Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tutorial - Turn Your Photo Into a Beautuful T-shirt Design

How to create a T-shirt design with a transparent vignette around your subject using PhotoShop CS3/CS4 and one simple freeware plug-in.

  1. Get the Plug-in
    To begin, obviously you must first get the plug-in.

    The plug-in is known as Transparent Vignette 1.0.
    It can be downloaded from the following locations:

    Make sure you save the file somewhere you can find it! Either to your desktop or to a specific folder. Personally I created a 'Downloads' folder on my Desktop just for this purpose.

    As these are all 'ware' sites, use the standard precautions (ie anti-virus, etc.) to ensure your download is safe.

  2. Un-zip the downloaded file.

    Once you have downloaded the file you need to un-compress it as it comes zipped.
    The unzipped file needs to go into a specific folder within your Photoshop program

    1. Click on the Transparent (compressed) folder to go into it.
      Transparent Vignette T-shirt Tutorial 1

    2. Click on Extract all Files

    3. At the 'Welcome to the Compressed (zipped) Folders Extraction Wizard' screen click Next.

      At the Select a Destination screen click on 'Browse'

    5. A new Select a Destination window now opens.

    6. Select My Computer>Local Disk (c:)> Program Files> Adobe >Adobe Photoshop CS3 or CS4> Plug-ins - then create a new folder within the plug-ins folder named 'AAA'

      Transparent Vignette T-shirt Tutorial 2

    7. Click OK, Then Click Next on the original window, then click Finish.

    Congratulations the Transparent Vignette Plug-in is installed.

    Now the fun part begins.

  3. Select Your Image
    Select the image you desire to work with and open it in Photoshop

    Transparent Vignette T-shirt Tutorial 3

    For the purposes of this tutorial I am going to use my image What do you think you're lookin' at?!
    While I love this image, especially because of the tiger's eye contact with the viewer, there are several elements that would make this image 'as is' very unsuitable for a T-shirt design.
    • The rock overhang over the tiger's head
    • The deeply shadowed background that makes for extremely hard edges at the image borders
    • The distracting hay bedding he is sitting in.

  4. Crop to required size.
    Now whether you are working with CafePress, Redbubble, Zazzle or some other company to print your T-shirts will dictate what dimensions your finished image has to be, so make sure you check the guidelines of your chosen service.

    I use RedBubble, whose requirements for a T-shirt design dictate that the image MUST be a 2400 pixel wide by 3200 pixel high .PNG file.

    Select your Crop tool, then in the toolbar at the top set width to 24 inches, height to 32 inches, and resolution to 100 pixels per inch

    Transparent Vignette T-shirt Tutorial 4

    This will give you the correct dimensions without having to complicate the math.

    Now crop your image to the desired size and composition.
    For this project you will want to make sure that the part of the image you want to keep is in the center. Anything to the sides will be erased.

    Transparent Vignette T-shirt Tutorial 4
    You will note that I didn't crop out the rock overhang or all of the sides, those will be erased by the Transparent Vignette later.

  5. Add a transparent background layer
    You might note from the above images that I already have the Layers box already open in the lower right corner of my screen.
    If you do not, then press F7 (or go to Window in the toolbar, and select Layers)

    Currently the image has just one Background layer

    Right-Click on that Background layer and select 'Layer from Background'

    Transparent Vignette T-shirt Tutorial 6

    A New Layer Window comes up.
    Leave Name as Layer 0, Color as None, and Blend mode as Normal
    Click 'OK'

    Now press 'Shift+Ctrl+N' to create a new Layer (or go up to Layer >New >Layer in the Toolbar)

    Another New Layer window pops up.
    Leave Name as Layer 1, Color as None and Blend Mode as Normal
    Click 'OK'.

    In the Layer box in the bottom right you now have two layers, with the transparent layer being on top.

    Click on the Move icon in the Layer window and then drag Layer 0 to the top.

    Transparent Vignette T-shirt Tutorial 7

    Make sure Layer 0 remains selected so that the correct layer is worked on in the next step.

  6. Use the the Transparent Vignette filter
    Go to Filters and select AAA Filters > Transparent Vignette

    Transparent Vignette T-shirt Tutorial 8

    The Transparent Vignette Window will open.

    Transparent Vignette T-shirt Tutorial 9

  7. Play for a little bit.
    This part is really trial and error, every image works differently.

    There are really only two options to work with here.
    The top slider, Transparency, controls how transparent the edges of the image become.
    The second slider, Increase Size, controls how far into the image the transparency extends.

    Once you are relatively happy with what you see in the preview window, click 'OK'. (Remember this is not an exact science and there will still be edges to the image at this stage)

    You now have a nice, soft edged transparent image However it is not 100% transparent at the edges and still has the dreaded straight edges that ruin t-shirt designs.

    Transparent Vignette T-shirt Tutorial 10

  8. Lasso
    Now it's time to get out the Lasso Tool.

    Select the Lasso Tool or the Point-to-Point Lasso Tool depending on your preference.
    You are going to need a very soft edge for the selection as well so set Feather to at least 50 pixels.
    I used Feather: 75 pixels for this image.

    Transparent Vignette T-shirt Tutorial 11

    Using the lasso tool select a very loose outline around the area of the image you wish to keep.

    Transparent Vignette T-shirt Tutorial 12

    Note I did adjust the selection after this.. to round of a selection and your end result ends up looking sort of like a 'bulls-eye' on the shirt.

  9. Cut away the excess.
    We cut away the excess by inverting the selection to select the rest of the image, and then deleting it.
    To invert the selection by pressing Ctrl+Shift+I to invert the selection (or Select >Invert)
    Now press the Delete key to remove the unwanted portions of the image.

    What your left with should be pretty much your desired end result.

  10. Reposition image for Composition
    Position the image in the template.
    At this point the image is usually right around the center of the template and therefore a little out of place on the t-shirt. Most of us don't want our t-shirt logos centered on our bellies, they should be higher on the chest.

    Simply press Ctrl+Shift+I again to invert the selection back to the remaining image.
    Switch to the Move tool.
    Click and drag the image to where you want it in the template.

    Et Voila! You are done!

    Transparent Vignette T-shirt Tutorial 11

    First save the image as a PSD file.. in case you decide to make future edits.
    Then use the Save As function to save it as a .PNG file (non-interpolated) to upload.

One last note: Artist's prerogative, I wasn't really that happy with the end result of this shirt design, too dark for my tastes, so it was never selected for my online collection.

Check out the shirts I currently have available at Alyce Taylor Photography on RedBubble.

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