Hi there Derbier.
I understand you want to get into this 't-shirt design thing', but you feel the rules seem unclear in places... well, my name's Derek, and I have pushed every limit, tested every breaking point, and bent every rule. I have walked right up to 'the line' and crowed at it like Peter the faerie-lovin’ Pan. I have wrestled with "The Great Rejectorator" -and - while I have not always been victorious, I have come away with some valuable insight into what is and is not allowed in these contests of graphical design fortitude. My dear Derbier, I hope to keep this post updated as new rules are made, broken, changed, or upheld. I encourage you to post your own observations and corrections (as I might miss some things on occasion). I will try and keep this first post updated per your comments. Thank you, and please read on.
*Derby Rules* (Unofficial)
----- The Basics: -----
In order to enter a design, you must submit three files:
- 240 x 240 pixel 72 dpi ‘Design Detail’ (used to initially display your design)
- 580 x 580 pixel 72 dpi ‘Shirt Comp’ Used to display designs in more detail and used by Woot(!) staff as your intended positioning of the design on the shirt)
- 16 in x 20 in 300 dpi ‘Print Design’ (used by Woot(!) staff to make your design should you win)
You do not technically need to submit a 16" by 20" file to enter (and many designers chose not to submit these for whatever reason), however, obviously Woot(!) cannot print your design without a print-ready file, so it’s in your best interest to avoid complications and submit all three at the same time. The main focus of this post will be on the Design Detail and the Shirt Comp.
----- Instant and Permanent Rejections -----
While there is quite a bit of gray area and wiggle room within the rules, several no-no’s will get you rejected every time. These will result in a complete erasure of your design from the shirt.woot(!) servers, it will be like it never even existed:
-Use of profanity
-Use of pornography
-Use of racism
I have not yet heard of a user being banned from contributing designs to the derby, but why push that particular button, ya nincompoop?
----- Common Rejection Reasons -----
There are several rejection types that appear frequently:
-The ‘power logo’, is (in fact) copyrighted.
I <3 Stuff
-I <3 Fill in the blank shirts are viciously protected by the city of NY, and are very bannable.
-The video game 'Portal' has been successfully parodied once already, now all portal references are banned.
-Rule 32: No street signs.
In Soviet Russia...
-The twenty year old 'In Soviet Russia' meme makes an appearance nearly every derby. It is not clever or original, and is a good bet for rejection.
-Rule: 62 section b: No flying penguins, be it of their own volition or through the assistance of any kind of mechanical device. Some things just aren't natural.
-Pacman is finally out of bounds.
In derbies where the rules state 'no text', this means that any symbol, letter, or number is prohibited. This applies to any key on the keyboard, foreign language script, dollar signs, exclamation points, 'at' symbols, etc. This is a very common rejection pitfall.
Usually a rejectable offense.
----- Erroneous Rejections -----
Occasionally Woot(!) rejects a shirt in error. Woot(!) will often acknowledge this, though they almost always ask the designer to suck it up and resubmit their design, resetting their vote count. It is important to point out that Woot(!) does have the ability to un-reject an entry and restore the former vote count, though such a result is highly unlikely.
----- Copyright Infringement -----
This has been a topic of much contention (and often, gnashing of teeth) in the forums.
-A shirt may not contain any copyrighted elements. In the past this has included: The Shape of a Lego Man, Zorro, The Simpsons, Power Rangers, Pez, Superman, and Star Wars among many others.
Pac Man notably has slipped through. Ditto C-3P0
Copyrights may be used if they are making a clear statement on or about the copyrighted item.
McDonalds, Coca Cola, Disney, and Best Buy among others…
----- Shirt Resubmittal -----
The question of 'can I resubmit a popular design in multiple derbies?' has been a contentious one (so much so that Woot(!) commandant Joel Lewis weighed in).
Our laxity in rejections of resubmissions has been thrown directly back in our face. Touche and here, I'll clarify:
Resubmissions are not allowed unless there has been "significant" change(s) made to the entry. "Significant" is the subjective part here. Color changes, composition, additions, etc may all qualify as significant or may not. It's up to us. If you think someone is sneaking one in, I'll rely on the Tattle functionality to help out. Use the Tattle and link to the previous submission. It's not enough just to say "resubmission."
If it's determined to be a resubmission without significant change, then it will be rejected. People who think it's funny and keep resubmitting will be probated (ooh...I'm salivating).
In the event that a previous entry has attained the noble Honorable Mention status, is then resubmitted with what are determined as 'significant' changes, then the resubmitted entry will stand, but it may forfeit it's entry into the Best of Derby. How's that?
----- Plagiarism -----
Similar to (and often concurrent with) Copyright Infringement. It should be noted that the kind of people who frequent woot are the kind who are very good at scouring the web (as well as the kind who have copious amounts of time on their hands). Plagiarism, no matter how subtle, is almost always caught.
-If a similar shirt exists in production, Woot(!) is likely to reject.
-If a shirt appears to be a direct trace of a picture found online without significant modification, then rejection is likely.
-If there appears to be no original work in a design, even with significant modification, then it will be rejected.
-If a shirt appears to be significantly similar to another derby entry, then it might be rejected.
----- Woot(!) References -----
-Anything that cannot be understood outside the confines of the Woot(!) website will probably be rejected. This rule is inconsistently enforced on questionable shirts.
----- Colors -----
-Submissions can have no more than 6 ‘spot colors’ This includes black and white. Successful Derbiers often let the shirt color come through in their designs for an unofficial 7th color.
----- Gradients/Minimum Line Width -----
-Gradients in designs are consistently rejected.
-Halftones (small dot groupings made to look like gradients) and thin lines are sometimes rejected, but sometimes not. The smaller the details, the less likely a shirt is to print well.
----- Design Detail -----
-Cannot have any gradients.
-May have partial design elements
-May have clarifying text not found in the shirt design
----- Shirt Comp -----
-Must show a full t-shirt representation (or enough of the shirt to give a very clear idea of placement) somewhere in the image.
-Must represent only one shirt color.
-Design must be within an approximation of 16” by 20”
-Designs must be on either front or back of shirt (not both)
-Designs must be at least 1” away from any seams, collar, and bottom of shirt.
----- Helpful Links -----
Jack31081's 'real t' shirt comp template.
-If you're wondering where designers get the 'real shirt' look in their shirt comps, this is most likely it.
JamesCho84's Shirt Template
-This template is growing in popularity. It is not sized correctly, so make sure to change image size to 600x600 if you don't want artifacting. If any of this confuses you, cdownload Jack's template above instead :-)
-ThatRobert's blog. Full of past derby recaps, interviews with prominent designers, and links to artist's shirts on sale.
-A statistics tracking site maintained by cwarrington. Commonly used by derby regulars due to it's fog placement estimation.
-All shirts currently available to buy through Woot(!) are listed here (though not anywhere on the official Woot(!) site... It's just how they roll.)
-A great place to see every shirt woot has ever printed!
That’s it for now. Revisions should appear periodically. Please PM me or post below if something is incorrect or should be listed. Also, shirt example links are welcome if you’d like to track them down. Thanks, and happy derbying!
*Please don't quote this whole post in your reply*
Bluchez made a handy pictogram for those visual learners among you:
Other common rules that don't always apply: