How to design an impressive graphic tee in Photoshop
Here at WeGraphics we are working hard on a new project. I can’t reveal too much for the moment, but I can anticipate you that a new awesome t-shirt brand is coming to life…I’m personally designing 10 tee graphics for the first collection and the style is the WeGraphics one: strong, expressive and with a touch of dirty!
After studied in the last months some techniques related to t-shirt design, which was difficult for me to deal with since I love complex digital photo-manipulations, today I want to share with you what I’ve learned. We will create together a stylized portrait of a blindfolded lady, using some of our resources and dealing with simple Photoshop techniques.
I’m considering to include this graphic in the first tee collection, so I’d like to hear from you in the comments: would you buy this t-shirt?
Let’s start creating the Photoshop document where we will put in the graphic ready to be sent to the printing company. The size: 12×16 inches (around 30×40 cm) will work fine. Resolution is 300pixels/inch and color mode CMYK.
You can save and hide this document for the moment. In the first phase we will create a custom brush for the face of the lady. So search for the image of someone’s portrait, maybe a friend or a stock photo from Morguefile for example. I’ve used this attractive woman portrait from Shutterstock:
To realize the custom brush, we need to create a second Photoshop document. This time the size is 2500×2500 pixels always at 300 pixels/inch of resolution but in greyscale mode. You can consider to save this preset for future brushes. Once created the document, paste in the photo you’ve decided to work with.
Since I want to include the hair of the model into the brush, we have to darken them. So grab the Burn Tool, set it on Mildtones, and start painting over the hair using a soft (hardness 0%) brush. In case your model’s hair are black, this step is not necessary. Consider that the more you darken the hair, the more they will be included in the custom brush.
Now isolate the head with the help of the Eraser tool (or a layer mask if you prefer). Remember to always set hardness to 0%.
Let’s add more style to the photo. Start by increasing a lot contrasts. Press Ctrl+L to open the levels window and bring nearer the black and white arrows as shown below:
My aim is to create a kind of blindfolded goddess. To create the shape of the bandage you can use the pen tool. It’s not important to add depth or to make the bandage realistic (you could also extract the bandage from another photo for this step), since we will cover it later using other brushes. Anyway try to follow lady’s lineaments and add a soft drop shadow to the shape. Also if you want to enhance face’s details you can also consider to apply the sharpen filter (Filter>Sharpen>Sharpen), but be sure to select lady’s layer before.
To complete the custom brush, increase again contrasts. This time use a Level adjustment layer (Layer>New Adjustment layers>Levels) and move the arrows as shown before.
The brush is ready to be saved. Go to Edit>Define brush and title it as you prefer.
Why can’t I click on “define brush preset”? This happens because you have the adjustment layer selected – in the layers window. Try clicking on the lady’s layer and repeating the same process (Edit>Define brush preset). This time it should work.
Let’s switch to the main Photoshop document. Create a new layer and click once using the brush just created.
The fortune of working for WeGraphics is to have a huge amount of great resources always at your disposal. Since my aim is to replace the hair of the model using other brushes, I’ve surfed through our arsenal and finally decided to use this awesome set titled Floral Emergencies created by Nathan Brown. Create a new layer, pick up one of the brushes from the set and click over the canvas.
Press Ctrl+T to activate the transform tool, so you can rotate/resize the brush and place it wherever you prefer:
Finally eliminate the area of the brush that overlaps the lady’s face. Also refine the edges of the brush as shown below:
Use the same technique to add more details with other brushes of the same set. Or you can experiment with other brush sets, mixing different elements and forms. There’s no trick, just experiment.
The design is almost complete. Select the lady’s layer and the ones with the splatter brushes. Press Alt+Ctrl+E to merge the selected layers into a new layer. Now you can group and hide the layers merged and work only with the last one created from now go on. The result is nice, but we can go on with other paint effects. The important thing is that next effects will affect only the area of the lady with her abstract hair. So create a new group, where we will put in paint effects, Ctrl+click on the lady’s layer (the layer that contains the face and the splatters merged together), and add a layer mask.
At this point inside the group you can create new layers and paint over them using paint effect brushes, with white as foreground color. In my case I’ve used 2 of our sets: Dry Paint Strokes Brushes Vol1 and Watercolor brushes Vol1.
The black&White version is complete. We can go on and add some colors to the graphic. Create another group, title it “colors” and apply the same mask of the paint brushes (step 15). Switch the blend mode of the group to overlay. Now create a layer inside the group, set a nice red as foreground color, grab a large (around 1000-1500 pixels) and soft (hardness 0%) round brush and click over a detail of the graphic.
Create other layers and use different colors like orange and yellow to give style to the image.
The design is ready to be shown! Hide the white background and save as a .png image. We will now place the graphic on a t-shirt mockup. I’ve used our Ladies Tee Shirt Templates Vol1. Download the file and open it in Photoshop. In the layers window you’ll find 5 groups that represents 5 different templates. Hide the visibility of the purple t-shirt and make visible the white one. Open the .png image of the graphic and place it between the front mockup layer and the shadows one. Press ctrl+T and resize the graphic.
All what remains to do is adding a nice background, and the tee graphic is complete! What do you think? Would you like to wear this t-shirt?
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