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How to Make Sublimation Designs in Photoshop
  • By Kia Lor
  • 10 May 2022
  • 9 Mins
  • Beginner
  • Photoshop Tutorials

How to Make Sublimation Designs in Photoshop

Discover how to make sublimation designs in Photoshop that you can use to create beautiful gifts.

You can quickly make sublimation designs in Photoshop with ready-made graphics or images and some text. These designs can be used on all sorts of sublimation blanks, and they make for great gifts. This tutorial will show you how to import and edit images, add and edit text, and access the print settings.

How to Make Sublimation Designs in Photoshop

We’re going to show you how to create the specific sublimation design on the tee in the image above, but you can use the techniques you learn in this tutorial to create your own unique sublimation designs.

Step 1 - Add Design Elements

Make sure all your images and fonts have been downloaded and unzipped. Install the fonts as well.

Import Images

Open your File Explorer/Finder and locate your image file. Then click + drag your image file from the File Explorer/Finder to the artboard in Photoshop. Repeat for the rest of your images. We added a rainbow tie dye background and a sunflower split monogram from a bundle of sunflower mandala SVGs.

Import image to Photoshop from File Explorer/Finder by dragging and dropping

Edit the Design Elements Using Free Transform

Select the layer and press Control/Command + T to enable Free Transform. Next, click the chainlink icon in the Options bar at the top to maintain the aspect ratio.

Below are some things you can do using Free Transform.

  • Resize - Click + drag a handle on the bounding box to resize the image, as shown below.
  • Rotate - Hover near one of the corner handles until you see a curved arrow. Then click + drag to rotate the image.
  • Mirror - Right-click and select Flip Horizontal or Flip Vertical.

Click and drag a handle on the bounding box to resize the image in Photoshop

Step 2 - Add a Layer Mask to the Background (Tie Dye) Layer

We don’t want the tie dye design to show outside of the sunflower area, so we’ll add a layer mask to the tie dye background layer.

Select the Magic Wand Tool

Select the Magic Wand Tool (W) from the left toolbar. You may have to right-click first and then select the Magic Wand Tool.

Select the Magic Wand Tool from the left toolbar

Make the Selection and Then Inverse the Selection

Select the sunflower layer in the Layers panel. Then, click outside the sunflower shape area. Next, right-click and choose Select Inverse. Now only everything inside the sunflower shape area should be selected.

Make selection and then inverse the selection in Photoshop

Apply the Layer Mask

Select the tie dye background layer and click the Add a layer mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.

Add a layer mask to the tie dye layer

Below is what the image looks like after the layer mask has been added.

Shows design after the layer mask has been added

Step 3 - Apply a Color Overlay Layer Style to the Top (Sunflower) Layer

We will change the color of the sunflower layer with a Color Overlay layer style.

Select the sunflower layer and click the fx (Effects) icon at the bottom. Then choose Color Overlay from the list.

Apply a Color Overlay to the sunflower layer in Photoshop

Change Color Overlay Options

Make sure Preview is enabled so you can see the changes in real-time. Then click the color icon and select a new color. We picked black to make the tie dye colors pop more. Once you’re happy with how your design looks, click OK.

Enable Preview and edit the Color Overlay options in the Layer Style Dialog

Step 4 - Add Text With the Horizontal Type Tool

Select the Horizontal Type Tool (T) and edit the font options in the Options bar. Then click on the artboard and type your text. For our text, we used the font Snowy Wishes from Font Bundles.

Add text with the Horizontal Type Tool and edit the font options

Edit and Move the Text

You can open the Character panel (Window > Character) for even more font options. In the Character panel, you can also change the leading, kerning, etc.

Note: you can also change the size of the text using Free Transform (Ctrl/Cmd + T) if you’d prefer.

Open the Character panel for more font options

Select the Move Tool (V) and click + drag the text to move it if needed. Our design is complete and ready to be printed!

Shows the finished sublimation design

Step 5 - Print Sublimation Design

Go to File > Print. Then make changes to the print settings for your printer, and click Print when you’re ready to send your design to your sublimation printer.

Print sublimation design by going to File  Print in Photoshop

Printing White

Any white areas in your design will not print unless you have a white toner printer. The shirt will show through in those white areas if you don’t have a white toner printer.

The design example below has a white background and a border on a transparent background. Without a white toner printer, those white areas will be transparent.

Image shows the design with a white background and border on a transparent background

We hope you enjoyed learning how to create this beautiful color-filled sublimation design! Now you can use what you learned today to decorate pillowcases, bags, shirts, signs, and more!

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color overlay layer mask make a sublimation design

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