One of the easiest ways to get started with sublimation is to use ready-made designs.
Print the design and press it.
That is the really the basics of sublimation.
Let’s take a look at a few tips that can help in printing png files from Silhouette Studio. Png files are a common file that is used in sublimation and can be opened with the Basic Silhouette Studio software, which is free.
Tutorial written in Silhouette Studio v4.4.552
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Sublimation Prints From Silhouette Studio
The first thing I would recommend doing is to turn OFF Autotrace.
Autotrace is a new feature that was introduced in v4.4.247 of Silhouette Studio. There are still some bugs in the Autotrace feature and these vary by the software version you are using. However, the biggest thing is that while this is a neat feature if you are cutting around a png file, it is not necessary when you are just printing from Silhouette. It also adds more data to the file and takes longer to process when opening or working with the file because it traces the design to get a cut line when it’s opened.
Autotrace happens on transparent png files when opened and is ON as a software default when you are using any version higher than v4.4.247.
Some things you may notice if Autotrace is on are:
– The software takes a long time to open the file
– The software crashes when trying to open a png
– The software lags after the png file is opened
– The png file opens at a larger size than it should
For more details on Autotrace, check out this post
Let’s Explore v4 – Autotrace.
How to turn Autotrace OFF
Click on the gear icon in the bottom right corner of the Design tab.
Or in the top left menu, under Edit > Preferences
the keyboard short cut is Ctrl+K
Choose the Import tab and then uncheck the Auto-trace for png files.
Click Apply and Ok.
Since we are only printing from Silhouette, we do not need the cut lines around the png file. Turning it off can make designing in Silhouette Studio easier on you and your computer.
Printing from Silhouette Studio
I am using a file from the St Patrick’s Day Sublimation bundle available HERE
Download the file to be used and extract/unzip the folder.
In the Silhouette Studio software, use File > Open and find the location the png file is save to.
Measure the blank that you will be using to determine the size you want.
In the Silhouette software, on the left, choose the Draw Rectangle tool. Draw a rectangle and size it, using the Scale tools, to the size needed for your object.
I like to draw a template box using the drawing tools to fit my design in so I can see what size it is and how it will look.
You may notice that png files can open with extra space around the image, so the measurement may not be accurate on the design. It doesn’t happen to all png files, but if it does, that is why the template box is so nice to have to judge the size of the design.
This is most likely due to how the original file was saved. I did test several png files all the way back to v4.1.206 of the Silhouette Studio software and they opened the exact same way. So it’s not something that has changed in Silhouette, but I think we may see it now more than before because more people are using Silhouette Studio to print from for things like sublimation.
Extra tip: If you would really like to get a more accurate size of the png file, draw a rectangle or shape that just fits around the size of your design.
Notice in the photo below that the selection box is 10.1″ for the png file.
Select both the drawn shape and the png image. Then open the Modify Panel and choose Crop. This should crop the image down to the size of your shape you drew around it.
Make sure that the entire png was inside the boundaries of the drawn shape or it will be removed when you crop.
After the image is cropped, the selection box now measures what the shape drawn was. In this case, it is 7.2″ instead of the extra space with 10.1″.
This is not absolutely necessary in this project because we are using the original drawn “template” rectangle for our size, but it is an extra tip for future projects.
Once I have my design sized the way I want, I can move the original rectangle or delete it. It is only used as a sizing template.
Next, set up the Page Setup Panel.
Choose – Cutting Mat – none.
Since I am not cutting the design with my Silhouette, I do not need my mat set on the screen.
Set up the page size for the size being printed.
I am using letter size or 8.5″ x 11″ size sublimation paper.
And check the box next to the Show Print Border at the bottom.
This will show us what our maximum print borders are for the current printer selected.
Printing Tip – Does your design need mirrored?
I am using an Epson F170 Sublimation printer and since it’s set up as a sublimation printer, it automatically mirrors my design for me. If you are using a converted printer, you may need to manually do this yourself by right clicking on the design in the Design tab and choose Flip > Horizontally before printing.
Once it’s all set up to print, click File > Print.
I am using v4.4.552 and the print preview shows after clicking File > Print. I like this option as I can double check if anything looks off.
Click Print again to go to the Printer Menu.
Note: Printer menus can vary in look and options due to the different models and brands of printers and also between MAC and Windows computers.
Change the printer selection if needed.
Printing Menu Tip: If switching between printers or changing page sizes, you may need to click Apply and then Cancel and go back to the Design tab and start at File > Print again, just to double check the print margins adjusted. This will vary by user and printer.
The next step I like to do is click on the Preferences button in the printer options.
Then I check the Print Preview, just so I can make sure it’s going to print how I like before I use up my ink and paper. I’ve caught mistakes by doing this and so glad I did. But not everyone likes that extra step.
Click Ok and then click on Print.
With this preview, I can make sure that my design is going to print mirrored and is within the printer borders.
If everything looks good, click Print.
Note: as I mentioned in the Basic Sublimation with Silhouette Studio tutorial last week, the print will look dull. The heat and pressure is what brings out the full color in the transfer.
I don’t typically turn my heat press on until after I have printed my design. This is only a personal preference because it can take me so long to decide what I really want to print for my project.
Set the heat press to the time and temperature according to your sublimation blank or sublimation paper. I use 400 degrees for 60 seconds for most items, but still check for specific instructions on the objects I’m using.
I secure the print to my sublimation blank with heat tape. Then press the object. Make sure to use parchment paper on bottom and top to protect your heat press platens.
More tips on this in the Basic Sublimation with Silhouette Studio tutorial HERE.
Let it cool a bit after the press and then carefully remove the sublimation paper.
Sublimation is just another option that can be done with your Silhouette Studio software.
And hopefully with the tip provided about Autotrace, it will make it much easier for you to work with!
I am enjoying testing my new Epson F170 sublimation printer and look forward to playing with it more. Stay tuned for more information!
I would love to see what you are creating with your Silhouette software or machines!
Or if you have any questions, feel free to post photos or questions on my Facebook group at
Silhouette Secrets with EllyMae.
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9 thoughts on “Printing Sublimation Designs from Silhouette Studio – Basics”
I was wondering if you ever used the Sawgrass. What was the deciding factor in getting an epson? Trying to decide! Thank you!
Have you ever tried the Sawgrass? What made you go with the Epson? Trying to decide!
Yes, I have a Sawgrass 400. My reason is going to be different than most. People were asking about it on my large FB group, so I invested so I could answer questions.
I’m loving the Epson and the much cheaper inks. I’ve printed lots and still have not had to refill the inks. And I still have ink in the bottles to refill from. Much more economic in my opinion.
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Thank you! I checked out the facebook! Looks great! The ink looks more vibrant with the epson!
In my experience, my Epson is more vibrant than I was getting with the Sawgrass. But, the SG400 is older and well used, so there are variables outside of my control to do a product to product test and make it fair.
I do like my Epson.
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I trust you and love your teaching style.. So having a trusted source I will probably go with it!