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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Gradient Mesh Tool

How to Create a Vector T-Shirt Template and Apply a Pattern to It With Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial, you will learn how to use the Mesh Tool in Adobe Illustrator to create a vector T-shirt!

If you want to skip the tutorial and just use this shirt with lots of other awesome designs, purchase the Collection of Various Soccer Jerseys from GraphicRiver!

Collection of Various Soccer Jerseys
Collection of Various Soccer Jerseys

1. How to Draw a T-Shirt With the Mesh Tool

Step 1

Let's learn how to use the Mesh Tool while creating a photo-realistic T-shirt!

Begin by drawing the shape of half of a shirt with the Pen Tool (P). Fill it in with #FDFDFD.

Create a copy of the shape! Put it aside—we will need it later.

Let's start using a Mesh! Take the Mesh Tool (U) and start creating a Mesh grid on the object by placing nodes. Afterwards, select the nodes on the top left edge of the shirt and change their color to #D5D5D5.

Add some more nodes, as indicated in the screenshot below, and color the bottom two-thirds of the shirt with #F1F1F1.

see above

Step 2

Continue similarly, now using these colors:

  1. #DFDFDF
  2. #B7B7B7
  3. #7E7E7E
shadow on the left side

Step 3

Create more shadows and folds in this step, using these colors:

  1. #7E7E7E
  2. #B4B4B4
  3. #C9C9C9
folds on the left middle

Step 4

Add some more Mesh nodes and apply the final colors:

  1. #AAAAAA
  2. #DADADA
  3. #D1D1D1
more folds now on the bottom

Step 5

Add a final fold with #BCBCBC and now create a reflected copy of the object by right-clicking, and then choosing Transform > Reflect.

Choose Vertical reflection and click Copy instead of OK.

Put the two copies together as well as you can—make sure the mesh nodes in the middle line up. You can Group both objects (Control-G) for ease of use.

see above

Step 6

Next, let's draw the sleeves! Draw an outline and save a copy for later. Continue using the Mesh Tool (U) with these colors:

  1. #DCDCDC
  2. #949494
  3. #FCFCFC
dark on the right white on the left and create folds

Step 7

Apply finishing touches to the sleeve with:

  1. #F4F4F4
  2. #606060
  3. #FBFBFB
create more folds with white highlights

Step 8

Draw the inside of the shirt with these colors:

  1. #A6A6A6
  2. #676767
  3. #8D8D8D

Save a copy of the outline of the shape!

grey with darker on the edges

Step 9

Draw some more folds with:

  1. #898989
  2. #919191
  3. #B7B7B7
single fold in the middle

Step 10

Draw the outline of the shape and save a copy of it for later.

Finish off the shirt by coloring its collar using these:

  1. #F4F4F4
  2. #D0D0D0
  3. #DDDDDD
  4. #CECECE
collar with dark on the edges

Step 11

Now, put all the elements together! (Create the second sleeve by recreating Step 5).

Our shirt is done!

put it together

2. How to Apply a Pattern to the Shirt

Step 1

Draw a sample pattern made with red (#E81010) stripes on a white background. You can use any other pattern you want!

see above

Step 2

Grab the copy of the outline we made back in Step 1, create a reflected copy and, using the Pathfinder panel, Unite both shapes into one.

see above

Step 3

Place the pattern we made before over the top of the white shape. Select both and, after right-clicking, choose Make Clipping Mask.

see above

Step 4

Grab the other copies of outlines we made in the previous section of the tutorial and add them to our shirt pattern. You can Group them.

Next, take the Mesh T-shirt and, in the Transparency panel, change the Transparency mode to Multiply. Place the Mesh T-shirt over the top of the pattern and it's ready!

see above

Step 5

Our T-shirt with the pattern is done! You can apply any other pattern you'd like in exactly the same fashion.


Awesome Work, You're Now Done!

What now? You can try any of my other tutorials from my profile, or check out my portfolio on GraphicRiver, as well as the original shirts collection we recreated in this tutorial.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial, and I'll be extremely happy to see your results in the comments below!

Collection of Various Soccer Jerseys
Collection of Various Soccer Jerseys
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