Remove the White Background on T-shirt designs

Martin Drake-Knight

By Martin Drake-Knight

If you’re just starting out in t-shirt design, you’ll find it’s pretty easy. But there’s some old tricks that professionals have up their sleeves that can mean the difference between products that are okay and products that make you money. Here’s one of the tips we give most often.

This article covers the common “removing the white background” issue and how to deal with it. This is when a Teemill designer has created an amazing design on the computer or often by hand ready for the tee – but when the design is uploaded, there’s a white background around the design making it look like a square, that needs to be removed.

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Professional t-shirts use the t-shirt fabric as the background colour, they’re not printed on top of a white square. And at Teemill, our commitment to high quality product and services means that we require the quality of submitted designs to be high. 

In the 21st century where everyone has a computer and access to photoshop or similar, there’s no reason why even  startups and small charities can’t produce amazing quality designs. Consumers have come to expect it.

Many of the features designed in to Teemill are based on values like this, and automatically kick in to make sure your t-shirt store is successful. This includes the ability to detect that you are trying to launch a product where the design has a background that needs removing: In this case, the system may reject it – and refer you to this blog. Please don’t be annoyed! It’s in your best interests to launch products that are more likely to make you money, even if it takes you 5 minutes to clean up the design – removing the background on your designs is worth it.

So how do we lose the background?

Firstly, if your design is going on a white tee there’s a nifty tool in the product creator that can do this for you at the click of a button. The de-white tool can be found in the right hand control pane when the design is selected.

dewhite

It automatically removes any part of the design which is pure white. so it will only work if your background is perfectly white.

What if the background is not perfectly white?

This happens sometimes if the designer has designed on paper, and scanned or taken a photo of the design and uploaded that. It takes more work to remove this kind of background. For this reason, it’s normally better to learn to use the computer for designing in the first place and save yourself the hassle. If you insist on paper though, you’ll need to learn how to process and separate your art from the background on the computer afterwards. For this kind of work, we recommend photoshop.

Get yourself a copy of photoshop and watch a few tutorials, like this one.

In our case, we usually use the following sequence: Image>adjustments>levels and pull the right hand toggle down to increase the brightness of the white range. Then magic wand tool to select the whites, remove them.

 

Save for web, PNG24

Once you have removed the background in photoshop, click file / save for web and devices and save up. Remember the best image format for Teemill printing is the PNG24 with transparent background.

You should now have an image with no background, perfect for uploading onto several different colours of t-shirt in Teemill and with this newly professional standard of design, you’ll almost certainly find a long-term increase in sales.

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