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Welcome to the world of sublimation! So you ask: “Do you mirror sublimation?” Absolutely. Mirroring your design is essential before transferring it onto your desired medium. This comprehensive guide will give you practical tips for ensuring your sublimated items display your images perfectly. Without any unnecessary fluff, we’ll cover why mirroring is key, how to do it effectively, and what pitfalls to avoid for sublimation success. Let’s dive into the deep ocean of sublimation printing together!

Key Takeaways

  • Always mirror your designs before sublimation printing to ensure text and graphics transfer in the correct orientation, using graphics software or your printer settings.
  • Obtain the optimal sublimation results by aligning your prints carefully and mastering the precise balance of heat, time, and pressure for different materials during heat press.
  • Store sublimation ink properly and follow post-sublimation guidelines to maintain the quality and longevity of your printed items. Now step into the world of crafting – from creating beautiful sublimation designs on blankets to creating custom acrylic sublimation items.

The Essential Mirror Image Guide for Sublimation Success

Floral design on paper ejecting from a white printer

In sublimation printing, creating mirror images is akin to preparing a reflection in the mirror; it must be an exact inverse to appear correct. That’s because when the inked design on the sublimation paper is heat-pressed onto the final product, it needs to appear as the original image, not a mirror reflection. The most common method of printing mirror images is by using the ‘Flip Horizontal’ function in your editing software or by choosing the mirror option in your printer’s settings.

The correct tools are necessary for accurately mirroring images for sublimation printing. Graphic design software like Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, or CorelDRAW is essential for flipping images properly. Sometimes, certain materials may require the design to be sublimated as a mirror image to ensure the final product turns out flawless.[1]

Flipping Your Design: When and How

A mirror hanging on a wall

The act of flipping or mirroring your design extends beyond merely creating a mirror image. It’s about ensuring that every element of your design, especially text and graphics, are facing the right direction after being transferred onto the material. This is crucial for achieving professional-looking results. But how do we do it, you ask?

Let’s delve into the nitty-gritty of using printer settings, graphic design software, and Cricut Design Space.

Using Printer Settings to Mirror for Sublimation

Every printer comes with its software that allows you to manipulate the print settings. To mirror designs for sublimation, simply select the mirror option in the print dialog or prepress tab, check the mirror image option, or choose ‘Flip horizontally’ under layout settings. This is a vital step as it ensures the design transfers in the correct orientation.

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Choosing the right dye sublimation printer, such as an inkjet printer, can also make a difference. Some sublimation printers, like the Sawgrass Virtuoso SG500, the Epson SureColor SC-F100 (F170), and HP Stitch, are highly praised for their sublimation printing capabilities. These printers offer user-friendly settings, allowing you to mirror your designs with ease.

Graphic Design Software Mirroring Techniques

Graphic design software offers a wealth of tools to help you mirror your images for sublimation printing. Some popular software options include:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Procreate
  • Silhouette Studio
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • CorelDRAW
  • GIMP

These software programs come with built-in functions that allow you to flip your images horizontally or vertically.[2]

Take Photoshop for instance, where flipping an image is as simple as a right-click and selection of ‘Flip Horizontal’ or ‘Flip Vertical’. If you need to resize it, you can click and drag the handles on the bounding box. Similarly, in GIMP, you use the flip tool in the options dialog and select between horizontal and vertical flipping,. These seemingly small steps significantly impact the preparation of your image for the sublimation transfer.

Cricut Design Space Mirroring for Infusible Ink Projects

Cricut Design Space is a fantastic tool for your infusible ink projects. To mirror your design, simply tap ‘edit,’ scroll, and select ‘horizontal.’ It’s as easy as that!. If you’re using Infusible Ink materials, you can let the software do the work for you. Just choose Copy Paper as your material in the Make screen, and the software will automatically flip the image for you. Read more about using infusible ink pens on sublimation paper.

When using Cricut Design Space for sublimation, it’s important to remember to switch on the Mirror function for each mat with design elements intended for heat transfer. And when cutting heat transfer vinyl, remember to mirror the material by placing it face down on the mat. These little reminders will ensure your designs come out perfect each time. Its a good idea to learn about sublimation projects with a Cricut sublimation printer.

Sublimation Printing Essentials: Aligning Your Prints Perfectly

A heat press machine with a sublimation design on the surface

Once your image is mirrored, the next critical step towards a successful sublimation transfer is proper alignment. Proper alignment ensures that your designs are sharp and accurately positioned, giving them a professional look.

To achieve this, follow these steps:

  1. Place the sublimation paper carefully onto the printer tray or platen, ensuring it’s aligned correctly.
  2. Align the image and substrate on the press with the printed image facing down.
  3. Take your time and double-check the placement before securing it.
  4. Tools like T-Shirt Rulers Guide, Alignment Ruler Shirt Measurement Tool, and T-Shirt transfer alignment ruler can help line up your sublimation prints.

Heat Press Mastery: Achieving Optimal Transfers

Achieving sublimation success is largely dependent on mastering the heat press. The perfect balance of heat, time, and pressure is what makes the sublimation ink turn into gas and bond permanently with your substrate, resulting in vibrant and long-lasting prints. This is the essence of the sublimation process.

Different materials require specific heat press settings. Here are some examples:

  • Aluminum panels: temperature of 400°F to 425°F
  • Shirts: temperature of 365°F to 400°F
  • Pressure: around 40 psi
  • Pressing time: anywhere between 300-720 seconds at 400°F.

For the best results, consider investing in quality heat presses like the Cricut EasyPress 2 or the Digital Knight 16 x 20 Auto Clamshell, and don’t forget to use heat resistant tape for added safety and precision.[3]

Sublimation Paper and Print Settings: A Deep Dive

Your print quality is significantly influenced by the type of sublimation paper you use and your printer settings. High-quality sublimation papers like Sawgrass TruePix and PYD Life paper have excellent ink absorption and drying time, resulting in vibrant prints.

To achieve the best print quality, it’s essential to adjust your printer settings correctly. Here are some tips:

  • Opt for manual color correction
  • Select the right paper type and quality settings
  • Choose the photo media type
  • Set the output to Plain Paper or Matte paper
  • Aim for a print resolution of 300 DPI

Following these tips will help you achieve the best results when printing.

Common Pitfalls When Mirroring Images for Sublimation

There can be certain common pitfalls to avoid when it comes to the tricky process of mirroring images for sublimation. Forgetting to mirror the text and not flipping the design before pressing are typical mistakes. These can result in your text and design appearing backward on the final product, which is not what we want.

To ensure your image doesn’t get distorted, always double-check your design after mirroring and make any needed adjustments. Here are some things to consider:

  • Make sure the sublimation paper is secured properly
  • Ensure the heat press temperature is consistent
  • Check that the printer settings are accurate to prevent any misalignment issues.

Advanced Tips for Large-Scale Sublimation Projects

Many rows of printers displayed in a factory

A bit more finesse is required when managing large-scale sublimation projects. In such cases, you might need to use a technique called tiling, where you print and transfer multiple smaller images or parts of a large image onto separate pieces. This approach makes managing large projects more manageable and ensures your final product looks seamless and consistent.

To ensure your images line up correctly, follow these tips:

  1. Always use high-quality images with a minimum resolution of 300 DPI.
  2. When pressing, make sure your sublimation paper is placed precisely on the substrate.
  3. Avoid issues like ghosting and banding by ensuring your printer nozzle is unclogged for smooth ink flow.

From Theory to Practice: Real-World Sublimation Examples

Sublimation printing extends beyond mere theory; it manifests as a skill applied in real-world scenarios. Here are some examples that showcase sublimation’s versatility and effectiveness:

  • Rare steps in the water cycle
  • Specialized printers
  • Dry ice
  • Freeze drying
  • Air fresheners

However, like any other process, sublimation printing can come with its own set of challenges, such as:

  • banding
  • image ghosting
  • blurry images
  • paper curling
  • empty areas in sublimation blanks

But don’t let these challenges deter you. With the right troubleshooting techniques, you can achieve high-quality results in sublimation printing.

Troubleshooting Mirrored Sublimation Issues

A view through magnifying lens

Like any creative process, mirrored sublimation also goes hand-in-hand with troubleshooting. Issues such as using the wrong equipment or blank, getting ghosting from movement during printing, and dealing with banding from clogged printer nozzles can occur.

To fix image distortion and stop ghosting, ensure the ink stays within the image boundaries to avoid bleeding. Use adhesive spray or weights to ensure the transfer paper doesn’t budge during printing. For color discrepancies, manage the colors properly by printing a nozzle check sheet, adjusting the color correction settings, and using ICC profiles for color management.[4]

Perfecting Polyester: Sublimating on Fabric

A different approach is required when using dye sublimation printing on polyester fabrics. Polyester fabric is an excellent medium for sublimation print as its polymers open up and absorb the sublimation dye when heated, resulting in bright and long-lasting prints.

For sublimating on polyester, the recommended heat press settings are 400°F to 425°F for 45 to 60 seconds, with the pressure around 35 psi. Making a note of all transfer details, using polyester-based materials, and handling the prints gently are some of the tips to ensure vibrant colors and longevity of your sublimated items.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Sublimation Ink Handling

An image of a printer with ink spilled next to it

Correct handling of sublimation ink holds equal importance as the printing process itself. Proper storage of sublimation ink is crucial to maintain its quality and longevity. Here are some tips for storing sublimation ink:

  • Use an airtight container, preferably the one it came in, to store the ink.
  • Store the ink away from direct sunlight.
  • Maintain a temperature range of 59˚F-77˚F to ensure the ink stays in good shape.

Following these storage guidelines will help you preserve the quality of your sublimation ink.

Direct sunlight exposure can degrade the composition of the sublimation ink, affecting its performance. Properly stored sublimation inks can last about 10 years, even 12-24 months after their expiration date before starting to degrade.

Ensuring Longevity: Post-Sublimation Care

A long path up a mountain

For maintaining the vibrancy and longevity of sublimated items, post-sublimation care is indispensable. Wash them in cold water with a mild detergent and let them air-dry in a cool, dry spot. Avoid using harsh cleaning agents like bleach.

Also, store your sublimated items away from extreme temperatures and direct sunlight. If ironing is necessary, always iron them inside-out and use a Teflon sheet to minimize any potential damage.


Experiment equipment in a science lab

In our sublimation journey, we’ve explored the importance of mirroring images, flipping designs, aligning prints, mastering the heat press, choosing the right sublimation paper and printer settings, and handling sublimation ink correctly. We’ve also delved into troubleshooting common issues, perfecting sublimation on polyester, and post-sublimation care. It’s clear that each step, from image selection to post-print care, plays a crucial role in creating vibrant, high-quality sublimation prints. So, keep experimenting, keep learning, and above all, enjoy the process!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is mirroring images important in sublimation printing?

Mirroring images in sublimation printing is important because it ensures that the design appears as the original image and not a mirror reflection once it’s transferred onto the final product. This prevents the design from appearing backwards.

How do I mirror an image for sublimation printing?

To mirror an image for sublimation printing, use the ‘Flip Horizontal’ function in your editing software or select the mirror option in your printer’s settings. This will ensure the image is correctly printed for sublimation.

What are common pitfalls when mirroring images for sublimation?

When mirroring images for sublimation, remember to mirror the text and flip the design before pressing to avoid having them appear backward on the final product.

How do I care for my sublimated items?

To care for your sublimated items, wash them in cold water with a mild detergent and air-dry in a cool, dry spot, avoiding harsh cleaning agents like bleach. Keep them clean and they’ll last you a good while!

How should I store sublimation ink?

Keep your sublimation ink in its original airtight container, away from direct sunlight, at a temperature between 59˚F-77˚F to maintain its quality.


  1. How-To Guides for graphic design & Photo Editing | CorelDRAW. (n.d.-b). https://www.coreldraw.com/en/learn/how-to/
  2. Wayment, K. (n.d.). Silhouette Studio® |. https://www.silhouette101.com/archives/category/tutorials/silhouette-software-tutorials/silhouette-studio-tutorials
  3. Genius, S. (2023, August 21). Subli Genius on LinkedIn: 7 Pro tips for Mastering Heat Press temperature for sublimation. https://www.linkedin.com/posts/subli-genius-39810326b_7-pro-tips-for-mastering-heat-press-temperature-activity-7099387065611501569-KXN-/
  4. How can you use ICC profiles to improve print color management? (2023, November 8). www.linkedin.com. https://www.linkedin.com/advice/1/how-can-you-use-icc-profiles-improve-print-color-management-da2re
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