Airbrush T Shirt Design One

Airbrush t shirt design one tutorial I’ll show you just how easy it is to airbrush a simple T Shirt design making your own t shirt stencils. The stencil for this are at the bottom of this article if you’d like to use them. Written by Don Johnson,

Although I started out airbrushing T Shirts years ago it’s been at least five or six years sense I’ve airbrushed a T Shirt so I’m way out of practice but that’s ok. I took this challenge up as part of a design contest we where having on the forum to see who could come up the best Airbrush Technique T Shirt design. As you can tell my lettering skills are very rusty but that’s ok as the object here is for you to add your own style lettering and make me look bad. Actually I had a lot of fun putting this together and I hope you do also. Just remember it’s just paint, relax and have fun with it. To become proficient at airbrushing lettering it is something you’ll need to practice daily, which I have done in years.
So here is what you will need for this little project.
Double Action Airbrush – I used an Iwata HP-CS but you can use a Paasche VL or Iwata Eclipse BCS, these are the most commonly used airbrush’s by professional T Shirt artists.
Compressor – I used my five horse power compressor purchased from Home Depot use whatever air source you have. Air pressure 25 to 40 PSI depending on your personal preferences.
Paint Createx textile colors or Aqua Flow or ETAC work equally as well and are used by more professional T Shirt artists than any other brand.
Shirt board
Hobby X acto knife with several blades
Masking tape
Light weight poster board to make your templates
One white T Shirt


airbrush design drawn out

Now for some fun; sense this is a shirt design to promote Airbrush Technique Magazine it will need airbrushes included in the design. I draw all my designs on tracing paper as it allows me to make changes by adding new features to another piece of tracing paper and simply sliding it in behind the original. Should I decide the changes are not needed I simple pull the second piece of paper out and I’m back to the original design.


design transfer

Now to transfer the design I flip my original design over and trace the design. Flip it back and place it on top of the poster board, trace the original design, remove the tracing paper and there you have the design transferred to the poster board.



designs cut out

Carefully use the X acto knife to cut the design out, remember the knife will follow where your eyes command it to go.



protecting from overspray

We are new ready to airbrush the frame that will contain our lettering. With the shirt secure on the shirt board I’ll position the big airbrush stencil where it needs to be on the shirt. You could use spray adhesive to secure your template but I find it holds it to secure and prefer to use the masking tape which forms the border of my template to hold the template in place. The masking tape boarder will also help control over spray if you feel it’s needed.
Starting out with black and spraying sparingly along the template edges we begin to paint our t shirt design. Be sure to keep your airbrush square to the template. If you spray holding your airbrush toward the outside of the template will lift the template and allow paint to creep under the template, not a good thing in most case’s.



adding more airbrush designs

Now we’ll just work our way around the design adding the other three airbrushes which will make up the frame which will contain our lettering.


frame completed

Above you can see our frame completed. You might want to add just a touch of blue into the airbrushes at this point as you can see I have done. The middle of your T Shirt design should be about level with the arm pits in the shirt.


add lettering

Now to add our lettering, here’s where you can out shine my efforts pretty easily. We’ll add the letters with simple dagger strokes making the letters very easy to render. You might want to start with the middle letters in each word to ensure you have enough room to fit the whole word in. Using a pencil or vine charcoal is also another way to go about laying your lettering out within the frame. These letters will require several dagger strokes to complete each letter. As you can see to make it more interesting I’ve made ever other letter smaller than the preceding letter with the bottom of the letters real fat. Please feel free to use any lettering style you wish.


adding more airbrush designs

Now to add some small airbrushes inside our letter frame I use a smaller version of my airbrush template, also included at the bottom of the page for you to print off. With no real pattern I’ll just airbrush some small airbrush using different colors through out the inside of the design. This part could have actually been done first and the name airbrushed right over them, whichever way you find works for you best.


airbrushing color into the design

Pictured above the next step is to add airbrushes outside the frame and that stencil I have also included at the bottom of the page. These little airbrushes outside the frame we will again airbrush using different colors. After all it is a shirt design to draw attention, promote a product so having it nice and bright can’t hurt.
Place the positive part of our T Shirt template (the little airbrush) on the T Shirt in the desired location and simply spray your color around the outside of the template. Use a small piece of masking tape doubled over to secure the small airbrush to the T Shirt.


finished shirt

To finish the design off add more blue in the big airbrushes and some high lights with your white. Add high lights in your letters where you feel they would look best, sign your name and after heat setting the shirt your done. Refer to the directions of the paint you are using on how best to heat set the T Shirt. Createx and Aqua Flow this must be done to keep the paint from washing out.

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