How to Make A Sublimation Design For Beginners and Professionals

Last Updated on April 1, 2022 by Andrew Chapman

Sublimation has been a great way of transferring your design onto the desired material in this new era. But you don’t know how the design will look on the material? Many factors make the sublimation beautiful. But creating a design through the software is the most essential part to give an eye-catcher look to your mugs, tumblers, t-shirts, or others. And choosing the design type actually depends totally on yourself and which kind of design you want to sublimate like vector design or raster type design. We will be talking about different software with different design types to choose the right tool for your projects.

how to create your own sublimation designs

Designing is quite an interesting thing and after practicing for some days, it creates amazing designs. We have made different designs by using the different designing types of software. Creating a simple design is easy and actually, our purpose is to show your creativity while creating a design. Because the design should have a sensible look and should be presentable and accurate. There is an important thing you must do that the material should be light-colored and 100% polyester material. Because the sublimation ink accepts polyester materials. And the sublimation ink will come brightly onto the paper if your material is highly polyester.

Let’s talk about the software with its unique features via which you can make outstanding designs. Different software offers a free plan with limited features and some don’t offer a free plan. But you can also create an attractive design through the free software. Again it depends on your creativity.

Related: How to Sublimate on Canvas

Softwares for sublimation design

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe illustrator
  • CorelDraw
  • GIMP
  • Canva
  • Affinity Designer
  • Sketch
  • Gravit Designer
  • Inkscape
  • Cricut design space

These are the best designing software to create sublimation designs right now in the market for sublimation. And you create some epic designs by using these designing tools. Adobe software is one of the best designing tools that provide a lot of features and functions to play openly. It also offers a free 7-day trial if you accept the subscription monthly or yearly plan. All the mentioned software are the best with their unique features.

And if you want to know the detail about each and every mentioned software. You have to read the article on sublimation design software. In that article, every software has been described in detail with its design types, abilities, features, and subscription plans as well. Make sure to read that article too before going for choosing the sublimation design software.

 If you want to make a design through free software, the canvas is the best option to select. Because it has an easy and user-friendly interface with a lot of ready-made templates in the free plan. You can create amazing designs within a few minutes or it may take a few hours if you are a beginner and have no designing sense. If you don’t want to create a design and think it’s a hassle, you can get ready-made free sublimation files. You can get it on different websites by using their coupons or taking benefits from their percentage off offers.

How to Make Sublimation Transfers

Whatever the software you choose for designing the images, some basic steps will be the same. First of all, just select the software for your design type to sublimate your favorite material. After selecting the designing tool, just open the page by setting up the size of the page. If you are using the software that has ready-made templates, then open the design from there and the image file. Because with the ready-made templates, you only add some texts, additional photos, some background effects, and you have made the design.

But the design that attracts people always takes time. And if you are doing the business of sublimation, you must hire professionals or you have to practice the design a lot to make perfect designs. One thing you must know is that if you want to have graphical representation designs also called draft designs. It needs to be customized before you go for the printing. And you can do this all in the full panel. By using the eyedropper tool, you can make changes or can edit existing images.

For making the design more beautiful, you can add multiple images and text filters to your design. But it shouldn’t exceed your design size or page size. Because it won’t make sense to the design. Let me tell you one thing that makes the image more beautiful is the addition of font style texts. For changing the transparency, just use the fill panel to make changes.

Making different designs for the sublimation is not a complicated task. You can use the ready-made templates and customize that design by adding some effects, photos, font text, and many more.

These are the important factors that you must know to make a good design. But keep practicing if you are a beginner because practice makes perfect. These factors and features are mostly available for every software.

But if you are a newbie and want to have the proper guidance for creating a perfect design. Let’s move to the free software that is Although it also has a pro plan where you get hundreds of pro templates and you can play with them and can create required designs. But we will be creating on a free plan. The reason for choosing this software is that it is a clean and super easy user interface with free templates. That creates ease especially for beginners by creating good designs.

I have used this free plan for our many projects and have done quite an amazing job by creating superb designs. And we have used the pro plan as well for the sublimation designs but the results are always different and better than the free plan. It’s all because of the pro templates and multiple features. After getting some experience, you can shift towards Adobe software. Because there you can generate such as high-quality designs for the sublimation onto your desired material.

How to Create your Sublimation Designs with Canva

Step 1 – Creating account and opening Canva

First of all, you don’t need to do anything. Just open the canvas and create your account. After successfully creating the account, you have got free templates in many categories for making logos, images, and all the other important designing things.

Step 2 – Clicking on create a new design and customizing the size

As we want to create a design for the sublimation, you will select the size according to the material that you wanna sublimate. Usually, the design of the size 15-15 inches is selected for the sublimation. And you will put these dimensions by clicking on the “create a new design” and can be seen this option in the top right corner. In this way, you will customize the size and make sure the dimensions should be in inches, not pixels.

Step 3 – Utilizing the left side options

Now you have created a suitable size page that suits the printing and sublimation too. There are multiple options you will see on the middle left side. Any of the options you can use for the design. You can use ready-made templates or can use the option of uploads to drag the file onto the canvas selected page.

Step 4 – Uploading the selected design file

Once you have selected the file and uploaded the design. The uploaded design will be seen on the left side of the canvas. The selected design may have three or four pieces. If you want only one piece of design or two pieces, then delete the last one. So, set the design properly and accordingly.

Step 5 – Customizing that design

After arranging the design in the canvas tool, you can do some customizations thereby using the multiple options on the top middle side of the tool. You can change the places of the pieces by using the option of flip as it will adjust your images from left to right or right to left as well. If there is space between the pieces of the design, you can meet the pieces by clicking the specific piece and dragging it towards the other piece.

Step 6 – Choosing the font text for the image

The blank picture doesn’t give the design look until it doesn’t have the text in the design. To make the design look better, font text must be added. And make sure that there should be space for adding the texts. Canva has offered a lot of text fonts for the designers to produce amazing results. On the left side of the panel, you will see the option of “text”.

Where you will find hundreds of text fonts and you can easily bring the changes by lowering the size or increasing the size. You can change the Fonts text as can be written some design related words. And the color of the font is also changeable. Also, make sure, the images or pieces’ color shouldn’t match your text color and it won’t make sense to your design.

Why it doesn’t make sense? Because when both the colors will be the same, text reading will be difficult. And ultimately the design will affect. This is an important part of the sense of designing that you must take care of while designing. You can change the background of the design that directly benefits the sublimation backgrounds.

Step 7 – Saving the image in pdf print

After playing with multiple options and customizing the design, it’s time to save the image and you always need the best quality image or design for print in sublimation. And I recommend the designers for sublimation to download it in pdf print and that gives you 300 dots per inch (DPI). You can find the download button in the top right section of the tool. Now your design is ready to print through a sublimation printer.

As I said, generating some good designs through the free plan of the canvas isn’t impossible and can be produced easily as well. But if you have enough bucks to spend, I would suggest purchasing the pro canva plan. Believe me, if you have a bit of designing sense, it will give you a hell of options and fantastic templates. Probably, you just edit the template and add some fonts, design is ready.

Before we dive into the sublimation process, let’s talk about the materials needed to sublimate that design you just made.

  • Sublimation printer
  • Sublimation ink and paper
  • Heat resistant tape
  • Teflon sheets or butcher paper
  • Heat press
  • Lint roller
  • T-shirt for the sublimation process

How to Sublimate A Shirt

Step 1 – Understanding about the material for sublimation

Once the designing on canvas gets done, it’s time to go for how to print a sublimation design. You will print the design through a sublimation printer. Sublimation dye provides amazing results on polymer coating material. Because the results onto the paper in the form of colors come brilliantly when the material is 100% polyester. But the interesting thing is that you can also sublimate uncoated or non-polyester material.

You can do this by using the sublimation coating liquid. It is used to spray that place which you want sublimate on. And after spraying or coating that place, you leave it for some time let that dry. Before coating the desired place, make sure to clean that surface for having better and clean results after sublimation.

Step 2 – Using sublimation printer

Those are the best printers for sublimation printing that have piezo pressure technology with a heat press. I know that quality sublimation printers are expensive and everyone can’t afford to purchase that printer. If your printer has the option of replaceable ink cartridges, you can use the ink sublimation for the sublimation printer. As we have designed the image with the addition of texts. So, this needs to keep in mind that if your design has words in the image, print that design in a “mirror setting”. You will choose the printing paper size according to your design.

To do sublimation printing at home, sublimation paper should also be a quality paper that absorbs and retains well the ink. And then transfer the ink properly onto the material. And by using everything high quality, the print on the material remains too long and actually, the design is permanent.

Step 3 – Cleaning the desired surface and using heat resistant tape

When your printing is done and dusted, make sure to use a lint roller. It is used to clean the surface and you will clean your shirt that place you want sublimation with it.  One more thing must use heat-resistant tape to fix the sublimation paper properly. It will prevent the paper from moving because a little bit of movement of paper can cause ghosting and the design won’t take place rightly.

Step 4 – Using Teflon sheets

After applying the heat-resistant tape and fixing the sublimation paper properly, use the Teflon sheets. Butcher paper can also be used in place of the Teflon sheets. You will place the Teflon sheets or piece of butcher paper on the top of the sublimation-designed paper to protect your heat press and the material as well.’

Step 5 – Pressing heat press

After applying all the safety precautions for the project, now it’s time to move towards a couple of last steps. In this step, you will press the shirt by heat press with medium to high pressure. And the temperature you should ask your brand to tell instructions of the temperature, pressure, and the time for the sublimation. The recommended time should be a maximum of 30 seconds to complete the sublimation process for the beginners.

Step 6 – Removing the Safety materials and the transfer paper

When pressed by the heat press at suitable temperature and pressure for 30 seconds is completed. You will remove the heat press without giving it the slide. Just pull it up and then remove the butcher paper carefully. Then remove the heat-resistant tape and also the transfer sheet. And congrats your design is ready to go.

We have done another experiment by using one material has 60% polyester and the other open has 100% polyester. And these two materials were from 2 different brands. And the results we got very near to pour expectations. Because 100% polyester material got much better vibrant colors onto the paper rather than less polyester material. But that less polyester material also had also good results. But always try to get material that is much better than polyester for the sublimation to get the best results.


We have described each and everything in detail to provide all the information that we have learned while designing for our business. But designing is an ocean, give it a proper time as much as you can. Because it takes time for creating the blinders. I hope this guide will help you in creating the best design onto the other software or only the canvas. And making a design after putting a lot of effort, our sublimation guide will lead you successfully to the final step.

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