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Blog / Beginner's handbook / How to Design Your Own Custom Mug

Beginner's handbook

Brew-tiful Creations: How to Design Your Own Custom Mug

Brew-tiful Creations: How to Design Your Own Custom Mug
Katrina Resne

By Katrina Resne

8 min read

Looking to design your own custom mugs? Then let’s brew up some creativity because we’ve got the ultimate 3-step guide for you.

Personalized coffee mugs are popular gifts for celebrations and holidays. And mugs are something customers love to buy for themselves. They can also be excellent promotional items for your business. 

With different customization options, you can come up with mug-nificent creations that match your personal style or brand.

In this guide, you’ll discover how to design mugs in 3 easy steps—from selecting the right mug to finding artwork ideas and preparing files for printing. The best part? You can start with $0.

Get ready to design a coffee mug your customers will be reaching for every day!

How to design custom mugs in 3 steps

Creating a custom mug isn’t rocket science. But there are details to think about depending on what kind of coffee mug design you want to create for yourself or your brand.

1. Select a mug

Let’s start by taking a look at our custom mug collection. From ceramic mugs to different mug shapes, there are plenty of styles to choose from.

Printful White Glossy Mug

White Glossy Mug

We’re starting off with a classic option from our collection: the White Glossy Mug. It’s made of ceramic and has a simple, practical shape. Its glossy finish and white exterior make it the ideal canvas for vibrant or detailed mug designs. This mug is available in 2 sizes—11 oz and 15 oz. Plus, it’s microwave and dishwasher safe, so it’s easy to reheat your drink and a piece of cake to clean. Make it your own with an inspirational quote, a simple graphic, or an artistic drawing.

Printful Black Glossy Mug

Black Glossy Mug

If you want a sleeker look, check out our Black Glossy Mug. It has the same finish and shape as the White Glossy Mug, but in black. It’s also microwave and dishwasher safe and available in 2 sizes.

Opt for a black mug if you’re going for a more refined or dramatic look. When designing with certain colors, it creates a really striking contrast. With your own design front and center, you can create a custom coffee mug that’ll stand out in the crowd.

Printful White Ceramic Mug

White Ceramic Mug

With a colorful rim, inside, and handle, this mug is a vibrant take on the classic White Glossy Mug. Our White Ceramic Mug is available in various colors and has a white print area on the outside. Made from durable, heat-resistant material, it’s microwave and dishwasher safe. Choose from 6 different colors and add your mug design to complete the look you’re going for.

Printful Enamel Mug

Enamel Mug

For every devoted camper or traveler, this practical-yet-cute Enamel Mug is the one to choose. Lightweight and durable, it’s the perfect travel mug for outdoor adventures. Attach it to your hiking bag to enjoy a hot beverage or meal when you stop for a rest. Note that with its white coating and silver rim, this mug can only be hand-washed. And it’s not a good idea to heat liquids or food directly in the mug—it can damage the coating. But unlike a ceramic mug, it’s pretty hard to break! Personalize this travel mug with an original design and start selling it on your store. 

2. Mug design inspiration

If you don’t have a design idea for your mug, it can be tricky to come up with one off the top of your head. The good news is that there are plenty of sources to get inspiration from.

Remember to always add your spin to the mug you’re creating. Get inspired, but don’t swipe someone else’s work. No matter how many great mug design ideas you find, your unique style will make all the difference. 

So let’s get some inspiration!

Online marketplaces and websites

One way to start is with Etsy and Pinterest. Etsy has a wide range of sellers who customize mugs. There you’ll be able to see the sales for each, so browse through their collections and check what designs are in high demand. On Pinterest, you’ll find a treasure trove of design ideas, font combinations, and artwork styles for customizing coffee mugs.

Retail stores and other brands

Another option is to find brands that sell home products, kitchenware, or even clothing. Popular brands like Urban Outfitters or Anthropologie often expand their product selection by adding mini collections that include items like customized mugs. Check out their online and retail stores to find coffee mug design inspiration.

But you know where the best and most original ideas come from? From your own life experiences. Think about jokes you get a kick out of, your favorite hobbies, or any daily struggles you have. Turn that great idea into a design for your own mug.

To make it easier for you, we’ve shared 37—yes, thirty-seven—mug ideas on our blog.

Get creative with seasonal artwork, couples styles, and many more coffee mug design ideas waiting for you in our blog post: 37 Mug Design Ideas to Sell and Gift.

3. Create your design 

Now that you have some custom mug inspiration, are you ready to make your own?

Whether you’re a fan of minimalist designs, bold and bright colors, or want to showcase your logo, customizable mugs fit every style and occasion.

When developing your mug, you can place your coffee mug design on one side, in the middle, or around the entire mug. You have the chance to create a 360-degree experience.

There are 2 ways you can make a design—with graphic design software or Printful’s Design Maker.

Using graphic design software

If you have a complicated design or need specific editing tools, it may be a good idea to use graphic design software. There are different options for both professional-grade software (like Photoshop) and more beginner alternatives (like Canva). With software, you can manipulate your design to make it exactly what you envisioned.

Here are a few ways to use graphic design software:

  • Digitalize your artwork

  • Edit high-quality photos

  • Design your brand logo

  • Create a design from scratch with built-in tools

Before listing your personalized coffee mug on your store, you’ll have to use Printful’s Design Maker. Simply upload a picture of your mug design and follow the gridlines on the mug to perfect your design placement.

Using Printful’s Design Maker

Creating your coffee mug design from scratch can be time-consuming. If you’re not a graphic designer or don’t want to mess around with complex software, you can design your mug in Printful’s Design Maker. 

Even if you are familiar with the elements of design, our free tool will help you save time and give you an extensive library of clipart and graphics to customize your mug.

printful design maker

Source: Printful’s Design Maker 

In Printful’s Design Maker, you’ll find 712 fonts, 20400+ clipart graphics, 3100+ ready-made designs, and 550+ background graphics. Plus, the Design Maker helps you with gridlines for the best results.

You can also choose one of our pre-made Quick Designs and make it yours. There’s an incredible selection of graphics collections that include plant lovers, gaming, rad readers, galaxies, girl power, weddings, and many more. We also offer a premium collection with stock images and vector graphics. Each add-on costs just $1.

You can really go to town by personalizing your mug in Printful’s Design Maker to make it stand out. Combine graphics, arc text, add shadows, create patterns, change colors, and adjust the design elements.

Best of all, in the Design Maker, you’re designing directly on the mug. By clicking 3D and Mockup view, you can see how your design will look printed on the mug before ordering.

Printful Design Maker

Printing method for custom mugs

The design on custom mugs is printed using sublimation inks and transfer paper. At Printful, we print the design mirrored on paper and then wrap the paper around the mug. Once heat and pressure are applied, the print image transfers to the mug. Sublimation printing support designs and gradients with multiple colors. We use world-class HD ink for vivid colors and durable designs.

Interested in seeing how we’ll make your custom mugs? Watch the whole process in this video—from transferring and printing the design to packing the mug.

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Custom mug file guidelines

Imagine: you’ve chosen a mug and have the perfect mug design, so you order a sample to see the mug in real life. Unfortunately, it wasn’t what you imagined… 

Like with every custom product—t-shirts, tote bags, travel mugs—it’s important to use the print file guidelines.

Check to see if your design fits the guidelines and improve it as needed.

Here are some pointers:

  • Avoid using tiny details in your design.

  • If your design has a transparent background, use PNG. For other personalized mug designs, you can prepare files in JPEG.

  • For the Black Glossy Mug, submit your designs with a transparent background.

  • Follow relevant guidelines in Printful’s Design Maker to find the best design placement on the mug.

Where and how to sell custom mugs

You can sell custom mugs on your own website or choose a marketplace like Etsy. There are advantages to both options. If you create a custom online store, there’s more freedom in design and functionality. The downside is you have to invest in getting people to your store. 

Marketplaces already have traffic from customers looking to spend money on particular products. It’s easier to set up a store there, but you have fewer possibilities for customization.

Once you have an online store, connect it to Printful. We’ll handle the fulfillment, so you can sell custom mugs without investing upfront in inventory. You also won’t have to prepare, pack, and ship orders to customers.

Learn more about the integrations you can connect with Printful here.

If you want to learn more about starting a mug business online with Printful, check out this video.

Valuable read: 

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Ready, set, create

Custom mugs are a great addition to your business, especially in time for upcoming holidays or celebrations. With the right mug selection and a drop of creativity, you can create a one-of-a-kind mug that people will love to use.

Don’t forget to follow the print file guidelines to ensure the best results. Whether you choose to sell personalized mugs on your website or a marketplace, we’ll help you along the way. From bringing you useful resources to grow your business, to fulfilling your custom mug orders and shipping them to your customers—we’ve got you.

Want a closer look at our coffee mugs? Watch this video of people testing different Printful custom coffee mugs with their designs.

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Have fun and espresso yourself with custom mugs!

Let us know in the comments if you have any questions about starting a mug business or customizing mugs for yourself.


By Katrina Resne on Apr 4, 2023

Katrina Resne

Content Writer Intern

Katrīna is a content writer with a background in Material Technology and Design. She loves the digital world and creating content in visual and written form.

Katrīna is a content writer with a background in Material Technology and Design. She loves the digital world and creating content in visual and written form.

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Katrina Resne

By Katrina Resne

8 min read Apr 4, 2023

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