tgentry


quality posts: 111 Private Messages tgentry

Staff

I know there's a thread that covers the ground rules of the derby, but I thought it might be interesting and valuable if some of the designers that have been around a while shared some tips with newer designers. Hopefully this isn't presumptuous on my part, but it took me months of stumbling before I got my first shirt printed, and if there was some depository of derby tips it might have made the experience much easier. I don't claim to be an expert on anything -- I feel like I'm still learning myself -- so just take my tips with a grain of salt. This is just what I find works for me, and I don't even use them all the time. Feel free to offer up some of your own. Hopefully we can keep it positive?....

Look around Check out sites like Threadless and Design by Humans. They have a different fan base and often print different styles than woot does, but you can really pick up how a design works or doesn't work on a shirt. I'm not suggesting find someone else's style and copy it, just look at how they present their ideas on a shirt. I come from a concept art background, and that doesn't naturally translate to wearable shirts. Looking at how others do it really helped me figure out how I could as well.

The First Idea that Comes to Mind Every now and then that first idea is derby gold, but most of the time, for me anyway, it's the same first idea that everyone else is having. Years of watching the same TV and Movies, reading the same books, hearing the same jokes, means that when we get a theme we probably have very similar things come to mind. When I get those initial ideas I try to decide "is this actually going to be a unique design, and if not can I somehow make it unique?" Usually the answer is no and no and I try to move on to the next one.

Connect things When I'm coming up with ideas I'll often get random things that relate (or sometimes don't relate) to theme but aren't really a working idea on their own. Once I have a bunch of these things floating in my head I'll start to put them together. Many times these random things will just click so naturally you'll wonder how they were never put together before! Then check the Internet to make sure they were never put together before.

Sometimes Less is More Personally once I get a concept in my head I try to think of how I can get it to it's simplest visual form and still get the idea across. First and foremost I think a good shirt reads immediately when you see it. There are exceptions of course (many shirts are a pleasure to pour over and enjoy), but you generally should be able to get the concept within a second or two of looking at it. As an example when James Cho and I collaborated on The Butterfly Effect, my initial idea for it was a very convoluted A to B to C to D to E type of process. There was even a drawing of a sneezing gazelle in there, much to my shame. James wisely advised distilling that concept to it's essence, cutting out all the unnecessary fat. The result was a much more effective design.

Plus it Once I think the core of the idea is coming across, I then try to think of ways to 'plus' it. Plussing is when you have something that's already good, but now you can add that little extra something, like a visual gag off to the side that compliments but doesn't overpower the main idea. Some designs don't call for plussing, but if you can work it in, I think it really helps win over that on the fence voter.

Let the color limitations work for you It can be frustrating to only have 6 colors when you need 12, but one of the cool things about working with a limited color pallete is that the less colors you use, the more impact the final image will have. It's one of those inverse proportional things.

Don't get frustrated My first designs (and some of my current designs, lets be honest) were bad. Really bad. Looking back I can see just how bad they were. But at the time I thought they were something special and couldn't understand why no one else thought the same. It was easy to get frustrated with the voters who weren't voting or the designers who were getting the votes. The bottom line was I just wasn't designing shirts people wanted to wear. I had to either keep doing what I was doing or try to find the area where what I wanted to make and what people wanted to wear intersect. One thing I've learned during that process is that being too hard on myself or taking it out on other people gets you no where. Just stay positive and move forward.

Ask for Help/Advice/Critiques People are usually more than willing to share with you some design tip they know or a process you really like, but some will only do so when prompted. Prompt! Also don't take critiques personally. Most of them aren't meant to be. We all make mistakes, overlook things, or just can't step back from a design. An honest critique is a valuable way to get a design to that final level of goodness. Also know when to stick to your guns. If you try to please everyone you'll please no one. Sometimes people will suggest things to change just because they think they should. Know when to use and know when to discard advice.

Well these are the things that I've found helpful in shirt designing. Hopefully someone can use them somehow. Feel free to add you own and try to stay helpful?...

SailorButterfly


quality posts: 14 Private Messages SailorButterfly

Helpful tips, gentry.

Thanks for taking the time to compile them!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The "Most Awesome Butterfly-Sailor Hybrid on Woot"

WeezTheJuice


quality posts: 0 Private Messages WeezTheJuice

Thanks for this tgentry, it helps to see you and cho post up some of their tips and techniques, very humble and professional of you.

AdderXYU


quality posts: 38 Private Messages AdderXYU

Very well said and pretty spot on. Given the vote patterns on woot, I don't know how valuable this will be to winning derbies, but it's definitely stuff that anyone who wants to really push their work forward should think about. I don't know what I agree with most, but I definitely have to say that looking around is a great idea no matter who you are or what intention you have in entering. Being educated about what's out there not only keeps you from straddling the line of the rejector, but it gives you an idea of how to use a shirt as a canvas... you wouldn't learn guitar based on vocal lessons, and just as both of those applications are music, both shirt designing and drawing are both arts that can inform each other, but are not the same. Learn what works, try to figure out why, and try to put that into your own art.

Not only that, but shop your work around to these other places. If you submit your work to Threadless, you're going to get a totally different consumer base to tear your work apart. Learn from them. Take negative criticism just as seriously as positive, if not more... you learn more from hearing what someone finds wrong about your work than you ever will from brown-nosing. Don't think that because you're a woot artist, you can't shop work to other sites... not to sound like a broken record around here, but Artulo is one of very few wooters to start here and get printed elsewhere (Design By Humans, no less, which is about as un-woot as a site can be). To the same degree, understand what a site is looking for... you might be a titan at woot, but don't expect to be as well received elsewhere.

Which leads to my bread and butter point... be true to yourself. The average derby has about 300 entries, which means you have a 1% chance of placing no matter WHAT you enter. Even if you're of the belief that only 30 entries per derby even have a chance to win, you're still at a 10% chance, which is still terrible odds. You're effectively designing for a portfolio with a slight chance of profit. Create a portfolio that tells future clients what you are artistically, not what you think others want you to be. Create a portfolio that can transfer over to another shirt site. Create a portfolio that you can look back on and say "yeah, I didn't win, but this was totally worth the time I spent." If you're in it for the money, you should be spending enough time to cement that win, and if you're spending that much time on an entry that has only a 10% chance of winning at best, it should be one you'll be proud of. The reason Cho has such a strong fan base is because from most marketable to least chance of winning, he puts himself into it. The reason Edgar fans are so rabid despite his difficulty in securing prints and sales is because Edgar constantly creates what comes to him, not what will necessarily sell. A nondescript and nonthreatening shirt might make you a quick grand, but creating art for you will give you a loyal fanbase, and if you want to really put time into this pastime, that base will be more valuable than a thousand quick cashouts

thethatcher


quality posts: 3 Private Messages thethatcher

I really like this, great tips and it's given me a lot to think about. not sure if this fits in this thread or not, but I've been stressing a lot about the Pantone Solid color swatches, I've never worked in print before so I honestly don't know what they are, or how to get them. I'm not sure how many newbies run into this same problem, but it's caused me a lot of grief.

rglee129


quality posts: 27 Private Messages rglee129

This is a great post! I've got one more that would have helped me when I first started: Don't worry about the print-ready unless you've got at least a remote chance of getting printed. I usually wait until Monday, and then if I'm in the top 10 or so I'll pretty up my large file and email it in. My first 5 or 6 derbies I spent way too long identifying the pantones, hunting down stray pixels, etc., because I thought you HAD to send it all in at once.

VERY IMPORTANT: Keep in mind that the orint ready must match the shirt comp! So even though you send in the print-ready later, you cant change it in anyway that would make it different than what's advertised in the shirt comp folks are voting on.

tgentry


quality posts: 111 Private Messages tgentry

Staff

rglee129 wrote:This is a great post! I've got one more that would have helped me when I first started: Don't worry about the print-ready unless you've got at least a remote chance of getting printed. I usually wait until Monday, and then if I'm in the top 10 or so I'll pretty up my large file and email it in. My first 5 or 6 derbies I spent way too long identifying the pantones, hunting down stray pixels, etc., because I thought you HAD to send it all in at once.

VERY IMPORTANT: Keep in mind that the orint ready must match the shirt comp! So even though you send in the print-ready later, you cant change it in anyway that would make it different than what's advertised in the shirt comp folks are voting on.



That is a good point. I tend to do the print ready right away just so I won't have to worry about it, but I have found myself letting details slide knowing I could fix it up later if I have to send them the print file. This is a good tip, especially if you're short on time. Just know that you better bring the goods if you show it in a comp and it gets votes.

Andy47240


quality posts: 0 Private Messages Andy47240
rglee129 wrote: My first 5 or 6 derbies I spent way too long identifying the pantones, hunting down stray pixels, etc., because I thought you HAD to send it all in at once.


Took me about 12 derbies to figure that one out. Of course this means that I have not sent a print ready file in quite sometime since I rarely flirt with top ten.



tgentry


quality posts: 111 Private Messages tgentry

Staff

Andy47240 wrote:Took me about 12 derbies to figure that one out. Of course this means that I have not sent a print ready file in quite sometimes since I rarely flirt with top ten.



There's been a few entries where I never sent in a print-ready file. I'm not sure if the two things are connected, but none of those entries made the redo derby. It'd be interesting to know if they won't pick an entry for re-do if they don't have a print-ready version on hand.

SailorButterfly


quality posts: 14 Private Messages SailorButterfly
tgentry wrote:There's been a few entries where I never sent in a print-ready file. I'm not sure if the two things are connected, but none of those entries made the redo derby. It'd be interesting to know if they won't pick an entry for re-do if they don't have a print-ready version on hand.



I could be wrong, but I don't think Schrobblehead ever gave them a print-ready for his hamburger design that's in the do-over.

Woot also said this in the do-over derby description: "If you didn't submit your original art with your first submission, send all art files to shirt@woot.com."

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The "Most Awesome Butterfly-Sailor Hybrid on Woot"

tgentry


quality posts: 111 Private Messages tgentry

Staff

SailorButterfly wrote:I could be wrong, but I don't think Schrobblehead ever gave them a print-ready for his hamburger design that's in the do-over.

Woot also said this in the do-over derby description: "If you didn't submit your original art with your first submission, send all art files to shirt@woot.com."



Ah, very true. Thanks SB.

Andy47240


quality posts: 0 Private Messages Andy47240
tgentry wrote:Ah, very true. Thanks SB.


FWIW, the two of mine that they picked were from the earlier derbies where I was sending in Print Ready files.



Hulyen


quality posts: 0 Private Messages Hulyen

I do have one quick question that I haven't seen the answer to anywhere (pardon if I'm blind and just missed it):

I know you have to stick to the pantone library for colors, but is there a list somewhere of the pantone colors they actually have on hand to print with? Or do they order them as needed? Perhaps they shift a color in a design they don't have to the nearest color they do have?

'Cause there's a LOT of Pantone colors, and if I can design to a known selection, it'd probably make their prepress lives easier, heh.

eHalcyon


quality posts: 66 Private Messages eHalcyon
Hulyen wrote:I do have one quick question that I haven't seen the answer to anywhere (pardon if I'm blind and just missed it):

I know you have to stick to the pantone library for colors, but is there a list somewhere of the pantone colors they actually have on hand to print with? Or do they order them as needed? Perhaps they shift a color in a design they don't have to the nearest color they do have?

'Cause there's a LOT of Pantone colors, and if I can design to a known selection, it'd probably make their prepress lives easier, heh.



They use Pantone solid coated, so stick with those. However, choosing pantones isn't necessary; if you just pick colours willy-nilly woot will pick close-matching (probably) colours should you win.



Just to jump into the print-ready commentary, I hadn't submitted print-ready designs for either of my do-over entries. I sent them in this week because Woot printed a request for designers to submit the files, presumably for an upcoming editor's pick.

Great write-up, tgentry.

(Unofficial) Derby Rules (outdated?)
Designing for the Derby (definitely outdated)
Tips for New Designers (always useful)

AdderXYU


quality posts: 38 Private Messages AdderXYU
rglee129 wrote:This is a great post! I've got one more that would have helped me when I first started: Don't worry about the print-ready unless you've got at least a remote chance of getting printed. I usually wait until Monday, and then if I'm in the top 10 or so I'll pretty up my large file and email it in. My first 5 or 6 derbies I spent way too long identifying the pantones, hunting down stray pixels, etc., because I thought you HAD to send it all in at once.

VERY IMPORTANT: Keep in mind that the orint ready must match the shirt comp! So even though you send in the print-ready later, you cant change it in anyway that would make it different than what's advertised in the shirt comp folks are voting on.



My only caution here is this: in the bug derby, Myztri got her Mendhi Butterfly entry rejected due to an anonymous tip that linked to a work in progress, in which she had used "Om" symbols, which count as text. There were none in the final product, but because she decided not to include a print-ready, she got rejected from the top 10 when woot couldn't confirm that her entry was text-free. it's a horrible precedent, but it's worth playing safe in some instances.

klswoot


quality posts: 0 Private Messages klswoot
tgentry wrote:There's been a few entries where I never sent in a print-ready file. I'm not sure if the two things are connected, but none of those entries made the redo derby. It'd be interesting to know if they won't pick an entry for re-do if they don't have a print-ready version on hand.



Really helpful tips TG.

I also wondered about whether the print-ready files are necessary for placement in the 'do-over' derby. Maybe someone at Woot can answer definitively.

geekfactor12


quality posts: 11 Private Messages geekfactor12
klswoot wrote:I also wondered about whether the print-ready files are necessary for placement in the 'do-over' derby. Maybe someone at Woot can answer definitively.



I'm sure Woot would prefer to have them, but they aren't necessary to being included. I know at least two of mine (possibly more, I don't recall on a couple of them) in the Do-Over never had print readies submitted.

thatrobert


quality posts: 26 Private Messages thatrobert
AdderXYU wrote:My only caution here is this: in the bug derby, Myztri got her Mendhi Butterfly entry rejected due to an anonymous tip that linked to a work in progress, in which she had used "Om" symbols, which count as text. There were none in the final product, but because she decided not to include a print-ready, she got rejected from the top 10 when woot couldn't confirm that her entry was text-free. it's a horrible precedent, but it's worth playing safe in some instances.



Great point Adder. I was rejected for having too many colors once -- I didn't but since I didn't upload the print-ready they couldn't verify on their own.

thatrobert


quality posts: 26 Private Messages thatrobert

Thanks TGentry for starting this thread -- this would have come in very handy if I saw something like this from the beginning. A few more tips:

The Shirt is the Message
Even if it's not a joke shirt, it has to grab people. You have to surprise them with the beautiful art, the hilarious idea, or the universal meme that has never been communicated in quite such a way before. I'm really speaking to myself here since I'll get caught up in creating a shirt that I like but haven't spent the time to really consider if other people "get it" or give a carp. Think about what you're saying to the voter and what he or she would want to say to the people who see that shirt on the street.

Keep Hacking
Frequently I've found the shirts that have worked started with an idea that was actually quite different. Sometimes the difference between an OK shirt and a great shirt is being willing to abandon the core idea that actually got you started on the design and going off on a better tangent.

superspryte


quality posts: 21 Private Messages superspryte

Volunteer Moderator

eHalcyon wrote:They use Pantone solid coated, so stick with those. However, choosing pantones isn't necessary; if you just pick colours willy-nilly woot will pick close-matching (probably) colours should you win.


This is partially true. Beware of letting woot pick your colors; if may not match your vision.

Here's an example for you.

w: 7 | t.w: 1 | h.w: 1 | tg.w: 0 | sp.w: 0 | a.w: 0 | k.w: 0 | s.w: 15 | w.w: 15 | so.w: 2

Hulyen


quality posts: 0 Private Messages Hulyen
superspryte wrote:This is partially true. Beware of letting woot pick your colors; if may not match your vision.

Here's an example for you.



Actually. that link sorta answered my questions I had earlier in the thread, thanks!

Myztri


quality posts: 2 Private Messages Myztri
rglee129 wrote:This is a great post! I've got one more that would have helped me when I first started: Don't worry about the print-ready unless you've got at least a remote chance of getting printed. I usually wait until Monday, and then if I'm in the top 10 or so I'll pretty up my large file and email it in. My first 5 or 6 derbies I spent way too long identifying the pantones, hunting down stray pixels, etc., because I thought you HAD to send it all in at once.

VERY IMPORTANT: Keep in mind that the orint ready must match the shirt comp! So even though you send in the print-ready later, you cant change it in anyway that would make it different than what's advertised in the shirt comp folks are voting on.



I tend to disagree. I didn't worry about the print ready because I never thought I had a chance to print, but by the time I realized it was possible, I was rejected for something that wasn't even there, but without a print ready, it could not be verified.

Edited to add: I should have read ahead to see that has already been pointed out llo.

dogchainedtoapost


quality posts: 0 Private Messages dogchainedtoapost

I would add that my favorite designs--of T-shirts, watches, cars, pretty much anything--tend to be clean. The occasional cluttered shirt is okay--see Lost in Transition, one of my all-time favorites--but if you look through the gallery of winners, you will notice that the shirts that win tend to have a strong concept that the design delivers pretty much instantly.

supermatt52


quality posts: 0 Private Messages supermatt52

I've been buying and voting on woot for like 6 months now and i was just curios what programs are used to make the shirts? I have photoshop, but what else do i need? and how do i put the design on a shirt for the site? Thanks

eHalcyon


quality posts: 66 Private Messages eHalcyon
supermatt52 wrote:I've been buying and voting on woot for like 6 months now and i was just curios what programs are used to make the shirts? I have photoshop, but what else do i need? and how do i put the design on a shirt for the site? Thanks



All I use is Photoshop. I think the best designers use both Photoshop and Illustrator, though they would probably favour one over the other. And that isn't to discount other similar programs like GIMP or Inkscape.

(Unofficial) Derby Rules (outdated?)
Designing for the Derby (definitely outdated)
Tips for New Designers (always useful)

Keelmy


quality posts: 0 Private Messages Keelmy
tgentry wrote:

Don't get frustrated



Thanks for some insight. I quoted this particular point because I've noticed that some of the pros on here at some point felt the same way and now they hit the top 10 with some regularity. I can only imagine what a good feeling it must be to hit a nice stride week after week.

I guess I'm also highlighting this point because I'm feeling a bit frustrated myself for a lot of the same reasons (and a few others) that you've pointed out. It's tough to spend hours working on a shirt into the morning, pouring over it laboriously and with love only to get low recognition for it or worse get beat out by a shirt that looks like it took someone 10 minutes to make.

I could make up a ton of excuses, cry favoritism or accuse fellow wooters of dishonorable conduct but ultimately it is all about becoming a better designer and learning what works, as you suggested. Thanks for the encouraging words and sage advice. I feel renewed and I'll continue with my efforts.




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thejakeyl88


quality posts: 16 Private Messages thejakeyl88

I just want to say this thread is very helpful. I've been working on my photoshop skills, its been 6 years since I've used it, and that can be very frustrating. Oh well, anyways, thanks for this post!

If I don't see you no more in this world, I betcha on the next one you'll know me! Don't be late!

mjc613


quality posts: 47 Private Messages mjc613

Can someone add instructions on how to actually load the files for the thumbnail and the comp? I see a lot of new people needing help with that, and I am unable to help them. I would sure like to be able to point to a thread and help them out. (I have seen advice on some of the derby threads, but those rarely get visited after that derby is over.)

eHalcyon


quality posts: 66 Private Messages eHalcyon
mjc613 wrote:Can someone add instructions on how to actually load the files for the thumbnail and the comp? I see a lot of new people needing help with that, and I am unable to help them. I would sure like to be able to point to a thread and help them out. (I have seen advice on some of the derby threads, but those rarely get visited after that derby is over.)



Does this work?

If so, I'll go over it and see if anything needs updating. I wrote it several months ago, and it flew right under the radar.

(Unofficial) Derby Rules (outdated?)
Designing for the Derby (definitely outdated)
Tips for New Designers (always useful)

sasham62


quality posts: 0 Private Messages sasham62

Tips from a newbie:

You can find the Pantone Colors on-line by doing a google search on Pantone and then clicking the Images link. There are a TON of Pantone colors, so it really isn't especially limiting. But the images can be huge, so you'll probably want to find them broken up into a few color charts. Also, if you download a sample color chart, make sure it isn't mottled, because that won't do you any good.

I'm using The Gimp as my drawing tool, which ... isn't a drawing tool (it's an image manipulation program) but I'm making it work. I find it's easiest to start working in the print-ready file first. That way I can work on each color in a separate layer. It's much easier to flatten the layers into an image (for the design detail and shirt comp) than it is to separate colors after the fact.
Different processes will probably work better for different people.

However, The Gimp has a default maximum image size of 128 Meg. Your print-ready file is probably going to take at least four times that to edit. Fortunately, the maximum image size was easy to change and my computer had plenty of memory for 750 Meg. Read your error messages early to prevent the heartbreak of your program stopping working later. Yes, I speak from experience.

My question isn't so much about the derby as the posting. I have an image that I'm putting my T-shirt thumbnail designs into, but I can't seem to get it into my posting signature. The image is



but I can't seem to find the syntax to get it into the signature.

eHalcyon


quality posts: 66 Private Messages eHalcyon
sasham62 wrote:(snip)



Pantone Colours - not sure about the GIMP, but Photoshop and Illustrator (and probably most other standard graphic editing programs) have libraries built right in.

Image size - 128 MB? That is WAY more than I've ever needed in Photoshop...

To put the image in your signature, you use the same code as you do for posts. You managed to post the image just fine - it's the same for signatures. The reason why it isn't working for your signature is that Woot does not allow users with zero purchases to put images in their signature. I think the reason might be to inhibit spam advertising and such.

(Unofficial) Derby Rules (outdated?)
Designing for the Derby (definitely outdated)
Tips for New Designers (always useful)

iloveschocobos


quality posts: 0 Private Messages iloveschocobos

What excellent advice! Thank you tgentry and Adder, much appreciated. I only wish I could've seen this when I started this past summer, but it's never too late to get good advice. It takes me a while to maneuver around the site.

bassanimation


quality posts: 98 Private Messages bassanimation

I wish I had seen this thread when I first started @_@.

Better late than never . Very good stuff here, thank you for your advice everyone, and thanks to TGentry for lending his design prowess to us!

yrubutugly


quality posts: 0 Private Messages yrubutugly

I'm wondering if anyone will even see this. but I have a question about halftones... I'm using Illustrator and i wanted to know how to get halftones and how to use them. most of the designs chosen have this fade with the halftones into the color of the shirt and i really like the effect that gives off more dimension to the art. please let me know how this is done as i would like to improve my designs. thank you!

osters5


quality posts: 0 Private Messages osters5
tgentry wrote:I know there's a thread that covers the ground rules of the derby, but I thought it might be interesting and valuable if some of the designers that have been around a while shared some tips with newer designers. Hopefully this isn't presumptuous on my part, but it took me months of stumbling before I got my first shirt printed, and if there was some depository of derby tips it might have made the experience much easier. I don't claim to be an expert on anything -- I feel like I'm still learning myself -- so just take my tips with a grain of salt. This is just what I find works for me, and I don't even use them all the time. Feel free to offer up some of your own. Hopefully we can keep it positive?....

Look around Check out sites like Threadless and Design by Humans. They have a different fan base and often print different styles than woot does, but you can really pick up how a design works or doesn't work on a shirt. I'm not suggesting find someone else's style and copy it, just look at how they present their ideas on a shirt. I come from a concept art background, and that doesn't naturally translate to wearable shirts. Looking at how others do it really helped me figure out how I could as well.

The First Idea that Comes to Mind Every now and then that first idea is derby gold, but most of the time, for me anyway, it's the same first idea that everyone else is having. Years of watching the same TV and Movies, reading the same books, hearing the same jokes, means that when we get a theme we probably have very similar things come to mind. When I get those initial ideas I try to decide "is this actually going to be a unique design, and if not can I somehow make it unique?" Usually the answer is no and no and I try to move on to the next one.

Connect things When I'm coming up with ideas I'll often get random things that relate (or sometimes don't relate) to theme but aren't really a working idea on their own. Once I have a bunch of these things floating in my head I'll start to put them together. Many times these random things will just click so naturally you'll wonder how they were never put together before! Then check the Internet to make sure they were never put together before.

Sometimes Less is More Personally once I get a concept in my head I try to think of how I can get it to it's simplest visual form and still get the idea across. First and foremost I think a good shirt reads immediately when you see it. There are exceptions of course (many shirts are a pleasure to pour over and enjoy), but you generally should be able to get the concept within a second or two of looking at it. As an example when James Cho and I collaborated on The Butterfly Effect, my initial idea for it was a very convoluted A to B to C to D to E type of process. There was even a drawing of a sneezing gazelle in there, much to my shame. James wisely advised distilling that concept to it's essence, cutting out all the unnecessary fat. The result was a much more effective design.

Plus it Once I think the core of the idea is coming across, I then try to think of ways to 'plus' it. Plussing is when you have something that's already good, but now you can add that little extra something, like a visual gag off to the side that compliments but doesn't overpower the main idea. Some designs don't call for plussing, but if you can work it in, I think it really helps win over that on the fence voter.

Let the color limitations work for you It can be frustrating to only have 6 colors when you need 12, but one of the cool things about working with a limited color pallete is that the less colors you use, the more impact the final image will have. It's one of those inverse proportional things.

Don't get frustrated My first designs (and some of my current designs, lets be honest) were bad. Really bad. Looking back I can see just how bad they were. But at the time I thought they were something special and couldn't understand why no one else thought the same. It was easy to get frustrated with the voters who weren't voting or the designers who were getting the votes. The bottom line was I just wasn't designing shirts people wanted to wear. I had to either keep doing what I was doing or try to find the area where what I wanted to make and what people wanted to wear intersect. One thing I've learned during that process is that being too hard on myself or taking it out on other people gets you no where. Just stay positive and move forward.

Ask for Help/Advice/Critiques People are usually more than willing to share with you some design tip they know or a process you really like, but some will only do so when prompted. Prompt! Also don't take critiques personally. Most of them aren't meant to be. We all make mistakes, overlook things, or just can't step back from a design. An honest critique is a valuable way to get a design to that final level of goodness. Also know when to stick to your guns. If you try to please everyone you'll please no one. Sometimes people will suggest things to change just because they think they should. Know when to use and know when to discard advice.

Well these are the things that I've found helpful in shirt designing. Hopefully someone can use them somehow. Feel free to add you own and try to stay helpful?...



Great tips! Thank you, will use them in the future.

jorlyfish


quality posts: 0 Private Messages jorlyfish

As someone who is going to be leaping into submitting stuff pretty soon, thanks a bunch! Very helpful.

lucasm06


quality posts: 0 Private Messages lucasm06

Thank you for these great suggestions and the print-ready criteria!

I only wish I'd had these before starting my current project. I've worked in one layer the whole time and now I have to 'bleach out' six different colors (counting the transparent/background color as one) for each different color present. A LOT of work I could have avoided if I'd had these rules before.

But at least I won't be making those mistakes again now, thanks to all of you contributing to this thread! Thanks again.

susiewoots


quality posts: 16 Private Messages susiewoots
superspryte wrote:This is partially true. Beware of letting woot pick your colors; if may not match your vision.

Here's an example for you.



Thanks that helps a lot!

arthomas


quality posts: 0 Private Messages arthomas
tgentry wrote:I know there's a thread that covers the ground rules of the derby, but I thought it might be interesting and valuable if some of the designers that have been around a while shared some tips with newer designers. Hopefully this isn't presumptuous on my part, but it took me months of stumbling before I got my first shirt printed, and if there was some depository of derby tips it might have made the experience much easier. I don't claim to be an expert on anything -- I feel like I'm still learning myself -- so just take my tips with a grain of salt. This is just what I find works for me, and I don't even use them all the time. Feel free to offer up some of your own. Hopefully we can keep it positive?....

Look around Check out sites like Threadless and Design by Humans. They have a different fan base and often print different styles than woot does, but you can really pick up how a design works or doesn't work on a shirt. I'm not suggesting find someone else's style and copy it, just look at how they present their ideas on a shirt. I come from a concept art background, and that doesn't naturally translate to wearable shirts. Looking at how others do it really helped me figure out how I could as well.

The First Idea that Comes to Mind Every now and then that first idea is derby gold, but most of the time, for me anyway, it's the same first idea that everyone else is having. Years of watching the same TV and Movies, reading the same books, hearing the same jokes, means that when we get a theme we probably have very similar things come to mind. When I get those initial ideas I try to decide "is this actually going to be a unique design, and if not can I somehow make it unique?" Usually the answer is no and no and I try to move on to the next one.

Connect things When I'm coming up with ideas I'll often get random things that relate (or sometimes don't relate) to theme but aren't really a working idea on their own. Once I have a bunch of these things floating in my head I'll start to put them together. Many times these random things will just click so naturally you'll wonder how they were never put together before! Then check the Internet to make sure they were never put together before.

Sometimes Less is More Personally once I get a concept in my head I try to think of how I can get it to it's simplest visual form and still get the idea across. First and foremost I think a good shirt reads immediately when you see it. There are exceptions of course (many shirts are a pleasure to pour over and enjoy), but you generally should be able to get the concept within a second or two of looking at it. As an example when James Cho and I collaborated on The Butterfly Effect, my initial idea for it was a very convoluted A to B to C to D to E type of process. There was even a drawing of a sneezing gazelle in there, much to my shame. James wisely advised distilling that concept to it's essence, cutting out all the unnecessary fat. The result was a much more effective design.

Plus it Once I think the core of the idea is coming across, I then try to think of ways to 'plus' it. Plussing is when you have something that's already good, but now you can add that little extra something, like a visual gag off to the side that compliments but doesn't overpower the main idea. Some designs don't call for plussing, but if you can work it in, I think it really helps win over that on the fence voter.

Let the color limitations work for you It can be frustrating to only have 6 colors when you need 12, but one of the cool things about working with a limited color pallete is that the less colors you use, the more impact the final image will have. It's one of those inverse proportional things.

Don't get frustrated My first designs (and some of my current designs, lets be honest) were bad. Really bad. Looking back I can see just how bad they were. But at the time I thought they were something special and couldn't understand why no one else thought the same. It was easy to get frustrated with the voters who weren't voting or the designers who were getting the votes. The bottom line was I just wasn't designing shirts people wanted to wear. I had to either keep doing what I was doing or try to find the area where what I wanted to make and what people wanted to wear intersect. One thing I've learned during that process is that being too hard on myself or taking it out on other people gets you no where. Just stay positive and move forward.

Ask for Help/Advice/Critiques People are usually more than willing to share with you some design tip they know or a process you really like, but some will only do so when prompted. Prompt! Also don't take critiques personally. Most of them aren't meant to be. We all make mistakes, overlook things, or just can't step back from a design. An honest critique is a valuable way to get a design to that final level of goodness. Also know when to stick to your guns. If you try to please everyone you'll please no one. Sometimes people will suggest things to change just because they think they should. Know when to use and know when to discard advice.

Well these are the things that I've found helpful in shirt designing. Hopefully someone can use them somehow. Feel free to add you own and try to stay helpful?...



Made my first design ever today. This thread helped alot!! Thank you
I'm just having trouble submiting it, 'cause it gives me the same error:
"503 Service not available
--------------------------------------
aiCache"
Oh well, in search of an answer.
Keep on fighting :P

chachachino


quality posts: 0 Private Messages chachachino
AdderXYU wrote:Very well said and pretty spot on. Given the vote patterns on woot, I don't know how valuable this will be to winning derbies, but it's definitely stuff that anyone who wants to really push their work forward should think about. I don't know what I agree with most, but I definitely have to say that looking around is a great idea no matter who you are or what intention you have in entering. Being educated about what's out there not only keeps you from straddling the line of the rejector, but it gives you an idea of how to use a shirt as a canvas... you wouldn't learn guitar based on vocal lessons, and just as both of those applications are music, both shirt designing and drawing are both arts that can inform each other, but are not the same. Learn what works, try to figure out why, and try to put that into your own art.

Not only that, but shop your work around to these other places. If you submit your work to Threadless, you're going to get a totally different consumer base to tear your work apart. Learn from them. Take negative criticism just as seriously as positive, if not more... you learn more from hearing what someone finds wrong about your work than you ever will from brown-nosing. Don't think that because you're a woot artist, you can't shop work to other sites... not to sound like a broken record around here, but Artulo is one of very few wooters to start here and get printed elsewhere (Design By Humans, no less, which is about as un-woot as a site can be). To the same degree, understand what a site is looking for... you might be a titan at woot, but don't expect to be as well received elsewhere.

Which leads to my bread and butter point... be true to yourself. The average derby has about 300 entries, which means you have a 1% chance of placing no matter WHAT you enter. Even if you're of the belief that only 30 entries per derby even have a chance to win, you're still at a 10% chance, which is still terrible odds. You're effectively designing for a portfolio with a slight chance of profit. Create a portfolio that tells future clients what you are artistically, not what you think others want you to be. Create a portfolio that can transfer over to another shirt site. Create a portfolio that you can look back on and say "yeah, I didn't win, but this was totally worth the time I spent." If you're in it for the money, you should be spending enough time to cement that win, and if you're spending that much time on an entry that has only a 10% chance of winning at best, it should be one you'll be proud of. The reason Cho has such a strong fan base is because from most marketable to least chance of winning, he puts himself into it. The reason Edgar fans are so rabid despite his difficulty in securing prints and sales is because Edgar constantly creates what comes to him, not what will necessarily sell. A nondescript and nonthreatening shirt might make you a quick grand, but creating art for you will give you a loyal fanbase, and if you want to really put time into this pastime, that base will be more valuable than a thousand quick cashouts



couldn't find the thumbs up button for this post. excellent p.o.v.