How to Paint a T-shirt: Basic Rules and Tips for Creating a Unique Design | Artistro

How to Paint a T-shirt: Basic Rules and Tips for Creating a Unique Design

Would you like to wear unique clothes? There is no need to search through designer collections anymore. Start your own clothing line with unique DIY T-shirt painting!

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Making a DIY T-shirt painting is an original and fun way to breathe new life into your old clothes. You can use ready-made stencils to copy your favorite designs, logos, or sayings. Alternatively, you can get creative and freehand your own T-shirt painting ideas. Check out these 100+ easy things to draw for inspiration.

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How to Paint a T-shirt

It's amazing how easy and affordable it is to create a new T-shirt design. Here's how to do it in 3 easy steps:

  1. Preliminary preparation of the T-shirt and workspace
  2. Drawing your design
  3. Sealing the painting
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■  MULTI-PURPOSE: Enjoy creating art projects on virtually any surface: fabric, textile, canvas, metal, pottery, treated wood, plastic, stone, terra-cotta, polymer clay, rock & more. Resistant to water, fading, and abrasion.

■  GREAT FOR CERAMIC, GLASS, PORCELAIN: Create stunning custom mugs and other personalized gifts for your loved ones. Painting is permanent after baking. Not dishwasher safe.

Here are the basic rules for painting on T-shirts

  • To prevent ink or paint from seeping through the top layer of the fabric, be sure to place a piece of cardboard inside the shirt.
  • Lay the shirt on a completely flat surface. For comfort, the T-shirt needs to be fixed (by pinning it to the cardboard with pins or tape).
  • Cover the edges of the T-shirt with tape. This will prevent ink from spilling onto the clean cloth, especially if you're painting T-shirts with acrylic paint (as opposed to using markers).
  • If you are using brand new markers that you haven’t used before, prime them first on a spare sheet of paper.
  • If your drawing is multi-layered, be sure to wait for the ink/paint to dry before applying a new layer.
  • Use markers of similar shades to create a smooth color transition. To do this, slide a marker of a different color over the underlying paint. Do this before the bottom layer dries, otherwise there will be no smudging effect.
  • If you want to paint on a dark T-shirt, paint over the area you intend to draw with white acrylic paint and wait until it dries completely, to create a background. After that, you can start drawing.
  • When it is time to seal the design, put a piece of cardboard inside the T-shirt, and put a piece of cotton fabric between the iron and the fabric of the T-shirt so that the direct heat of the iron does not melt the paint.
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    How to paint T-shirts: Preliminary preparation

    Before starting work, it is important to prepare the T-shirt correctly. There is always a slight chance of fabric shrinkage after washing, so be sure to wash and dry the T-shirt before starting. Study the manufacturer tag carefully. It is recommended to choose a T-shirt made of natural fabric, like linen or cotton. A good rule of thumb is to not use fabrics comprising more than 10% synthetic material. Do not use a T-shirt with defects such as snagging, roughness, pilling faded tone, etc.

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    After applying the design, wash the T-shirt by hand in cold water (up to 30 degrees). Be sure to turn the shirt inside out first to secure the design. If it needs to be ironed, always iron a printed T-shirt on the coolest setting, without steam, and inside-out. 

    How to seal a T-shirt painting design

    1. Let the T-shirt painting dry for 2 days first. Keep the shirt out of direct sunlight to protect the color of the shirt and ink.
    2. To seal a picture, it is enough to iron the DIY T-shirt painting you made. As mentioned earlier, remember to place a piece of cardboard inside the T-shirt and a piece of cotton cloth between the iron and the T-shirt before ironing. Ironing time is 5-10 minutes, depending on how many layers the image has and how thickly the paint was applied.

    That's it — your unique T-shirt is ready! Enjoy your new look, and don’t forget to enjoy the creative process along the way!

    Beginner's t-shirt painting designs

    The baby Yoda t-shirt painting

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    To create your own Yoda T-shirt, you will need some standard art supplies and a finished drawing. Although experienced artists can create a drawing in the process, we recommend that you prepare a drawing of baby Yoda in advance, which you will use as a stencil.


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    You will need:

  • a white t-shirt
  • a set of colored markers
  • baby Yoda drawing stencil
  • scissors
  • a pencil
  • 2 sheets of cardboard
  • a few binder clips
  • How to paint on a t-shirt

    1. cut out the Yoda picture with scissors
    2. attach the drawing of Yoda to the shirt and outline it with a pencil
    3. add the missing details of the drawing with a pencil
    4. select markers of the required colors and start painting a t-shirt
    5. tint Yoda's skin
    6. let each layer of ink dry completely before applying a new layer over it
    7. add some shadows with the required colors
    8. tint Yoda's clothes
    9. draw his eyes and ears
    10. draw his mobile cradle
    11. outline the contours with black marker
    12. be sure to add a lettering with your favorite Star Wars quote

    Tip! You can use Star Wars logos as t-shirt painting ideas. These stencils are perfect for beginners who are just starting out with drawing.

    Kung fu Panda t-shirt painting

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    You will need:

  • a plain t-shirt
  • a set of colored markers
  • acrylic paints
  • a stencil
  • scissors
  • a pencil
  • a sheet of cardboard
  • a few binder clips
  • How to paint on a t-shirt

    1. Outline the stencil with a graphite pencil.
    2. Apply base paints (white first, black and brown on top).
    3. With a graphite pencil, draw the panda's face on the white paint.
    4. Outline the panda's face and shade the nose and area around the eyes with a black marker.
    5. Trace all the elements of the figure and finish the small details (belt, socks).
    6. Using a gray and white marker, add shadows to the right and left of the panda's belly, chin, cheeks, and head.
    7. Draw small bristles on the arms and legs with a white marker.

    Disney t-shirt painting

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    You will need:

  • a white t-shirt
  • a set of colored markers
  • a sheet of cardboard
  • a few binder clips
  • How to paint on a t-shirt

    1. With a red marker, draw the first lettering in handwritten letters.
    2. With a black marker, draw the second block lettering.
    3. Using a gold marker, draw the word Disney in the center of the shirt.
    4. Add random stars with gold, red, and black markers.
    5. In the upper right corner above the first lettering, draw Mickey's ears with a black marker and tint them completely.

    Wreck-it Ralph t-shirt painting

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    You will need:

  • a plain t-shirt
  • a set of colored markers
  • acrylic paints
  • a stencil
  • a pencil
  • a sheet of cardboard
  • a few binder clips
  • How to paint on a t-shirt

    1. Outline the stencil with a graphite pencil.
    2. Apply the base for the drawing with white paint.
    3. Separate the key elements of the drawing with a graphite pencil.
    4. Use a brown marker to tone Ralph's hair.
    5. Use a beige marker to tone exposed skin.
    6. Draw Ralph's T-shirt with a yellow marker and his pants with a red marker.
    7. Using a black marker, trace all the elements of Ralph's figure to give the drawing volume.
    8. Draw the teeth, eyebrows, eyes and cheeks of Ralph.
    9. Add the lettering.

    Chocolate t-shirt painting

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    You will need:

  • a white t-shirt
  • a set of colored markers
  • a pencil
  • a sheet of cardboard
  • a few binder clips
  • How to paint on a t-shirt

    1. Draw the lettering with black and pink markers.
    2. On the sides, add chocolate cubes with a brown marker.
    3. At the bottom, draw the outline of the chocolate bar with a black marker.
    4. Tint the cover of the chocolate bar in green, and the chocolate itself in brown.
    5. Draw the face of the chocolate bar with a black marker.
    6. With a white marker, add an ornament over the black lettering to create volume.

    Be sure to check out our painting on stones step by step guide later and discover 100+ new rock painting ideas with Artistro!

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