photo of tile paintingGood morning all,

I'm an Australian firefighter at one of the oldest fire stations in the country. We have some tiles with a unique, hand-painted image that is only found in our station.

I would like to take this pattern and print it on a shirt for fundraising purposes. I've attached the photo of the image. How would I go about cutting out the axes/flame, maintaining the realistic look? Would this need to be converted to a vector image?

Thank you for any help you can provide!

  • It doesn’t have to be vector – you can print photos on t-shirts, as long as the photo is big enough. There’s a clear contrast between the artwork (brown/blue) and the background (beige), so it should be easy enough to remove what you don’t want. With that said, I think I would go for (a somewhat stylised) vector here, just because I think it would look better on a t-shirt. You’d probably need to get an actual illustrator to do that for you, though, because drawing in vector is something that takes practice and skill. Oct 27, 2022 at 9:05

2 Answers 2


T-shirt printers accept bitmap images. Ask them the needed pixel dimensions for highest available accuracy and how to proceed to keep the colors.

Then you must decide how much you want to smooth the roughness of the original.

An opinion: I think no fixes are needed except increasing the contrast so that the lightest areas are close the white. Even the tile seams could be kept. As said, it's only my opinion.

Of course, no glossy reflections are allowed. One of pro photographer's skills is to avoid glosses already in the photographing session. Your version happily is so good that the glosses can be faded by editing.

The next snippet has got that contrast boost and some smoothing.

enter image description here

The colors are still in the CMYK-printable range (checked). The tile seams + discontinuities on them are faded by copying stuff from other parts of the image. The impression of the original non-uniformity of the brush strokes is tried to be kept.

The edge frame is simply repainted with long straight brush strokes. I think this amount of smoothing is too much. But that's my opinion.

Making the same edits for the whole image in Photoshop takes easily half a day assuming one knows well what he does. For a beginner this is an extreme challenge.

Printing on fabric fades details. Photoshop's filter Cutout makes everything coarser. It can compensate beforehand the apparent detail loss:

enter image description here

I do not recommend redrawing the image, but that's also only an opinion.

Not asked, but publishing a replica of someone's artwork does not become more legal if the intention is to collect money for something good, better than for filling copier's pocket. Negotiate at first with a lawyer.

  • Regarding the copyright warning, the lawyer is going to want to know when the tiles were created/installed. It is possible that copyright has expired.
    – Bob Brown
    Nov 21, 2023 at 13:55

Much of this depends upon how shirts are to be produced. Meaning, cost is typically based upon the reproduction method. And this can dictate how art should best be formatted/set up.

You can get low-cost sublimation (iron ons) where there's often no direct benefit to artwork being vector in nature -- or higher cost silk screening or even fabric printing where vector artwork would be much more beneficial. Sublimation will peel, crack, and degrade as a shirt is washed. Silk screening/fabric printing will last much, much longer but they cost more per shirt.

If the desire is anything other than sublimation I would personally recreate the artwork in Adobe Illustrator (vector application.) But I already know Adobe Illustrator.

Without knowing what software you have available that you are familiar with, in addition to any budget for shirts. It is very difficult to be definitive with any answer. If you want absolutely optimum results.. vector artwork and silkscreening. (There are online resources, e.g. CustomInk.com [no affiliation], that I've had great results from.)

If you aren't familiar with any software really, You'd be wise to hire someone to set up artwork for you.

No one will really do a decent job if its their first foray into garment printing. Most silkscreen shops/companies have art departments that will create the art as you need it. (of course, there's a cost with it.)

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