Top 5 Tips for Sublimation Beginners

Skip a lot of the trial and error with these top five tips to get you comfortable with sublimation.

When I was just beginning in sublimation, there was a lot of trial and error involved. Consider these top five tips I learned to help you get comfortable with sublimation more quickly:

1. Overbleed Your Item for Easy Centering on Paper

Often, sublimators will try to guess when the image on the paper is centered on a product. The easy way is to create a hairline box in your graphics program that is slightly larger than your product. Now you can digitally center your image in the box area you created in your graphics program, and when you print it out, it is easy to center your product in the box and know it will be placed correctly.

2. Design with Alignment and Production in Mind

For example, if you are working on a sublimated T-shirt order, the hardest part is to get the image centered and straight on the shirt. If you have a square image designed, if it is slightly askew on the shirt, it will be readily apparent. If you design the shirt in a circular or angular shape, if it is slightly askew on the shirt, it would be harder to see. The sublimator needs to be familiar with graphic design to make the job easier.

3. Always Start Your Day with a Nozzle Check

If you always start with a nozzle check on your printer, you will know that all the colors are printing correctly. If you don’t start with a nozzle check, you may start printing your images and not know the color is printing incorrectly, then all of your images will be incorrectly colored.

4. Make Sure You Have Color Correction Software

When we take the printer and put sublimation inks in them, the inks reproduce color differently, so embedded ICC color profiles will not work correctly. Therefore, you need to have either the ICC color profiles for the sublimation ink you are using installed on your computer. These should be provided by your ink vendor and will give you the best color reproduction.

5. Start with a Basic Color Palette for Easy Color Matching

What you see on your screen may not be the same color that is sublimated on your finished product. With sublimation, you need to create a color palette and work your way backward. Print out a color palette and then sublimate it onto a sublimatable material such as a sheet of white aluminum. Palettes are available that print a swatch of color along with the RGB value of that swatch, which prints under the swatch itself. There are different sizes of palettes available, but start with a small one and work your way up.

Kevin Lumberg

Kevin Lumberg

Kevin Lumberg has over 18 years of experience in the sublimation industry at all levels from sublimation shop owner to managing the Johnson Plastics Plus dye-sublimation business for nearly 13 years. He also held a position at Duraluxe from June 2019 to February 2020.

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