When it comes to designing a shirt, you have two primary options – design it yourself using graphic design tools such as Adobe Illustrator or use software made for the job. The good news is that there are plenty of free t-shirt design software options to consider!
There are a growing number of platforms that specialize in t-shirt design and can help you create something that people will want to wear. Some of these tools integrate with a t-shirt sales portal as well, making the process even easier.
Here, we’re going to look at some of the best free t-shirt design software options available and how you can make these tools work for you.
Custom Ink allows you to create a t-shirt design and order all in one tool. You can add text, images, and custom graphics as you build a design on-screen.
The shirt builder has a ton of images to help you get started from athletic logo styles to emojis to occupational imagery. Just drag and drop the image onto the shirt preview and you are ready to go.
One of the best features of this online t-shirt software is that it has a background grid that ensures your text and image elements are in safe printing zones for different shirt sizes and styles. The rest of the interface is pretty sleek, too.
You can create shirts for selling or a little league team in minutes from start to finish.
Easy to use builderRobust graphics options, even licensed team imageryAbility to add names and numbers for sports teams
You need a basic idea of your design to get startedYou have to order shirts from this website after you create the design
Design a Shirt
Design a Shirt is another free t-shirt builder that’s built into a website that allows you to order shirts. The tools allow you to add images and text on all different colors and styles of shirts.
The best feature of this tool is the Idea Gallery, which includes some basic templates to help you start a shirt design project. Search by type of shirt to jumpstart projects.
The software is a combination of click to place and drag and drop. It can be somewhat clunky at first but does allow for good control of the design.
You can see the design come together on the screenChange the shirt color of style and see your design on itThe idea gallery can speed up projects if you don’t know what you want
The interface is a little clunkyClipart options are very “clip art-ish”You have to buy shirts from this website
Print Shop by Design Hill lets you create custom shirt designs that are printed and shipped to you.
This tool uses a builder with some drag-and-drop and some click tools. The template options are what make this t-shirt design software stand out. You can add artwork from a ready-made gallery and include any additional customizations you might have. It’s quick and easy.
You can choose shirt options and design in the same place (one screen website design)Templates make design easyTool checks for print quality of graphics to ensure quality
The interface is a little clunkyHard to use if you don’t have a ready to import design or use one of their templatesYou have to buy shirts from this website
Placeit is the one true design tool in this list and doesn’t require you to buy shirts after you design them, but that comes with a catch – not all the shirt designs are free.
Design can be as little as $2.95 or free with a subscription.
This t-shirt tool though has some of the best-designed options in terms of templates, and the interface is easy to use when it comes to custom designs. Then you can export your design for use anywhere you like. (Although they do offer shirt orders, too.)
Easy to use interfaceBetter clip art than alternativesCan order shirts anywhere
Designs are not on shirt mockups for you to seeNot always free
One More Option …
One more option when it comes to free t-shirt design tools is to download a template, customize it in whatever tool you prefer, and then upload it to a printer.
This semi-custom option requires a little more time and work but gives most designers the control they want when working on a shirt design. (You can even upload basic artwork to one of the vendors above and add additional elements with their tools.)
This option is great if you have an idea of what you want, but don’t have a lot of time. Marketplaces are packed with simple templates, there are great professional designs to choose from, and most are “free” with your current subscription. (Envato Elements is great for this reason.)
The trick here is to create a single design that will work on whatever color shirts you order because you won’t be able to change it later.
Semi-custom design in your software of choiceMany shirt download packages have multiple shirt variations (such as the example above)Order shirts anywhere you want
Takes more timeRequires cost or a marketplace subscriptionHave to finalize design before working with a shirt vendor
While most designers could create a shirt design using a tool they already have with ease, using a specialty tool can make quick work of the job. A t-shirt builder makes simple jobs a breeze and takes all the guesswork out of the shirt design process.
It’s perfect for beginners or if you need something in a hurry. Each of these free options is a little different, but any of them can work in a pinch. Happy designing!
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