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Best Practices for Best T-Shirt Color Combinations


If you choose the wrong palette, nobody will lose their eyesight, but it might make them squint. Using shocking colors might work for a provocative poster, not if your ultimate goal is to sell. If you’re a newbie in the world of design, the following tips should help you avoid any mishap.

Choose a “main” color

Having to create a palette from thin air may sound a bit daunting, so instead just pick one color. Pick one hue you’d like to work with and from there, choose the other colors that will support the “main” one.

AdobeChoose no more than four colors

This might seem obvious, but it is important to point out, the more colors there are, the more complicated it is to coordinate them
all. When creating a palette for the first time, try to stick to no more than four colors. These do not include black and white.

Use an online platform for palette creation

Luckily for us there are many platforms out there that can help us create a good palette. Best option is Adobe Color CC, which not only lets you create a palette using the compositions we mentioned above for free, but also allows you to browse countless combinations that have previously been created by other users.

neutralCreate a palette from a photograph

It can be quite fun. Platforms like Pictaculous can help you easily create a palette. All you need to do is upload the photo you want to use as reference and then voila! the color combination has been automatically generated. Or, if you’d prefer to do it manually, you can also use a design program like Photoshop that allows you to pick colors from a picture using the eye drop tool.

Color Combinations for different styles


In order to achieve a vintage palette, pick colors that have very little saturation. This is different from pastel colors. Aside from the “soft” colors, pick one to accentuate where necessary.

Timeless Elegance

For a timeless look that would look good on almost anyone, stick to neutrals like white, grey, beige and black. Another palette that’s “harmless” is one composed of earthy tones: browns and deep greens.


Think of your favourite superheroes. Now squint your eyes (and use your imagination). What do you see? Probably bold colors. That’s because superheroes are anything but subtle. They want people to know they’re there to save the day. If you want to print superhero inspired apparel, stick to the primary colors blue, red and yellow, and use black for contrast.


University t-shirts more often than not go for a “timeless” look. This means they tend to stay away from hues because they look more new and pure than a shade or a tint. Mix these colors with some cool college fonts and even the students will believe they’re legit.


About Erik Mickelson

Erik Mickelson is the author of Northwest Custom Apparel's blogs. Erik has been with Northwest Custom Apparel since 1996 after graduating from Washington State University and is the founder of the Apparel Graphic Academy. Trained by the custom graphic apparel industry's best, Mark Venit, Erik brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the Embroidery Adventure blog. As they say, 'Experience is the best teacher.' We are proud to have Erik as part of our team!

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