Every year, ADS gives out a free Warrior Expo t-shirt at check-in to show attendees, vendors, and ADS employees. Since Warrior’s inception 10 years ago, the t-shirt design has gained notoriety as a collector’s item and is highly anticipated year after year. Because this is our 20th anniversary as a company and our 10th anniversary hosting Warrior Expo, this shirt is extra special.

We wanted to walk you through the design process of the Warrior Expo t-shirt to show the amount of time and effort ADS continues to put into making it unique. Make sure you get your shirt on April 19 at the San Diego Convention Center by registering for Warrior Expo West.

Warrior Expo 2017 T-Shirt Design

By: Parker Williams, Product Content Manager

The theme for this year’s Warrior Expo t-shirt design was simple—the focus needs to be geared toward the ADS customer we proudly serve. For those who have never attended Warrior Expo, it’s the kind of place where everyone’s a “warrior” and is treated as such. This led me to researching and identifying warriors from distinctive genres/eras, including: knights and archers from medieval times, heroes from mythology, and patriots from American history.

Left to right: First to last sketch

After the first round of sketches, I handpicked my favorites and started to develop them into something a bit more presentable. The following are the four sketches I landed on, and why I chose each:


I like a knight as a starting point because it’s easily identifiable as a warrior and doesn’t commit to a specific time period or country.


This scene shows a hero facing off against a monster from Greek mythology. This was my take at showing the adversity warriors face.


This design zooms in on a soldier from the American Revolution, wearing a tricorne hat and holding either a flag or musket (I hadn’t decided yet.)

3 Warriors

I combined a few sketches to make this scene, which was intended to show diversity. It has one person on the attack, another protecting with a raised shield, and a leader on horseback.

We ended up going with the Patriot design (below on left), so I got to work in Photoshop developing the illustration from my original sketch. With this layout close to being finished, we felt like the character could use a little more expression and character.  I worked up another sketch (below on right); this time I wanted to manifest the trials and tribulations of a warrior in action.

Working in the flag the patriot is carrying in the above sketch would have created some problems with spacing for text, so I changed the flag to a musket. At this point, I feel like I had a great grasp on how I wanted the end product to be. Now, it was just time to execute on the design and illustration. Here’s a step-by-step look at how the final design came together.

I started with the Patriot figure, and carved out scratchy details and strong shadows for a dramatic effect. Once I was happy with the figure, I added the copy, year, ADS branding, and the 13 stars from the Colonial American flag to further push the Patriot theme.

For the ADS logo, I decided to create a treatment that resembles the colonial glass seals to tie in how things were branded in early America.

As for which type of colonial seal you prefer…that’s up to you.

Drumroll…The final 2017 Warrior Expo t-shirt design:

A native of Virginia Beach, Parker Williams, Product Content Manager, has been with ADS for over 15 years in several positions, including Senior Graphic Designer and Creative Director. Parker’s artistic talent shines through his design work, logo creation, branding and managing of thousands of supplier products on the ADS website. Over the years, ADS employees and customers alike recognize his work through various catalog covers, shirt designs, and logos, such as the Mythics logo, TEK Solutions logo and, most recently, the ADS 20th Anniversary logo. Outside of work, Parker spends time with his corgi, Panda, works on digital illustrations/paintings, and operates an online clothing store for his personal t-shirt designs (www.breakerbot.com).


ADS 20th anniversary logo adjusted to fit t-shirt design

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