Shirt design: 501st Legion | Jolly Roger Squadron


After I joined the 501st Legion with my own TIE pilot costume in 2017, I really didn't know how much work there would be available for anyone willing to it.
I've done more than my share of the free labor since I joined and this one was the most work of them all. Getting this approved took really long time, but I didn't actually need to change anything so it kinda was the easiest graphic design gig I've ever had when considering that.

On top of making the graphics and the illustration I also managed the whole merch run. I gotta admit that managing that took way more than I dared to expect. Over half of the orders missed some information like adding their address or pay with PayPal in the wrong way. I'm not a fan of excel sheets and after all that, I'm even less of a fan of them.

The design process

TIE skull illustration began in Adobe Photoshop, but I end up tracing it as a vector image to have that sharp black and white design.

The skull illustration began as a photoshop painting. I just started trying to mold the skull into a TIE pilot helmet shape and slowly it started looking good, but I end up tracing my own painting in Adobe illustrator because I wanted to have a black and white theme for the shirt. I could have done it in illustrator from the beginning, but I wanted it to have this rough look and uneven textures like that are hard to make in illustrator.

Detail Of Logo On The Back

When the skull was designed, I also wanted to add the Deathstar illuminated wall panel patterns to the sides and those with an eye for the sharpest details may notice that it's not actually the correct pattern. The reason for that is that when front and back panels were sewn together it just looked weird and I decided to change it a bit to make it look more even and to this day no one hasn't even noticed or at least mentioned anything about it to me.

Printed back panel of the shirt

Originally I was going to add the Jolly Roger Squadron logo to the sleeve and chest, but I tried to ask around for a vector version of the logo for months without any results. All I got was a small png which I couldn't use and so I end up not using the logo at all. So I end up using the same TIE skull illustrations as on the back.

Left Sleeve had the official 501st Legion logo and the web url

Overall I'm "secretly" happy about it because I'm not really a fan of the Jolly Roger Squadron logo. It's the only 501st Legion detachment logo that does have something non-Star Wars on it.

I actually asked about its history and I was told that its origins come from US Navy Air Force. As a global Star Wars costuming organization I'm not really ok using something inspired by foreign military forces, but I've already given my opinion forward about it and not planning to start arguing about it.

Official Jolly Roger Squadron logo
The front didn't have anything special. Pretty much the same template as all other detachment shirts use.

The front side had pretty much the same graphics as all other 501st Legion racing shirts. Logo (my TIE skull in this case) on the left side of the chest and name and/or callsign and TKID number below. Mine is TI-88811. Two-letter represents the detachment I'm in and if I'm in multiple, then I can use any one of the ones I'm in. These numbers are unique to each member of the 501st Legion.

The whole shirt and each of its panel.

Otherwise, the shirt also has separate shoulder pieces and a collar with the detachment name inside of it. I really love small details like this and because I used the same supplier as we have used multiple times before, we also got our own neck labels which I didn't actually know about until I got the shirts.

100% Imperial Neck Label was a really nice surprise from the supplier.


Members all-around the world sent some really cool pics of the shirt so of course, I gotta share some of them. Not sure if I'd ever consider managing the whole merch run by myself again, but otherwise it was really cool to make the shirt and I'd be happy to make more of these at some point.

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