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Play Hard Do Good T-Shirt Design

DESIGNING T-SHIRTS is a challenge I enjoy, so when I was commissioned to design and illustrate the 2012 Beacon Lounge t-shirt, I was ready for some fun.

The Beacon Lounge is a quiet, relaxing and recharging space, nestled amid the chaos and activity of SXSW. It's the place you can take a break, meet people, eat tasty food, hear good tunes and help create lasting social good in the world.

Concept Sketches

Eve Simon, my friend and Beaconfire creative director, hired me to design this year's t-shirt. She provided the Play Hard Do Good theme and shirt specs. With this info, I began sketching ideas for a type treatment in pencil, shown below:

Play Hard Do Good: First Sketches

The initial sketch concepts for the t-shirt illustration were more along the lines of a simple type treatment, reflected in the pencil sketches above.

In the second sketch below, you can see I've expanded the simple type treatment from the first sketches to a complete and more detailed illustration using the Play Hard Do Good type treatment with supporting elements:

Play Hard Do Good: Final Sketch

I aimed to capture a lounge-like late 50s / early 60s feel with the typography on this piece, having fun with the modern couch and other retro touches.

Inking, Scanning and Vectorizing

Once I had an approved concept sketch, I inked various design elements in my large Moleskine sketchbook and scanned them in. Once the elements were open in Photoshop, I was able to edit flaws, tweak details and prepare each piece for vectorization using VectorMagic — a key piece of my illustration toolkit.

Below you can see and in-progress version of the black and white illustration being built in Adobe Illustrator. Notice the additional horizontal rules in the center of the piece — those were simplified in the final version:

Play Hard Do Good: In-Progress B&W

Time for Color

Once the black and white illustration was approved, I explored color. I knew I had a brown t-shirt as a base color, so I selected bright aqua and vibrant orange to compliment each other and the base white ink.

This combination created a color palette suggesting both a lounge feel and the Texas hill country around Austin:

Play Hard Do Good: T-Shirt Detail

Here is the final illustration shown in context on a brown t-shirt:

Play Hard Do Good: T-Shirt Overview

T-Shirts Supporting Sweet Relief

The team at GoodThreads and Beaconfire sponsored the t-shirt design and printing — I can't wait to see these shirts on Beacon Lounge guests!

These custom illustrated t-shirts will be available to Beacon Lounge guests with a donation to the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. It's great to be part of the Beacon in this way, giving back and making a difference in the lives of people.

Come to the Beacon during SXSW, say hello and pick up your shirt.

Reader Comments (5)

FANTASTIC! Love it, Mike.

February 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRob Fahrni

Thanks Rob, I appreciate the kind words!

February 21, 2012 | Registered CommenterMike Rohde

I love that you share your step-by-step process of creation—it's inspiring! I love the shirt.

February 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBenjamin Norris

Another great shirt Mike!

I've never heard of VectorMagic... Is it amazing? Much better than Adobe's offerings or what Inkscape can do?

February 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPete Prodoehl

Thanks Ben & Pete!

VectorMagic has a ton more control and can actually scan and create separate vector elements for full color images. Mainly I use it to capture the nuances of my inked artwork - great tool for that.

February 28, 2012 | Registered CommenterMike Rohde

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