Color Blocking a Vector Clothing Mockup

color blocking vector clothing mockup illustrator TMB

We were recently asked by a customer.

“I’m using your Master Collection Pack and I can’t work out how to make the bottom half of a t-shirt a different colour to the top half. So for example, the bottom half camo and the top half black. Can you help?”

Our support team quickly swung into action to explain how to create a half/half color blocking panel for the t-shirt design.

We thought this would be a great opportunity to show everyone how to simulate color panels for any of our vector mockup templates.

Let’s dive in!

What you’ll need:

Key Illustrator Shortcuts & Menu Items:

  • Hide Selection: Object > Hide > Selection (you can assign a custom shortcut key for this in Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts, then select Menu Commands from the drop down box. In the Menu Commands list, find the Objects section and assign a new shortcut key, we used Command + 3)
  • Show Selection: Object > Show All (you can create a custom shortcut key for this as well)
  • Send ‘Object’ Backward: Object > Arrange > Send Backward (Command + [ )

What Is Color Blocking in clothing?

Just in case you aren’t 100% sure what color blocking (also referred to as color panelling) is, it’s the process of sewing two or more fabric panels into a section of a garment. For instance, a t-shirt can have the front panel split into two half sections and different fabric colors or even different fabric types are sewn together to add visual interest to a garment. These panels can be sewn with a vertical, horizontal or even a diagonal seam.

Below is a freshly curated set of images to better illustrate what color blocking looks like.

How to add Color Blocking to a Vector Clothing Template

The basic concept of this tutorial is to use the existing body color panel and cut out a new blocking panel from it using Illustrator’s Pathfinder Tools.

Step 1 of 8

Select color panels

Use the direct selection tool (black arrow) to select the left and right sleeve colors as well as the chest color. Holding Shift while clicking on the panels will allow you to select them all at the same time.

how to color block t-shirt clothing design 01


Step 2 of 8

Copy, Hide, Paste

Once you have selected the color panels, copy the panels (Command + C)
To save from a lot of frustration with clicking on the wrong sections of the t-shirt we like to hide the whole t-shirt template while we work on the panel section. To hide the template, select everything and go to (Object > Hide > Selection)

Once the t-shirt or garment template is hidden, paste the copied color panels in the exact same place as they were copied from by using the Paste in Front shortcut (Command + F)

You should now have only the front chest and both sleeve panels on screen.


Step 3 of 8

Draw out your color block panel

For this example we will use the pencil tool to draw out our panel, however you can use the pen tool or rectangle tool as well. When drawing out your panel the main thing to focus on, is where you want the sewn seam to go, for this example we want the seam to be around the center of the chest. Everything in our path that is outside of the t-shirt boundary will be cut away in a latter stage, so we finished off our panel by roughly looping back to where we started drawing.

how to color block t-shirt clothing design 02


Step 4 of 8

Switch stroke to fill

Select your newly drawn path, remove the stroke and add a fill color of whatever you wish (it really doesn’t matter what color, you’ll see why in the next step)

how to color block t-shirt clothing design 03


Step 5 of 8

Cut out your panel

Use the direct selection tool (black arrow) to select all the panels, then open up your Pathfinder tools (Window > Pathfinder)
With everything still selected click on the Divide button in the Pathfinder (it’s the bottom right option) This will divide any overlapping object selected.
(The dotted lines in the image below represent where the Divide tool is going to dice up our artwork for this example.

how to color block t-shirt clothing design 04


Step 6 of 8

Delete and color

Ungroup your newly diced paths (Object > Ungroup) then with the direct selection tool, select and delete everything except the bottom check panel.
Color the panel with a color or pattern of your choice.

selecting a color for t-shirt block in illustrator


Step 7 of 8


At this stage we need to unhide our t-shirt template so we can add in some extra details, to do this go to: (Object > Show All) You should now see your t-shirt template again with your newly created panel on top.

Note: Sometimes your new garment panel will be sitting on top of the template which will hide all the fabric and stitching details of the clothing template. To correct this, select the panel and use the shortcut (Cmd + [ ) to move the panel one layer at a time below. Keep tapping the bracket key ([) until the panel is situated on top of the body color layer but below the garment details.


Step 8 of 8

Details, It’s all in the details!

The last step is to add a seam and stitching for added detail in your template. We used the pen tool to draw the lines out again. For the stitching effect, select the line you wish to apply a stitching effect to and then use the eyedropper tool (i) to copy the effect from the stitching lines on the sleeve of the garment.

how to color block t-shirt clothing design 06

Color Blocking Vector T-shirt Mockup Samples

Here are some color blocking samples we created for fun. Once you understand the process you can create any type of garment color blocking.

how to color block t-shirt clothing design chest samples

It’s always exciting to see and hear about what our customers are doing with our templates and art packs in their own businesses. If you have any questions or want us to cover something Apparel Design or E-commerce related in a future blog post just let us know in the comments section below or privately communicate with us via our contact page and we’ll do our absolute best to cover as many as possible.