How to make sublimation prints brighter | Amazing Tips

Sublimation printing is a popular method of transferring designs onto various materials, such as t-shirts, mugs, and even phone cases. The result is a high-quality, durable print that won’t peel or crack. While sublimation prints are already known for their vivid colors, there are ways to make them even brighter. In this blog post, we’ll explore some tips and tricks on how to make sublimation prints brighter.

Tips to make sublimation prints brighter

Following are very useful tips on how to make sublimation prints brighter.

Choosing Good Sublimation Ink

Sublimation printing requires high-quality ink to produce outstanding results. It is important to invest in good-quality sublimation ink in order to achieve vibrant colors. Inadequate equipment and low-quality ink can seriously compromise the end product.

It’s important to check the compatibility of your printer with the type of sublimation ink used. Not all ink cartridges, including quality ones, work well with all printers. While compatible inks can help, it’s not always a guarantee for optimal sublimation brightness. Some experimentation may be necessary to find the best option for your needs.

Choose the Right Colors

To achieve brighter sublimation prints is to choose the right colors. Sublimation inks work best on light-colored materials, such as white or light gray. When choosing colors for your design, go for bright, bold hues that will pop against the light background. Pastel and muted shades may not show up as well and can appear dull.

Use High-Quality Sublimation Paper

The quality of your sublimation paper can make a big difference in the final result of your prints. Using high-quality paper can help to produce brighter and more vibrant colors. Cheap sublimation paper may cause your colors to appear dull or faded. Consider investing in a good-quality sublimation paper that is optimized for your printer and ink.

Adjust Your Printer Settings

The printer settings you use can also impact the brightness of your sublimation prints. Adjusting the gamma, contrast, and brightness settings can help to make your colors pop. Every printer is different, so you may need to experiment with your setting to find the right balance. It’s also important to ensure that your printer is running at the highest resolution possible.

Navigate Temperature, Time & Pressure Settings for Heat Press

Improper heat press settings and overheating are common mistakes beginners make in the sublimation process. This can lead to yellow and orange stains that damage the print beyond repair.

Different materials require different heat press temperature settings. If you use the same settings for polyester and cotton, for instance, the brightness of your prints could be significantly impacted. A temperature table chart can serve as a guide. The ideal heat press temperature setting for polyester, for example, would be 380 Fahrenheit. It’s recommended that you practice on a scrap piece of fabric until you achieve the desired results.

Pre-Press Your Materials

To get the best possible result from your sublimation prints, it’s important to pre-press your materials before printing. This process involves using heat to remove any moisture and wrinkles from the fabric. Pre-pressing helps to remove any potential barriers that may prevent the ink from adhering to the material properly. As a result, your prints will appear brighter and more vivid.

Ghosting & gassing out issues

Ghosting and gassing out during printing results in dull and muted prints. It’s crucial to prevent these issues from occurring during the ink transfer process for optimal color vibrancy.

Ghosting: Ghosting refers to blurred printing that displays a faint version of the print along the edges of the actual print.

Gassing Out: Gassing Out is an issue that arises when ink spreads excessively over an area.

When using a heat press, the transfer paper may shift while applying pressure, causing smudging and other issues with ink. To prevent this when working with smaller items, use heat-resistant tape to hold your substrate in place.

Find The Right Sublimation Printer

The choice of printer plays a crucial role in the sublimation printing process. While using a dedicated sublimation printer is optimum, the results with a converted inkjet printer can vary. Many converted inkjet printers do not produce the desired outcomes.

If you’re experiencing issues with print quality and brightness, using a better printer should be your last option. Attempt the aforementioned troubleshooting tips initially to determine if they can help you attain your desired brightness level.

Dust invariably accumulates in older printers, both converted and original sublimation printers. Their efficient cleaning is crucial for providing bright sublimation results, no matter the effort put in.

When searching for a printer, prioritize finding one with refillable cartridges or changeable ink tanks. This will provide greater control over which parts of the printer are affecting your overall printing experience.

It is advisable to invest in a new sublimation printer, as older models may have minor defects that can accumulate and cause image imperfections over time. Unfortunately, there are limited options for fixing this issue once it occurs.

Maintaining a newer printer is simpler, but it still requires monthly cleaning and proper sublimation printer settings to function effectively.

Choosing vibrant deep colors

Sublimation printers typically offer various settings, including the “Vibrant Colors” setting which helps produce solid ink pigments, even with bright, wild colors.

To achieve the desired outcome, select “vivid colors”, “vibrant colors”, or “deep colors” in your device settings, as it may have been the issue if you could not get the necessary results.

Don’t Overcrowd Your Designs

While it may be tempting to fill your entire print area with a design, overcrowding can actually make your colors appear dull. Leaving some negative space in your design can help to create contrast and make the colors stand out. Consider using bright colors for your focal point and incorporating a neutral background to create a vibrant contrast.

Use High-Quality Images For Your Artwork

For high-quality artwork, it is recommended to use vector graphics, like SVG, which preserves the integrity of the image, even when enlarged. Images saved as JPGs, although compressed to save on file space, may lose some quality and should be avoided. PNG files, which though uncompressed, utilize lossless compression, are another good option for high-quality images. Additionally, SVG files can be converted to PDFs with no loss of quality, further endorsing the use of vector graphics.

Check your ink cartridge levels

It’s important to check your ink cartridge regularly, not only to maintain color quality as the ink levels decrease but also to prevent ink starvation during a print job that can damage your printer’s print head beyond repair.


Sublimation printing is a great way to create long-lasting, high-quality prints for various applications. By following the tips mentioned above, you can ensure that your sublimation prints are bright, vivid, and eye-catching. Remember to choose the right colors, use high-quality paper, adjust your printer settings, pre-press your materials, and avoid overcrowding your designs. With these tips in mind, you can take your sublimation prints to the next level.

Frequently Asked Questions?

What makes sublimation dull?

When printing onto sublimation paper, it’s normal for the initial print to produce vibrant and saturated colors. However, the final result may appear dull or faded because sublimation ink requires an activation temperature of 200 degrees Celsius and adequate pressure.

Does temperature affect sublimation?

Adding thermal energy to a substance causes a rise in temperature, which alters its physical state from solid to liquid (melting), liquid to gas (vaporization), or solid to gas (sublimation).

What factors affect sublimation?

The process of sublimation is influenced by several factors that include temperature, surface area, humidity, and wind speed.
Temperature and surface area are directly proportional to the rate of evaporation. 
Humidity refers to the amount of water vapor present in the air and affects the rate of sublimation. 
Wind speed is also a significant factor, as the rate of sublimation increases with the increase in the speed of the wind.

Is pressure important for sublimation?

High pressure can create uneven spots on your product surface, whereas low pressure may lead to less vibrant sublimation. Keep this info in mind when setting your pressure for the best results.

What causes shadowing in sublimation?

When using a heat press for sublimation printing, it’s common for the paper to shift before the process is entirely finished and the ink is dry. This results in a blurry transfer and a shadow effect along the design’s edges.

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