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TUTORIAL: How to create a vintage t-shirt using DTG

By 16th November 2011June 11th, 2020No Comments

Follow this tutorial to turn your latest design into an authentic looking vintage t shirt print.

The final design will be printed on a Brother GT-541 DTG (Direct To Garment) printer. Our artwork was created in Adobe Illustrator and sized to the largest dimensions possible for the DTG printer (350mm x 400mm). We used a Gildan Ultra Cotton Ice Grey t-shirt for this print as the muted colour helps to create an authentic vintage look.


Our step- by step guide on vintage t shirt printing

Open artwork in Adobe Photoshop

Ensure artwork is sized correctly

Open artwork in Adobe Photoshop and ensure it is sized correctly. The DTG printer is capable of reproducing photographic quality work onto a garment, so ensure your artwork is created at 300dpi or higher for the best possible print.

Create a new layer and fill white

Create a new layer and fill this white, Edit > Fill > White. Drop this below your artwork layer.

Make your own or get your hands on a few quality free grunge textures. For this tutorial I used 11 Free Hi-Res Light Grunge Textures from

Open your grunge textures in Adobe Photoshop.

Image > Adjustments > Desaturate will turn each image b/w. Use Image > Adjustments > Curves to set a strong contrast in each texture.

Create a selection using Select Color Range

Go to Select > Colour Range. Using the eyedropper cursor, click on an area of white in your texture. Play around with the Fuzziness slider until you are happy with your selection. Click OK.

Invert selection

Invert the selection you have just made. Select > Inverse.

Create a new layer and fill selection white

Create a new layer above your artwork. Fill the selection with white, Edit > Fill > White.

Repeat the process with all of your grunge textures.

Play with the position of textures

Play with the positioning of each grunge layer until you are happy with the distress. Layer > Flatten Image and save your graphic as a high quality jpeg.

With the artwork ready to print, we can move through to production. The printer I am using is calibrated for use with Adobe Illustrator and I already have a number of Illustrator templates set-up for various print locations and garment sizes.

Position artwork on a print template

Open the artwork and chosen template file in Adobe Illustrator. Copy the artwork into the template and position accordingly.

Send your design to print. We configured the DTG printer to use a low ink consumption to ensure we get the desired level of distress.

Pre dry garment on the heat press

Pre-dry the garment on a heat press. Press for 10 seconds, allow to cool and check for moisture. Press for another 10 seconds if required.

T-shirt set up on DTG printer

Stretch your garment over the printing platen ensuring the garment is aligned correctly and all creases have been flattened out.

Hit the big green print button!

And finally, dry your print on the heat press, 180 degrees for 30 seconds!
Final vintage t-shirt print
Ensure you wash your garment inside out and on a cool wash to maintain the life of your print.