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how to print on transfer paper

How to Print on a Transfer Paper

If you have never used a transfer paper before, this guide will help you learn how to print on transfer paper.

How to Print on Transfer Paper

In this guide, we assume you already have your design set and a printer set.  All that remains is to print it on the transfer paper.

Let us jump straight into how to prepare the image and print it on the transfer sheet.

Should You Use a Specific Printer Ink for Your Transfer Paper?

For many beginners, choosing a suitable ink for their transfer paper is a gruesome experience. Unknown to many, this concern is not that important, as any ink can work.

The Different Types of Transfer Paper

There are two main types of transfer paper: 

  1. The light transfer paper
  2. The dark transfer paper

Choose the correct paper depending on the color of the fabric you wish to print.

Note that images printed on light transfer papers tend to provide a vibrant and more accurate design when used on white and other light-colored fabrics.

The ink is translucent and invisible unless you lay it on a white or extremely light-colored background.

On the flip side, you require dark transfer paper when using dark fabric.

In such a paper, a white background is transferred with the ink and block out the color of your fabric from coming through the ink.

Subsequently, the images tend to act as block pictures or images. The white area can cut away since it will appear on your shirt when the transfer process is complete.

How to Print on Transfer Paper

Do you have your artwork ready? Now, how about a functional inkjet printer and the right transfer paper for the job.

Here is your next step:

Reverse Your Artwork First

Mirror or reverse your image in case it contains numbers or text. Most people forget this step. Reverse the image and print it in mirror mode.

The image is placed facing down on the fabric.  When the heat transfer process is completed, the image will appear the correct way.

However, if you’re using dark transfer paper, place your image face up on your fabric before transferring it. This way, you’ll not need to reverse your image.

The reversal process is simple and you can achieve it directly from your printer settings.

Printing On Your Transfer Paper

You want to be sure that your image is ready for printing and will appear the way you want it to when you print it on fabric. To be certain, print a sample of the image on a standard piece of paper before printing it on a transfer paper.

When you’re fully satisfied with your image, go ahead and print it on the right side of the transfer paper. This is usually marked, but in case you do not see any marks, ensure you print on the coated side.

Once you have printed the image, you can now transfer it to fabrics using a heat press machine.

Remember to place the transfer paper with your design face down on your garment so that the final product appears as expected.

What’s more, position your paper correctly on the garment to ensure the correct transfer of the image.

Common Mistakes During Printing of Transfer Papers

Mistake #1 – Forgetting to reverse the image before printing it on a transfer paper.

Mistake #2 – Printing on the wrong side of the transfer paper.

Always take note of the coated side of the transfer paper, which is the right printing surface.

Mistake #3 – Buying the transfer papers that wrongly match your designing needs.

If your fabric color is bright or light-colored, light transfer paper will work excellently.

If the fabric you want to design is dark-colored, a dark-colored transfer paper will produce impressive designs.

Mistake #4 – Reversing the image when using dark transfer paper.

When using dark transfer paper always feed your design without reversing.


Now that you know how to select and print on a transfer paper, the next thing is creating awesome designs on any fabric. 

So for the beginner, we’ve explored the basics to get you started printing on a transfer paper. When you know how to print transfer papers you open a whole new world of possibilities. It gives you the freedom in the world to customize graphic design on nearly any fabric.

One thing you have to know, however, is that an ink-jet printer is preferable to this type of work. So you better put your laser printer aside for now.

James M. Rai has been screen printing T-shirts and other textiles professionally and as a hobby for more than 15 years. During that time, he owned and operated a small screen printing shop in northern California for more than 7 years. More recently, James has gotten involved with Cricut and other cutting machines.