Design a t-shirt

Learn how to create an eye-catching t-shirt graphic using basic shapes and Creative Cloud mobile apps.

When you need to make vector graphics for flyers, postcards, and stickers to promote your upcoming events, Adobe Illustrator CC is the perfect tool for the job. Using a few basic shapes and some of the new drawing tools, you can create eye-catching designs in minutes. Check out how easy it is to design a custom t-shirt graphic that you can upload to an online print vendor like CafePress or Zazzle. Surprise your friends by making custom shirts for everyone in your club or sports team.

Download the practice file and open with the latest version of Adobe Illustrator CC to create a stylized boombox design with heart-shaped speakers.

T-shirt with custom graphic

1. Draw basic shapes

Select the Rectangle tool. Click and drag to draw rectangles to create the boombox outline. Change the dimensions of a rectangle after you draw it by dragging one of the corner handles.

Press V to switch to the Selection tool, and then drag the rectangles to rearrange them. As you drag the rectangles, Smart Guides help you align the shapes.

Selecting the Rectangle tool

Click and hold the Rectangle tool icon in the toolbar to select the Ellipse tool. Hold down the Shift key and drag to draw a symmetric circle for the left speaker. Press V and use the Selection tool to position the circle on the left side of the boombox.

Selecting the Ellipse tool

2. Combine paths to create new shapes

Use the Curvature tool to click four points on a different part of the artboard. This creates the left side of the heart shape. Press Escape after clicking the fourth point to finish drawing the path.

Press V to switch to the Selection tool, then click on the path. Option(Alt) + drag the path to duplicate it. Hold down the Shift key while you drag the duplicate path to keep both paths in alignment.

Drawing and dragging paths to keep them in alignment

Choose Object > Transform > Reflect, choose the Vertical option, and click OK. Press and hold the Shift key and position the right side of the heart so the two paths overlap. Shift-click the other half of the heart to select both paths.

Click and hold the Pencil tool icon in the toolbar to select the Join tool. Drag the Join tool over the areas where the two paths meet to join them together. Learn more about joining and trimming paths.

Joining paths

3. Resize, duplicate, and position shapes

Use the Selection tool to Shift-drag a corner of the heart to resize it, then center the heart inside the round speaker. Shift-click on the circle to select both shapes. Option(Alt) + drag the two shapes to duplicate the left speaker. Press and hold Shift to keep both speakers aligned as you position the right speaker.

Duplicating and positioning shapes

4. Add type

Use the Type tool to draw a text frame below the boombox. Type the name of your event, then highlight the text. Choose Window > Type > Character and use the options to apply text formatting. Change the font, weight, size — and even adjust the amount of space between the letters.

Create beautiful typography effects by adding fonts from Typekit. Learn more about using Typekit fonts.

Tip: Using the Selection tool, you can scale and reposition the text just like you resized the heart in Step 3.

Applying text formatting

5. Adjust fill and stroke colors

Press V to switch to the Selection tool, then drag a box around the boombox. Try changing the stroke width in the Options panel. Set the fill and stroke colors in this menu.

Select shapes and double-click the Fill or Stroke icons in the toolbar to choose a new color in the color picker. To capture custom color themes, use Adobe Color CC.

Tip: Try setting the stroke or fill color to None to create interesting effects.

Setting stroke and fill colors

6. Customize and experiment

Use the Line tool to click-drag a straight line to draw an antenna on the boombox. Hold Shift to draw perfectly horizontal or vertical lines. Use the other skills you learned to embellish the design.

Embellishing the design

Experiment with other design techniques. Use Adobe Shape CC to capture a shape with your mobile device and add a textured background.

Creative Cloud subscribers can choose from a library of vector art in Creative Cloud Market to refine your design. Simply drag art from the library to add it to your project.

Check out tshirt-inspiration.pdf included in the sample files folder to get more inspiration for customizing your design.

Experimenting with other design techniques
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