Are you seeking the best software for sublimation printing that can ensure your designs stand out? If yes, this post is for you.
Sublimation printers allow professionals to design ceramic mugs, apparel, and other materials in different styles. These printers use ink and heat to print designs on various materials.
However, using the best software for your sublimation printing can make the job effortless. You’ll have access to more features and freedom to express yourself.
We have identified a bunch of top-notch software for sublimation printing. You can go through the details of each tool to make your choice.
What Sublimation Printing Is
Let’s figure out the meaning of sublimation printing, including how the printing process works, before discussing the best software for sublimation.
So, what is sublimation printing? Firstly, sublimation printing requires a different type of printer. You cannot use an inkjet printer for sublimation printing.
The inkjet printer can only print on paper, but the sublimation printer prints on fabric.
What is the meaning of sublimation printing? Sublimation printing refers to the transfer of various designs onto a material with a carrier material. The printer ensures the ink used permeates into the fabric using heat.
A Handy Tip: In inkjet printing, you only print the text on the document or paper’s surface. But with sublimation printing, the ink permeates the fabric.
Items You Can Personalize Using Sublimation Printing
You can personalize home and office items with a sublimation printer. Furthermore, the long list of customizable items available makes sublimation a profitable business.
You can create personalized items for individuals, local communities, groups, and even corporate organizations.
Here are the items you can personalize using sublimation printing:
- Metal photo panels
- Drinkware (Ceramic, metal, and glass)
How Sublimation Printing Works
Firstly, what is sublimation? It refers to a process where a solid passes into the gaseous state without going through the liquid form.
Sublimation printing involves transferring a design to a material using ink and heat. And remember, you’ll need a sublimation printer to print the design.
Sublimation printing is gradually becoming a popular business across the globe. Many small businesses have started their sublimation printing businesses and smiling to the bank daily.
However, having the right tools and creativity is essential for this printing process. So, go through the list and choose a suitable software to start.
Here’s a breakdown of how sublimation printing works:
The first step is downloading, editing, or creating any unique design you want. Once the design is ready, the next step is to use the sublimation printer, including the sublimation dye, to print the design onto a transfer paper.
The next step is to prepare the material you want to print on. It could be a T-shirt, mug, or other materials.
Now let’s assume you want to print on a T-shirt. Place the transfer paper on the T-shirt and apply a heat press once it aligns.
The heat press helps activate the sublimation process, which involves passing the solid to the gaseous state without going through the liquid form.
So, heat causes the dye to sublimate. It will be transformed into a gaseous state and chemically bond with the material’s fabric. And the design is permanent.
Why You Should Get The Best Sublimation Software
Firstly, sublimation software is crucial in sublimation printing. Without these tools, sublimation printing won’t be possible.
So, the software allows you to download and edit existing designs or create unique designs from scratch. But one thing you must understand is the quality of a design varies from one sublimation printer to another.
However, if you want the best quality designs, you’ll need the best sublimation software. Don’t forget that your design will determine the appeal of the finished product you want to personalize.
7 Best Paid Software For Sublimation
Most sublimation tools are costly, though you’ll get value for your money.
Most of the paid software comes with a wide range of features that the free ones don’t have. You’ll find tools you can use to create images for your website, video game, T-shirt, ceramics mugs, and more.
1: Adobe Illustrator:
Adobe Illustrator is a popular sublimation tool featuring tons of tools that will make it easy for you to unleash your creative side.
Please make no mistake; this tool boasts a high price point but has the features to back it up. The Illustrator Suit boasts design software considered an industry standard. It’s the go-to software for professionals, both individuals and companies. Unfortunately, beginners may struggle to use this advanced software, as it boasts many features that can be overwhelming.
So, if you happen to be a beginner, it would be wise to improve your knowledge of graphic design to utilize this tool’s full potential.
Another highlighted feature of this tool is the video tutorials it offers. You’ll find hundreds of videos explaining how to use the software. And the exciting part is there are videos for every skill level.
There’s a 7-day free trial for new users to use the software. You can use this free trial to learn about the software and its numerous features to see if it has the desired features.
This software also comes with tons of extras. For instance, it offers 100GB of cloud storage, a file-sharing feature, and free mobile applications.
You can create a wide range of designs using Adobe Illustrator. In addition to online graphics, you can develop billboards, logos, illustrations, icons, and even product packaging.
Adobe Illustrator has drawbacks. The first is you cannot purchase it outright. The second drawback is that users have to pay a monthly subscription fee, which is on the high side. Most users may not be comfortable with this arrangement and, for that reason, may want to consider other software they can purchase outright.
Another drawback is that the bundle may include tools a user may not need. Unfortunately, you cannot choose the tools you want to pay for. Adobe requires users to pay the complete subscription fee to gain access to the software.
Overall, Adobe Illustrator is a powerful design tool. It has many features to help you create world-class designs, letting you unleash your creativity fully.
Use Adobe Illustrator to turn your selfies into cartoons, doodles, or styled figure drawings. Then print them on T-shirts, stickers, online, or any acceptable material you want to personalize. Adobe is the industry standard when it comes to vector-based graphics.
CorelDraw is a highly-rated sublimation tool ideal for professional designers and beginners. It is one of the most feature-rich sublimation software ever created.
CorelDraw boasts a free trial, just like the famous Adobe Illustrator. But unlike Adobe Illustrator, it offers a 15-day free trial. So, there’s enough time to check out the software to make an informed buying decision.
You can create much with this design toolkit, such as signage and illustrations. And what’s more, this sublimation software runs on Windows and Mac operating systems.
The collaborative feature shows how innovative and feature-rich CorelDraw is. You can collaborate with your colleagues and clients on projects and get real-time feedback. With the feedback you’re getting while your design project is still running, you can make quick adjustments and finish the project on time.
Another impressive thing about the collaboration feature is that it lets you meet clients’ goals on quality.
Another thing you need to know about CorelDraw is that it offers numerous design options, which you’ll also find on Adobe Illustrator. It boasts a built-in library packed with designs, images, and fonts.
CorelDraw also offers numerous design options that Adobe Illustrator has. Additionally, it boasts a built-in library packed with designs, images, and fonts. So, if you’re hoping to kick-start your design journey, CorelDraw has plenty of templates you can start building on.
Furthermore, if you’re a beginner, you may likely fancy using this design software, given the slew of design tools it has that can help enhance your design skills.
I mentioned earlier that this sublimation software runs on Windows and Mac computers. But you must understand that the PC’s specification matters a great deal.
So, ensure you run the CorelDraw software on a good computer (Windows or Mac operating system). You’ll be able to run it seamlessly on both operating systems. However, ensure you’re using Windows 10 and Windows 11. Additionally, 8GB RAM is the minimum requirement to run this software.
The bottom line is when you use a good computer that boasts the required specifications, you’ll experience no or minimum lags.
One more highlighted feature of CorelDraw is the ability to import media files in diverse formats and export media files in popular formats, such as PNG, SVG, AI, JPG, and EPS.
However, one drawback this sublimation software has is its subscription base. Thus, you cannot purchase it outright. Nevertheless, the subscription is pocket-friendly. It is more affordable compared to Adobe Illustrator.
Photoshop is part and parcel of Adobe Illustrator’s design suite. It boasts a wide range of editing tools, making it the go-to program for designers using photos and detailed images for sublimation printing.
Photoshop is practically the number one tool on the lips of seasoned, amateur, and beginner designers. It has been around for quite a long time and has what it takes to match up any new or existing sublimation software.
Adobe’s eagerness to keep Photoshop afloat and meet the editing needs of designers has been the driving force behind Photoshop’s steady rise. Photoshop has had its capabilities expanded and developed every year.
Photoshop is a wise choice for users who design photos and detailed images for sublimation printing. In other words, everything about the software revolves around photo editing, as it has a slew of tools to help you get your photos to the desired level quality-wise.
You can layer, blur, colorize, swap, combine, and blend with Photoshop. Combine different photos to make the image-rich, captivating, and inspiring. Create the perfect image for your social media posts or sublimation printing.
This sublimation software provides detailed information on how to colorize and use other functions. And don’t forget you can make any unwanted object in your photos disappear.
You can edit a portion of your images as you wish. Just choose the section you want to work on, hover over it and click to complete the process.
The massive improvement Adobe has had on Photoshop over the years has been tremendous. Now, you can transfer images from Adobe Illustrator to Photoshop faster.
Note that this sublimation software has a 7-day free trial, enough time to have first-hand knowledge of the software to make an informed decision.
Photoshop also boasts AI-powered neural filters, which are considered a game-changer. This feature enables you to bring your old or damaged pictures back to life. You can change the pose, transfer color, change expression, and even combine multiple landscapes with neural filters.
Another highlighted feature of Photoshop is the ability to use the tool on your iPad or computer.
4: Corel Vector (Formerly called Gravit):
Corel Vector is a web-based vector graphics tool you can access on any device. Therefore, you can create designs on the go.
This sublimation software used to be free, but that has changed now. Corel Vector is now a paid tool. However, those with the free account will continue using theirs, while new users can’t access the free option anymore.
This sublimation software boasts powerful features required to create inspiring and appealing designs. And after creating your designs, you can save them to unlimited cloud storage and access them whenever necessary.
Another thing that sets Corel Vector apart is its smooth learning curve. It is a breeze to learn and use. The price point is also encouraging. So, if you’re a beginner looking to kick-start a design journey and avoid breaking the bank, Corel Vector is a wise choice.
Have a feel of the 35 live and non-destructive effects and adjustments to create stunning designs. Corel Vector’s familiar and friendly graphics tool makes professionals and novices feel at home.
So, if you fancy using sublimation software with an intuitive interface, Corel Vector fits the bill. It is compatible with pen devices such as Tablets, Smartphones, and Apple pencils.
The image editing tool lets you improve your images and make them look a million times better. You’ll have the option to add filters, remove noise, and even adjust color, brightness, hue, and contrast.
You can use this sublimation software for website development, lettering, and print designs.
However, the raster imaging photo-editing capability is one drawback of this tool. Unfortunately, it doesn’t focus much on raster images, which is vital to sublimation printing.
Another thing you need to understand about this software is that it utilizes vector graphics like Adobe Illustrator. So you need to boost your graphic design skills, if you’re a novice, to understand how to deploy this tool for your design projects.
Corel Vector offers a 15-day free trial, which is enough time to look at the tool before making any commitment. Above all, Corel Vector is one of the most budget-friendly sublimation software.
5: Sawgrass Creative Studio:
Sawgrass boasts a line of top-performing printers and inks, but the company didn’t stop there. Sawgrass has created an online design space, the Creative Studio, for its printers.
Sawgrass Creative Studio boasts an academy where users can learn how to sublimate products correctly, make the most out of the Sawgrass printer, and more. Additionally, the Creative Studio boasts a wide range of graphic design tools you can deploy to create adorable sublimation prints.
Another thing that sets Sawgrass apart is that the Creative Studio boasts features tailored to sublimation printing. Unfortunately, most graphic design tools out there boasts broader feature, making them more confusing to users.
So, Sawgrass Creative Studio boasts a brilliant collection of beginner-friendly tools. You’ll find a library packed with ready-made designs to get you started. And what’s more, the ready-made designs in this software are explicitly tailored to work for sublimation printing.
Another thing you need to know is Sawgrass Creative Studio comes together with a Sawgrass printer. In addition, you cannot use Sawgrass Creative Studio unless you have a Sawgrass printer, which is a drawback.
By the way, you don’t need to have a specific printer to use Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and Corel Vector design program. So, there’s a need for Sawgrass to make Creative Studio accessible to people using other brands of sublimation printers.
This design software is made for sublimation printing. It will help you create stunning photos to help make the object you’re personalizing more attractive to potential customers. This software Mockup Maker helps create appealing product images for your eCommerce store. It makes it a breeze for novices and professionals to start designing, printing, and selling decorated items.
Sketch is one of the top vector-based sublimation software you can find. The platform boasts a wide range of features, offering you all the tools required to bring your creative ideas to life.
Don’t have a laptop? There’s no need to panic. Sketch is mobile-friendly and boasts an intuitive interface. So, you can run the application on your mobile phone and finish your project satisfactorily.
Being mobile-friendly also means you can create your designs on the go. No need to wait until you arrive home to get those creative ideas off your head.
This software boasts a great collection of built-in templates, allowing you to kick-start your designs immediately.
The highly responsive plugins are another highlighted feature that sets this sublimation software for printing apart. It makes the software run smoothly, giving designers the calmness required to express themselves.
There’s so much you’ll fancy about this program used for sublimation printing. One is that each step you go through during the design creation saves automatically.
So, you don’t have to start from scratch if you experience an error while using Sketch that leads to data loss. Instead, you’ll have to start from the last saved step.
Sketch has all the tools you need to bring your designs to life. Another thing that sets this all-in-one platform apart is that it is free for students and educators. Other users can enjoy up to 30 days free trial too.
However, Sketch has some drawbacks many potential users may consider a deal-breaker. The platform only runs seamlessly on macOS.
However, Sketch’s monthly subscription is quite budget-friendly compared to many sublimation printing software.
Sketch allows users to learn about the platform. Sketch 101 is a course that details how the platform works and how you can make the most out of it. The platform also occasionally organizes events, including meet-ups, to enable users to gain valuable insight on how to use it.
7: Affinity Designer:
Affinity Designer is one of the smoothest pixel and vector graphic designers ever created. Another intriguing thing about this platform is that it runs seamlessly on Microsoft Windows, iPadOS, and macOS.
You can zoom whatever you’re designing on this platform plenty of times without compromising quality. The platform also boasts a gridding system and snapping feature, which help in locking objects.
Now, here’s another noteworthy thing about Affinity Designer. The platform currently has version 2, an upgrade on the previous one.
Affinity version 2 boasts a completely redesigned UI to optimize your workflow.
However, if you’re an existing user of version 1, you can upgrade to version 2. Note that the upgrade is optional and you may continue using version 1. The only drawback is that Affinity Designer claims they won’t update version 1 but will only fix issues that pop up.
Another impressive thing about this platform is its free trial. Affinity offers a 30-day free trial. And the good part is you can access all the apps and universal licenses during the 30-day trial period.
Affinity version 2’s constant update makes it worth it. The platform also promises to provide regular free updates until a newer version, version 3, comes on board.
You can install the Affinity app on as many devices as possible, provided the license purchased matches your device’s operating system. The platform offers support for iPadOS, macOS, and Windows operating systems.
Affinity also offers a universal license, which includes all the apps; therefore, you can use affinity regardless of your device.
You can install and use a universal license on any operating system, from iPadOS and macOS to Windows PC. Since you’re a private user, your family members living under the same roof as you can use Affinity Designer.
However, only you, the original owner, can use this app for commercial purposes. Family members sharing the app with you can’t.
Another thing you will find noteworthy about this platform is the Affinity store. Here, you’ll find several add-ons, such as raster brushes, twisted brushes, 102 lightning brushes, graphics and logo templates, a toolbox, effects, and more.
4 Best Free Software For Sublimation Printing
Not every designer has big pockets and is willing to splash the cash on expensive sublimation printing software. Some of these designers are even starting and need convincing to consider buying software for sublimation printing.
Now, the good news is free platforms for sublimation printing exist. However, these platforms don’t have some of the high-end features you‘ll find on paid software. But let’s consider the free software you can access for sublimation printing.
Canva is not 100% free. Get that straight. However, you can use it for free, and that’s something every graphics designer knows.
This online-based free graphics design platform comprises incredible features that enable you to express your creative side. You can create posts for your social media handle, posters, presentations, logos, and videos.
Now, here is the thing. Canva’s free plan boasts a wide range of features you may need for basic designs and even some advanced ones.
Upgrading to the pro plan gives you access to premium features to take your graphic design projects to the next level.
Canva offers thousands of templates to get you started immediately. The platform’s drag-and-drop feature is another highlighted feature. It will enable you to customize your design for any project and finish it in record time.
GIMP is another free platform, an open-source photo editor, by the way. It runs on Windows, Linux, macOS, and other operating systems.
You can use this software for image manipulation, editing, transcoding between diverse image file formats, and other specialized tasks.
This platform is considered one of the best free Photoshop alternatives available. It boasts a valuable collection of features that makes photo editing easier and more enjoyable.
GIMP is beginner-friendly. So, if you are a beginner, you won’t struggle to use the software. GIMP also boasts a thriving community with experts ready to share tricks and tips to help others make the perfect alterations to their images.
This multi-platform open-source software is a wise choice for photographers, graphic designers, illustrators, and even scientists. It has the tools professionals in these fields need.
GIMP’s top-quality color management feature allows you to reproduce superior output across digital prints.
Pixlr is a free and popular cloud-based platform with various image editing tools and utilities, including an image-sharing service.
Ease of use sets this photo editing tool apart. It is beginner-friendly; interestingly, you don’t have to register to use it. Just download Pixlr on your device and start creating.
Pixlr’s intuitive, easy, and fast photo editing capabilities make it one of the best free software for sublimation printing when used on mobile devices. The software also boasts an ever-growing list of effects and filters required to make design projects unique.
This photo editing platform boasts web, iOS, and Android options. And what’s more, it comes packed with a vast collection of templates and stock images to get you started immediately.
Inkscape is free and open-source vector graphics software designed for professional and personal purposes.
This platform is primarily an illustrator tool but can be deployed for various computer graphics tasks. You can use it to create logos, diagrams, programmatic marketing materials, paper scrapbooks, and web design.
This open-source graphic design tool runs on Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems. It boasts a powerful text tool, flexible drawing tool, Bezier and Spiro curves, and broad file format compatibility.
Inkscape boasts a vast collection of learning resources you can study to improve your knowledge of the software. You’ll find howtos and diverse tutorials to broaden your understanding of the app.
The community gallery is quite inspiring. It features designs done by other graphic designers and creatives using Inkscape.
So, these are the best software for sublimation printing. We discussed the paid and some free platforms you can use for sublimation printing.
The paid platforms are the right choice for businesses that place quality above everything else. These platforms come with premium features and can get the job done.
The free software is also great, but only consider them if you’re working on a personal project.
Furthermore, we urge you to read and understand the software offerings discussed here before making a final decision. Learn about what the software can do and how you can create the best images.