NHS Designs

Graphic Design Projects

T-Shirt Design for Threadless.com

Threadless.com is a hip place to buy artistic T-shirts. As graphic designers, you can design T-shirts people may actually buy.

In this project, you will design a T-shirt to potentially be submitted to Threadless.com.

Threadless has an Artist Program called Threadless 101 created just for students like you. You can win real cash if your T-shirt is selected to be printed.

In class you will design, critique and vote on designs. Then I will submit complete designs to Threadless.


Documents for Students

Decline Reasons: General reasons and examples if your submission is declined by Threadless (this includes important specifications!)

Specialty Printing: Information on specialty printing and inks

Threadless Templates: Templates to get started designing a tee
- Photoshop
- Illustrator

Photos: Pictures of blank tees in various colors and poses for you to use when submitting and designing your tee
- Brianne: white T-shirt
- Charlie: natural T-shirt
- Craig: black T-shirt
- Kristen: bob white T-shirt
- Rachel: light blue T-shirt


Documents I Will Use

Introductory Letter: Brief introduction to the program

To Do Checklist: Checklist I will reference during the assignment

Critique Questionnaire: Example questions I will use for a critique session

Voting Spreadsheet: Spreadsheet created to help keep track of voting



  • No more than eight colors. This means that you will be painting specific colors on separate layers. No use of photos.
  • No more than one color per layer.
  • The artwork must be prepared on one of the templates: Photoshop | Illustrator
  • The design is fairly large but no more than 15" across and 20" tall and at least 150 pixels per inch.
  • No copyrighted material.
  • No models used without permission.
  • School-safe subject matter.
  • A design must be related to a Design Challenge theme.
  • Some sort of artwork must be included; text-only will not be accepted.



Day One: Research and Prepare

  1. Review each of the documents listed above.
  2. View Learn how to screenprint your own t-shirts (stop at 4:55).
  3. Visit the following links and check out how Threadless.com works:
    • threadless.com
    • submit designs
    • design challenges
    • blog: submitted designs / feedback
    • blog: design critiques (click to see earlier versions too)
  4. View some of the T-shirts for sale, and read what the artists have to say about their work.
  5. Find a design that your really like, and view other designs by that artist by clicking on his/her name.
  6. Think about what sorts of designs get submitted and which ones are chosen to place for sale.
  7. Think how a design evolves through the process of critique.


Day Two-Three: Four or More Sketches

  1. Choose a current or past Design Challenge as your theme.
  2. Create loose sketches (on paper) of four or more ideas that could be used for your chosen theme.
  3. Write a brief explanation of what the theme is and how each sketch relates to that theme.


Day Three-Four: Refined Sketch

  1. Choose one of your four design ideas, and create a refined sketch on paper.
  2. Include any color that you plan to incorporate into the design. Use markers.
  3. Black outlines are common, but not required.


Days Five-Six: Digitized Design

  1. I will scan your refined sketch if you wish, but it is not necessary to work directly from your sketch.
  2. Each color needs to go on its own layer.
  3. You may work in Photoshop or Illustrator, but no otehr programs. You must use the templates provided above under Documents for Students.
  4. Remember: no copyrighted material. Assume that any image or photo created by someone other than yourself is copyrighted.


Day Seven: Critique

Review and critique the designs of others.

Days Eight-Nine: Revision

Revise your design based on critique feedback.

Day Nine: Vote

Vote on the best designs.

resources · copyright information · Natomas High School Design Department