A Beginners Guide to T-Shirt Design Terms by MJ

If you’ve been spending time at TeeFury.com, you’re probably loving the art and the shirts… but you might also have some questions! For starters, what in the world does it mean when someone posts about Mashed Potatoes?!?!


Read up, and wonder no more! Here’s our guide to some tee design terms that TeeFury art fans and prospective artists should know:


Most t-shirt designs that unofficially reference pop culture are parodies, using humor to poke fun at a film, tv show, comic or other product. Just being funny isn’t always enough to make something a parody, though- to fully qualify, a design’s humor should directly comment on its pop culture target.

Here are a couple of examples of t-shirt designs that use parody:

The Cake Is A Lie

joebot’s The Cake is a Lie uses a cheerful storybook style to imagine that not only has Portal’s player finally found the cake, she’s also celebrating a birthday with her antagonist!


IMPERSONATE! by AtomicRocket mocks the daleks’ classic shout, and it also jokes about how ridiculous their plans often are. Who could possibly be fooled by these timelord costumes?


You know those pop art paintings of comic panels that have big dots in them?

Ohhh Alright

Those big dots are called halftones, and they can help artists to give the illusion of many ink colors when only a few ink colors are actually used.

You’ll see them a lot in t-shirt design because there’s typically a limit of 6 ink colors. Check out this close-up to see how TeeFury artist MeganLara used halftones to create more color possibilities:

Big Bad Wolf


This might sound like a design about reggae, but it’s not! Raster is a word describing images that are made with pixels instead of shapes. When you see this type of image zoomed in, you’ll see blocky squares:

You can create raster graphics for shirt design in programs like Adobe Photoshop, Painter, and GIMP.

TEEVIL TIP: When using a raster image program, make sure that your file is set to at least 300 DPI and is the same size you intend it to print at. If you do that, you’ll get a nice, sharp print on the shirt!

TEEVIL TIP 2 ELECTRIC BOOGALOO: If your image program has layers, try using a different layer for each ink color in your design- it’s a great way to keep track of how many colors you’re using!


Vector images are kind of like Batman to raster images’ Spider-Man, by which I mean that vector images are better in almost literally every way possible.

Vector example

That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but less than you might think. Vector images are made with shapes instead of pixels, so they have an amazing superpower on their side… no matter how small you build it, vector images can be enlarged however large you want with no loss in quality!

Bird Sizes

If you want to design with vectors, try programs like Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW or Inkscape.


A mash up is pretty much what it sounds like: it’s when two awesome things get mashed together to become something new! So if you see cartoon villains carting off a Tardis, that’s a mash up. A famous logo with a Cthulhu twist? That’s a mash up, too!

Minions Doctor Who Obey Cthulu

TEEVIL TIP: In the TeeFury community, there’s another term for this kind of art- we call them Mashed Potatoes!

Have you ever been stumped by t-shirt design terminology? Let us know if there’s a word, phrase or process you want to learn more about!