Even if you don’t consider yourself artistically inclined, anyone can get started on designing a fantastic cycling jersey to showcase your brand, your inspiration to ride and more. We’ve been designing jerseys for our VeloSano team for years, so here are some quick tips on ensuring your design stands out, looks great and motivates you to ride for the cure.
Set the Mood
A mood board is a great first step toward developing your design. There are no rules you have to follow to create a mood board — it’s basically just a visual collage the things you feel help inspire the direction of your design. Search and save images, colors, patterns, textures and other elements that catch your eye.
As you do, keep in mind the following considerations.
Choose Your Colors
As you take your first steps in your design, choosing a base color can help set the foundation.
Classics like black and white each have their own pros and cons. White may keep you cool, but it’s especially susceptible to dirt and stains (and sweat). Black hides the stains — but it’s going to retain more heat out in the sun. If you have a fender for your bike or plan on biking within a city, white and lighter colors could be a good choice. If you’re planning on biking through shaded woods, black and other dark colors might be the go-to.
Picking just a couple of accent colors ensures that your design is cohesive and sharp. And make them true accents on your design—navy blue on black won’t show as much as a lighter color. Some high-contrast color combinations include yellow and black, neon green and deep blue, or royal purple and white.
Find the Pattern
Patterns are a great way to make your jersey unique and eye-catching, especially if you can use a custom-made pattern. When designing with a pattern, keep in mind how it’ll translate across the sleeve seam; cycling jerseys use separate pieces of fabric for the sleeves, unlike a regular T-shirt. This means a pattern can often clash with itself where the sleeve meets the body. As a solution, a solid complementary color on the sleeves is popular — or you could pick a crystallographic pattern that doesn’t need to be aligned in order to look right. Graphic patterns are a popular and eye-catching choice, but make sure anything layered on top, like a logo or text, has enough contrast.
Let’s Talk Logos
If you’re riding with your business or company, proper logo sizing and placement can show off your brand and supporters. Make sure your logo isn’t so large that it bleeds past the seams of the jersey and cuts off letters or details. On the other hand, if it’s too small, it may not be visible — or worse, it could look like a splotch or stain from afar.
Where you place a logo also matters. Cycling jerseys are form-fitting and stretch or squeeze differently on each body, so certain locations can make logos more susceptible to unfavorable distortion. Cyclists also ride bent over, so a logo down by the front hem will be harder to see than one across the back or chest. Lastly, a logo on top of a bright and busy pattern can get lost. Choosing a high contrast background can ensure that your logo pops.
If you’ve got your hodgepodge of influences pulled together on a mood board, start sketching. Not much of an artist? You don’t have to be to sketch! This can just be about getting your ideas out on paper (good and bad) to help you find one you love — or to discover a couple of different design ideas worth combining. This is helpful whether you end up creating the final design yourself or can use it to communicate your vision to a professional.
Finalize Your Design
After you’ve picked a final design direction, contact your printer and ask for a template (many printers will be able to provide one). Often, the template will have instructions and guidelines built in, but to be safe, ask for and make note of any technical specifications.
As a general rule, only send vector (as opposed to bitmap or raster) artwork, which can be resized without getting blurry. Vector graphics will commonly use file extensions such as .svg, .eps or .ai, rather than .jpg, .png or .bmp.
Also make sure you use the right color format. CMYK is usually the preferred color model for shirts and jerseys, but it depends on the printing process. Using Pantone color codes can also help ensure your colors come out accurately, and this online tool will show you the corresponding CMYK color code to any Pantone color.
Your printer should provide you with a proof before printing the jerseys, allowing you to check that everything looks as you intend.
Get Ready to Ride
Your cycling jersey does more than keep you cool and showcase your brand — it’s a keepsake that represents the hard work you put in to help find a cure and honor those affected by cancer. Why not make it look great?