Turning downtime artwork into T-Shirts, totes, pouches, and bandanas

Examples of artwork on T-shirts, totes, and bandanas.

By Roland DGA

Posted on 09-26-2020

As a freelance illustrator, designer, photographer, small studio, or start-up graphics business, don’t let your downtime art and design work go to waste. It doesn’t need to be relegated to just an image on your website or an Instagram post. We are fortunate that in circumstances where many of us are spending more time at home, Adobe Creative Cloud has mobile apps like Fresco, Illustrator Draw, and Photoshop to give life to our thoughts, feelings, and ideas, and to make creative work easier in our downtime. Additionally, with the right equipment, you can make these designs do so much more by printing them on T-shirts, totes, bandanas, and other awesomely cool items for sale.

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Fresco is the best-in-show

Mobile design apps have gone through a huge evolutionary leap over the last two years. From my perspective as a designer who’s more on the illustrative side of design creation, the real difference has been Adobe Fresco. It’s given me a lot of freedom to design in my downtime.

One of these downtime projects I completed recently has been a collection of digital artworks that I named “animal superfights,” which feature a series of monumental battles between a gorilla and a grizzly, a squid and a shark, and other hotly debated animal matchups.

Designs from Ben's animal superfight series.

Some design highlights from my animal superfight series of illustrations.

A drawn-out battle between constrictor and croc

The timelapse video (below) was the first of these animal superfight designs. Timelapse is a feature of Fresco that I love. Recording the design process really helps to reflect on your work and see things you could’ve done better or faster. It’s also great for sharing your artwork to social and helpful when you are, say, writing a blog post for Adobe MAX and want to illustrate your design process or something supercool like that! As you can see from the video, I created the design using vector brushes to keep it super clean, graphical, and easily scalable for any projects I want to use them for later. When creating this illustration, you’ll also notice that I kept my layers and brushes to a minimum to try and keep my process as neat and tidy as possible. The workflow went as follows: The initial sketch layer was made with a pixel/pencil brush as a rough guide; then a blackline layer with basic round/vector brush and velocity taper/vector brush; then my color layer with a basic flat/vector brush.



Timelapse video of animal superfight design being created in Adobe Fresco.

Laying the graphic smackdown onto products

Making your work marketable and commercial is often not an easy one for creative people who fall into that gap between “artists” and “creative professionals”. Whether your designs and photos are a “side-hustle” from your regular job or you’re looking to branch out for yourself, there are digital printing solutions that you might be interested in to turn your work into sellable items.

To take my animal superfight artwork from design into graphic products, I used the BT-12 direct-to-garment printer to quickly print onto a selection of popular items. All you need in order to print is a hi-res png or jpg of your design that you can import directly from your Adobe Creative Cloud into the simple Roland Design Software. The following images illustrate the three-step process from resizing your design in the software, to loading your material into the special cassette and printing, to having the fully finished design in your hands to promote and sell. It takes just a few minutes from start to finish to pre-press your material, print your design, and then finish the whole process off in the finisher unit.

Showing the process to produce a bandana with the BT-12 direct-to-garment-printer.

Highlights of the print production process on a bandana with the BT-12 direct-to-garment printer — it’s as simple as resizing your design in the software and then loading a cassette with your selected media into the all-in-one printer and finisher.

Voila! Now you have a bunch of cool products

When the process is complete you can apply this same workflow to other cotton-based items like bags, T-shirts, and cases. The following images show some of the highly desirable products we applied this design to.

Examples of bandana, shirt and totes made with unique designs.

Make bandanas, T-shirts, tote bags, and pouches with your own designs on them to build your art and design brand or as resale items.

It’s empowering (and profitable) to be able to create these products and sell them yourself on your website and social media platforms. It’s also a great way to display your art in practical ways, allowing you to turn those downtime designs into cool commercial products.

Now that you’ve seen how it works, Adobe MAX 2020 attendees can win a BT-12 direct-to-garment printer and finisher unit with a set of ink and two cassette trays to get printing right-out-of-the-box. Click on the Roland DGA icon on the Adobe MAX homepage for your chance to win this dream prize worth $5,000. You can also read more about the BT-12 direct-to-garment printer and how it can help you build a successful design business.

This post is presented in partnership with 2020 Adobe MAX sponsor, Roland DGA.

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Topics: Adobe MAX, Events, Creativity, Insights & Inspiration, Creative Cloud,

Products: Photoshop, Illustrator, Fresco,