How to Make Sublimation Prints Brighter by troubleshooting sublimation color problems

Every beginner has the same thing on his tongue “why does my sublimation look faded?” so, enough about the sublimation processes and printer talk! Today, let’s talk about how to make sublimation prints brighter. And to do so, first, you need to understand sublimation color problems, and by the time you get to the troubleshooting, you’ll already know how to make your prints glow.

sublimation color problems

By focusing on the color-related problems, I’ll discuss the printer facets and technical reasons because it’s not you always who’s messing up. But you need to be in the printer’s shoes to understand it better. Once you know what mistakes you were making and how to overcome that, this way, a bright and vividly printed sublimation shirt, mug, or keychain will no more be a dream.

Why Does My Sublimation Look Faded?

If your sublimation looks faded, you have often messed with the printer’s printing setting, which involves print software, manager, and drive. You probably haven’t heated the paper to the required time, or your printer is clogged. 

Speaking of paper, which paper are you using for sublimation? Regular papers won’t work with the sublimation printer. Even if you’re using a sublimation paper, there are two sides. The coated side has to be printed. This side will also have the company’s logo, so you’ll know which side to have a brighter image. 

Why Does My Sublimation Look Faded

Other than paper, the printer’s working system has an immense role in brightness and dullness. Sublimation printers will have a Print manager, RIP software, or Print Driver. The painting must be channeled from these software. Otherwise, you’ll have ruined color. 

Now, how to channel them? Good question, but you knew it already. You were just lazy to play a techy guy role and didn’t care much about understanding your machine. A printer driver is the most common and easy way to print your designs, but if you have a Sawgrass printer, the trouble begins. The print drive becomes ineligible, and the print manager takes place. Now, what you’ll do? If you keep printing from the Print Driver, the image will appear faded. So, learn print manager. Plus, the Print Manager will give you many options to adjust the color tone, select the substrate type, and print it accordingly.

Then comes the RIP Software, and that’s what a converted Epson inkjet printer uses. It can be Onyxgfx, ColorBurst, EFI, Wasatch, Caldera, or ErgoSoft. The RIP software requires an ICC profile setting that comes with the ink package. You must download the ICC setting and regulate the colors per your page type, substrate, and contrasts. Last, the print driver is for a direct inkjet sublimation printer. For example, the new Epson models, i.e., F170 or F570.

Tip: In the CMYK printer, go to the RIP color settings and choose the darkest blue shade for royal blue printing. This eliminates yellow patches from the image.

Besides, the print fades mainly because of the low-resolution setting, wrong ICC profile, and the malfunctions–all of which are sublimation color problems, so let’s move to the…

5 Sublimation Color Problems:  

A sublimation beginner having no sublimation color problems? Tell me a better impossible story. Well, I ain’t much of a fan of stories, so let me help you with some horrific color problems you all would’ve faced when doing sublimation. The stories can wait.

Image ghosting and gassing out

Image ghosting and gassing out: 


Are your prints turning out blurry, or is there an uncomfortable shadow in the image? That’s ghosting and gassing out.


Your picture got wrinkled or misplaced during the heating process because it was not wrapped around the surface rigidly. As the paper move, it’ll transfer the print or submerge it into various areas, which results in blurriness and color ghosts. Also, check the printer roller. Sometimes the ink is there, causing spots in your picture. There can also be moisture in your paper that turns into steam when you heat and mess with the ink.


Use heat-resistant tape to secure the sublimation paper around the substrate, so it doesn’t when you heat it. Also, you can use a “re-positionable” spray adhesive if your substrate is fabric. Make sure there are no air, wrinkles, or folds in the paper. Your printer sublimation paper should be dry, rigid, and stay in place. Plus, place butcher paper between the substrate and the machine so added moisture absorbs there.

Banding in sublimation



Your picture has lines all over the image. 


The waste pad had dried ink because the internal cleaning and damper had dumped all the excess ink on the pad, making it unable to print clearly. Plus, you’re using low-resolution print in high-speed mode. Or, your ink has ended. 


Clean the ink waste pad first. Second, use high resolution and turn off the high-speed mode. This will suck up the ink, and as a result, produce lines on the image. In addition, run your printer on a regular basis or at least test a small quantity of ink through the ink nozzle. Lastly, make sure your printheads have enough ink to complete the printing process. 

Sublimation dullness and faded:


Your image has less vibrant colors, and it appears muted. 


This is because you’re printing on the wrong side of the paper or using non-poly substrates. 

Sublimation dullness and faded


Use 100% polyester material for transfer. Plus, always print on the coated side of the sublimation paper. If you use ceramic, wood, or other substrates, make sure it has a polymer coating. 

Inaccurate colors:


Inaccurate colors

You had the right colors before printing, but after the process, the colors aren’t the ones you’ve set from your laptop/monitor/smartphone. 


The colors from the screen (Monitor) use RGB colors, and the printer has CMYK, which doesn’t have all the range that RGB shows you. You’ve entirely relied on the monitor’s color without checking the outcomes that the Print Manager or Driver provides. 


Download Power Driver, or if you’ve got a Sawgrass printer, print with the print manager. This will help you align the colors with the printing outcomes. In fact, the correct ICC settings will do everything for you, so the picture you’ll see on the PC will appear as exact on the paper. 

Clogs and nozzle block:

Clogs and nozzle block


The picture has vanished areas, and the print is not completed. 


Your printer’s nozzles are blocked because you haven’t used the printer or a specific color in a while. Run a printer nozzle check to be more sure. 


Clean the printer entirely or use prime ink or purge sheet printing to fix the nozzles. There are many methods to clean the nozzles other than cleaning. Give a read to my best 3 ways to unclog sublimation printer and save your time and energy. 

How to Make Sublimation Prints Brighter? 5 Tricks to know:

You learned the problems and their solution. By now, you’d know how to make sublimation prints brighter. No, I’m not ending the article here. I’ll keep the ride on to teach you the final tips and tricks, so it’s confirmed the print is getting brighter and glowing out of that machine. Let’s continue. 

Check the RGB and CMYK settings:

Check the RGB and CMYK settings

First, synchronize the colors of your design with the printer’s color option. On default, every sublimation printer is set on CMYK setting, which doesn’t have a full range of colors. It doesn’t give you reddish and bluish contrasts, so make sure you change the setting to RGB when printing these shades. 

ICC color profiles

ICC color profiles:

Second, set the ICC profiles with respect to the ink brand and paper. Most printers come with their own ICC profile package; you just have to download them. However, when you change the ink, the settings are altered automatically. Then, you must recheck the settings. If the ink requires no ICC settings, you’re lucky. In other cases, you’ll receive a separate ICC setting package. Make sure your printer is updated with new settings. 

Ink and paper:

Consider this the critical point. The better the ink and paper you use, the brighter your image will be. For this, consider the Printer’s model and study the best inks and pages. Remember, not every ink and paper is best for every printer. You may have success with AA sublimation paper in the Epson EcoTank series, but with the WorkForce model, they don’t turn out as brighter as you’d expect. 


With everything okay, have you checked which resolution you were printing? Yup, that’s where the loophole was. The printer’s default setting is at its lowest resolution, and your reason for doing the low-resolution printing might be the speed issues or ink and energy consumption. So, before printing, set the printer to its highest resolution, and you’ll be shocked to see the glowing print. 

Heating temperature:

Since the paper is fine, it’s time to move toward the heating setting to ensure the final substrate is also the brightest. The trick is simple, and it’s what I’ve been telling you from the start: Don’t be lazy. Check the temperature and time mentioned in the guide for the substrate you’re heating. Sometimes, you get too impatient or fear the substrate will burn and don’t apply enough heat for the required time. I’m not saying to overheat, though. Simply read the guidelines and heat as much as the substrate asks for. 

Heating temperature

Tip: when removing the sublimation sheet from the substrate, don’t peel it off entirely. First, remove a little from the sides, and if it’s bright enough, continue. Otherwise, heat it again for 30-40 seconds. 

Important Note: 

Sublimation print and transferred sublimation design have tremendous differences in their colors. The print on the sublimation paper already appears a little faded. I mean, not actually ghosted or banded. The colors are light. This is because the colors are dried instead of heated. So they’ll look a little dusty. 

Don’t worry. Transfer them to a polyester or poly-coated substance, and you’ll have pleasing results. Here too, pay attention to your substrate. Non-poly substrates won’t carry sub-li designs well and don’t come as vibrant as poly garments or substrates. 

In addition, the last thing to learn is the B-V-R settings of sublimation printing. I know you already got too many settings to learn on your plate. But this one is last; you don’t need to learn much about this. This is the working of sublimation printing, and the B-V-R defines reddish, yellowish, and blueish colors in the gaseous phase, which means your print will be a little faded if your design has lighter shades. The best hack? Experiments. Use the highest contrast relevant to your hue, and you’ll have a balanced printed outcome. 

Wrap Up: 

Sublimation is a great way to go for any home-based, less risky business, but it gets more profitable with brighter and well-defined prints, which of course, you’ll be able to provide to your customers after learning how to make sublimation prints brighter in this article. I hope I answered your queries regarding why your sublimation faded and sublimation color problems. Let me know if I missed anything in the comment sections, and for the rest, I expect you to have a glowing and visible hike in your profits. Good luck.


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