Graphic Design Tools Every Digital Decorator Should Know

If you're new to graphic design software, there are a few tools you need to be aware of.

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If you’re new to graphic design software, there are a few tools you need to be aware of. With a vector software program, the function you’ll find you use most often is the Pen tool. This allows you to trace logos or create artwork by drawing the outlines of the shapes. Once they’re drawn and the path is closed, you can fill and stroke the outline with color.

When you use the Pen tool, you will click on the page, which generates a node. Then, move your mouse to a different area, click the mouse again, but this time hold the button down and move the cursor. This will drag out Bézier handles that allow you to shape the line in any direction you want. This is what makes up vector artwork.

Fill and Stroke/Outline is another tool you will use in any program. Once you create your shapes, use this to colorize the shape and outline to whatever you need. If you’re a screen printer, be sure to use spot colors for this. It will allow you to print each color on a separate piece of film.

The next would be the Text/Type Tool. One of the biggest parts of most designs is the text and font. Choosing a font that is appropriate or looks like it belongs in the design is key. With websites like that have free fonts, you will find there are all sorts of looks available. If you’re creating a design for Christmas, for instance, you will want something swirly, frosty or ornate and will see tons of cool fonts that will work well with your design.

-Dane Clement, Great Dane Graphics

Dane Clement

Dane Clement is president of Great Dane Graphics, a company specializing in pre-separated artwork specifically designed for use by screen printers, embroiderers and digital decorators. Clement has been in the industry for more than 20 years designing artwork, is a frequent speaker at industry events, a regular contributor to industry trade publications, and author of T-Shirt Artwork Simplified, a full-color, step-by-step guide to creating artwork with Adobe and Corel graphics programs. Contact Clement at [email protected] or visit

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