How to Make Sublimation Prints Brighter (The Unheard Way)

how to make sublimation prints brighter
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Ready to make your sublimation prints BRIGHTER and give your shirts a refreshing look?


This guide contains a step-by-step guide on how to make sublimation prints brighter (in 2022).

Moreover, it includes the causes that make your sublimation dull and tips to make sublimation brighter.

Dye Sublimation Printing is one of the best ways to print your photos and designs on various blanks. You can sublimate on canvas, fabrics, glass, and many more.

But, if your prints are low in brightness and vibrancy, they might not reveal themselves as fine as they could.

Getting brighter sublimation colors isn’t that difficult. Below, I’ll walk you through some easy steps that will increase the impact factor of your sublimation and make it stand out.

Ready to get started? Let’s begin!

Is It Possible To Make Sublimation Prints Brighter?

Yes, it’s possible to make sublimation prints brighter. The brightness of a sublimation print is mainly dependent on the type of material used in the printing process.

The type of paper used in the printing process will determine how much light is reflected back. The lighter the paper, the brighter your print will be.

When designing your print, you can use an online color wheel to choose colors that are lighter than your desired end result and then experiment with different background colors until you find one that reflects light well.

Below we will take a closer look at how to make sublimation prints brighter.

1. Start By Taking All The Necessary Things

Take all the equipment required for sublimation. To get vibrant colors with sublimation, you must have:

  • Sublimation Printer: Firstly, you must have a sublimation printer. I am talking about sublimation printers, not inkjet printers. Inkjets are incompatible for sublimation purposes. If you don’t have a sublimation printer, you can convert your inkjet printer into a sublimation printer. Or you can buy a new sublimation printer. Check out these best Epson printers for sublimation.
  • Sublimation Paper: Secondly, you’ll need a sublimation paper. Sublimation papers are very crucial for getting a perfect sublimation result. Most people use regular plain paper for sublimation which is wrong. You should always use the best sublimation paper to get more vibrant results. I recommend using a 120g sublimation paper.
  • Polyester Sublimation Blank: The blank you are using for sublimation must be made of polyester. If you use mugs or glass, make sure they have a polyester coating. Sublimation only works on polyester blanks. Always try to go above 70% polyester. But I recommend using 100% polyester.
  • Heat-Resistant Tapes: After that, you’ll need heat-resistant tapes to fix the image with the blank. This ensures that your sublimation doesn’t move while pressing.
  • Lint Roller: The Lint roller removes tiny fibers from the cloth. A lint roller is optional for sublimation. But you must have it if you want the best results.
  • Heat Press/Cricut Press: Lastly, You’ll need a Heat press or Cricut press to transfer the sublimation print to the blank. Remember the butcher papers; they are also part of the Heat and Cricut press.

2. Create Or Download The Image That Has Good Contrast

Create or download the image from the internet. Ensure that the image has good contrast and must be high resolution.

If you have an image with low contrast, use tools like Pine Tools to add brightness and contrast.

image of tree, half is high contrast and half is low contrast
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Don’t create the image using white color. Sublimation can’t print white; instead, it leaves white spots empty.

If you want to print in white, use the Heat Transfer Vinyl(HTV) printing method.

Resize the image to your desired size and, in the end, mirror the image horizontally.

3. Choose the Correct Printer Settings

Now you have to print the image with the sublimation printer on the sublimation paper.

First, import the image into graphic software like Photoshop or CorelDRAW. You can also use Microsoft word.

Press Ctrl+P from the keyboard, and you will see a popup appears. Choose your sublimation printer from the list of printers and click print properties.

These are the settings you have to check when you print the image. Turn on or off some of the basic settings I mentioned below.

  • Change the paper type to matte.
  • Choose HIGH from the print quality tab.
  • Turn OFF high-speed printing.

Also, see this detailed guide on sublimation printer settings.

After checking all the print properties, print the image. Don’t forget to put the sublimation paper inside the printer.

4. Choose the Correct Heat Press Temperature, Pressure, And Time

Heat press settings include perfect temperature, pressure, and time.

These are significant settings, and you have to pay complete attention while doing it.

When you purchase the sublimation blanks, temperature and pressure are mentioned on them. You should always follow that.


Among the three factors, temperature, pressure, and time, temperature matters a lot. You can say the temperature is everything.

Temperature is different for different blanks. To find the most accurate temperature, you have to experiment with multiple temperatures.

However, 350-400° F works for most of the blanks.


Pressure is very simple among all. Almost all blanks require medium pressure, like 40 psi, for sublimation.


Like the temperature, time is also different for different blanks. Surfaces like ceramics, glass, and tumblers take much time to sublimate.

Surfaces like polyester fabric and acrylic keychains take little time.

There is a rumor that the more you keep the blank inside the heat press, the more bright results you get. But that’s not the case.

You have to maintain optimal temperature pressure and time to get vibrant results.

Heat Press Settings Table:

Following is the list by Sawgrass of recommended temperature, pressure, and time for different sublimation blanks.

Polyester Fabric400° FMedium35-40 seconds
Ceramic Mugs350-400° FMedium150-210 seconds
Metal375-400° FMedium60 seconds
Glass or Ceramic Flat
400° FMedium300-720 seconds
Table By Sawgrass

5. Correctly Arrange Items Inside Heat Press

The last step is correctly arranging the items inside the heat or Cricut press. To do so, follow the instructions outlined below.

  • Place the fabric inside the heat press and remove all the tiny fibers using a lint roller.
  • Take butcher paper and place it inside your fabric to avoid sublimating on the other side.
  • Place another butcher paper over the fabric and pre-press it at 400° F for 5 to 7 seconds to remove all the moisture.
  • Align the image on the fabric and fix it with heat tapes, then put butcher paper over it. After all, press it for 60 seconds at 400° F using medium pressure.

Done pressing, open the heat press, and leave the garment for 5 seconds to cool. Then remove the image from it by eliminating the heat tapes.

And Congrats! Your final product is ready. You can see how the colors are banging in the image below.

image of a girl sublimated on a white polyester shirt
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Why Sublimation Colors Are Dull

There are many reasons that your sublimation colors are dull and look faded. Here are some common causes.

1. Wrong equipment.

Choosing the wrong equipment for the sublimation process is people’s most common mistake.

I see many individuals using an inkjet printer instead of a sublimation printer or plain paper instead of sublimation paper.

That’s wrong!

Make sure you have all the following items in hand while doing sublimation.

  • Sublimation Printer filled with sublimation inks
  • Sublimation Paper
  • Polyester Shirts (70% above). And If you are using mugs or any other substrate, make sure they are polyester coated
  • Heat tapes
  • Butcher Paper
  • Lint Roller
  • Heat Transfer Source (Heat Press, Cricut Press)

2. Print Properties.

So, you have created or downloaded the color-rich image for sublimation. But if you print it in the wrong way, this image is not useful anymore.

That’s another reason for getting a dull sublimation outcome. For bright and vibrant prints, make sure

  • You print in the best quality
  • Turn any fast printing mode off

I recommend searching for the best settings for your printer on the web.

Note: Use only high-resolution images for sublimation. Don’t enlarge tiny photographs excessively. This might blur your prints.

3. Movement.

Movement is the enemy of sublimation. When you don’t use heat tapes, your sublimation print slips during pressing and creates two copies. This is also called ghosting.

In short, it ruins the entire process.

So always use heat tapes to prevent unnecessary movements.

4. Moisture.

Moisture is another cause of sublimation print fading when you don’t pre-press the fabric, the sublimation ink cant fuse into the garment completely and cause the ink to fade.

So always pre-press your t-shirt or any other fabrics for some seconds before sublimation to remove any moisture. And to make your sublimation prints more vibrant.

5. Excessive Temperature And Time.

One of the common thinking is that the more you put the sublimation blank inside the heat press, the more vibrant results you get. But that’s not the case.

You should always maintain optimal temperature, pressure, and time to avoid faded prints and to get bright colors with sublimation.

The temperature and time are different for different blanks. Usually, it’s given by the blank seller. But you have to experiment with multiple temperatures to get bright outcomes.

Tips To Make Sublimation Brighter

Let’s discuss some tips on how to make sublimation brighter. These are the tips that I already mentioned above. But to make them more considerate, I rewrote them.

  • Use high-resolution images. Try to go over 300 PPI.
  • Use CMYK color format instead OF RGB.
  • Use the highest printer settings. Go to the web and browse for the best printer settings for your current printer.
  • Use a blank with a high polyester concentration.
  • Always maintain optimal heat press temperature and pressure. Don’t go too high or too low.
  • Run printer head cleaning before printing. I recommend printing two to three images first to make your printer up for the job.

Frequently Asked Questions

What fabric is best for getting the brightest sublimation outcome?

100% polyester is best for getting the brightest sublimation outcome because polyester absorbs the sublimation ink very well. Moreover, it does not fade or wrinkle over time as other fabrics do.

Why are my sublimation prints not bright?

There are many reasons that your sublimation prints are not bright. Maybe your sublimation inks are low quality, or you didn’t pre-press the fabric or put the blank inside the heat press for too long.

Does Temperature matter in getting bright sublimation results?

Yes, temperature matters a lot in getting a bright sublimation outcome. You have to maintain optimal temperature. Don’t go too high or too low. You should always follow the temperature given by the manufacturer of the blank.

Conclusion: How to Make Sublimation Prints Brighter

That’s all. I am sure you have got the answer to the question, i.e., how to make sublimation prints brighter.

Achieving brighter sublimation colors isn’t a big deal. The steps and tips mentioned above are the keys to getting brighter and more vibrant sublimation results.

If you haven’t tried them yet, give sublimation printing a shot. The results you get by using this method will be genuinely mind-blowing.

And just like everything else in life, practice makes perfect!

About Shoaib Saqib

Hello there! It's Shoaib, the creator of PrinterTip. I am a printing expert and have worked in the printing business for more than five years. I have completed tens of thousands of printing tasks and have an extensive understanding of secrets. And I love writing about printing, mostly Sublimation Printing.

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