Make a new coffee mug with this step-by-step sublimation on mug tutorial including where to find designs, printing, and applying to a blank mug!
I have a lot of posts on using a sublimation printer and making fun sublimation projects like shirts, tumblers, mouse pads, and puzzles, but today we are focusing on how to sublimate on mugs.
The sublimation process actually infuses the printed design into the coating of the mug so the mugs are dishwasher and microwave safe and will never fade or peel!
Custom mugs make such great gifts or party favors! With sublimation printing, you can really put on any image or photo that you design or find online which makes the possibilities endless.
For this sublimation tutorial, we are going to go over how to apply designs to blank mugs with a Cricut mug press and also a PYD Life 2 in 1 press.
I will also have my YouTube video showing you how to make a sublimation photo mug at the bottom of the printable card since that one takes a bit more time!
Where to Find Blank Sublimation Mugs
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links from Shareasale, Cricut, Awin, CreativeFabrica, and Amazon.com. I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my links (purple text). As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
With the increase in the popularity of sublimation, sublimation mugs have become easier to find. Since the sublimation process is a chemical reaction between the sublimation ink and the polyester coating, you need to use mugs that are specific for sublimating.
You can’t just pick up any coffee mug at Dollar Tree and sublimate on it! You need to find ceramic mugs that have a special coating on the mug surface that reacts with sublimation dye.
You can find sublimation mugs at most local craft stores. I waited until Michaels had 50% off their Cricut mugs and other sublimation mugs and stocked my craft room with mugs!
You can also find a wide variety of different oz mugs on Amazon and mugs in bulk and Cricut.com.
Browse through my favorite sublimation blanks on Amazon here and learn about what sublimation supplies you need to get started here.
In case you don’t already know, you can’t just use any inkjet or laser printer, you need a printer that is specific for sublimation like a converted Epson Ectoank or Sawgrass Virtuoso Sg.
Where to Find Sublimation Designs
Now that you have your mugs, you need to find designs to add to the mugs. If you love to design PNG files, you can design your own in Canva, Adobe Illustrator, Procreate, or Inkscape.
I purchased a year subscription to Creative Fabrica so I have access to all the images and they all include commercial use licenses in case you run a small business and want to sell mugs!
These are the designs I used for the mugs shown:
Another way to sublimate mugs is by using Cricut Infusible Ink and the Cricut mug press if you have a Cricut machine.
- I like to use Canva.com to get my images ready to print but this is an optional step (you can just print them from your printer settings!!). The first step is to open up Canva and click on Create a Design. Click Custom Size and type in 11 x 8.5 inches.
- When the template opens up, click on Elements on the left toolbar, and then under Lines and Shapes click on a square. It will be added to your canvas.
- Pull the edges so that it corresponds to the size of your mug. I am sublimating 15 oz mugs that have 4 inches in height and 9.8 inches around. click on the three lines at the top and add an outline then change the color of the square to "no color" by clicking on the color box at the top.
- Now that we have a mug template to use, upload the images you want on your mug by clicking on Uploads on the left side. Then once the sublimation design is uploaded, drag it over and size it to fit inside the rectangle. If you want another image add it to the other end of the rectangle.
- When sublimating, if you have any images with words or directionality you need to change those to mirror images or flip them. If you can print the mirror image within your printing software, you can do this next step there. But I like to do it all in Canva. Click on the image and then click on Flip at the top and Flip horizontally.
- To download, click on Share, then Download, and then Download as PNG. Note: If you have a Cricut, you can do all of this designing within Cricut Design Space, but I wanted to show you another way.
- The next step is to print the images on sublimation paper. Send the PNG file to your printer. The only thing I change in my printer settings is to change the Print Quality to High Quality. Add a piece of sublimation transfer paper to your sublimation printer and print. The sublimation designs will appear dull, but that's ok! The magic happens when heat is applied!
- Turn the Cricut mug press on so it has time to preheat. The Cricut mug press will preheat to the correct temperature on its own. Note: If you are using a mug press machine, you'll need the 30 oz attachment for an 11 oz and a 15 oz mug size (the same you use for a skinny tumbler). Unscrew the pressure knobs so you have light pressure for the mugs. With the tumbler 2 in 1 mug presses, you can press two mugs at a time! Place both mugs inside the heat attachment with the handles up and adjust the pressure before you turn the press on. Set to 356 degrees Fahrenheit for 280 seconds.
- Since the rectangle was only a template to find the correct size of your sublimation graphics, you'll need to cut it off. I like to use a paper trimmer to make sure my cuts are nice and straight but you can always use a pair of scissors. Cut on all sides right inside the black line. This helps to line the image up straight on the coffee cup.
- Prep the sublimation mug. For best results, you'll want to lint roll the mug where the design will go to make sure no hair or dust is on it!
- Center the image on your mug and use heat-resistant tape to secure all sides to the mug. Repeat for other side of the mug if adding an image to both sides.
- Then to protect your heat press, wrap three pieces of butcher paper around the mug and secure it with heat tape.
- When the mug heat press is preheated (it will be hot so be careful! Using heat-resistant gloves is recommended!), place the mug inside and push down on the handle. The Cricut mug press will apply the correct firm pressure automatically and will beep when the mug is done. For a tumbler press, close the lever. The timer will start counting down.
- When the press starts beeping it's time to remove the mugs! The mug will be hot but the handle should be cool to the touch. With heat gloves or pot holders, remove the mug from the press and place it on a towel or heat pad to cool. Then with gloves or when cool, remove the butcher paper
- And then remove the tape and the sublimation paper and check out how beautiful your new mug is now!
- Now you have a dishwasher-safe coffee mug with a cute design that will never fade or peel off!
See the post for links to the other images I used.
Below you will find the video tutorial on how to make a photo mug. I will be walking through the steps in Canva, so if you were confused about those steps above make sure to watch the video! I will be teaching you how to flip text in Canva also.
I hope this answered some of your questions about the sublimation on a mug process!
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Thanks for stopping by and have a creative day!