How to Choose the Color of Your T-Shirt


Owner of Rimshot Graphix

So, you are ready to pull the trigger with your first custom tshirt order with Rimshot T-Shirts!  One of the most important choices that you will make starts at the very beginning: choosing the color of your garment.  For the rest of this post i will make the assumption that the design has already been made, but these pointers will also help even if the art has not been finalized yet.

Compliment, Not Match.

One of the most common mistakes is choosing colors that match the design.  For example, in this case the team’s colors are red, white, and navy.  So the choice was made to put the design on navy garments.  As you can see, (above) the design looks flat and even some important elements in the design disappear.  Think about using a color that compliments the design.  Like in this case (below), a nice athletic gray was chosen so now the design pops!

Contrast, Contrast, Contrast.

You can never have too much contrast!  That’s the magic element that makes someone cross the room and say “Hey, I dig that T-shirt!”  So in this case, see above where most of the colors in the design are similar in value (lightness and darkness) and a tee color of a similar value was chosen.  See how the design just seems to lay there?  Now, see below where a tee color was chosen that is much darker– it looks 100% better.

Make the Color Appropriate.

Here we have a case where the organization is made up of older men and the feel of their design is retro and masculine.  But the owner’s daughter likes pink shirts-you tell that child to be silent and go to her room!  Choose a color that is appropriate for the genre.  You are not going to put a death-metal band’s design on Hawaiian jerseys.

“Color is a powerful communication tool.  Of the palettes located above, which one would you choose for a young cheerleader squad and which one would be best for a bank?”


So there you have it.  These suggestions are a great start to having an awesome custom tshirt printing order.  You may say, “Hey, John, some rules are made to be broken!”  My reply would be “Of course!”  But is rule-breaking appropriate for what you want to communicate with color for your organization?  Sure, messing with tried-and-true design rules may be appropriate for a motocross racing team, but what about a hospital?  Should that business be saying to their clients that they fly by the seat of their pants? 

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