The very best part of designing something is when someone buys it. But the process itself can be fun, too.

That’s how we feel at Printify: difficult isn’t how we like to do things. Indeed, everything should be simple, user-friendly, and understandable.

With so many different products in the catalog to work with, things can get a little confusing. To help people along, this guide is full of pointers on creating outstanding, sellable print designs.

Step 1: Create or find a design

Where do designs come from? Mostly from your head. This business thrives on originality. It’s as easy as taking a photo, drawing a sketch, painting a picture, manipulating lighting, or anything else.

You may already have a bunch of your own designs ready to go. Or you may have an idea for a design to create later. If you don’t know where to begin, try this article on designing for beginners.

Here are a few great places to explore if you don’t have any design ideas on deck:

  • Shutterstock integration: This is a digital library of millions of high-quality images. Here, you can take their material to boost your design capacity. They use a pay-as-you-sell method, meaning that you won’t pay for anything until a customer makes a purchase. So, just like Printify, everything is free until an item is physically produced.
    Shutterstock also has a basket of amazing editing tools. For example, if you find a picture you like that has a few poor elements in it, you can isolate various parts, backgrounds, etc., and create something entirely new.

  • Text Editor: Modern customers adore text-based products. They’re incredibly effective in sending messages or attracting a particular kind of attention. And, it’s so profoundly easy to use.

  • Here are a bunch of free Printify designs — ready to go.

  • Even more free designs. These come from CreativeFabrica.

  • There are always more options.

When it comes to finding a design concept, the most important thing is to have a clear idea of your target audience. Check out our informative video on finding your niche to help you:

In accordance with our Intellectual Property Policy, you may only use images that you own or have the right to use.

Step 2: Align your design with our guidelines

File format

First, be sure that you’re using the correct file format — JPG or PNG.

Vector images can be exported in the raster file format, which means you’re safe to work with vectors and then export JPG/PNG in any size you need.

Click here to check out our video tutorial on how to export print files from Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.

Image resolution

The quality (resolution) of your design files is the difference between a happy, repeat customer and a bad review. So, what can you do to ensure a better outcome?

Start by choosing your preferred product from our catalog and upload a design to our Mockup Generator. You’ll see if the quality is acceptable for the given dimensions.

In case you’re seeing a “Low Resolution” alert, take a look at this article.

Print colors

Humans (RGB) and computers (CMYK) visualize colors differently. So, a design might go through a few changes when it’s uploaded. If your colors get funky, that can detract from the design. Make sure to see the CMYK version before printing.

  • Direct-to-Garment (DTG) Printing: This printing style is somewhat limited in color. Please check before printing.

  • All-over Print (AOP): This printing style accepts crazier colors. Design without fear of size or scope. This (sublimation) also tends to enjoy higher profit margins.

Product-specific design guidelines

Following guidelines is a good way to stay productive. Sometimes, when you’re designing in the Mockup Generator, advice will pop up. Please be sure to follow these recommendations.

Avoid common design mistakes

Fortunately, common problems have common solutions. Don’t get stuck on any of these:

  • Gradient: Beautiful, but difficult to make pretty on certain products, such as DTG garments or ceramic ornaments. Please be sure the product (and the printing machinery) can support the magnificence of your design.

  • Backgrounds: This one gets tricky. Double-check, order samples, and keep a close eye on how the digitization process affects the foundations of your designs. For best results, background should be removed.

  • Product Limitations: Don’t put the middle of your design on the collar, cuff, or seams. Or do, but know that things can get weird… unless that’s the point?

  • Embroidery: This is thread, not ink. As such, you’re going to be limited in color, spacing, shading, detailing, and a few other areas. However, embroidery is dope and has wonderful margins (hats, jackets, etc.).

  • Complicated: Just because you’re talented enough to create a super detailed piece, doesn’t mean the computer (or printer) can.

Step 3: Preview your product in the Mockup Generator

Double-check your work before publishing the product to your store. Click “Preview” in the Mockup Generator to see if the design placement is good to go. Make sure that:

  • The design isn’t cropped, chopped, moved or mislocated

  • No white areas are visible on AOP products (unless intentionally included)

  • Stickers: Be aware that if your design features elements that are far apart, these will be cut out as separate objects. Please check all recommendations before listing sticker products.

Step 4: Order a sample

While recommended, this is totally optional. However, ordering a sample is hands-down the best way to find out whether you’re happy with the final product. They’re also cheap, as you’ll be buying the product at cost price (plus the shipping fee).

Even if you don’t want the item personally, it can be used for marketing purposes, giveaways, or other promotions. Order samples conveniently by clicking “Get Samples” in the “My Store” section. Your shipping address will be autofilled.

What’s next?

With your design concept nailed, you may wonder what your next steps are once orders start coming in. Take a look at Your Ultimate Guide to Managing Products & Orders that outlines our key product & order management features.

Interested in learning more? We’d love to have you as part of our Printify POD Rockstars Facebook group, where we discuss relevant topics, tips, tricks, updates, and everything POD.

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