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How to Print on Transfer Paper- Your Ultimate Guide 2024

How to Print on Transfer Paper- Your Ultimate Guide 2024

Printing on transfer paper is an especially all-around technique that allows you to create custom designs for different materials, such as T-shirts, mugs, bags, and more. While the process may seem daunting originally, you can print your unique designs on transfer paper with the right knowledge, tools, and techniques.

In this article, we talk about the process of printing on transfer paper, such as the right transfer paper, preparing your designs, selecting the useful printer and ink, and applying the transfers to your desired substrate. And also discusses common troubleshooting issues and offers valuable tips and tricks to ensure you achieve professional quality results every time.

What is a transfer printing paper?

The transfer printing process encloses all techniques where you first print a design that you want to transfer onto a surface that is later going to be gone onto a different one. You take that off and the design remains printed on that surface. And within the textile transfer printing sector. This is often achieved with the use of vinyl. 

Which means cut in the form of your desired design and applied to a t-shirt. Remember how stickers work that sums up how vinyl t-shirt printing works. Also, the results are great because you have personalized designs that catch your eye.  Bring out your personality, and last long.

How does transfer paperwork?

There are two steps needed to place a design from heat transfer paper onto the shirt. This also applies to other types of fabrics. Firstly, you need to set up the printer before loading the image. Once the image is loaded, print your design and transfer it to your garment or fabric.

Types of transfer paper.

Inkjet transfer paper is designed for use with inkjet printers and is available in two main types

1. Inkjet transfer paper

Light fabric heat transfer paper

  • It is mainly used to apply to white or very light-colored fabrics.
  • Since it is a very thin transparent film, it is not noticeable even when used on light-colored fabrics.  In the photo below you can see what happens when you apply a light-colored transfer paper to a dark fabric, but it doesn’t look very good.
  • It is thin enough to result in a texture that feels like a screen print.
  • When applying light-colored transfer paper, place it face down on the fabric before ironing.
  • After heat is applied and the paper cools, the backing sheet is removed.
  • You will need to “mirror” the image before printing.

Dark fabric heat transfer paper

  • It is more opaque to prevent the color of the fabric from showing through the image.
  • When applying dark color transfer paper, place the paper RIGHT SIDE UP
  • It is thicker and may feel a bit like a sticker on the fabric.
  • There is no need for a “mirroring image”.
  • It is used on both light-color and dark-color fabrics.
  • Please remove the lining sheet before ironing the fabric.
  • White parts of the print that you do not want visible, such as borders, should be trimmed before ironing.

2. Laser transfer paper

Laser transfer paper is designed for use with laser printers. Such as inkjet transfer paper, and laser transfer paper also comes in light and dark versions. So selecting the correct types of laser transfer paper based on the color of the material.

Dye sublimation transfer paper

This type is suitable for polyester. And works well on light-colored polyester fabrics. So this technology uses heat and pressure to turn solid dyes into gasses, specifically bonding them to fabrics, resulting in high-quality prints. 


●Infinite number of colors

●Durable pattern

●Ideal for continuous correction.


●Spot color

●Compatible with polyester only.

3. Heat transfer vinyl (HTV)

Not technically paper but often used similarly. HTV is cut into shapes or designs and then applied to fabric using heat. It is available in different colors and finishes. Such as matte, glossy, glitter, and holographic


●Time and effort are reduced.

●Reducing initial costs.

●More durable than most printed designs.

Cons (h4)

  • Not effective for bulk orders

4. Waterslide decal paper

  • For hard surfaces: designed for items such as ceramics, glass, wood, and metal. These papers need specific coatings on the item and a heat press for application.
  • Tattoo transfer paper: this allows you to create temporary tattoos that can be applied to the skin. Specially for custom body art and promotional items.

Preparing your design for printing on transfer paper.

After selecting the right transfer paper for your project. The next step is preparing your design for printing on transfer paper is important for achieving high-quality, vibrant, and durable results, even if you are working on apparel, home decor, or custom projects, following these steps will help you ensure your designs turn out beautifully.

1. Choose the right software.

Use design software that suits your skill level and project requirements. Popular choices such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, CorelDraw, GIMP,  and even basic programs like Microsoft Paint or an online tool such as Canva.

2. Setup your document.


For professional printing, your design must require a high resolution of at least 300 DPI (dot per inch), when printing low-resolution images on transfer paper they may appear blurry or pixelated.

Canvas size

Adjust the canvas size to match the dimensions of your transfer paper and the product you will be transferring the design onto. Because this helps avoid resizing issues later.

3. Color management: accurate and vibrant prints

  • The color profile: uses RGB color mode if you are printing with an inkjet printer. Some printers support CMYK, check the specifications of your printer.
  • Vibrancy: adjust brightness and contrast to ensure colors are vibrant. Transfer paper can sometimes dull colors slightly after application.

4. Design formatting: setting up your file for success

  • Text and details: make sure that text and small details are easy to read and not too small. Use bold fonts and avoid complex designs that may not transfer well.
  • Margins and bleed: leave adequate margins and add a bleed to the extra area around the design to prevent white edges in your final design.
  • Mirroring: mirror your design horizontally if you’re using light transfer paper. This is important for designs with text, as the image will be reversed during the transfer process.

Selecting the Right Printer and Ink for Transfer Paper Printing

Selecting the right printer and ink for paper printing projects is important for useful high-quality quality and stable results. Because this type of printer and ink you use can have a good effect on the vibrancy, clarity, and longevity of your design. In this section, we will discuss the factors to consider when choosing a printer and ink for transfer.

Printer Compatibility: Matching Your Printer with Your Transfer Paper

  • Printer compatibility with transfer paper is essential for achieving ideal printing results. Inkjet printers are versatile and commonly used for transfer projects on both light and dark fabrics, using either dye-based or pigment-based inks. 
  • Laser printers suitable for high-volume printing require transfer paper designed to withstand higher temperatures, which makes them ideal for hard surface and durable fabric transfers.
  • Dye sublimation transfer paper uses sublimation ink, and excels in transferring vibrant designs onto polyester fabrics and sublimation coated products. 

Ink Type: Pigment vs. Dye-Based Inks

Pigment inks offer great durability and fade resistance. Making them ideal for actual print and outdoor signage. Dye-based inks provide vibrant, saturated colors, perfect for image print and projects not exposed to prolonged sunlight. Pigment inks are usually more water resistant, while dye-based inks excel in producing smooth gradients. Select based on your project’s longevity and color quality needs.

Printer Features: Print Resolution and Speed

Print resolution and speed are consistent in dots per inch (DPI) and resolve the details and clarity of printed photos with higher resolutions of 1200 DPI or more yielding sharper and more detailed prints.  Print speed measured in pages per minute (PPM ) shows how quickly a printer can give output for high-volume printing tasks. Balancing high resolution for quality with satisfactory speed for efficiency is key when selecting a printer for your specific needs

Printing on Transfer Paper Step-by-Step Guide

Remember, Printing on transfer paper opens up a world of creativity and allows you to create customized designs on different items, including T-shirts, bags, and mugs. So follow these steps to provide a successful transfer.

Material requires

Transfer paper: select the useful type for project light fabric, dark fabric, or specialty transfer paper for hard surfaces.

printer: make sure your printer is compatible with the type of paper which you are using.

Design: select the design which you want to transfer onto your selected surface.

scissors:  for trimming the transfer paper.

Iron or hart press: to transfer the design onto the surface.

Parchment paper or Teflon sheet:  to protect the design during the transfer process.

Blank item:  mug, bag t-shirt tote bag, or any item you want to customize. 

1. Prepare your design

  • Select a design using design software to create or choose a high-quality image and make sure it fits within the dimensions of your transfer paper.
  • Mirror image used for light transfer paper, mirror the image horizontally to ensure it appears correctly after the transfer.

2. Print your design 

  • Load transfer paper: place the transfer paper in your printer with the printable side facing the correct direction.
  • Adjust printer settings: set your printer to useful paper types like photo paper, and specialty paper and select high-quality print settings. 
  • Print your design onto the transfer paper and let it dry completely.

3.  Prepare your surface

  • Preheat Your Iron or Heat Press: Set it to the temperature recommended for your transfer paper.
  • Position the Item: Lay the item flat on a heat-resistant surface, ensuring it is clean and free of wrinkles.

4. Transfer your design 

  • Place the transfer paper, and position the printed transfer paper on the product design side down.
  • Cover and protect, place parchment paper or a Teflon sheet over the transfer paper to secure your design.
  • Use an iron or heat press to apply even pressure and heat, following the transfer paper guide for time and temperature.

5. Peel Off the Backing

  • Cool Down: Allow the transfer to cool slightly.
  • Peel Carefully: Slowly peel off the backing paper, ensuring the design adheres fully to the item.

Troubleshooting common Transfer Paper Printing Issues.

Printing on transfer paper can sometimes result in less-than-perfect transfers due to different issues. So here are some common problems and their solutions to help you achieve great results.

Poor print quality 

  • Problem: The printed image is blurr, faded, or streaky. 
  • Solutions: check your printer settings and make sure that your printer is set to the correct paper type and quality.  Use photo paper or specialty paper setting and select high-quality print mode. 
  • Use the right ink: check that you are using the correct ink type pigment or dye-based for your transfer paper.
  • Always use high-resolution photos, and make sure your design is at least 300 DPI to prevent pixelation and blurriness.

Colors not transferring correctly 

  • Problem: colors appear dull or washed out after transferring. 
  • Solutions: adjust the color setting: to enhance the brightness and contrast of your design before printing to repay for any color loss during the transfer.
  • Use the correct color profiles for your printer and transfer paper.
  • Print a small test photo on regular paper first to check color accuracy and make them adjustable as needed.

Cracking or peeling after washing

  • Problem transferred design crack, fade, or peel after cleaning.
  • Solutions wash items inside out in cold water, avoiding bleach. 
  • Purchase high-quality transfer paper that is resistant to cleaning.
  • Verify that design is followed during transfer by applying plentiful heat and pressure. 

Conclusion on Printing on Transfer Paper

Printing on transfer paper is a moving technique that allows you to make custom designs on different materials with the right knowledge, like tools and techniques, you can easily understand the art of transfer paper printing and your unique designs to life.

In this article, you learn everything you need to know about how to start printing with transfer paper, from choosing the right transfer paper and preparing your design to select the printer ink to applying the transfer paper to your desired substrate. Remember also to provide troubleshooting problems with their solution and share valuable insights to help you get professional quality results all the time.


Q.1 How do I print on transfer paper?

  1. Load transfer paper into the printer.
  2. Print your mirrored design.
  3. Place printed paper on an item.
  4. Apply heat with an iron or heat press.
  5. Peel off the backing paper.

Q,2 Can I print my transfers?

A. Yes, you can print your transfers using transfer paper, a compatible printer, and a heat application with a heat press.

Q.3 How to make transfer paper at home?

A.  To make transfer paper at home, coat regular paper with a mixture of equal parts liquid soap and water, then let it dry. Alternatively, you can use wax paper or baking parchment for simpler designs. Print your design on the coated side, then transfer it using heat.

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