A NEW year calls for NEW shirts—and NEW customers receive 11% off their first qualifying order w/ code SUPERSOFT11
Begin Your Order

Black-on-Black T-Shirt Printing

Everything you need to know about black-on-black t-shirt printing—and which print style is right for your custom t-shirt design!
arrow_downward
Black-on-Black T-Shirt Printing
PDF Download

Don't have time to read the entire guide now?

Fill out the form for a downloadable PDF version you can reference later.
Thanks! Click the button below to download.
Download PDF
Oops! Something went wrong. Make sure you're using a real email address.
Introduction

The black-on-black printing method results in a look that is as sleek as it is unique. Walking the line of boldness and simplicity, printing your design in black, on black is a surefire way to set your brand apart and make a statement!

Black-On-Black Printing Breakdown

When it comes to black-on-black apparel printing, two important factors come into play: 💧the ink color and 👕 the shirt color.

I know, I know—you’re thinking, “Color? We already decided on black for both. What else is there to choose?” Believe it or not, black-on-black printing isn’t as black-and-white as it seems.

There are actually a variety of shades of black—in both garments and ink stylesso we need to pair up the right shirt color with the right ink color to get your desired result

Depending on the look you’re going for, we can achieve either a more subtle black-on-black print or one with more contrast!

Fun fact: In most cases, we don’t actually use black ink on a black shirt to achieve the black-on-black look. We've actually found that printing with black SuperSoft ink on a black shirt yields a result that is almost invisible...and we’re guessing you may want to actually be able to see your design🕵️

So to help you create the monochromatic garment of your dreams, we’ve compiled a few of our team’s top black-on-black printing recommendations!

Check out each chapter below to learn which option is best for your custom t-shirt design.

Chapter 02

👕 Dark Shirt Color + Light Ink

Achieve a black-on-black print using a dark shirt color with a light SuperSoft ink

If you’re looking for a more subtle black-on-black (BonB) print, we recommend using one of our SuperSoft inks on a dark or black shirt, like the black NLA 3600. When choosing this option, your ink color should be slightly lighter than the shirt color, to create a slight, subtle contrast.

Black Shirt + Grey SuperSoft Ink

We recommend a light grey ink or an ink color that is a few shades down from the garment’s true black to achieve the best results. 

The slight difference between the dark shirt color and lighter ink color will create a noticeable tonal appearance.

While we know this isn’t technically black ink on a black shirt, the finished black-on-black effect will still pack a punch, making a bold statement in a surprisingly simple way.

Black Shirt + Grey SuperSoft Ink

SuperSoft Inks

Since you're using our SuperSoft ink, the print will not have a feel to it at all! This type of ink literally soaks into the shirt fabric instead of sitting on top of it.

SuperSoft ink is the right choice for you when you want a lightweight shirt that is incredibly soft, durable and pliable. The print will last longer and won’t flake or crack over time.

👕 Dark Shirt Color + Light Ink
PDF Download

Don't have time to read the entire guide now?

Fill out the form for a downloadable PDF version you can reference later.
Thanks! Click the button below to download.
Download PDF
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Chapter 02

💧 Light Shirt Color + Dark Ink

Achieve a black-on-black print using a light shirt color with dark SuperSoft ink

Another black-on-black (BonB) print option is to use a shirt color that is lighter than black with a dark or almost black print.

In this scenario, you'd still want to use a dark shirt color, like a NLA6210 in charcoal, but not necessarily a true black shirt like we mentioned in Chapter 1.

When choosing this option, your ink color should be slightly darker than the shirt color. We recommend using a black ink or an ink color that is a few shades darker than the shirt color to achieve the best results.

This will be just enough contrast to create the ultimate BonB illusion 💫

Dark Charcoal Shirt + Black Ink


In order to achieve this look we’d still use our SuperSoft inks. The ink dyes the fabric of your shirt, leaving it extraordinarily soft! The resulting print in this case will have a nice contrast with a super soft, clean matte finish.

💧 Light Shirt Color + Dark Ink
PDF Download

Don't have time to read the entire guide now?

Fill out the form for a downloadable PDF version you can reference later.
Thanks! Click the button below to download.
Download PDF
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Chapter 02

🖤 Black Shirt + Black HO Ink

Achieve a true black-on-black print with the most contrast

If you’re looking for a black-on-black print with as much contrast as possible, we recommend using our heavier, high-opacity ink.

A high-opacity ink allows for more flexibility as far as the garment color you’re printing on goes—meaning you can use a true black garment as well as a true black ink. This is pretty much the only case where you’d want to print true black-on-black without sacrificing the visibility of your design.

The end result will be a matte finish and the design will have a heavier thicker print that you will be able to feel.

Black Shirt + Black High Opacity Ink

Another option to achieve more shine, is to use a high-opacity gloss ink. Again, you can use a true black garment as well as a true black ink here.

Using high-opacity gloss ink is a unique method of printing. We start by printing your design in a high-opacity black ink, and then go back over it with a clear, high-gloss ink giving it that nice shiny finish! 💫

In this case, the final printed design sits on top of the shirt, rather than soaking into the fabric—so it will have a feel to it, but will leave you with a bright glossy finish that makes your design really pop!

Black Shirt + Black High Opacity Gloss Ink

Is this method right for you? If you're looking for a vibrant print that pops off the shirt and you're okay with a thicker print that has a bit of a feel to it, this is a good option. If you want a SuperSoft shirt with a more tonal look, then our team highly suggests using one of the first two options for black-on-black printing.

🖤 Black Shirt + Black HO Ink
PDF Download

Don't have time to read the entire guide now?

Fill out the form for a downloadable PDF version you can reference later.
Thanks! Click the button below to download.
Download PDF
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Chapter 02

✨ Black Foil Printing

How to use texture to create a black-on-black shirt that turns heads

If you’re looking for a way to create maximum impact while still maintaining a monochromatic look, another option is to play with texture.

Custom Foil Printing

Custom foil printing is a fun and creative way to take the black-on-black print style to a whole new level, adding just the perfect amount of dimension to your design.

Foil printing is a popular specialty print method that's guaranteed to make your design pop! It can be used alongside our SuperSoft inks, you can choose either a shiny or matte finish, and it can be applied to pretty much any apparel so your options are pretty limitless.

A girl wears a black shirt with a black foil design.
Black shirt with black foil design

How Foil Printing Works

Foil printing is a method in which your design is first printed onto the garment with a special glue, and then black foil is adhered to the glue with a heat press. The combination of heat and pressure seals the foil before the excess is removed. The final ~shiny~ result is guaranteed to turn heads. 

If you choose this option, it’s important to note:  Properly-applied foil will last for a long while, but the shimmer and shine will fade with each wash. We highly recommend that you design with a distressed pattern to increase the lifespan and wearability of your foil printed shirts. Due to foil’s tendency to break down naturally over time, consider how much of it you want to use in your design.

✨ Black Foil Printing
PDF Download

Don't have time to read the entire guide now?

Fill out the form for a downloadable PDF version you can reference later.
Thanks! Click the button below to download.
Download PDF
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Chapter 02

🧢 Black Custom Embroidery

How to use black embroidery to create black-on-black apparel

A more durable, but less flashy way to add texture to your black-on-black design is with custom embroidery.  

Black thread can essentially be used on anything - shirts, jackets, hoodies, hats, tote bags and beyond - to achieve the perfect black-on-black look with embroidery! And it's made for quality that lasts!

Our black thread—especially if you go for a puff look—offers dimension to your design that makes it pop (literally).

Man wears a black sweatshirt with black embroidered design.
Black Embroidery + Black Crewneck Sweater

What is Puff Embroidery?

Puff uses a thick, foam-like material that is then stitched over, resulting in designs that pop off the garment and create a 3D effect. It adds a bit of height and depth to your embroidered design.

The increasing popularity of puff embroidery on branded swag makes it a highly sought after look—but if you're wanting a more basic option, we also offer standard embroidery which lays nearly flat on your garment.

Black Hat + Black Puff Embroidery

Fun Fact: We slow down the stitching process to maintain control over the quality of the finished product regardless of how many units are in your order! While some shops pump out as many as 11,000 stitches per minute with machinery like ours, our team chooses to max out around 800 stitches per minute—ensuring that the job is done to the highest possible quality 🏆

🧢 Black Custom Embroidery
PDF Download

Don't have time to read the entire guide now?

Fill out the form for a downloadable PDF version you can reference later.
Thanks! Click the button below to download.
Download PDF
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Chapter 02

💻 Browse black (or black-ish) products

Some of the best products to use for black-on-black printing

Searching for the perfect garment to achieve your desired black-on-black look? We’ve got a ton of great products that will guarantee you’re covered (literally)! Here are some of the best shirts, hats and bags to use to achieve this style.

Most Popular Products

NLA 3600 in black

NLA6210 in charcoal

Bella+Canvas 3413 in charcoal black tri-blend

Bella+Canvas 3413 in solid dark grey tri-blend

Bella+Canvas 3001 in vintage black

Carrie Tote in black

Dad Cap in black

24/7 Face Mask in black

Find more products here

Don't see what you're looking for? Email team@realthread.com. We'd love to help you find it!

Which Black-on-Black Print Option Should I Choose?

Still torn on which black-on-black style to use? Well, If you're asking for our expert advice on which option to choose, we'd say this: your BEST bets for capturing the black-on-black (BonB) look are 1). using a dark shirt color with a lighter ink color (Chapter 1) or 2). a lighter shirt color with a darker ink color (Chapter 2).

Both of these options will look and feel great, maximizing both impact and comfort, and are just as effective at communicating the desired BonB look as some of the other, more complicated methods listed here.

Of course, if you decide to use one of the other options - you won't be disappointed!

Getting Started

Getting a t-shirt order started at Real Thread is incredibly easy! Our online order tool makes it easy to upload your artwork and order online.

And of course, our team would love to assist! From design advice to t-shirt recommendations, we're here to guide you through every step of the way.

💻 Browse black (or black-ish) products
PDF Download

Don't have time to read the entire guide now?

Fill out the form for a downloadable PDF version you can reference later.
Thanks! Click the button below to download.
Download PDF
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.