Sublimation Images Printing: Why Do My Images Appear Faded or Light?

Have you ever printed a sublimation images only to have it appear faded or light? Well, this happens due to poor dot gain on the transfer material. So what exactly is dot gain? Dot gain, also called transfer gain, refers to the amount of toner that sticks to the carrier material after imaging and transferring the image onto it.

If you don’t use enough ink when printing an image, the toner won’t stick properly to the carrier material, so it will look faded or light when it comes out of your press.

Why Do My Sublimation Images Look Faded or Light?

As a sublimation printer, I often get asked the question Why do my images look faded and light? The answer is quite simple actually. You printed too high of an intensity (also known as saturation). Saturation is a measure of the amount of color in an image.

When you print your image with too high of a saturation, it will appear lighter than expected. For example, if you have a pink shirt and print it at 100% saturation, it will turn out to be more like baby pink than hot pink. This happens because all three colors are used when printing.

If one color is only being shown on the fabric instead of 3, this would create a lighter or faded effect.
There are two ways to avoid this issue. One way is by using less saturated ink for prints that don’t need such bright colors. If this isn’t possible for your project then try decreasing the intensity on your machine before printing.

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What is digital transfer and why does it create faded images?

Digital transfer prints a digital file to a transfer paper and then transfers it to the garment. It is a great option for those who want to print an image without using an inkjet printer. Digital printers are faster and more efficient, but they often produce prints that look faded or light.

This happens because the images are printed in reverse on the transfer paper so when the ink is transferred, it appears faded on the garment. The only way to combat this effect is by adjusting your printing settings when printing your image file.

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Causes of Faded Sublimation Print

  1. If the sublimation film is new and not yet exposed to UV light, it may not be providing the necessary amount of energy to properly heat and transfer your image to the garment. In this case, you can place a dark fabric over your design before exposing it in order to block any light from coming in contact with the film.
  2. If the sublimation film is old and has been exposed to UV light for an extended period of time, it may have lost its ability to effectively heat and transfer your images onto the garment.
  3. Another possible reason is that there isn’t enough contact between ink on paper and ink on cloth due to either too much pressure during printing or incorrect placement of garments when printing multiple copies at once (typically one copy per screen). Make sure to maintain constant contact between the two media by using rollers or presses that provide consistent pressure. When running multiple copies at once, make sure each screen is positioned correctly on top of each other so they’re all being printed in unison. The wrong way to do this would be stacking screens without making sure the appropriate surface area is contacting the ink-coated side of the screen; that way, only a fraction of each image will print.
    Lastly, make sure to follow recommended curing times for sublimation films – if your images are still appearing faded after curing as directed on manufacturer’s packaging, try another film instead.


  • There are several reasons why your images may appear faded, including the printer you’re using and how you’ve calibrated it, the type of ink and paper you’ve selected, and what type of light sources you have in your work area.
  • The paper stock will also affect the quality of prints because different types of paper can withstand different amounts of heat before they begin to fade.
  • You should calibrate your printer regularly to make sure that it is set up correctly for printing on a specific type of media; some printers allow you to select which media is being used as well as other options such as brightness level and color profiles, while others require you to manually adjust these settings every time that you use them.
  • Also be sure to use an inkjet-type sublimation printer rather than a pigment-based one, as the latter often causes fading over time due to its low degree of heat resistance.
  • Finally, when working with intense lighting in your work space, try closing curtains and/or turning off overhead lights if possible so that your print won’t be exposed to direct sunlight or bright fluorescent bulbs that emit UV rays – both of which can cause fading after prolonged exposure. 6. If none of these solutions seem like they would be effective for you, then please contact us so we can help you find a solution!


What causes images to appear faded during sublimation printing?

Fade, lightness, and color variations can happen due to a number of factors. There are four main causes of these issues that we have come across during our printing process. They are as follows:
-Exposure to light (UV): Exposure to UV light will cause your images to fade quickly. To avoid this issue, we recommend using a dark colored garment when possible and avoiding any direct exposure to sunlight.

-Ink density change: This is the most common issue we have seen with sublimation printing. When you go from one ink density to another it can cause the colors in your image to shift in hue and appear lighter than they should be. A quick way to see if this is the issue with your print is by checking for streaks or blotches on your garment. If you notice uneven coloring, the problem may be an ink density change.

Sublimation Images Appear Faded Or Light – 4 Reasons And Solutions min

-Different garments: Different materials absorb different amounts of ink which may cause fading to vary between garments. For example, cotton t-shirts tend to fade more quickly because they absorb more ink whereas polyester performance shirts do not bleed onto other garments as easily because they do not absorb much ink at all. It also depends on whether or not the garment has been washed and how many times it has been worn before being printed on again.

What can I do about faded images during my sublimation printing process?

One of the most common problems that people have with sublimation printing is faded images. If you are experiencing this problem, there are a few things that you can do to remedy the situation. First, make sure that your image is not too light. If your image is too dark, then it will also appear faded and won’t show up as much on the shirt. Second, you can also adjust your exposure time during printing.

If you increase exposure time, then it will take longer for the ink to be absorbed into the shirt and it may result in less fading issues. Finally, if none of these tips work for you then we recommend contacting us because there may be other factors causing your issue such as an incorrect printer setting, incorrect setup of your printer, etc… If you would like more information about sublimation printing process, please visit our blog post called What Is Sublimation Printing?

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What if my images still appear faded after implementing the recommended steps from above?

There are a few possible reasons why your images may still appear faded after implementing the recommended steps. If you have been using a household inkjet printer, it may be that the inks are not designed for sublimation printing and they are fading when they contact the heated surface of the fabric. You can try updating your printer’s software to see if this fixes the problem. Another reason could be that you have too many colors in your design, which makes it more difficult to get good results from sublimation printing and all colors start to fade.

Try simplifying your design by removing colors until you achieve better results. In addition, even with high-quality printers there is no guarantee that an image will print flawlessly every time due to variations in temperature and humidity at different times of the year. We recommend doing a test print before ordering large quantities of shirts so that you know how well the prints will turn out on your garments.

A third possibility is that you are using papers with an inorganic coating on them such as Moo cards; this coating prevents heat from being able to pass through them. Avoid these types of papers and choose cotton-based paper instead!

How do I avoid fading in the first place

There are a few things you can do to ensure your images don’t fade. The first is to make sure the image is high enough resolution for printing and that it’s saved as a JPEG file. If you’re planning on printing your own images, then use an inkjet printer if possible because it will produce better quality prints.

If you’re using a laser printer, then use the highest-quality setting and keep in mind that black and white will be printed more clearly than color. Keep in mind that dye sublimations are susceptible to fading when they come into contact with water so make sure to dry them after washing them or submerging them in water.

And finally, never leave your garment out in direct sunlight or expose it to extreme heat because this too can cause colors to fade.

Final Thoughts

For the best sublimation prints, it is important to use quality materials and proper printing processes. Quality ink is essential for high-quality sublimation printing. If you are printing on a paper product, it is recommended to use an inkjet printer rather than a laser printer.

For more information about how to print with sublimations, please contact us at Dribbble Promotional Products! We will be glad to help answer any of your questions. We can provide insight on the most common causes of image fading in sublimation printing.

Typically, these cases occur because some type of paper was used that wasn’t made specifically for sublimation printing. Sometimes this could happen because the wrong inks were used during the process too. In either case, if you want good-looking sublimation prints that last long and retain their brightness, make sure to order from a company who uses quality materials so that your pictures stay looking vibrant for years to come!

How to Identify Error and Correct Faded Sublimation Prints:

The most common cause for an image to appear light is a lack of ink coverage. This can happen when the sublimation machine does not apply enough heat to penetrate the fabric with ink, or if you are printing on an improperly prepared substrate.

There are two ways to tell if your prints are likely to be light because of a lack of ink coverage. First, examine the edges of your prints for visible white spaces where the fabric has no design. If there is no design at all along an edge, this means that there was not enough ink applied in that area and it will appear lighter than other areas where the fabric was properly printed on. Second, feel your print – if it feels smooth and flat then you may have a problem with a lack of ink coverage.

Properly sublimated prints should be somewhat textured like velvet, but if they are too light and soft then they were probably not printed properly. A good way to know what a proper print feels like is by checking out what an improper print would feel like; take one of your light-print shirts and hold it up against another shirt you know was properly printed (with the same amount of ink). You’ll notice that the shirt with less ink coverage won’t have any texture compared to the shirt that’s been thoroughly covered with ink.

Streaks on your printer’s image?

Streaks on your printer’s image are typically caused by a clogged nozzle or ink cartridge. Remove the ink cartridge and clean the nozzle with an alcohol wipe. Repeat this process with a new ink cartridge if it doesn’t help. If streaks persist, contact customer service at 888-362-8764 ext. 3 for help troubleshooting and resolving the issue, as it could be a defective machine.

The next time you print, check your settings to make sure you have a good quality paper selected. If the paper isn’t high enough quality, even with light color images like white or black text, the image will fade from washout of light colors to being barely visible.

To fix this problem before printing, change to a high-quality paper setting in your printer software before printing. Finally, after selecting these two solutions for why images appear faded or light on sublimation printed materials, feel free to give our customer service representatives another call at 888-362-8764 ext.


The reason your images appear faded is because of the way sublimation printing works. The ink is printed onto a special paper and then heated to apply the ink to the shirt. This heating process causes the image to fade a bit, but it’s something you can’t avoid.

If you want bright colors, then a different printing method may be best for you. But if you’re ok with a slightly more subdued color scheme, then this is the perfect technique for you! When you choose the style of garments that will receive the print, take into consideration how bright those garments are. Dark shirts require less heat in order to transfer the design which will result in brighter images.

A light colored garment will require a higher temperature in order to properly transfer the design which will result in fainter images.
For an optimal effect, use garments that have dark or neutral tones as these tend to produce prints with rich and deep tones of color when using sublimation printing.
This concludes today’s blog post about sublimation printing!

Last Updated on October 29, 2022

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Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith is an editor and author for Printerchief, specializing in creating informative content on the topics of office printing and paper processing technology. When he is not working, he enjoys exploring the great outdoors in Michigan and Arizona, along with activities like hiking, cycling, fishing, and reading. Additionally, Andrew loves working on various projects for his home and garden to keep himself busy and continue learning new skills.


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