How to Sublimate White on Black

Last Updated on July 6, 2022 by Fredrick Miller

Is it challenging to find the perfect present for a loved one? If so, why not consider getting them something special they can look forward to using again and again? It’s easier than ever now with sublimation. It’s a simple process involving ink, so it offers a stream-lined method that can save you loads of time and energy, especially if compared to screen printing which makes the whole process more time-consuming.

How can you tell if a dark shirt will take sublimation printing well? It’s usually common knowledge that sublimation prints won’t come out well on black or dark shirts, so it might be challenging to determine if dye sublimation will work out the way you want.

But today, we’ll guide you on how to sublimate white on black? We will print a sublimation image onto a black t-shirt. You can print a design directly onto black fabric using regular inkjet or wide format dye-sub printers with sublimating inks.

Yes, you can get vibrant and long-lasting sublimation on colored shirts. Below is the procedure that we used to achieve our desired results.

Also Check: 12 Best Sublimation Printers for T-shirts In 2022

How to sublimate white on black?

How to sublimate white on black

Sublimation on dark shirts can be confusing. It could be a bit tricky for first-timers, but there are some tips and tricks that anyone can use to achieve favorable results. This guide will tell you how to sublimate on black shirt.  

Here’s what you’ll need to get your beautiful black t-shirt printed in no time.

Required Materials

  • An inkjet printer
  • Black color t-shirt or shirt
  • Scissors, vinyl cutter, plotter or Cricut machine
  • Sheet of Parchment
  • Heat transfer vinyl
  • A Heat press
  • Lint roller
  • A vector design software such as Adobe Illustrator

Ready? Let’s go to step one of this process:

1: Graphics Preparation

Want to make a statement? Print your own custom t-shirts to wear no matter where you go. Now it’s time to bring your designs to life. You could use several different programs, but we suggest using Illustrator. Learning how to use it might take a while, but it will be worth the time spent. Again, make sure you’re printing on high-quality settings.

If you’re printing or designing with large images, tick the box next to “Print Expansion” in your Adobe Acrobat Print Settings. This will help you with things like sublimation on a dark fabric that doesn’t require as much ink

2: Loading Sublimation Paper to Inkjet Printer

The worst thing that can happen when printing sublimation designs has the printed design face the wrong way. Therefore, it’s always an excellent idea to check before you start printing, especially for anyone who has never tried this process with their printer before, because there are different ways of loading vinyl onto your paper.

You can find two different textures. One side is smooth and shiny, the other a tad rough (matte) to the touch.

What surface do you need to print on? Well, the one which is matte or rough. So, ensure that the dull side of your graphics face is away from liquid inks because this will ensure it doesn’t get damaged.

3: Remove Excess Vinyl Media

Dry the ink or press your sublimation paper for a couple of minutes after taking it out of the printer. Once this time has passed, remove any excess pieces of heat transfer media before applying a heat press since you won’t be able to edit them later. You can use a vinyl plotter, Cricut machine, or vinyl cutter to ensure your design is made exactly how you want it.

But if you don’t have a vinyl cutter, a hobby knife or pair of scissors can work well too. We’ve found hobby knives to be better because you can make more precise cuts that ensure your transfer stays flawless.

4: T-Shirt Preparation for Heat Transfer

Put the t-shirt on a flat surface to flatten it out and get any grit or dust off (which is still left after washing the item). Then set your iron to 360 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have access to an iron, use a heat press as you will likely want to sew patches on and will need a good amount of heat.

Once you are set up, pre-press the shirt for approximately 5 seconds to release any excess moisture. This helps eliminate humidity’s impact on your product’s sublimation printing process.

5: Place Heat Transfer Paper to T-Shirt

Here’s where the shiny side we touched on earlier matters.  In this step, you could either peel it off like a sticker to place it on your shirt or leave it on until after the heat-press.

We prefer removing the labels to avoid ghosting so that the design remains free of outlines. Feel free to continue with the next step.

6: Application of Heat-Transfer

Position your black t-short under the heat press. The best way to ensure that shirt’s design won’t get stuck to the heat-press is to use a sheet of parchment paper on top. This will prevent a direct transfer from the iron onto your fabric.

Make sure to have the following settings for best results.

  • Temperature: 360 Fahrenheit
  • Pressure: 30 -40 PSI, Medium or 2-3 bar (depending on your heat-press)

​ Press your shirt for about 15 seconds. If you’re working on smaller projects or from home, you can use a regular iron instead of a heat press.

7: T-Shirt Is Ready

Once you take your t-shirt design on the heat press, it’ll need a little time to cool off. Otherwise, you’re done with this process, and you can now show all your friends the fruits of your t-shirt designing process.

Video Review:

Best Sublimation Papers for Black Shirts

As discussed earlier, it’s almost impossible to sublimate dark colors directly. But with the help of sublimation papers, you can work on this issue.

The best thing is that you can work your design motif into dark cotton shirts or any fabric, which is often not the case with typical varieties of heat transfer paper.

Heat Transfer Paper Vs. Heat Transfer Vinyl

Usually, heat transfer paper is recommended for sublimation printing. However, when it comes to using heat transfer vinyl on dark-colored clothing or a fabric blend such as 100% cotton and polyester, we recommend using heat transfer vinyl.

Heat Transfer Paper

Let us expand upon the topic of heat transfer paper and the two-step heat transfer printing method.

First, for your process using heat transfer papers, you need to make sure that you have a transparent sheet or toner transfer paper ready. You can do this with an inkjet, sublimation, or laser printer. Remember that designs will be printed in white over dark-colored garments.

In Step two, you then transfer the design onto an adhesive sheet using a heat press. Then peel away the adhesive sheet from the transfer sheet after heat press. Then transfer that design onto clothing or another surface using a heat press. After pressing it, peel away this layer of transfer paper so that the final print is worked into the garment or other outer surface.

We have covered the two-step heat transfer method using heat transfer paper; let’s dive into the heat transfer vinyl printing process.

Heat Transfer Vinyl

There are several different ways of working with heat transfer vinyl. Moreover, the most common way is to use a vinyl cutter or cut it by hand. In this case, we remove any areas from the vinyl that have not been printed, leaving only the desired pattern residue on the fabric. Unlike the heat transfer paper, we don’t cut out areas that do not need to be sublimated.

Heat transfer vinyl comes with a clear, plastic cover used to protect the actual heat-sensitive layer of adhesives. And there’s also the inked side, although you must remove the protective cover before cutting and placing it on your material.


How do you sublimate on a dark polyester shirt?

Using basic heat transfer paper, you can sublimate on a dark polyester shirt. But the results may vary significantly as this highly specialized technique uses specialist sublimation transfers to create stunning and brilliant designs onto fabric.

How long does sublimation ink stay on dark/black shirts?

Using a heat press to sublimate your designs onto the shirt will last up to 10 years. Because you are pressing your design into the shirt’s fabric instead of layering dyes, it dramatically improves durability and guarantees that your design will stay that way for a long time.

Can iron be used instead of a heat press transfer?

The fabric type depends. Typically, polyester blends or cotton can provide satisfactory results.

Is it safe to iron over heat-transferred graphics?

You can iron the rest part of your shirt. But, you’ll be required to cover the graphics with any other piece of fabric. It may also be good to avoid exposing the graphic to high heat levels.


So, there you have everything you need to know to produce the perfect sublimation printing task on a black t-shirt. The good aspect about these products is that they look good and are also light, wash-resistant, and super comfortable to wear!

We hope this easy how-to sublimate white-on-black guide gives you the confidence you need to propel your t-shirt business to new limits, and best of all, you can do all of these customization tricks with any item in your wardrobe.

Start creating today, and visit our website for more information about the printing industry.

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