Introduction: Easy T-Shirt Sketching

Picture of Easy T-Shirt Sketching

Using a bleach pen you can create a rad shirt in about 15 minutes!

Step 1: Supplies!

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You will require:
A t-shirt or other cloth material
A bleach pen
A magazine/cardboard/plastic bag
A water source

Step 2: Insert Protective Lining

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Insert your magazine/cardboard/plastic bag inside of the shirt. Smooth the shirt down if you want a flat drawing surface. Wrinkle it up if you want to try some funky effects!

Step 3: Draw!

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Shake and squirt a little bit of bleach onto a scrap piece of paper to test for consistency. This will help you get the hang of drawing with the pen before trying it out on your fabric. Check to see how thick your lines are.

Draw! I just freestyled a griffin head, but you can use chalk to lay down a pattern first for more control. Anything you draw on the shirt will leech a little bit and your lines will be about twice as thick as what you draw.

Watch your fabric. It begins to whiten almost right away. I let this one sit for about ten minutes before moving on to the next step.

If you plan on drawing a big pattern plan to do it in batches. Draw, move onto the next step, and come back to draw some more later. Otherwise parts of your lines will not have the same lightness. You can always come back and do more, but you can't undo anything once it is done.

Step 4: Wash

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Carefully remove the paper/cardboard/plastic lining from inside the shirt and quickly place your garment under running water. The bleach will be kind of thick so you need to scrub a bit to get it all off quickly. Gloves are a good idea here.

Wring out the shirt and rinse again to make sure all the bleach is gone.

Step 5: Let Dry

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Flop your shirt over a bar or put it in the dryer. Then you are ready to wear it!

Since I didn't leave my bleach on for a super long time my lines are a light brown. If I want to make them lighter I can retrace the linework and bleach again. I can also keep adding onto the image again whenever I want or have friends draw on it.

Adding embroidery, buttons, and appliques could be really fun accents to add after the shirt is done drying. Using this technique, which I think looks like reversed batik, you could make some really awesome fabrics to sew with, or curtains, etc.


CrystalDyes (author)2008-09-25

Please consider using a product called Anti-Chlor to neutralize the bleach after rinsing as water does not stop the action of bleach by itself. This product can be obtained from I have no affiliation with this company other than sending them lots of money over the years to support my dyeing habit! I'm a very satisfied customer.

goosezilla (author)CrystalDyes2008-09-25

Good call! Thanks! :)

booboo39466 (author)goosezilla2009-05-18

Actually vinegar also contains the neutralizing power plus its a whole lot cheaper.

I don't think that would be a very safe option.... I'm pretty sure if you mix bleach and vinegar it creates chlorine gas...

amado maricris (author)2010-09-07

I am really trying to make a perfect shirt design and apply it perfectly. Thank you for the tips..If i cant make one il show it here...

lobo_pal (author)2008-09-29

Sick, do you have any preferences for the bleach pen, like a brand, and where can you get it?

MadMax001 (author)lobo_pal2008-09-30

Same here..Clorox..Is there any other on the market...? Just curious...

DIYDragon (author)MadMax0012009-07-27

Tide makes one as well. Don't know which works better though.

goosezilla (author)lobo_pal2008-09-29

I've just been using a Clorox pen I picked up in the laundry section at QFC.

Supersyko (author)2009-04-18

AWESOME, You inspired me to make my own!!! Since im too cheap to buy a bleach pen, im using a high lighter and dipping it in watered down bleach! I wanted to use your design, but 1, i wanted mine to be unique, and 2 im not that good of an artist, im using a phoenix! Im gonna make an instructable like yours using my way, if its ok, ya know, no copyright or something, lol.

jianqiang (author)2009-01-25

awesome, I tried this like 7 years ago but with a spraybottle and cardboard stencil quickly died......>.< and it ended up a stinky mess and me out a hoodie

Bard (author)2008-12-23

Here is my Bleach experiment I used an airbrush. (SAFTY NOTE: I also used a respirator and goggles. I kept the design simple as being my first try.

casey321b (author)2008-11-07

could I use one of those dispensing paint brushes with liquid bleach put in it

nabzaf (author)casey321b2008-12-03

i did mine with a stencil and paint brush. you don't was the shirt first it will make put'n on the stencil a lot better in the pic section is a pic with me and my hoodie

goosezilla (author)casey321b2008-11-07

Sounds like it is worth experimenting with! Try it on some scrap fabric first. I have a feeling the lines you draw will be fairly thick because the fabric may soak up the liquid bleach too much, but try it out and let me know what your results were like. I love to know about new techniques!

MadMax001 (author)2008-11-17

Hi again...This is my second attempt with this method ..!

I made a small "booboo" on the shoulder ( The bleach bled..) ..but that gave me an idea to make flames for next time..!!

I guess it's all in the learning process..LOL

Have fun..and as you can see you don't need to be an awesome artist to transform a t-shirt..Give it a try !!!

4113n (author)2008-09-25

What is a bleach pen? Can i fill a used up high lighter with bleech or something?

goosezilla (author)4113n2008-09-25

Squeeze bottles like these:

Or a empty mustard bottle? That might work too!

4113n (author)goosezilla2008-09-25

Oh thanks, are bleech pens from stationary stores or hardware?

goosezilla (author)4113n2008-11-03

I bought mine at a grocery store.

dragonflii (author)4113n2008-09-26

You can get them in the laundry aisle at the grocery store. It looks like she's using a Clorox bleach pen.

goosezilla (author)4113n2008-09-25

The bleach in the bleach pens is in a cream form, so its not as fluid as regular bleach. It sort of sits on top of the fabric when you apply it instead of sinking in. You may be able to put bleach or a bleach cream in some kind of squeeze tube, like those plastic tubes people use for applying henna. If you can get in cream form, or make it, you might be able to use pastry bags, or cut the end off a ziplock bag. I haven't tried any of this, but they seem like sound techniques in my head.

Grey_Wolfe (author)goosezilla2008-09-26

If anyone knows how, maybe we should get an Instructable put up on how to make bleach in cream form. Could link to it from this Ible.

ChickenbreadI (author)Grey_Wolfe2008-09-27

Cream bleach would be easy. You would just start with powdered bleach instead of liquid. You could mix it with either liquid bleach or some water to make it a cream. I'm not sure if powdered bleach is as strong or as effective on fabrics though.

Grey_Wolfe (author)ChickenbreadI2008-09-29

You might be right. But I didn't think powdered bleach dissolves in a 'creamy' fashion. Maybe add a small bit of cornstarch or flour? Think cornstarch would be a bit less messy. Or perhaps glucose or corn syrup to make it more like a gel.

dressmaking (author)Grey_Wolfe2008-09-30

softscrub or any bleach based tile-cleaner in a paste form

Grey_Wolfe (author)dressmaking2008-09-30

That would probably be effective. Not so much as straight bleach, but if you've got the time.

goosezilla (author)Grey_Wolfe2008-09-26

That's a good idea!

Grey_Wolfe (author)goosezilla2008-09-26

Thanks. I try. lol

StoryAddict (author)2008-11-03

Very cool!

On a relative note, I've watched to resurrect a favorite ruined shirt of mine that somehow got lightly faded bleach spots by doing a handprint like the famous icon of the 1999-2003 television show, Roswell (see below). I've never used bleach before, but do you think wearing some kind of glove and finger/handpainting in bleach would achieve the desired effect?

goosezilla (author)StoryAddict2008-11-03

I'm doubtful you'd get any of the finger print detail, but a general hand shape should be quite doable. Just remember you have a set amount of time because the bleaching process is very fast.

crafty_crayons (author)2008-10-23

woww that is cooool

pacific_sunrise07 (author)2008-10-10

golden! thanks for the tip!

goosezilla (author)2008-10-09

You may need to make this one in several batches because it has so much detail. You don't want to leave bleach on the shirt for too long or it eats the fabric. Also, you probably want even bleaching. You may want to try your design with freezer paper and bleach in a spray bottle. Gives you more control and you can do it in one go.

Udon (author)2008-10-02

WOOH. UberCool. I'm gOnNA gEt bLEaCH. aNd BuRn mY sHiRts!! bURN THEM ALLL!!! MWWAAAAHHAAAHAAAHAAAHHAAAAhAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA Uh, by the way, does it give off any vapors to worry about, or is that no problem? :P

goosezilla (author)Udon2008-10-02

If you can do this outside or with windows open and a fan running that would be ideal. Here is a Wikipedia entry that covers some of the health concerns

Udon (author)goosezilla2008-10-05

Cool. Thanks.

mykmykmykkk (author)2008-09-30

I'm no good at drawing :( good idea though

goosezilla (author)mykmykmykkk2008-09-30

If you have access to one you could try using a projector to allow you to trace a design with some chalk, then trace over that with the bleach.

MadMax001 (author)2008-09-27

'Nice idea !! You really rock !!!'

I made this quick T-Shirt for my girlfriend...Can't wait to make mine !!!

"Drying" time with the bleach on the shirt, 20 minutes, to have these "white" lines..

Awsome Fairy (author)MadMax0012008-09-29

Yo, u stole my name! haha! i saw this hell cool instructable, u can have awsome hats and t-shirts, go here Soccer Ball Cap

goosezilla (author)MadMax0012008-09-28

That is totally cute!

killer77 (author)2008-09-27

great idea im going to try this out today

siddhartha bansal (author)2008-09-27

nice n creative toooo ..... cn v hv multi colors .... to make it more intresting..

lordofthedonuts (author)2008-09-26

That's a good idea! I already did the bleach stencil technique, but this one is very cool too.

dr. jones (author)2008-09-26

it's a griffen, but its wicked awesome non the less.

Grey_Wolfe (author)2008-09-26

Very awesome Sphinx. I'm assuming Goosezilla. The new display has me Irked, I like to see the author info.

Grey_Wolfe (author)Grey_Wolfe2008-09-26

Oh, I found it. lol. Maybe I should look around a bit more before I post. hehe. Just used to there always being ads there.

22killzz (author)2008-09-26

how mean sticking out ur tounge at me!=( lol jk
great idea i do alot of screen printing! so this gave me set of whole new ideas!! thanx!!

goosezilla (author)22killzz2008-09-26

lol Have fun!

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