T-shirt Designs: Taoguang Temple

Why did you visit?

Taoguang Temple is part of the Lingyin Temple scenic area in the Wulin Mountains part of West Lake scenic area in Hangzhou, China. This was my first trip to China (hopefully, I can make another trip!). And it was a self-guided solo trip for me. In my effort to plan a simple trip, I decided to visit Hangzhou and the West Lake UNESCO World Heritage Site. I had a rough idea what to see and expect, but there was much more than I knew about. I knew about the big temples and the famous sights – which were all crowded, especially on the weekend.

How did you find this place?

There are scads of smaller sights and temples scattered throughout the area. As well as really nice hiking trails – stone dressed and swept regularly. I spent my evenings in my hotel room pouring over maps. I had two maps that I had picked up at the visitor center – one in English and the other in Chinese. The Chinese map had more sights marked on it. During the day, I would go out and try to find the Chinese-only mapped sights. I found some but not all. I would set off on a hiking path – on the theory that if one climbed up lots of steps, one would be rewarded. This turned out to be true without fail.  Climbing up steps also turned out to be a great way to escape the crowds.  The higher you went, the fewer people around.  I’m always looking for ways to escape the crowds.

What did you learn?

There’s a cable car. In my effort to climb every staircase to see what was up there, I climbed to the top of the Northern Peak. The climb was ok – others were climbing that day, too. It was mostly stone stairs. At each turn and new flight of stairs, somebody had painted the number of steps climbed up to that point. I didn’t know how many steps there were, so it wasn’t useful. There were benches between flights of stairs, so I took breaks and climbed slowly. And when I finally got to the top – there was a cable car! I rode it down.  I had wondered how I was going to get down; I was very happy to not have to climb back down all those steps.  The numbers counting the steps would have been useful going down.

What inspired you to make this design?

Dragons. Or nagas – whatever they are – I’m going with dragons. I seem to have a dragon thing going on currently. The Casa del Hildago shirt has a dragon, also. Critters are popping up all over suddenly. Like when an author writes a story, the characters begin to express themselves and act on their own. I may lose control of them. Anyway, Lingyin Temple has better dragons, but this little building is more drool-worthy.

I’ve heard a rumor that you’re having a dragon takeover…

I’d rather not discuss that.

What was the most challenging aspect of this design?

This is a really complicated building. In my design, I’ve substantially simplified the roof – artistic license – I plead guilty. The building’s appearance varies considerably depending on if you are walking up the front of it or looking down on it from higher up the mountain. Even as you walk around the side of the building, you see a substantially different roof. I decided to go with the front walk-up approach. I also simplified it so that it will read nicely on a t-shirt. I want to create a work of art that evokes the building, but also prints nicely on cloth. How much detail is enough verses too much is a challenge.  I think T-shirts should be readable at a distance – six to ten feet, give or take.

Can you explain your color choices?

The actual building is a really boring, solid, monotone brownish-red color. I wanted my version to be colorful. I was playing around exploring what I might do with the windows. I had success doing two-tone windows on the Casa del Hildago shirt, so I thought I would do that again here. But it wasn’t working this time. I was using the brush tool to apply a textured color to the windows – but covering the whole building instead of just the windows, and I thought, wow – it makes the building look cool – gives the idea of sun-dappled but not quite. I decided to run with it.

How were these designs drawn?

AutoCAD & Gimp. I need the designs to be computerized for uploading to Printful, who is doing the printing on the T-shirts and shipping them to my customers. Prior to starting designing T-shirts, I had not done any computer drawing. I do architectural drafting for a living, but that is completely different. It’s most straight lines and ninety-degree angles. For the t-shirts, I needed to do more freehand and curving lines. And of course, color things. I fiddled around with AutoDesk’s sketchbook program. It is really cool. But I rejected it because I found that I can draw freehand and curving lines with AutoCAD, and it is quite easy to get the lines from AutoCAD exported out and put into Gimp.

How are the T-shirts printed?

The T-shirts are being printed by Printful using their print-on-demand service.  The print direct to garment, which is the same as what your printer at home does – except printed on fabric instead of paper.  The quality is quite good.  Colors are bright, lines are sharp-looking.  The technique can handle a fair amount of detail in the design.  I’m still exploring what they can and cannot accomplish.  I design a few shirts, then order samples.  Then do more designs and revise older ones.  I have put one shirt through the laundry three times now, and the print quality still looks new.  So you order the shirt through my T-shirt Design Shop, and they print it and mail it to you.

Taoguang Temple t-shirts are available in our shop.