirt designers often make a mistake is in the leading, or “spacing between lines of text.” Leading — which can be pronounced such as the metal “lead” rather than such as a “leader” taking people somewhere — goes back to the times of the printing press, whenever a person would actually use small, thin pieces of lead to create vertical space between the lines of type. These days, needless to say, computers handle the leading for us. Unfortunately, as it pertains to t shirt text, they often handle it poorly.

Each time a t shirt slogan is typed in to a computer program, it often starts out with a touch too much space between the lines. It will help make the text look very “fonty” rather than natural, along with making the t shirt design (and the designer) seem very amateur. With only a tiny change to the leading, however, that same t shirt text can be made to check very tight and professional.

With leading, the target is to create room enough between the lines of text so they fit nicely together and don’t interfere with each other, without creating so much space which they look artificial or become difficult to read. The attention should manage to easily jump visually in one line to another location without losing its place, and without the effort at all. While there’s no real guideline for the proper level of space between lines, a t shirt designer who begins adjusting the leading will begin to learn to “feel” when it’s right. Generally speaking, the simplest way to start is to decrease the amount of leading — tightening the area between the lines — and then keep tweaking it down or down until it feels visually balanced. When it seems natural and reads smoothly, your t shirt slogan is one step nearer to the big time.

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