There are a number of factors that can contribute to your transferred imaged appearing faded or light in color. We will discuss them below. 


  • The sublimation process requires papers that were specifically engineered for the sublimation process. Normal copy paper will not produce the vibrant results that you can get with a sublimation specific paper. We sell a variety of paper options that you can chose from and that best fits your application. 
  • Sublimation paper has a coated side which is the side that you print to. If you print on the wrong side of the paper your image will appear faded. Most papers have a watermark to designate which side to print on but for those that don't you want to print on the bright white side of the paper. Keep in mind that in most printers feeding from a tray the paper will be loaded print side down.

Print Driver vs RIP Software vs Print Manager

  • Each printer manages color a bit differently so the use of a print driver, RIP software, or print manager software is needed. 
  • If the printer needs a print manager to handle color but you print direct to the print driver your colors can come out wrong and also come out faded. 
  • We see this most often with Sawgrass printers that customer print direct to the printer instead of through the Sawgrass Print Manager. 
    • When you print through the Sawgrass Print Manager there are options for paper and substrate that also help to manage color. Be sure to select the correct ones for your application
  • Printers that use a RIP software such as Flexi, Wasatch, Ergosoft, or Onyx are using an icc profile to manage color. Be sure that you have the correct icc profiles loaded for your printer, paper, ink, and substrate combination. Most printers will come with these pre-loaded or we have them available for download.
  • Some printers such as the Epson F570 print directly to a print driver. In the print driver for the Epson there are a number of settings to control color. See our guides specific to this printer for more info. 


  • Although time and temperature have more affect on the color output pressure plays a key roll. If you have too light of pressure your image can appear faded. If you have too much the image can appear burned, the paper could stick, or you can get an orange peel look on the product. 

Time & Temperature

  • Time and temperature are some of the most important settings to get dialed in for the best results. We have a number of tech tips that provide time and temperature settings for the items we sell. Those settings are a starting point. Much like your oven at home each heat press will vary slightly. One heat press may like 400 degrees where another may need to be at 390 degrees for the same item. Although our tech tips will work for most we recommend buying a few samples of a new product to dial in your settings, especially if you are committing to a big job or trying a substrate you have not done before. 
  • Pressing multiples of an item can also affect the time settings you should use. Multiple items will suck more heat out of the heat press which may mean more time is needed to get the same results as you get when you only press one at a time. 
  • Similar to pressing multiples size can have an affect on time settings as well. For example a 4x6 aluminum photo panel could be pressed at 400 degrees for 1min but a 10x14 may need to be pressed for 1m15s

Check you Heat Press or Convection Oven

  • Much like your oven at home the temperature readout may not be spot on. Some heat presses may read 400 degrees for the temperature but actually be 5-10 degrees cooler or warmer.
  • Convection ovens have even more variance from the setting on the dial to the actual temperature in the oven. For convection ovens we recommend getting an in oven thermometer to verify your temperature.