Do you have a blank t-shirt lying around that you would like to customize? Or are there perhaps no graphic tees that strike your fancy in the world of fast fashion? If so, you can always create your own design and print it at home. After all, it will not break your bank and it does not require you to go out of your way.

In the following paragraphs, we will focus on all there is to know about how to put a picture on a t-shirt and make it count. So let us get straight to it!

A Crash Course in T-Shirt and Print Colors

T-shirt colors are relevant. Whether you prefer darks, lights, or tie-dyes, they exist to bring out your personality and highlight your preferences. With that said, how many times have you come across a graphic tee that has the print blended into its background color? If the answer to this question is “many,” you have an excellent eye for detail!

In fact, focusing on the contrasting properties of your t-shirts and custom prints will score high on the awesome-o-meter of graphic design. Moreover, being aware of the type of material you can or cannot transfer your designs onto will go a long way. That is to say, knowing how to put a picture on a t-shirt artfully will not only showcase your impeccable attention to detail but promote your graphic design skills as well.

With that in mind, light-colored t-shirts will not work well with light-colored images. Even if some contrasting properties are present, they will diminish over time. For this reason, colorful or dark custom prints are your go-to.

Similarly, dark-colored t-shirts will not work well with dark-colored images. While light custom prints are your safest bet, you should be mindful of how you apply colorful images to a dark background. Keep in mind that the contrasting colors should be vibrant and make sure to opt-out of dark-colored rims for best results.

On the other hand, dark tie-dyes will benefit from light-colored images, while light tie-dyes will benefit from dark-colored images. Of course, you can use colorful custom prints as well but the contrasting properties will be lacking. Additionally, you should remember to keep your image designs simple when dealing with color splash backgrounds.

Know Your Transfer Paper and Image Edits

Aside from t-shirt and print colors, there is more to know about how to put a picture on a t-shirt before we can move on to the next section. Therefore, we will turn your attention to the transfer paper and image editing next.

The t-shirt color of your choice plays an important role in the type of transfer paper you use. For this reason, light-colored t-shirts work best with light, thin transfers. These make the image background clear, which means that any whites in your design will be clear as well.

Comparatively, dark, thick transfers are intended for use on dark-colored t-shirts. They will have any image background area appear white — even if it is clear. That being the case, you will have to cut out all background areas you do not want on your t-shirt before applying the custom print.

Furthermore, you also have to consider the image’s attributes when taking advantage of the photo editing software. That is to say, you will need to flip your image before exporting it. By doing so, you will ensure that your custom print reads the right way. In other words, if you forget to flip your design, you will end up with a mirror image on your t-shirt. Unless it is something you are specifically aiming for, we do not recommend it.

A Quick Guide to Homemade Iron-On T-Shirts

Now that we have covered all the relevant details regarding the t-shirt colors and custom prints, we are ready to guide you through the nine steps of how to put a picture on a t-shirt.

1.Consult With Your Printer

Your inkjet printer probably has its own transfer paper preferences. For this reason, check the necessary specifications to determine what materials you can iron your custom print onto.

2.Design and Edit Your Image

Create, edit, and play around with your image in the photo editing software. Enjoy the process and above all — remember to flip the image once you are ready to have it printed!

3.Crop Your Printed Image

After you have your image printed, ensure that you remove any excess paper and areas you do not want to see transferred onto your t-shirt.

4.Choose Your T-Shirt

If you plan on using an old t-shirt, you are good to go. However, if you are in the market for a new one, a pre-shrunk t-shirt should be your first choice.

5.Pre-Wash Your T-Shirt

This is particularly important for new t-shirts, regardless of whether they are pre-shrunk. Ultimately, pre-washing will see that the edges of your custom print are not pulled on whenever you wash your t-shirt next.

6.Iron Your T-Shirt

To prevent an uneven application or lumps in your custom print, iron the t-shirt after it has dried. By doing so, you will remove any unwanted creases in the fabric that might compromise the quality of your print. 

7.Prepare Your Image for Transfer

Remove the backing paper from the transfer paper and take your time to adjust the position of the printed image on the t-shirt. Once you are satisfied with the outcome, cover your custom print with the backing paper or a soft kitchen towel.

8.Iron Your Image Onto the T-Shirt

Read the instructions provided by the transfer paper manufacturer and follow them to a T. After heating the iron to the recommended temperature, move it in a circular motion from the center of the image to the edges. Generally speaking, you will need to do this for up to four minutes.

9.Let the Image Cool and Be Amazed

Once the transferred image has cooled, gently peel the backing paper or the kitchen towel. Start from one of the edges and repeat the process until you are done. Afterward, enjoy the results of your labor!

Make the Most of Your Custom Prints

In the long run, we hope that our guide to how to put a picture on a t-shirt will have inspired you to make the most of your custom prints. Sharing them with friends and family is bound to spark some new ideas. 

Ultimately, other people’s input will give you a fresh perspective on how you can improve your graphic design skills. Besides, who knows — you might just end up taking your t-shirt design ideas to the next level!