1) T-shirt coloring: plain or pre-printed?
First up, you need a t-shirt to color! You probably have an idea already whether you want to color in your t-shirt completely from scratch or whether you want to color in a lovely pre-printed design. There are many retailers that cover both options and for more help take a look at our 'Where can I find T-shirts to color?' blog post.
Coloring in a t-shirt from scratch gives you a lot of freedom to be as creative as you like and you dont even need to plan your approach. When you are ready you can just pick up your pens and go for it. Depending on what style you are doing for you may decide that planning and practicing your design and layout will help you get the best results.
Pre-printed t-shirt coloring designs are more comparable to a page of a coloring book where you have the lines to color between. This approach often works well for people that just like to add color and make a design transform into something original.
2) Blotting paper
A common mistake by anyone new to t-shirt coloring is not putting any protection inside your t-shirt before your start coloring. Putting a sheet of paper or even card inside your t-shirt so it is underneath the layer of fabric you intend to color will help prevent any leaking through to the back. There is nothing worse than spending your time creating the perfect work of art to realise your coloring markers have leaked through to the back of your t-shirt and made an awful mess! We learnt the hard way - always use a protective sheet to stop this happening even if you have a thick quality cotton t-shirt to color and fabric markers that are not too wet. There is nothing worse than doing the best t-shirt coloring only to realise that ink has messed up the reverse of the t-shirt spoiling it. It is better to be safe than sorry!
3) Fabric marker pens
Fabric Markers are great for coloring your t-shirts and best results are often seen on t-shirts that are made from 100% cotton. Before you buy your fabric markers to color your tshirts consider what type of nib your maker should have. Fabric pens/markers vary in the size of the nib they have - big broad standard nibs are good for beginners and young children and allow for larger areas to t-shirt to be colored quickly.
For more intricate detailed coloring it would be worth looking out for fine nibbed fabric markers. These finer nibbs allow you to have more detailed control over where your color goes - this is very helpful especially when you are coloring a pre-printed pattern that has small or narrow areas you need to add your color to.
Some fabric inks need to be treated at high temperatures to make them color-fast. This may be done by ironing the finished coloring or by washing at a higher than normal temperature. Always read the instructions on your pens before you do your first t-shirt wash to avoid all your color coming out or fading badly straight away!
We have seen great results with 3D fabric paint and glitter glue pens. You can even get markers that glow in the dark!
4) Paper and regular felt tip pens for practice
Before you start coloring your t-shirt make sure you have practiced coloring first. You can not undo a mistake when you are coloring with fabric markers so practice the old traditional way first.
Just a piece of paper and some old felt-tipped pens with some imagination is all you need to get a little practice in and loosen up your creativity and hand-eye coordination. If you want a t-shirt shape outline to color in to help with proportions and layout just print one out to start your practice on.
5) Good lighting and get comfortable
It is easy to overlook how important your coloring environment. It takes time to do a good coloring job so as you will be there for a while you need to make sure you will be comfortable and have everything you need to hand. Sitting in your favorite comfortable chair at a cleared desk with nothing but your coloring materials and t-shirt will give you a good start but making sure you have good lighting is just as key to your success.
A good overhead light may be good enough but can often cause shadows on your work when your head or body gets in the way as you get close into your work for the tricky bits. Consider using a couple light sources and include a desk lamp to give you better visibility while you craft. If you are coloring a t-shirt with a detailed design and you want to do it in one session remember that outside light may change and effect your work. Light slowly dimming at the end of the day can catch you out and give you a little eye strain.
If you really want to get in the creative mood set up some good music that will help bring out your creative zone.
Now you have read our getting started notes you are nearly ready to begin but before you do we have some great Tips and Techniques you should read to help you on your t-shirt coloring journey.
Shop T-shirts to colour with fabric markers
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