How to Make Sublimation Brighter on Tumblers, Mugs, & Shirts

Are you struggling to get brighter colors on fabric, mugs, tumblers and shirts? Don’t worry; you are not alone in this job. Most people started the sublimation business because they knew it was the only way to easily get vibrant and cheerful colors on different materials. But due to a lack of knowledge about sublimation, they could not get the expected results and asked how to make sublimation brighter. Getting bright and more vibrant colors on any material is simple using the right material and time & temperature settings.

Sublimation on different materials depends on many things, including the sublimation printer, ink, paper, proper heat press settings, sublimation printer settings, and color correction. Sometimes a small wrong step can lead to dull colors, so I suggest you read the complete article before starting the sublimation process.

How to Get Bright Sublimation Prints?

We can’t get realistic and high-quality sublimation colors by only printing high-resolution images because the brightness of the sublimation prints depends on choosing the perfect sublimation accessories and applying the accurate time and temperature to the material you want to sublimate. I will discuss all the processes, from printing to heat press settings, in detail that will help you to get bright sublimation prints.

Selecting the Color Pop Sublimation Ink to Make Sublimation Prints Brighter:

Choosing the right sublimation ink is key to getting the bright sublimation colors on any stuff. Which ink should I use in my sublimation printer? It is a question that I get quite often. Always use a sublimation ink that is compatible with your printers. A good sublimation ink will give you the results you need for the material you will sublimate on. A good sublimation ink will be responsible for high-quality prints and increase your printer efficiency. The other thing I want to tell you about the sublimation ink is that you will not get the bright colors after printing it onto the sublimation ink because it is normal. You will only get the actual colors after the heat press process. If you are still not getting the true colors, you must switch to a new sublimation ink.

A Good Sublimation Paper Can Help Us to Make Sublimation Brighter:

Although selecting the good sublimation paper is very important, the key thing is to print on the right side of the paper. The print area of a sublimation paper contains a special polyester coating that holds the ink temporarily and diffuses it after applying a certain temperature and pressure. To determine the printable side of the sublimation paper, take your paper out of the casing, fold it in half, and see the bright side of the paper. The bright side will go directly to the sublimation printer, the only printable side.
If you have printed on the right side of the sublimation paper but are not getting the expected outcome, I suggest you try the A-sub sublimation paper I am using it since 2 years and it gives me bright colors on tumblers, fabric, wood, shirts and ceramic.

Compatible Sublimation Printer is the Key to Get Bright Prints:

Well, you have selected a good sublimation ink and paper, but still, the colors are very light and dull; then make sure you use a sublimation-compatible printer. If you are getting in-consistent colors on the surface of the material that you are trying to sublimate, then the most chance is that your printer’s nozzles are clogged with the sublimation ink. Generally, a sublimation printer works fine for many years, but if it is not in use for several months, the ink clogs the printer’s printhead nozzles.

You should regularly print with the printer or use the automatic head cleaning function to prevent the printer from clogging.

Right Heat Press Setting to Make Sublimation Ink Brighter

Although a good quality sublimation paper, ink and printer are Important to get sublimation ink brighter on different substrates. But still, if the color outcome is not great quality then; you are probably not giving enough temperature and pressure to the substrate that you will sublimate. Press time and temperature vary from material to material. If you give more temperature to the stuff, it will probably burn the polyester coating and design. I have created a time and temperature graph for different products, but I will always suggest you check the blank manufacturer time and temperature settings.

Sublimation Heat Press Settings Chart

Substrate Time Temperature Pressure
Soft L’INK
35 – 40
380°F – 400°F 40 PSI
45 seconds 380°F – 400°F 40 PSI
150 – 210
370°F – 400°F 40 PSI
Metal 60 – 80
375°F – 400°F 40 PSI
Ceramic & Glass Tile 300 -720
380°F – 400°F 40 PSI
Tumblers 80 -100
350°F – 380°F 40 PSI
Wood 30 -40
380°F -400°F 40 PSI
Glass 180 -220
380°F -400°F 30 PSI

What if I Still Get Faded Results after Pressing the Blanks for the Right Time and Temperature?

Your heat press machine is not properly calibrated. Although we thought we had a proper temperature, we didn’t. I know it is scary, but I will share some tips and tricks about calibrating the heat press machine and getting more brighter sublimation colors. Set the heat press machine to a temperature and let it warm properly. Now take the infrared and get a reading and check that if the infrared gun shows the temperature variation, then it is probably an issue with your heat press settings. Adjust the heat press temperature accordingly.

Sublimation Coating Spray:

We can only sublimate the polyester material or some poly coating substrates; although you can sublimate the cotton, but the polyester coating is necessary. Suppose you sublimate the cotton, ceramic, tumblers or any other material without the polyester coating. In that case, you will get very light colors that will come out in your first or second wash. So, apply the polyester coating before sublimation on non-polyester materials to get bright sublimation colors.

Read the Article: How to Sublimate on Cotton?

What is CMYK VS RGB and how they Can Help Us to Get Sublimation Prints Brighter?

You know the colorful designs don’t always come out like on your computer screen. This is Common in the printing industry and usually comes down to RGB and CMYK. In simple words, the RGB and CMYK are two color modes, and the main difference between these two is that the RGB is meant for screens and can produce much more vibrant colors, and the CMYK is for printers and produces less vibrant colors.

Difference between CMYK and RGB

CMYK is used to create digital colors on different items such as photos, posters, t-shirts and on all other things that we see physically. RGB designs are converted to the CMYK automatically while printing. We will better prepare our designs for prints, so we will get more vivid and brighter sublimation colors while printing. So much soft wares available will give you an idea about how your design will be printed. If you are using photoshop, after opening the design, go to Image then mode, and here you can see the different options and easily switch to CMYK. Now the color pattern has been changed a little bit. You can also apply the same workflow to the illustrator. Using this method, you can always see and adjust the design before printing.

Sublimation Printer Settings and Manual Color Correction to Get Brighter Colors:

As you know, we can’t print the sublimation ink on the regular color printer. We need to convert the regular printer to a sublimation printer. What happens when you convert the printer for sublimation? Most inkjet printers adjust the color settings for inkjet printing. But after conversion of the printer, sometimes it does not print the colors the way we want them to because there is a difference in sublimation and regular ink. The best and simple way to fix this issue is to get the Customized ICC profile from the ink manufacturer and print it accordingly. Sometimes that doesn’t happen, but don’t worry. We will correct the colors manually to make the sublimation brighter.

Manual Color Correction By using Microsoft Word:

Many other options are available, but I am going with Microsoft word. Open the MS word and insert the picture you want to sublimate. Now right-click on the picture and click on the wrap text, and then in front of the text.

Sublimation Printer Settings to Get Brighter Colors

By doing this now, you can easily resize the picture. Right now, click on the file and hit the print button, and a new screen will open with a few options. Pick your sublimation printer and click on the properties. Change the paper type to premium presentation paper matte (it will help you to get bright sublimation colors) and the quality to high. Off the two side printing and open the more options, ensure that the high speed is not checked. If you will enable the high speed of the printer then it will print the sublimation ink with low dpi which directly effect the brightness of sublimated design.

Manual Color Correction to Get Brighter Colors:

Remember that if you print the design for sublimation, always check that mirror printing is enabled. Change the color correction from automatic to custom and click the advanced options button. Set the color mode to Adobe RGB and gamma to 2.2.

Below are a few options for brightness, contrast, saturation & density, and you can change them according to your design (If you are using sawgrass creative studio, then change it to vivid). You can now easily manage the cyan, magenta and yellow colors by clicking the slide bar button. After that, hit the okay button and save the settings. Do some sample prints before the actual sublimation and check that which option/settings give you the sublimation prints brighter. One color set will look good and brighter on tumblers and another on the fabric so you can make two different settings and use it accordingly.

Manual Color Correction to Get Brighter Colors in Photoshop:

If you are not using MS office to manage the settings, you can do the same thing to in photoshop. Go to files and click on the print tab; a new popup will open with the photoshop print settings. Now click on the print settings, and you can manage everything like before here. You can also use the presets from here. No matter what software you use to edit the images, you will get the same interface for color correction and by applying the same settings you can get brighter sublimation colors.

Manual Color Correction to Get Brighter Colors in Photoshop

Printer Settings to Make Sublimation Ink Brighter in Photoshop:

After setting up the sublimation ink in the printer, when you use the printer for the first time, you need to set up the printer settings for paper. Change the paper type to premium matte and hit the okay button two times.

How to Print High-Quality Images to Get Bright Sublimation Prints?

No one wants to sublimate the faded designs because quality is always on number one when selling products. We can only get the bright sublimation prints by printing high-quality Images with the right settings. Always turn off the bleed, and instead of resizing the Image to standard DPI, print the actual and original Image you have. This will help the Image to print without losing the quality.

How to Make Sublimation Brighter on Tumbler?

A most common question I asked on different platforms: how to make sublimation brighter on tumbler? Remember that every tumbler is slightly different depending on the manufacturer and the type of material used in the coating. So, I always suggest getting the time and temperature settings from the manufacturer. The most important thing that you need to know is that you can only sublimate the polyester-coated tumblers.

Read More: How to sublimate tumblers?

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