How to Design a Great Looking Mug

A good mug can make a tough morning better, or bring a little smile to your afternoon. Designing a custom mug is super easy to do, but we’ll lay out all the details for you so that you can confidently create an on-trend mug in no time!

Get to Know the Mug

Bonfire’s Coffee Mug is a classic, white 11 oz. ceramic mug. It’s both microwave and dishwasher safe, so it can easily become a household favorite for your community. Your design can be printed across both the front and back of the mug. Each printable area is 3.75″ high by  3.25″ diameter. 

Designing a custom mug on

Create Your Design

You can design your mug in the Bonfire design tool, or in a program like Illustrator. If you choose to use an external program, you can upload your completed design file in either an  .AI, .EPS, .PNG ,. JPG. or .PDF format. While it’s preferable to upload vector images if you have them, they aren’t mandatory. For the best results, we recommend a resolution of at least 1500 x 1500 pixels.

Pro tip: avoid uploading photos or images with gradients to stay under our 8 color limit on each product side.

Mug Design Ideas

In many ways, creating a design to be printed on a coffee mug really isn’t very different than designing for a t-shirt. But, we have seen some common design trends develop since the launch of mugs a few years ago. Let’s take a look at our favorite mug design ideas to give you some inspiration.

📚 Related Reading: 17 Design Trends for 2021

Minimalist Linework

Custom mugs designed with minimalist linework.

One trend we’ve been seeing a lot lately is the understated and minimalistic design. These mug designs are done with thin, delicate linework and minimal typography to create a simple but refined look. 

Neutral Colors

Custom mugs designed with neutral colors.

Neutral, balanced color palettes are big right now, whether for clothing, home goods, or product colors. Go back to nature with your color choices on your next mug design. Pair it with flowy, natural imagery to really lean into this earthy trend.

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Colorful Illustrations

Custom mugs designed with colorful illustrations.

Color is fun, and it’s a great way to make sure your next coffee mug design is eyecatching. Create a bright and colorful mug design that really takes advantage of our 8-color print limit. 

This design option is great if you already have bright, intricate illustrations at the ready from other custom merchandise projects.

Typographic Designs

Custom mugs designed with typographic designs.

Go big and bold and keep your design process simple by making a fully typographic design. Using a text-based design is ideal if you need to create your mug design fully within the Bonfire design tool, or if you don’t consider yourself an illustrator and just need a simple but nice looking mug.

Black and White Designs

Custom mugs designed with black and white designs.

Black and white is a classic color combination, and it works really well with our mugs. Upload your design as a single color black design. Leave white areas in your design as negative space. The white color of the mug will shine through, which will both look better and save you money. Black ink is a safe and classic choice that works for almost any design.

Large Logos

Custom mugs designed with large logos.

If you are creating mugs for a business, brand, or organization, you may want to start with a basic logo mug. This is a typical staple of merchandise, and it’s a great place to begin if this is your first time creating mugs. Just make sure you get a high-resolution file of your logo that is scaled properly for the mug.

Matching Sets

Custom mugs designed as part of a matching set.

If you are designing a mug with the intention of it being a part of a larger collection of merchandise products, you can make a full matching set by using the same design on your different merch. This is a great way to go if you are creating merch for the first time, or just need basic branded merch for your business or organization. 

Complimentary Sets

Custom mugs designed with complimentary set of merch.

Another way to create a branded set of custom merch for your group is to design a set of products that have slightly different designs on each item, but that you can tell are part of the same collection. You can create complementary designs for each merch product by using the same fonts, graphics, and colors, but switching up their placement or using different words or phrases. 

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