While I have shown a superhero you can apply these techniques to other designs.

1Alert, Children should not use bleach. Please seek adult assistance or skip this step of the sequence.

Adults may also be quite happy to skip the bleach section and have some fun with the fabric paints and develop your own design.

First here is what you need:
Black t-shirt, water, acrylic paint, small brushes, fabric medium, trace-down paper, masking tape, water spray bottle, paper towel, gloves, a board to put your tshirt on, paintbrush, clamps, patience....plus time Optional: Bleach, toothbrush, eye protection.

Black t-shirt, a board, tracedown paper, masking tape, clamps, computer & printer and design for t-shirt at correct size.

The design was developed on computer, or you can use your own sketches, remembering to keep the focus towards the top of the front portion of the T-shirt as this is where it will be seen when worn, you don't want it too low.

I found some athletic poses for the figure and using a computer printed it at what I felt was a good size. I modified this with a more recent version of the Spiderman costume.

After finding a black t-shirt I placed the board inside the t-shirt to keep the material flat and avoid seeping through to the back. I attached it with clamps to make movingit about and working on it easier.

I traced the designs outline onto the t-shirt using white tracedown paper. ((/public/spidey/.Spidey0_m.jpg

Then I use pieces of tape to mask out the shape of the figure. And yes this was very fiddly. (Alternatively I could have cut out the entire shape very carefully from one sheet of paper or another substance good for masking).


The background is worked on first. You can either drip, splat or dribble paint to create the background, or do the following step that involves 1Bleach. The background must be light in order that the shape of Spiderman is clear later on.

The following part can be skipped if you don't want to use chemicals.

Water spray bottle, Toothbrush, Eye protection, Gloves, Bleach, Paper towel

This step involved spraying diluted bleach (50% water added) from a spray bottle over the design to make the black area fade. (This must be done in an area with good ventilation)
Figure masked and protected. Bleach being sprayed onto the fabric

The more you spray the lighter the tone will become. You can hold the bottle away from the surface to get a wider fainter area and move it closer to get a stronger smaller fade in the fabric. There is a delayed reaction for the fade to appear so don't try this part in a rush.

Then wait and let dry.
More bleach dripped and flicked on to the T-shirt

Repeat above as necessary until you are satisfied. The result will depend on the concentration of bleach and water and the t-shirt itself.

Avoid letting spray droplets build up on the tape as it can bleed through gaps or cause tape to lift off. I suggest a tissue to keep the masked area dry. You can add flicks of bleach or drips on to the surface to add to the design here too.

Once all is dry you can peel off the mask to reveal the silhouette. Masking tape peeled off to reveal the protected silhouette of spiderman. oops, my masking suffered a bit of leakage.

Water, Acrylic Paint, Fabric Medium, Paper towel, Small Brushes

I painted over the unwanted breaks in the silhouette and began painting the figure itself and the details. I kept the colours dark as the light is behind the figure here . Bleach marks covered and a few elements painted in. More work on the suit and adjusting highlights and shadows.

I used artists acrylic paint mixed with a fabric medium to paint the figure. The material of the T-shirt does move as you apply the paint and the fabric itself soaks up the paint, these two factors take a little getting used to.

One must remember, with any acrylic paint, to keep brushes moist and never let them dry out. If you finish with a brush clean and dry it with a paper towel.

Here is the finished design Spiderman T-shirt Finished

To top it off I also added a small logo on the back of the t-shirt. Spiderman logo added to the back for a finishing touch.

Once satisfied I let it dry for the required time before washing. (important, check the paint manufacturers instructions)


  • What colour the bleach turns your fabric is dependant on the fabric and the dyes used as the black. Mine turned shades of orange. I tested it on the inside hem of the tshirt before starting, to see what it did.
  • In hindsight I might be tempted to just paint the figure over the background and avoid the masking process, though I might wash it between those stages.
  • Some fabric paint requires heat (e.g. Ironing) to seal and set it. The brand I used (Liquitex) did not require this but needed some time left alone before washing.