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How to Create Sublimation Design- Your Ultimate Guide 2024

How to Create Sublimation Design- Your Ultimate Guide

Are you looking for How to Create Sublimation Design, Then delve into our comprehensive guide and get ready to unlock your design today.

In the creation of personalized and vibrant printing, sublimation design is an art form that can transform ordinary objects into eye-catching works of art. If you’ve created sublimation designs that leave a lasting impression, you’ve reached the perfect starting point.

Dye sublimation design is more than just transferring an image onto a change of surfaces. It’s about your imagination to life with vivid colors, intricate details, and endless creative possibilities. If you are a passionate graphic designer looking to expand your skillset or a hobbyist looking to make personalized gifts and dresses, this comprehensive guide is for sublimation design experts. It is the gateway to becoming.

This guide details the important steps, tools, and techniques you need to master the art of sublimation design. From selecting the right software to establishing a flawless transfer, you’ll boost your knowledge and confidence to make stunning designs that stand out from the crowd.

For a step-by-step visual guide, check out YouTube video: How to Create Sublimation Design – Your Ultimate Guide 2024.

So, embark on your creative adventure and unleash your full potential in the world of sublimation design.

How to Create Sublimation Design with just 7 steps 

Sublimation design is a fascinating and all-around technique that can add creativity to a change of items, from clothing and accessories to home decor and promotional items. This is a way to take everyday objects to life and turn them into unique works of art.

However, let’s begin this creative journey and explore into seven important steps that will enable you to make sublime designs that stand out, and inspire. 

1. Create sublimation design 

selecting the right design concept is an important starting point for creating impressive sublimation designs. This first step sets the tone for the entire project and determines the overall appeal of the final product.

Concept Clarity.

Start by defining a clear concept or theme for your sublimation design. Even if it’s a family portrait, a motivational quote, a pattern inspired by nature, or a custom illustration, having a clearly defined concept in mind can guide your creative process.


We aim for a unique and original concept that will make your design stand out. Inspiration from existing trends and ideas is acceptable, but adding a personal touch and unique twist can make your sublimation design even more memorable.

Visual imagery.

Visualize how your concept will look when transferred to different substrates. Make sure it retains its visual impact and appeal, whether it’s on a t-shirt, coffee mug, or canvas.

Choosing the right design concept is like laying the foundation for a building. Provide direction, purpose, and vision for your sublimation design project. already you’ve chosen your concept, you’re ready to take the next step and consider the tools and software you’ll need to bring your vision to life.

2.  Select the graphics design tools

Choosing the right design software is demanding to create attractive sublimation designs. The software you select should match your design skills, objectives, and specific features needed. First, let’s delve into how to create sublimation designs in Canva, Photoshop, and Printables Design Maker.


Canva is a user-friendly, web-based designing tool, and useful for beginners and experienced designers. It attempts a wide range of templates, graphics, and fonts, making it an excellent choice for anyone facing to create sublimation designs quickly and easily. Canva’s innate drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to experiment with different elements and layouts.

Printful design maker.

If you’re new to sublimation design or prefer a more streamlined approach, Printful’s Design Maker is an online tool. Designed for making designs print-on-demand products. A user-friendly interface tool and access to a huge library of clipart and templates for the design process, make it an ideal choice for beginners.

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is a competent software many designers prefer. Its huge capabilities for image editing, use, and creation make it powerful for crafting complex and detailed sublimation designs. With Photoshop, you have complete control over every form of your design, from colors and layers to typography end effects.

So these software options have unique advantages, allowing you to tailor your choice to your specific needs and know-how. Now that you’ve chosen your design software, it is essential to check all the sublimation guidelines.

3. Check all the sublimation guidelines 

Before starting the design process, it is important to review and stand by sublimation guidelines specific to your chosen printing method and equipment. These guidelines will ensure that your sublimation designs are vibrant, authentic, and long-lasting. Below are some general guidelines for sublimation.

General guidelines for customizing products

  • Submit files in PNG or JPEG format with a DPI of at least 150.
  • Create files in sRGB color profile.
  • Use full-bleed imaging for maximum coverage.
  • Keep all-important graphics within a secure print area to avoid missing design elements.
  • Add a transparent background if your design only covers a portion of the print area.
  • If you use a downloadable template, remove the guide layer before saving the file.

Sublimation disclaimer 

  • The sublimation design is printed on one side of the product (the other side remains white).
  • Due to the special nature of the dye-sublimation process, graphics may be offset by up to 2 inches when printed. Therefore, we do not recommend using designs that require precise placement.

Cut and sew disclaimer for fully printed products

  • We cannot guarantee completely accurate placement.
  • It is impossible to perfectly align a pattern or image from front to back.
  • There is no guarantee that elements outside the safe print area will appear fully on the finished product.
  • If fabric is low in stock, we may use equivalent fabric to fill your order. Replacements will be as close to the original as possible.
  • White cannot be printed on all-over printed products. If the product has other dark-colored layers, the white or transparent elements of the design will eventually become the fabric color. We recommend that you avoid using white or transparent elements in all-over print designs.

Additionally, the sublimation designs use raster images. PNG is the most famous format for sublimation designs because it has a transparent background. The PNG image format uses pixels and saves designs using pixels rather than as sets of points and lines like SVG files. So be careful when you resize your design because it affects the quality of your product.

4. Print your design

Before you have created your design, print it onto sublimation paper using a sublimation printer. Follow these steps for successful printing:

  1. Place the sublimation paper in the printer tray and make sure it is loaded correctly.
  2. In printer settings, choose the useful paper type sublimation paper and quality setting high quality or photo quality.
  3. Since printing your final design, it’s a good idea to print a test copy on plain paper to check if any issues need to be made.
  4. When you’re pleased with your test copy, print your design onto sublimation paper.

To achieve vivid, sharp, and long-lasting sublimation results, it’s important to print your designs exactly and with the right settings.

5. Prepare your substrate

Proper preparation of the select material is important for successful sublimation. Here’s how to prepare the different materials:


Preheat the fabric substrate to remove moisture and wrinkles. Place it in a heat press for a few seconds on low heat.

Ceramics and Metals.

Clean and wipe the surface of ceramic or metal substrates to ensure there is no dust affecting the sublimation process.

Protective Cover.

Some substrates may require a protective cover, such as heat-resistant tape or a silicone pad, to prevent burns or damage during the hot pressing process.

6. Heat press transfer 

So transfer your sublimation design to the substrate. Follow these steps to manage a vibrant, long-lasting result:

Place your design.

Place the sublimation paper with your design face down on your substrate. Make sure it is aligned correctly.

Heat Press Settings.

See the guidelines for your specific heat press machine and material. Usually, a temperature of about 380 to 400°F (193 to 204°C) and a press time of 45 to 60 seconds is good for materials.

Apply even pressure.

Close the heat press machine to apply even pressure. Heat turns the sublimation ink into a gas, which enters the surface of the material.


When the pressing time has been delayed, open the heat press and wait for the material to cool down before removing the sublimation paper.

7. Finishing touches

Finally, Your sublimation design has been successfully transferred. Now let’s add some finishing touches to ensure the best look.

Remove Sublimation Paper

Carefully remove the sublimation paper from the substrate. You should see a vibrant, permanent design on the surface.

Quality Inspection

it’s important to inspect your final product for any weak points. If basic, use a lint roller or soft cloth to remove any loose fibers or particles.

Washing and care instructions

If you sell sublimated products, give your customers clear care instructions. Sublimated items are mostly machine washable, but we suggest using a cycle and cold water to extend the life of your design.

What projects can do with the sublimation paper?

Many projects can be custom-printed using sublimation paper. The sublimation paper allows to print directly onto polyester fabrics or polyester-coated sublimation blanks.

So you can directly sublimate on manufactured fiber such as polyester, lycra, nylon, and sportswear. Additionally, you can print the sublimation paper over a heat transfer vinyl. And you see directly sublimating on a cotton short or dark-colored shirt does not work.

So direct sublimation printing on garments is only recommended for polyester shirts. But if you print on a dark-colored shirt or a cotton shirt, you can print the heat-transfer vinyl on the shirt and then use sublimate over it.

Many sublimation blanks are available in the market 

  • Fan
  • Mouse pad
  • tumbler
  • Mug
  • an aluminum board
  • earrings
  • key ring
  • pet bandana
  • tote bag
  • cup coaster
  • pillow cover
  • jigsaw puzzle
  • cosmetic bag
  • pen
  • cap
  • baby bib

What is required for sublimation design printing 

It would be best if you had a sublimation paper and printer containing fye sublimation ink for sublimation design printing. And one machine you need to invest in is a heat press machine and each one has its purpose.

Different kinds of heat press machines

Heat press machine usable in swing type or clamshell type. Selected use for t-shirts, tote bags, jigsaw puzzles, pillowcases, mouse pads, and other flat-surfaced items.

  • tumbler heat press machine
  • cap press machine
  • mug press machine
  • Mini heat press machine (not recommended for sublimation printing)

How to sublimation merchandise 

Sublimation of merchandise is an easy process. Print and press, if you are printing on a shirt or a sublimation blank. Even if your sublimation design is on a shirt or a mug, the transfer process is similar. For more easy understanding here are the steps.

  • Print your design on your computer using sublimation paper.
  • Remember to use the highest-quality print settings on your computer.
  • the Printing on the white side of the sublimation paper.
  • Don’t forget to reflect on the design.
  • The ink on the sublimation paper dries for a few minutes.
  • Cut the unprinted part of the sublimation paper.
  • Prepare the heat press machine at your recommended time and temperature.
  • It’s important to note that the time and temperature of the heat press will vary depending on the product you want to sublimate.  Always check the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Place the printed image, printed side down, on top of the product.
  • Use heat transfer tape to secure the sublimation paper to the item.
  • Heat press the product.
  • Remove the item from the heat press and remove the sublimation paper.
  • That’s it.

Sublimation vs heat transfer paper

So you heard of another transfer printing method using heat transfer paper. These heat transfer papers are used to dark transfer paper and light transfer paper. This types of special printing paper are coated with wax and dye which transfers into the canvas.

Sublimation paper where the dye-based ink changes into a gas and the ink transfers into the merchandise. Sublimation printing design and heat transfer paper printing are both different methods.

Pros and cons of the sublimation design


  • The sublimated image is not only applied over the material, but also embedded into the substrate, making it extremely resistant to fading, peeling, and cracking.
  • Designs can be transferred from seam to seam on garments.
  • Applicable to a wide range of coating materials including polyester, ceramic, wood, plastic, metal, and glass.
  • Enables photo-quality full-color prints without additional setup costs for multiple colors;
  • Sublimation printing design, which uses dry inks, infuses ink directly into materials, reducing waste and environmental impact and making it more environmentally friendly than other methods.


  • The sublimation can only work on materials that contain a high percentage of polyester.  It does not affect natural fibers like cotton or silk.
  • Not suitable for color block or exact location printing.
  • Sublimation ink is transparent, so it only works on white or light-colored substrates where the ink colors can stand out. Prints would not be visible on black material.
  • Although this can be improved using RIP software and color correction, you may experience color mismatches where the colors differ from what you see on screen.
  • Accidental creases or moisture can cause white streaks in areas where the ink didn’t reach, and movement of the transfer paper can cause blurry shadow effects, or “ghosting.”

In Conclusion of Sublimation Design 

Now we come to the end of this guide, we hope that you learned all the knowledge about how to create sublimation design.  For all that, mastering the art of sublimation design is a journey that combines creativity, precision, and technical know-how. Just follow the steps outlined in this overall guide, so you can create eye-catching sublimation designs that grace a wide range of products from apparel to home decor.

Choosing the right design concept, and software, and it’s important to understand sublimation design guidelines are essential to your success experiences, and staying open to new design ideas. 

Even if you are making custom apparel, personalized gifts, or promotional products, expert sublimation design opens up endless possibilities for expressing your creativity and satisfying your customers.


Q.1 What is the best software to create sublimation designs?

  1. Adobe Illustrator is considered the best software for making sublimation designs. Because of its industry-standard graphics. also, budget-friendly options and highly recommended for affinity designers.

Q.2 Is sublimation a good business?

  1. Yes, sublimation can be a good business as it allows for creating custom, high-quality, and durable items with vibrant designs. It is also popular for personalized products like apparel, mugs, and home decor, and starting can be relatively low cost.

Q.3 Do I need special ventilation when sublimating?

  1. Experts recommend ensuring good ventilation because sublimation ink can emit fumes during the printing process.

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