How to Make the Most of a One-Color T-shirt Design

When you’re talking about screenprinted T-shirts, more colors mean more money. To keep costs down, many marketers opt for a one-color design on their promotional T-shirt. But that doesn’t mean it has to be boring! Here are 5 ways to end up with a super creative shirt design with only one ink color:

Method 1: Choose a color shirt!

Texas A&M University - Central Texas / Warrior Kids Promotional Shirt in Multiple Colors

Why? A white t-shirt is sort of a no-brainer for an inexpensive shirt. But did you know a color shirt with a one-color design is actually cheaper than a white shirt with multiple ink colors? There are shirts available in almost any color of the rainbow these days, so pick a fun color that suits your brand and make a splash!

Extra Cost: Less than a white T-shirt with multiple ink colors!


Method 2: Use a distressed effect for a trendy vintage look.

Why: Retro and vintage designs are very IN right now. It’s a simple process to add a distressed effect to your logo or message to make your shirt look more like something the cool kids would wear.

Extra Cost: None. It’s all done in the art file itself, and it doesn’t cost a thing.


Method 3: Be creative with “negative space”.

UMHB Promotional Shirt in one-color


Why? Use the color of your shirt as a “second” color in your design. Your logo could be “cut out” of the middle of a shape (your home state, or another shape relevant to your organization). It gives your imprint a big impact with out adding ink colors!

Extra Cost: None.


Method 4: Go for subtly with tone-on-tone.

Why: It’s trendy, saves you money, and makes your shirt extra wearable and hip! Tone-on-tone refers to the low contrast between the color of the shirt and the imprint color. Simply select an imprint color that’s a shade or two lighter (or darker) than your shirt color. BOOM!

Extra Cost: None, unless you need a very specific color for your imprint, which can cost anywhere from $25 to $60.


Method 5: Choose a unique shirt!

Why: Super soft shirts, V-neck shirts, 3/4 sleeve shirts, moisture-wicking shirts… the list of features is long. Invest your advertising dollars in a quality shirt your recipients will want to wear over and over, for maximum exposure — and no one will even notice or care it’s just a black or white imprint.

Extra Cost: Varies by shirt, but it’s built for attractiveness!


Bottom Line: While any one of these methods will give you some oomph, you might consider combining two or more. A tone-on-tone design that uses negative space and a distressed effect can bring a shirt design idea to life and make it THE hot promo item you’ve been looking for.

Need help creating a fun design for your promotional T-shirt? Call Perry Office Plus today: (800) 234-6605 or email for quotes and recommendations.