Everything you need to get started
The submission kit
Preparing Your Design
How you present your design to the Community is an important part of getting your submission recognized and voted on. You can upload up to 3 slides for people to see when they are scoring your design. These slides are for presentation & scoring purposes only–hold on to that hi-res version of the design, though, because we’ll need it if your design is chosen and printed!
This Photoshop File comes in handy when you are creating your presentation. It’s got a layer for each slide sized to 900 pixels wide x 475 pixels tall that you can drop each slide into. Don’t worry about scaling down your artwork to thumbnail size, we’ll take care of that for you.
Below are a few suggestions for how to set up your presentation. Feel free to get creative with how you use the slides, but be sure that the first slide you upload will work as a 255 pixel x 135 pixel thumbnail.
The first slide is by far the most important. It becomes the default image for thumbnails and previews. We suggest choosing an image for your first slide that will represent your submission well as a thumbnail image and that shows an isolated version of the design, as well as how it will look on a tee.
The second slide is a good place to show some close-up detail of your artwork.
In your third slide, get creative! You may want to show the design in action, show some of the process that went into creating it, or maybe some color alternatives.
Most of the shirts you see on Threadless are printed with fairly basic screenprinting techniques, using plastisol and / or water-based and discharge inks. We are able to print up to 8 colors on a single shirt, and in most cases, this is all you need to know to ensure that your design will get reproduced the way you envision it.
However, we do offer many more advanced printing options. If you are not familiar with more advanced printing methods, we've outlined a few below to get you started.
Gradients & Simulated Process Printing
There is a way to achieve the look of unlimited color, and that is with simulated process printing. Simulated process printing can create the look of photorealistic elements, watercolors, gradients, etc. by printing with a limited number of colors in tiny halftone dots. (The smallest halftone we can print is 10%).
Simulated process cannot be used for oversized prints or belt prints.
An Overview of Specialty Inks
Super glow is exactly what it sounds like... glow in the dark ink, on steroids. Glow ink comes in a variety of colors, including yellow, orange, red, sky blue, aqua, violet and white. It's transparent, but not completely, so it will show up very faintly in daylight.
Glow ink works best on light colored tees. On dark colored tees it needs an opaque white base to work, so if you are using glow ink on a dark tee be aware that the glow part of the design will appear white in daylight.
Glow ink can be layered over other ink.
UV Color Change
UV ink works like magic. Almost completely invisible indoors, UV ink shows it's colors when exposed to sunlight. The colors produced are not as bright as normal inks, but UV ink can be made in any color.
UV ink only works on light colored tees and cannot be layered over other inks.
Puff is a rounded, raised ink that is best used on organic shapes and lines. Hard edges and angles are softened and can be lost when used with puff ink.
It can be used for detail work, however, the smaller the detail, the smaller the "puff". Puff ink is not suited for large areas of ink, since it will be very heavy on the tee.
High density ink is much like puff ink, but it is a sqaure stack raised ink. That means it works best for shapes and lines with hard edges and angles.
High density ink can also be printed clear, which creates a darkened tonal effect on the tee without adding color.
Shimmer is sparkly, metallic ink that is available in black, silver, bronze and gold. It works best in larger areas with no fine detail.
Glitter ink is like shimmer ink, but features thick glitter flakes instead of tiny metallic sparkles. It's available in a range of basic crayon colors.
Like shimmer ink, it works best in larger areas with no fine deatail. Glitter ink is also a little transparent, so if you layer glitter ink over other inks, the colors underneath will peek through.
Metallic clear ink can be printed over other basic inks to produce a metallic shiny effect. When printed directly on the tee, it produces a darkened tonal effect with a hint of shimmer.
Not made from actual animals, suede ink is a raised ink with a fuzzy texture. The line work must be at least 1/8" to 1/4" to appear fuzzy. Like puff and high density ink, suede ink does not work well in large solid areas.
Blister ink is like puff paint with dimples. It's thick and can create a lot of texture on the tee. Because it's so heavy, it's best not to use this ink on large fill areas.
An Overview of Heat Applications
Flock is a fuzzy, slightly “felty” looking material. It isn’t terribly flexible, so if there’s a ton on the tee, it could be a little uncomfortable until it’s worn in a bit. Flock is really cool when used to give a little added texture to your design.
Foil is shiny and soft and has a slightly mirror-ish appearance. It’s available in silver, gold, bronze, red, blue, green, black, purple, iridescent clear, iridescent silver, luminescent silver, metallic rainbow (bands are fixed width), patterned silver and patterned gold. The metallic foil “pattern” appears like a super zoomed-in shot of a reflector.
Vinyl is exactly what you think…shiny and plastic, like the numbers on the back of a team jersey. Vinyl comes in a good range of “crayon colors.”
Embroidery & Oversized Printing
Oversized prints are made using very large screens to produce designs that are not limited to the center of the tee. When designing an oversized image, you must keep your design under five colors.
Though often cost-prohibitive, if the idea is good enough, you can also spruce up your designs with good old-fashioned needle and thread. There are tons of thread colors, so nearly any color you can think of can be used to add a stitched design on your tee.
A belt printer uses huge screens that cover the entire front and back of the tee to create a design that goes all over the tee. Belt printing can only be used on designs that use one color of ink.
Each tee will look unique, since the design will vary slightly from tee to tee when printed due to shirt size and how it's placed on the printer. There will also be small areas of imperfections on the tee around the collar, seam and armpits as a result of the printing process.
It is possible to create a belt-printed, one color design with a regular sized design printed over it!
We’ve put together some downloadable templates and other resources that will come in handy when you’re working on your submission, including Photoshop and Illustrator templates and downloadable images of models wearing blank tees, as well as a color chart of available tee colors.
Photoshop Presentation Template
This template is formatted to the size of the slides that you will upload for your presentation and is helpful when you are putting together your submission for scoring.Photoshop template (1.75 mb)
Photoshop and Illustrator Mock-up Templates
These templates help you get an idea of how your design will look on a t-shirt at actual size. Use the Illustrator file if your design is built out of vector artwork.Photoshop template (1.75 mb) Illustrator template (815 k)
In case you missed the link above, this Photoshop template is formatted to the size of the slides that you will upload for your presentation and is helpful when you are putting together your submission for scoring.
Tee Color Chart
Use these RGB and CMYK color values to get a good idea of the range of colors available for blank tees. You can copy the HEX value and paste it straight into Illustrator or Photoshop to use as a background color for your design.
- R: 4 G: 6 B: 7
- C: 75 M: 68 Y: 66 K: 87
- R: 51 G: 51 B: 51
- C: 69 M: 63 Y: 62 K: 58
- R: 149 G: 148 B: 154
- C: 44 M: 37 Y: 33 K: 1
- R: 170 G: 170 B: 170
- C: 35 M: 28 Y: 28 K: 0
- R: 190 G: 199 B: 203
- C: 25 M: 16 Y: 16 K: 0
- R: 255 G: 255 B: 255
- C: 0 M: 0 Y: 0 K: 0
- R: 255 G: 243 B: 213
- C: 1 M: 3 Y: 18 K: 0
- R: 251 G: 245 B: 157
- C: 3 M: 0 Y: 47 K: 0
- R: 250 G: 223 B: 73
- C: 3 M: 8 Y: 83 K: 0
- R: 249 G: 189 B: 25
- C: 2 M: 27 Y: 99 K: 0
- R: 206 G: 108 B: 40
- C: 15 M: 67 Y: 100 K: 3
- R: 222 G: 93 B: 64
- C: 8 M: 78 Y: 82 K: 1
- R: 240 G: 76 B: 35
- C: 0 M: 85 Y: 99 K: 0
- R: 217 G: 31 B: 41
- C: 9 M: 99 Y: 96 K: 1
- R: 212 G: 53 B: 149
- C: 13 M: 92 Y: 0 K: 0
- R: 245 G: 183 B: 212
- C: 1 M: 35 Y: 0 K: 0
- R: 253 G: 228 B: 234
- C: 0 M: 12 Y: 2 K: 0
- R: 94 G: 29 B: 64
- C: 51 M: 94 Y: 47 K: 42
- R: 76 G: 41 B: 119
- C: 86 M: 100 Y: 20 K: 7
- R: 23 G: 28 B: 75
- C: 100 M: 96 Y: 38 K: 40
- R: 33 G: 50 B: 106
- C: 100 M: 92 Y: 29 K: 18
- R: 3 G: 129 B: 159
- C: 85 M: 37 Y: 28 K: 2
- R: 34 G: 139 B: 204
- C: 78 M: 35 Y: 0 K: 0
- R: 116 G: 164 B: 198
- C: 56 M: 25 Y: 11 K: 0
- R: 114 G: 187 B: 231
- C: 51 M: 11 Y: 1 K: 0
- R: 190 G: 219 B: 239
- C: 23 M: 5 Y: 2 K: 0
- R: 148 G: 190 B: 187
- C: 43 M: 12 Y: 26 K: 0
- R: 62 G: 190 B: 168
- C: 38 M: 0 Y: 43 K: 0
- R: 86 G: 174 B: 82
- C: 70 M: 7 Y: 93 K: 0
- R: 20 G: 130 B: 69
- C: 87 M: 25 Y: 96 K: 11
- R: 81 G: 100 B: 57
- C: 66 M: 41 Y: 87 K: 30
- R: 74 G: 86 B: 68
- C: 67 M: 48 Y: 71 K: 36
- R: 90 G: 60 B: 49
- C: 47 M: 67 Y: 71 K: 48
- R: 76 G: 39 B: 21
- C: 44 M: 75 Y: 84 K: 62
We want every design submitted to Threadless to have the best possible chance at being chosen for print. Occasionally you may be notified that a design has been declined for a particular reason. Don’t let this get you down! It could be a technical issue, or something that with a little more work, can be resolved. Here is a list of the most common reasons that designs are declined.
Submission Needs Work
We want every design submitted to Threadless to have the best possible chance at being chosen for print. Sometimes submissions are declined because we feel the idea could use a little more work to be up to the standard that will give it the best shot. If you’re worried about your design, we have a feature called “Critique” on Threadless.com that allows a design critiqued before it’s submitted it for approval. By using the “Critique” feature as a pre-submission tool, the community helps to get the potential submission up to par.
No Template Used
We require that designs are submitted on our template so we know the intended placement. A submission will be declined if the design submitted was not on one our templates. You can use one of our templates which can be downloaded above. You can also draw your own tee shirt shape, or take photos of your friends in blank shirts!
Too Many Colors
We allow a maximum of 8 unique colors in designs submitted to Threadless. Submissions will be declined if the design contains more than 8 colors. Each shade of a color counts toward the eight color limit, as do black and white. The tee color does not count towards the color limit. If you’d like to submit a design with more than eight colors, such as a design that is a scanned drawing or watercolor, you can specify that the design should be printed with ‘simulated process’. This is a special printing technique that uses tiny halftones to create the illusion of unlimited color.
Lose the Text
A submission can be declined if we feel it would have a much better chance with the text was eliminated or better integrated into the design. If the text must be included, we suggest stylizing the text or creating your own font.
Please keep in mind that the Threadless audience begins at age 13. We aren’t very squeamish, but your design will be declined if it is past what is appropriate for Threadless. We won’t accept anything racist or pornographic, or anything that could commonly be considered very offensive.
A submission will be declined it it’s a duplicate. Unfortunately, we don’t allow resubmissions of a design that has only been slightly changed—even if the modifications are based on community comments about the original design. We want your best work! If you feel you really need to change something, try submitting the updated design as a “Critique” to gain feedback. If we do choose to print the original design a declined duplicate submission is based off of, you will be able to provide us with the updated version.
Image Quality Issues
A submission will be declined if the quality of your image is too poor (pixilated or blurry). This is also a common mistake. Make sure to save your work at a resolution of at least 150dpi. By working large and then scaling down, it’s easier to avoid a blurry image.
A submission will be declined if it contains copyrighted material. Pop-culture inspired designs sometimes have legal issues we would rather not flirt with. If this is the case with the artwork, we’ll decline it. For more information about common copyright issues such as celebrity likenesses, trademarks, or parody, please check out this page.
Not On Theme
A submission will be declined simply if we can’t figure out how it relates to a theme! This may be an oversight on our end, so please accept our apology ahead of time if this happens.
Design is Too Large
A submission will be declined if it’s too large for traditional printing and also not suitable for belt printing. Common oversights with placement include designing across the tee from edge to edge, carrying a design over a seam onto the sleeves or off the top of the shoulder. We love larger format prints, but a design meant for regular screen printing should be constrained to a 15" x 20" (38cm x 50cm) area.
A submission will be declined if we are not authorized to use the tee model you choose. We’re all for the use of other elements to enhance your presentation, but you must have permission to use image(s) that do not belong to you. May we suggest using one of our beautiful faces in your presentation?
A submission can be declined if it’s impossible to translate the artwork to a tee. It’s rare that we’ll throw in the towel on a submission, but if an idea is just too crazy to be printed, we’ll decline it.
A submission can be declined if it was not uploaded properly and resulted in an error. It’s possible that this could be cause by a server problem, or that your design is the incorrect resolution. Please make sure your submission artwork is 900x475 pixel at 72dpi and saved in the proper format (.jpg, .gif, or .png) in RGB mode (not CMYK) before submitting! Anything larger than 72dpi or not in the correct format may be rejected or not display properly.
That’s all folks. Answers to other common questions can be found in the Threadless FAQ.