Ugmonk Behind-the-Scenes

I always enjoy reading about other designers’ processes so I thought I’d share a bit of the workflow of how I created the latest Ugmonk design “There’s More To Life.”

I’m usually hesitant to show the early sketches and rough concepts as they are not intended to be stand alone designs, but I do think it can be helpful to see how the design evolves and progresses throughout the creative process.

For this specific design I challenged myself to construct the typeface completely from scratch as opposed to just modifying an existing font. This forced me to really study each individual letterform and understand all of the subtle details that go into creating a typeface.

I normally start out by sketching my ideas with pen and paper. Many times I already have some initial ideas in my head and just need to see how they translate on paper. These early explorations are a critical part of the design process and should not be overlooked. The finished design may or may not resemble any of the initial sketches, but sketching is much less restrictive than going straight to the computer. Below are some of my early concepts:


After I have sketched out my ideas I will then either scan them or just use them for reference as I move to the computer. For this particular design, I went right into Adobe Illustrator and started constructing some of the concepts.

In these early stages I try not to get too bogged down with the exact details and proportions of the letters, but rather focus on how the letters are working together as a whole. This gives me a better idea of which direction to pursue and which concepts can be thrown out. Pictured below are few of the initial concepts that I was playing around with in Illustrator.


When designing tshirts it’s important to consider how the design will look when it is placed on the tshirt opposed to just a flat rectangle, so I will usually take a few of the concepts and do some quick comps of the design on a shirt. The easiest way to do this is to overlay the vector artwork on a photo of a blank shirt to see how the graphic relates to the tshirt format.

The next step is to eliminate the weaker concepts and begin to refine the stronger ones. As everything continues to come together, it’s important to start smoothing out any rough transitions and look at the overall spatial relationships. This involves zooming in and moving individual points around to unify the composition. As you can see below, the file is still pretty messy but the forms are starting to take shape. At this point I usually run my ideas by some friends and other designers to get some general feedback to help me decide on a final direction.

The final step is the most tedious part of the whole process: tweaking, tweaking and more tweaking. There’s really no secret to this step, it just requires a lot of patience and attention to detail. After all of the letters have been cleaned up, I will delete any stray points and extra shapes that may be floating off to the side. Below you see the finished vector file that is ready to be sent to the printer and be prepared for screen printing.

This is a just a brief glimpse into my design process, but I hope it’s been interesting and helpful to see how my ideas develop. If you have specific questions feel free to leave a comment below.

And don’t forget, this shirt is part of our Ugmonk Gives Back charity drive.  Purchase it over at the Ugmonk shop.