How to Do Sublimation on Black/Dark Shirt?

How to Do Sublimation on Black-Dark Shirt

How to sublimate on dark shirts? Usually, we know that sublimation prints won’t come up well on black or dark shirts. While dye sublimation on black t shirts, it has been common practice to print a white underbase or layer to establish the printing feasibility.

But, here we have tried a different approach. That is to say, we are directly printing a sublimation image on a black tshirt without a white underbase. You can easily do this with regular inkjet printers or wide-format sublimation printers with sublimation ink.

Yes, it is possible with the procedure we followed below. Easily create vibrant and long-lasting sublimation on black/dark shirts with high washability and stretchability of prints. 

One of the most important things we know about sublimation printing is, we need 100% polyester and a light-colored shirt. Some people say when we are sublimating on a 100% cotton dark shirt, it won’t come out accurate. However, we are not following the old way.

That is to say, we are not directly sublimating the print onto the black/dark shirt. Instead, we are sublimating onto heat transfer vinyl and then pressing onto the t-shirt.

Steps To Do Sublimation on Black Shirts:

You can either buy sublimated black t-shirt from a printing company or do it yourself. The following guide will help you achieve a vibrant print on dark apparel. So, let us prepare a list of materials required for sublimation on black t shirts

Materials Required:

The following materials we need for dye sublimation printing on black/dark tee shirt:

  1. Heat transfer vinyl
  2. T shirt Sublimation printer
  3. Vinyl cutter/Cricut machine or scissors
  4. Lint roller
  5. Heat Press
  6. Parchment paper
  7. Shirt

How to sublimate on black shirts?

So, let us get through the detailed procedure on how to sublimate on black t-shirt:

Step 1:

Using Illustrator, Coreldraw, or any product design software, design the image you want to print on the shirt. Make sure the print settings are set to high quality. If you have larger images, you can make borderless prints.

Most importantly, you are printing directly onto the sublimation vinyl(in his case Siser easy subli vinyl). Do not mirror your image.

Usually, with sublimation, we always mirror images. But when you are directly printing on the sublimation vinyl, do not mirror your image.

Step 2:

Before printing your image, you must know the correct way to put the vinyl into the sublimation printer.

On the sublimation paper(Easy subli) that are two sides. One is a shiny side, and the other one is a little bit rough. So, you to print the graphic on the rough/matte side, not the shiny side. Because it will not be able to hold the ink.

Step 3:

Once you print the design weed the excess media using a vinyl cutter/Cricut or use scissors.

Step 4:

Use a lint roller to smoothen the shirt surface. Set your heat press temperature to 360 degrees Fahrenheit. Then pre-press your t-shirt for 5 seconds to remove the humidity in the textile.

Step 5:

Remember the shiny side of vinyl we discussed above. In this step, peel off that backing like a sticker. After you remove the backing, position your transfer on the shirt. Some people do the peel off after heat-press, but we do it before to avoid ghosting.

Step 6:

Put your parchment paper on the top and heat press for 15 seconds with a temperature of 360 degrees Fahrenheit under a medium pressure of 30-40 psi or 2-3 bar.

Step 7:

Once the transfer is complete and cold, your sublimated black shirt is ready.

Heat Transfer Paper Vs. Heat Transfer Vinyl

Usually, we use heat transfer paper for sublimation printing. But sublimation on dark/black shirts of 100% cotton, polyester blends, leather, and more, use heat transfer vinyl.

Heat Transfer Paper:

Let us talk about heat transfer paper, otherwise known as a two-step heat transfer printing method.

  1. First, the sublimation printing method using a heat transfer paper involves printing a design into a transparent sheet or transfer paper. You can do this with an inkjet printer, sublimation printer, or a white toner transfer printer. You will be able to print different designs as well as white to be transferred on dark garments.
  2. In step two, you then transfer your design onto an adhesive sheet using a heat press. Then you peel away the adhesive sheet from the transfer sheet after you heat press. Then you transfer that design onto the garment or substrate using a heat press. After heat pressing it, you peel away this layer of transfer paper so that you are left with a print onto the garment or substrate. You can also follow this for sublimating on hard surfaces like metal or wood.

Now, we have covered the two-step heat transfer method using heat transfer paper, let us dive into the heat transfer vinyl printing process.

Also read: What Is the Best Transfer Paper for Sublimation Printing?

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. That is to say, we are weeding out the non-printed/blank areas from the vinyl and only sublimate the exact printed area. It is unlike the heat transfer paper, where we don’t cut out the unwanted areas.

Heat transfer vinyl has a clear plastic cover sheet that covers the top of the vinyl. and the other side is the heat-sensitive adhesive. You cut the design on the adhesive side and clear the plastic sheet on the other side and hold your design in place until applied on the substrate.

So, that is how heat transfer paper and vinyl works.


So, we could easily perform sublimation print on black t-shirt. That is to say, we can perform sublimation on dark colors. Moreover, the print feels very light, wash resistant, has vibrant colors, and does not need the application of heat resistant tape for fixing the transfer.

Related Questions:

Which is the best sublimation printer for shirts?

Epson WF-7720 is the best sublimation printer for printing custom t-shirts, hoodies, and other garments. The printer can handle a variety of different garments, including 100% cotton, polyester, and blended fabrics. The printer has a maximum printing area of 13″ x 19″ and a resolution of 4800 x 2400 dpi.

Written by Davis Brown

Hi! I'm Davis Brown, Head of Editorial Team of HowNest. We are team of researchers, writers and veterans. We publish articles, whitepapers, journals and blogs with full-proof research and proper analysis. We focus on various areas such as eCommerce, industrial operations, corporate management, technologies, and DIY solutions.

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