There are a variety of different software programs you can use. Some are free, others are not-so-free.
Free software like Canva, Paint.net and Gimp can work fine, but you will be limited to what you can do.
I started out using Photoshop, but invested in Adobe’s Creative Cloud Suite so I could learn Illustrator.
Illustrator creates vector files that can be scaled up or down with no loss in quality or resolution.
It’s also best for drawing shape-based designs because it’s much easier to manipulate and warp shapes compared to Photoshop.
For example, in Illustrator you can stack two shapes on top of each other and delete part of either shape to make a new shape.
Photoshop is still my go-to software out of comfort and know-how, but I’m forcing myself to do more in Illustrator.
I don’t think the average person needs to learn both. Just pick one. They both work fine for printing on T-shirts.
Need a Visual?
This video will explain the major differences between Photoshop and Illustrator (pixel vs. vector software), and it’s in layman’s terms without all the techy talk!
Software Options for POD
Here is a list of software programs you can use…
- Adobe Photoshop
- Adobe Illustrator
- Photoshop Elements
- Corel Draw
- GIMP (free)
- Paint.net (free)
- Inkscape (free)
- Canva (free)
- Picmonkey (free)
- Affinity Designer
- Word Swag (free app)
- Over (free app)
- Gravit (free)
Illustrator and Photoshop Alternatives
I always recommend people learn Illustrator or Photoshop because they are loaded with features and have become the industry standard for designing.
But they might not be in your budget.
Rumor has it that GIMP and Photoshop Elements are great alternatives to the full version of Photoshop.
I tried GIMP (free) very briefly and HATED it — probably because I learned Photoshop first, so my head wanted to use the Photoshop logic to maneuver around.
On the other hand, many others love it so it depends on what you prefer.
Give it a try if you don’t want to buy Photoshop. You may love it too. 🙂
Inkscape, Gravit (free) and Affinity Designer are great, less expensive alternatives to Illustrator.
These programs create VECTOR files.
Once again, vector files can be scaled up (increased in size) with no loss in quality.
Having said that, my T-shirts created in Photoshop look perfectly fine and clear. Also, Merch By Amazon even gives you a Photoshop template so they even approve the use of Photoshop for their program.
Photoshop is also much less expensive than Illustrator, and that’s another reason many people use that over Illustrator.
I Teach Photoshop & Will Help You Learn It Quickly
If you are interested in learning Photoshop, I have a course that will shorten the learning curve tremendously. You can learn more about it here.
When I become more comfortable with Illustrator, I will eventually teach that as well.
What’s great about both programs is since they are owned by the same company, once you learn one, it’s easier to pick up the other because the tools are very similar in many cases.