How To Make Great Sublimation Images with Canva

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Sublimation is a great craft hobby to pick up. I make my sublimation images with Canva.

Sublimation is a fun way to make personal clothing, coffee mugs, tumblers and other custom things.  But finding specific images can be really tricky.  I make my own designs 98% of the time.  This way I don’t have to worry about copyrights or commercial licenses. I use Canva to make my designs because sublimation printing with Canva is super easy.

For the best results with sublimation, I will be recommending some of the products I use to sublimate.  These are products that I have had loads of success with. And it all starts with Canva.

But first….. What is Canva?

Canva is a free online graphic design tool.  In a few simple steps, you can have beautiful images you can use for social media posts, calendars, posters and a host of other things.  For crafters, you can make awesome sublimation prints that you can then download and print with your sublimation printer to put on your craft blanks. You can also turn your images into digital files such as PNG files and sell them for other people to use in their sublimation projects.  I sell mine on Etsy.

Canva has an awesome free program.  It’s full of a wide range of tools, designs and free images.  You can use these to make professional-looking designs that can easily be printed onto sublimation transfer paper and placed on a variety of items.  The final product can be used without restriction for all of your needs. However, you need to start an account to start using all of the awesome features in the free version.

TIP: You can also make files on Canva that can be uploaded to Cricut Design Space and cut using heat transfer vinyl to make a different kind of project.

Starting An Account and Beginner Tools For Making Sublimation Images with Canva

To start, you’ll go to Canva and hit the “sign up” button.  It will then prompt you to put in your info and select a password.  That’s all it takes to create an account with Canva.  

Now that you are in, there are lots of things you can do.  On the left hand side of the home screen, you will be able to pull up your current “projects”, as well as free “templates” which is full of ready-made designs you can upload your own images into.  You can also use the search bar to find specific projects or templates.

On the top toolbar to the right, you can use the “create a design” button to find the correct size for the project you are attempting to make.  For sublimation, I usually scroll down to custom size and make my images 11 x 8.5 inches, which is a regular piece of US paper turned to landscape.  If your printer allows for larger prints, you can create a custom size for your print.

Once inside the project home page, you’ll use the tools in the left sidebar to create most projects for sublimation.  Making custom designs is easy; all you have to do is click and drag things onto the blank canvas.  Some of the tools located on the left sidebar include:

  • Elements– find images to add to your design. Simply click the image to add it and then resize it as needed. You can also use the “frame” elements to add pictures to your deign.
  • Text– used to add text to your image. You can change the size and the font using the drop down tabs.  This is my favorite tool.
  • Upload– add your own background image or picture to the design

Canva auto-saves your projects to there’s no need to hit a “save” button.  Once you are done with your new design, simply download it as a PNG to your computer, flip it if needed and print.  It is a great way to make high quality images you can use yourself or sell online on Etsy or your own online store as a digital file.  

Free VS Paid- Which Is Right For You

The free Canva account is a great option to start with, but there are some definite benefits to having a Pro account, like better design tools.

The thing I use Canva Pro for the most is the background delete function.  If I have an image that has a background that I don’t want, I can easily delete it.  Images with transparent backgrounds are much easier to work with.

There are also a LOT more elements to choose from with a Pro account.  While you can still purchase Pro elements individually with the free account, it can rack up a pretty penny if you buy multiple elements every day.

Another benefit to the Pro account is being able to save different brand identities.  I have multiple businesses, and have a color palette and specific fonts downloaded for each brand.

Lastly, I use the resize option if I need to resize a design that I have already made. This isn’t as important when making sublimation images with Canva, but it is useful for social media posts and blog posts like this one.

How To Make Great Sublimation Images with Canva

How To Use Your Sublimation Image

I have written a post about sublimation for beginners that you can read here but I will give you a grand overview right here.

To be able to make sublimation products, you are going to need a few things.

The sublimation process itself is pretty simple.  Once you make and print an image using the appropriate printer and ink, you’ll use the high temperatures of a heat press to transfer the sublimation image onto a blank.  Making sublimation images with Canva is a fantastic way to put long-lasting designs on phone cases, picture frames, ornaments, clothing, coffee mugs or tumblers.  

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