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How to Create Sublimation Designs in Silhouette Studio
(No special printer needed!)

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Want to know how to create sublimation designs in Silhouette Studio? Today’s post will show you just how easy it is! And the best part? You can use them with or without a sublimation printer!

Recently I spotted a beautiful black and white floral wine caddy on the Artesprix blog and fell in love with the design. I don’t drink wine, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to make something similar for myself. But unlike designer Adam Karle*, I’m not a stamper, so I improvised by using my Silhouette and the Silhouette Studio software. 

*If you want to see more of Adam’s work, be sure to check out his Instagram page!

Sublimation design created in Silhouette Studio for wine caddy

What You’ll Need:

*The free Basic Edition of Silhouette Studio will work fine for sketching the design. To save the design as a JPEG or PNG for printing on a sublimation printer, you’ll need Business Edition.

**These designs are included with the purchase of any Cameo 4, including the Plus & Pro models.

Use code SUBLIMATION to save 10% on your order at Artesprix. Does not apply to heat presses or bundle deals.

Step 1: Create the template for the sublimation design in Silhouette Studio

Set up a letter-size (8.5 inch x 11 inch) design page. Draw a rectangle that is 10 inches x 5.75 inches, which is slightly larger than the wine caddy blank. Rotate the view by 270 degrees so that you can more easily visualize the finished design.

Silhouette Studio design rotated by 270 degrees in Page Setup Panel

Step 2: Add Sketch Designs

Add various sketch designs to the template. Mirror, rotate, and resize the designs as desired. To create more visual interest, position a few of the designs partially beyond the edges of the template.

Sublimation design created in Silhouette Studio

Step 3: Clean Up the Design

Use the eraser tool to delete most of the parts of the sketch designs that go beyond the margins of the template. This will keep you from wasting time and ink sketching/printing sections you don’t need. 

Areas to be erased when creating sublimation design in Silhouette Studio

Select all the remaining parts of the design except for the rectangle. Don’t panic when you see a whole bunch of little bounding boxes. Using the eraser tool breaks some of the cut paths and separates the designs into a bazillion little parts – give or take a few!

Sketched Sublimation Design with Multiple Bounding Boxes in Silhouette Studio

Make a compound path. (You should now see only one bounding box around the entire design.)

Sublimation design created in Silhouette Studio using sketch designs

Step 4: Sketch or Print the Sublimation Design 

Option 1: Sketch the Sublimation Design Using Sublimation Markers

Delete the rectangle or set it to No Cut.

Mirror the design.

Insert an Artesprix fine point black marker into the grey Silhouette pen adapter

In the Send Panel of Silhouette Studio, make sure that all of the design area shows as bold red lines.

Silhouette Studio send panel for sketch design for sublimation transfer

Sketch the design on your Cameo or Portrait using the Copy Paper setting with the Action set to Sketch.

Sublimation design created in Silhouette Studio and sketched with sublimation marker on Portrait

Option 2:  Print the Sublimation Design Using a Sublimation Printer

Delete the rectangle.

Select the design and change the Line Color to black and the Line Weight to 1.5 pt.

Sketch design created in Silhouette Studio for printing on sublimation printer

Save the UNMIRRORED design as a JPEG or PNG. (Remember you’ll need Business Edition for this step.)

Print a mirror image on sublimation paper using your sublimation printer. (Sublimation printers are usually set to mirror the image automatically.)

Step 5: Get ready to press!

(Instructions for each type of Artesprix blank can also be found on their website.)

Trim the paper to approximately 1 or 2 inches larger than the blank.

Place the design face-up on your work space. Center the blank, face-down, onto the design. Secure the blank to the design with heat tape. Because the caddy is rather large, use several pieces of tape so that the transfer paper remains tight against the blank.

Arrange the layers into a “Sublimation Sandwich”. The “bread” will be two pieces of protective paper, one on top and one on bottom. Each piece should be larger than the copy paper/design. The “filling” is the sublimation blank with the design taped to it. Place the colored design face-down, with the blank facing up. When you press, the only thing that will be between the heat source and the design is one layer of protective paper.

How to layer sublimation design created in Silhouette Studio for pressing

Step 6: Press

Set your heat press to 400 degrees. Press with firm pressure for 75 seconds. 

If using a home iron, set it to the highest setting (usually Linen) and NO STEAM. Place the sublimation sandwich onto the Artesprix Project Mat and hold stationary while pressing firmly for approximately 3 minutes.

When you’re finished pressing, do a “peek test” before removing the paper. Lift a corner of the transfer paper and check to see that the design has transferred and the colors are bright. If not, press for a few more seconds. (The paper will be hot so you may want to wear protective gloves!!!)

Once the design is transferred, allow the blank to cool and then gently remove the paper without sliding to reveal the design. 

Sublimation design created in Silhouette Studio for wine caddy

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I love, love, love how this project turned out and can’t wait to use my beautiful caddy when we’re sipping sparkling cider on New Year’s Eve. I hope you’ll give this technique a try and see for yourself just how easy it is to create your own sublimation designs in Silhouette Studio!

Until next time,

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  1. It is so good to see an easy to follow tutorial about sublimation. Thank you Lycia for taking the time to help all of us who are struggling with this new venture of designing for sublimation.
    You are a gem!

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