The Best T Shirt Design Software: Adobe Illustrator Review

What is the best t-shirt design software?


For those who are serious about t-shirt design (and graphic design in general), we think Adobe Illustrator is the best software you can use.


Adobe Illustrator & Photoshop can take longer to master, but the tools and features can’t be compared with the cheaper or free design software alternatives. You have more control and more options with Illustrator.

Best Graphic Design Software For T Shirts


best t shirt design software

How To Design T Shirts With Illustrator – Source


Adobe Illustrator

  • Best vector graphics editor for t shirt design
  • Frustration free - gain total control over your t shirt design process
  • Best features & tools for creating an endless variety of designs for t shirts
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Adobe Photoshop

  • Better for photo editing & working with images
  • Bring images over from Photoshop to Illustrator
  • Best photo editing software
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Adobe Creative Cloud

  • Depending on the plan you select, get access to all of Adobe's Apps
  • Plans for individuals or business
  • Store your designs in the cloud
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Why Illustrator Is Best For T Shirt Design


Here are 7 reasons we think Illustrator is the best program for designing your own t shirts!


1. Illustrator is a vector graphics editor.

This is explained further below, but it means you can scale your designs to infinity, without losing quality in sizing or color.

This is important for designing t-shirt graphics because you will require a range of image or logo sizes depending on the size of your garment.

Using Illustrator for t shirt design, you know the quality of your graphics will remain the same, whether you are transferring onto a small youth t-shirt, or an XXXL men’s t-shirt!


2. Design T Shirts From Scratch

With Illustrator you can start designing from scratch. For more info, check this tutorial.

You can also import and modify existing designs that you have made in other software, or which you have been given or purchased elsewhere.


3. Scan In Sketches

You are able to sketch out a design concept onto paper and then scan it into Adobe Illustrator (Ai).

Once you’ve imported the design into Ai you can manipulate it to your hearts content. Perhaps your t-shirt style is the freehand sketch look? Use Ai to turn your paper design into a digital design, ready to print and press!


4. Best For Logos & Branding

Illustrator is excellent for creating logos and brand images.

The typesetting feature is amazing and allows you to shift and twist text and other design features wherever you want them. However, if you are going to be working with photographs a lot, Photoshop would be the better option.

Illustrator is best for logos, graphics, icons, cartoons and other such designs.


5. Great Training Resources

There are a multitude of both paid and free Illustrator tutorials teaching you how to use this software. The resources on offer are incredible (we will link to some below).

You will always be able to find an answer to your question on a blog or YouTube channel. As part of your subscription you also gain access to the Adobe Forums.


t-shirt design software


6. Customer Support

Beyond the Forums, quality customer support is provided with an Illustrator subscription. You can talk to real people to help you solve your specific issue.


7. Regular Updates

Adobe Illustrator updates at least each year. There are new tools being released, and current tools being improved. Illustrator is generally becoming more intuitive to use over time.


Because it is a paid design software program, Adobe can pour more money into the development of their software, unlike the various free alternatives we list below.


What Does Adobe Illustrator Do?



What does Adobe Illustrator do? What is Adobe Illustrator used for?


It is a versatile and varied program. It can be used for many design applications. Examples of design projects you can undertake with this program include:

  • Logo design
  • Creating infographics
  • T-shirt designs – whether text, images, or a mixture of both
  • Illustrations
  • Graphics for use in traditional print media
  • Graphics etc. for use on websites and online media
  • Typography


Graphic designers all over the world are using Illustrator for all their design needs.


This includes a ton of t-shirt designers, whether they are making designs to be cut from heat transfer vinyl, designs for screen printing onto t-shirts, or sublimation designs to be heat pressed onto tees.


T-shirt design is one application (among many) that Illustrator is used for.


But why is Adobe Illustrator the best t-shirt design software?


Vector Images Vs Raster Images



There are two types of computer graphics/images. As already mentioned, Illustrator is a vector graphics editor. And as you’ll have guessed from the heading, the other type are raster graphics.


What’s the difference?


Raster graphics (or bitmap images) have individually defined pixels. Each pixel has its own particular values relating to color and sizing. Raster images cannot be scaled up without becoming pixelated – the quality is no longer good.


Vector graphics use lines and curves (and mathematical formulas) to set the shape of an image. This allows one to scale the image up, or to do all sorts of work on it, without loss of quality or distortion. That is why vector images are the best graphics for t-shirt design.


Many people use SVG files for t-shirt design. SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphics.


How Much Is Adobe Illustrator?


How much does Adobe Illustrator cost?


If you need some more info, read Adobe Illustrator Vs Photoshop. We take a good look at the differences between the programs, and state why Illustrator is best for applications like t shirt design.


Adobe Illustrator Free


To begin, it’s best to sign up for the Adobe Illustrator free trial – this lasts for 7 days.


Click ‘Free Trial’ at the top of this page and your download will begin automatically. If you decide to continue using the software beyond these 7 days, you can choose from one of the following 3 Adobe Illustrator purchase plans.


Should You Get Adobe Illustrator?


Sometimes the excuse people use for not doing the right thing and getting Illustrator is ‘there’s too much to learn’, or ‘it’s too complicated’,  or ‘it’s too expensive’.


Those excuses are not very good. With the wealth of great courses on offer, coupled with the quality of the program, it’s win, win, win.  Yes, it’s going to take a bit of time to wrap your head around it, but trust me, you’ll be glad you did.


The awesome thing is that you’re not learning skills that can only be used for t-shirt design.


Once you’ve become proficient, you can use these skills for web design, print media design, and everything else! You can help your friends and family create logos and web graphics for their businesses. You can help them build their websites… Once you’ve mastered these things, start charging!


Illustrator Review


What is the best design software for t shirts?


To start off with, it’s probably best to begin by playing around with free t shirt design software. But if you’ve committed to becoming the world’s next best t-shirt creator, then you better get Ai.


Why bother yourself trying to learn these other programs when you’re just going to have to transition to Illustrator when you outgrow them? No, you’ve got your heat press machine, you’ve got your cutting machine, now get Ai!


Pin this post for later! 🙂



(Please note: This post contains affiliate links. Read our full disclosure policy here.)

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