This is a quick step-by-step tutorial on how to create custom typography for T-shirt artwork…from scratch. So, if you’re after a slightly more bespoke piece of design, but can’t quite find the font you’re after – this is the post for you. This will also help if you have a logo you have sketched out and want to turn it into a vector, ready for screen printing or embroidery.


Bust out your pencil ‘n’ paper skills and sketch out your wording, logo or image.

I’m going to create a Christmas/wintery themed children’s t-shirt, this could actually make a r eally cool present for a family member! So, my lettering is going to be “I’m naughty, so be nice!”. I want my lettering to be quite bold and eye-catching, with snow sitting on the top of each letter. Here goes…

my sketched text...


Once your sketch is done, scan your drawing in, or if you haven’t got a scanner take a well lit, head-on photo. I’m going to be using a vector softwear package called Adobe Illustrator to transform this sketch into print ready artwork. Once you have your scanned in sketch ready to go, pull it into Illustrator, and lock the layer down. This will mean you can digitally sketch over the top of your drawing without it moving around.


Now, create a new layer over the top of your scanned in sketch and use the Pen Tool in Illustrator to trace around your sketch. This is a tad time consuming, but it is worth it – promise! Your outcome will be a completely unique piece of artwork, something that no one else has had on a t-shirt before. A lot of fashion brands work like this, as it means they can create one-off, super desirable pieces.


vecter outline close-up


Once you’ve created a digital trace of your sketch, you can now play around with colours and effects. Working with a vector version of your artwork gives you so much freedom and control over colour options and the general look and feel of your custom type or logo. Vectors never decrease in quality and can handle constant changes and scaling. They’re pretty awesome and they also make the design process so much more fun, you can never have too many options! They’re also printers favourite forms of artwork file 🙂


I’m now happy with the vector I’ve made. As you can see below, I’ve filled the snow in white and the type black. You can still see my sketch underneath – it’s sometimes helpful to work at 50% opacity.


artwork vector outline overlay...




If you’re going to screen print, transfer print or embroider you design, save it as .PDF. If you’re going to Direct To Garment print it, you can export your final design as a .PNG file. Here’s my final colours I’m going with…

final colours and vector outline...


Choose your garments. We have a massive range to chose from. This is for a kids tee, so I’m going to go with the Earth Positive Junior Classic Organic T-shirt (EPJ01) in white, and I’m going to go with screen printing – this is the most hard wearing print method, which is perfect for a children’s tee!


A really nice, unique t-shirt design!

final t-shirt outcome!


Icon Printing specialise in custom t-shirt printing, and all their clothing customisation takes place in London. An artworking service is also available. Please see for an instant quote.

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Tel – 0207 183 8431