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75 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had a client the other day tell me that my dye sub image was "soft" that they had seen a much sharper dye sub image. After getting over my feelings being hurt, I wondered if I was getting the best image possible. I argued with the client who was comparing dye sub to a screen-printed image, but he wasn't budging - mine was "soft." Didn't matter to him that my image was being converted into a gas and that it was reproducing tones and shadows that could never be reached with screen-print. Ouch!

So I made a test file to test a few different things. (original file)
I wanted to see the difference between resolutions, to check on some black formulas, to see the difference between a greyscale image built with CMYK vs. just black, and to see if there was a noticeable jump in the details of a photo.

I do not print my own transfers, the guys at S&K print and ship my transfers to me. Personally I prefer this setup as I don't have to worry about calibration, supplies and most importantly buying a huge printer.

This test is printed on a Vapor Micro t-shirt with light pressure at 390 degrees for 38 seconds.

So, first the resolution. I created the file and artwork at 1200DPI and then resized it down to 800DPI, 600DPI, 400DPI and finally 200DPI. The results? Well if I really squinted I could tell a difference between the 1200 and the 200...

I didn't include the 400 & 800 because there wasn't enough of a difference. These images are very enlarged to show the detail. Can you see the difference? Not too much in my opinion, certainly not enough to warrant creating and manipulating huge files.

I'm still after quality and will recreate a client's logo to suit my needs, but I think with regards to resolution I'll be sticking with the 240dpi I normally use. Something about it just feels right.

Despite the fact that the ink is trying to hold it's shape will morphing into a gas it seems that the printer has to dither the image to map the dots of color for the printer head. This seems to erase the super-fine edges of my art anyway.

Again, super-enlarged, but you can see that unlike printing a super-glossy photo where the ink is laid on nice and dense these transfers have a suprisingly light coverage of ink. All about the spread under heat. The lines in the image above are not solid but a splatter of dots that roughly resemble the original art.

I also reviewed some of the CMYK black formulas I use just to make sure they match what i'm seeing on my computer monitor. I went through some testing to see how close my monitor was to being calibrated. (test) I have a Samsung Syncmaster 2333 that is actually pretty "on the money." I highly recommend matching your monitor to what the final product looks like. This will save a lot of time and money.

So here's the first test, how much difference can you see in these blacks? It's pretty noticeable. The is definitely blue, the is pretty red. The result for me confirmed a suspicion - best solid black will be an even mix You can use other values to compliment the artwork, but if you want "black" use equal amounts. If you're wondering, in my opinion, using just black ( results in about a 92% grey. Sort of black, but weak.

The other element was a photo at the different resolutions, I couldn't see any difference in these images. They all look great but I didn't get rewarded for my super-high resolution.

Oh well.

I wasn't able to get the details about the printer model, profiles, materials and all that stuff I'm sure most of you are wondering. I'll add it when I get the info from S&K.

Hope this helps, and I would love to see some of the work you are doing. My clients need all the help they can get to imagine what's possible with dye sub.

· Banned
2,679 Posts
Nice post - look forward to David at Conde and Kevin at JP providing expert insight. Looking at the pics on my monitor it appears the lettering is a bit "soft" with almost a "glow" like effect around them. Maybe just my monitor or the font itself. The other question is why use CMYK and have to mess around with black values? I am not sure if David at Conde has a video on RGB vs CMYK but there are reasons why most sublimation is done using RGB.

Post up what font you used for testing and maybe others can run similar test to see results on a wide range of production combinations.

· Registered
75 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Mark, thanks. I use CMYK because that's what S&K use. I have heard of people using the RGB mode, with a CMYK printer and don't understand how that's a better method. In my experience you end up with a lot of colors that you can't produce with CMYK. Personally with my background in offset printing i'm more comfortable working in CMYK. I know i'm a little unique in that i'm not actually doing the printing myself.

I also see the glow, enlarged at this size. Not visible at 100%.

The font is called Scriptina.

· Registered
121 Posts

I've just seen your posts. Hoprfully, you've made progress since then.

However, speaking from having done tons of shirts with sublimation, I would suggest that you make a few samples of the identical artwork on several different facrics. You will see quite a difference in the results, especially when it comes to resolving fine lines and text, as you have in your sample.

If the text is composed of chunkier elements and reproduced larger, the amount of "softness" around the edges will be a much lower proportion of the overall size and much less visible.

I've also found that with some competitor's shirts I get a much better and clearer image, especially with small objects and thin lines in the artwork, than with the Vapor shirts.

The next item is your transfers. Since you are not making them yourself, you are sacrificing a great amount of control. Don't forget that transfers are susceptible to heat and humidity in that both degrade your image. If you print that, nothing will save you. The older the transfer, the poorer the result. Take a transfer and just let it sit for a few days. Look at it over time and you will see how easily and quickly it gets fuzzy.

The next point is that with sublimation you will never get a razor sharp line on a fabric. Just ain't gonna happen. This goes back to the first point about the specific fabric. Clear is possible. Razor sharp is not. Creating an illusion of sharpness is possible. You can also get too small to have it resolved clearly.

I've also found that the clarity of the fabric printed image is drastically changed by altering your pressing tempurature, time and especially pressure. Experiment to see what gives you the best result. This is where it helps to make your own transfers. You can go through quite a stack in short order.
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