Adding distressed textures to your designs is not as hard as you might think! Actually, if you follow this guide and use the downloads provided you can apply 4 different types of distressed overlays to your designs in a few clicks.
Now just a quick disclaimer; I’m not a professional graphic designer – so this tutorial is meant to be as simple as possible. I know there are heaps of different methods of applying textures to vectors in Illustrator but I think this one is the quickest and easiest. Please leave a comment below if you’ve found a better way to do it! 🙂
What you’ll need:
- Adobe Illustrator (I’m using CS6)
- Copy of the distressed texture pack from
- A reasonable PC or Mac because the process seems to take up a decent amount of RAM
- Some patience 🙂
- Distressed texture pack from the awesome guys over at retro vectors: Here
Create a New Illustrator Document and set the size to 4500 x 5400pt. This is the standard size for all Merch Designs. It pays to save this as a template too 🙂
Using the Text Tool, create a new slogan for your shirt:
You’ll need increase the size of the font to make it easily readable on this huge Merch Template.
Try out some different fonts to see what matches the slogan of your design. Although I really like these two font’s I wanted something really bold because the image of the cat is a thick black silhouette.
I decided on the following font:
Once I up-scaled to the desired size, I made sure the paragraph setting was centred and then I used the path tool to centre the whole design.
Next it’s time to insert the Vector file of the Cat. This is a super simple vector and that means it’s instantly recognisable on a t-shirt. Perfect!
This was a reasonable small vector, so up-scale it to fit the design.
I made a few minor tweaks to the legs because the shapes we’re a bit to sharp for my personal preference. Use the pen tool to smooth the lines out where required – nothing to complicated here!
Because CATS. is going to be my focus word I increased the size of the lettering to 1000. The rest of the lettering stayed at 850.
Now for the fun stuff! Head over to this link
Download the free retro vectors.com distressed textures pack and you’ll be able to select any of the four designs above. All of the textures have their own look but because we’re applying this to a t-shirt I’m going for the bottom right style. Gives the shirt that ‘used’ look.
Copy and paste the texture into the Cat Design.
Up-scale the texture to the fit over the lettering:
Using the Selection Tool, select both the lettering and the texture together. It’s important you make sure you’ve selected both or this next part won’t work.
With the lettering and texture selected, click on the Pathfinder toolbar. You should see a pop out similar to the following depending on what version of Illustrator you’re using.
Holding the ALT key (option on Mac) left click the Minus Front Icon Once.
You’ll now have the option to ‘Expand’ on the right hand side. Click this
You’ll now see the texture has minused from the lettering and will look something like the following:
I then repeated this process again, reapplying the texture again. (This is totally optionally)
Now it’s time to do the same process for the Cat.
However, this time I selected the the top right texture. I’ve used this one a number of times on other designs and I love the look it gives. I copied and pasted it back into the design and scaled it fit over the cat.
Doing the same process, hold the ALT key, and left click the ‘minus front’ button. You’ll end with something that looks like this:
Looks awesome! I love the distressed look! You can reapply another texture if you want but I’m happy with how this one looks using only a single layer.
Zoom back out and make sure everything looks right. I might tweak the spacing a bit more but this is pretty much the final product.
Unfortunately I’ve found that having more colours/layers tends to cause problems and you’ll need to find another method of applying textures to your design. If you enjoyed this tutorial please leave a comment below! 🙂