Epson Dye sublimation / CMYK and RGB

One of the biggest mistakes any sublimation decorator can make is to use the wrong color model when choosing colors. CYMK (cyan, yellow, magenta, and black) comprise the basic four colors all inkjet printers utilize. It is easy to make the assumption that, because the printer is using CMYK colors, a design should be created using the CMYK color palette. If CMYK colors are used, it’s not likely the color you are looking for to come out the same on the finished item. This is because CMYK is a set of very specific color instructions meant primarily for the offset printing world. When we are sending art to a desktop printer, the print driver is responsible for translating the information it receives into CMYK. So what color model should colors be chosen from then?

RGB (red, green, and blue) are the colors that create the images we see on every computer monitor, digital projector and television available. There are 16,581,375 colors that can be created using the RGB color model. RGB is commonly used because it is how the human eye sees color. There two basic kinds of receptors in the eye, rods and cones. The rods are what see black and white, while the cones communicate color. The cones are staggered in the eye with specific cones detecting red, green and blue. As this is the case, the RGB color model is used in many industries and all artwork for sublimation should be designed this way.

The most basic tool for accurate color reproduction is a simple color chart. Color charts should be printed and pressed on each of the substrates being used. Getting a real-world representation of colors on the exact substrate that will be sublimated will achieve accuracy. Simply choose the color from the printed chart then enter the corresponding RGB number back into the graphics program. Regardless of what color you are viewing on the screen, you can have confidence that you will achieve the desired color output for each sample substrate

ICC profiles
One of the methods used for color correction is with ICC profiles. The International Color Consortium is a group that sets standard guidelines for color management in the digital imaging/printing world. All monitors, scanners, digital cameras and printers use ICC profiles that are found on the disc and installed with the device drivers. Color profiles simply communicate how another device has created its colors to the hardware or software and, in turn, how they should be interpreted or reproduced.
In sublimation, ICC profiles are created to match the specific ink being used with a specific substrate. Though this method works well for many, it can also leave quite a bit of work for the decorator. If an image is to go on several different products, for example, the colors will vary on each item unless tweaks are made in the graphics program.
There are also specific programs developed by sublimation printer manufacturers that are specifically designed for its brand of ink and printing system. Functions vary by company, but some offer color chart palette systems, for example, that integrate with CorelDraw or Adobe programs. These programs offer users an entire integrated system from ink to software to hardware.


Color Profiled for Maximum Color and Brightness
MultiRIP has been profiled for the two main types of dye sublimation inks from Sawgrass Systems - Artainium Inks and SubliJet IQ Inks. Sublimation inks are an encapsulated ink – which means the way they look printed on the release paper looks completely different than after being transfer.
Dye sublimation inks are very much different than your standard Epson inks. Sublimation inks are an encapsulated ink – which means the way they look printed on the release paper looks completely different than after being transferred to the substrate. MultiRIP has profiled the different types of sublimation substrates to provide you with the bright colors. Below is a list of the different substrates and resolutions that have been color profiled:
- Polyester Fabric – Normal, Enhanced & Fine
- Mousepads – Normal & Enhanced
- Ceramic Tile - Enhanced
- Metal – Enhanced & Fine

- Glass Tile - Enhanced
If you would like to learn more about the Color Management you can do with MultiRIP, click here

 Printing Dye Sublimation Transfers:
o Easy Dye Sub Printer Selection
o Color Profiled for Maximum Color
and Brightness

o Calibrated for Proper Ink Usage
o Add Custom Page Sizes
o Page Previewing
o Job / Page Priority
o Re-Print without Re-Ripping
o ICM / ICC Color Management
o Print Spot Colors

For more information on the process of dye sublimation, please click here.
To learn how to get the best colors for your dye sublimation transfers, click here.
Features for Printing Dye Sublimation Transfers:
Easy Dye Sub Printer Feature
MultiRIP has an Easy Dye Sub Printer selection that allows you to print polyester fabric with a one click selection.

Calibrated for Proper Ink Usage
Most decorators use print drivers that drop too much ink on to the release paper. To compensate for this, decorators will use a release paper that absorbs more ink quicker so that it does not pool and distort the image. MultiRIP is calibrated to print the appropriate amount of ink on to the release paper to maximize your ink usage and minimize your costs.
Add Custom Page Sizes
Unlike some applications that limit your designing abilities to set paper sizes, MultiRIP will let you design your own paper size and keep this size in memory for future use. All the standard dye sublimation release transfer paper sizes (8.5" x 11", 11" x 17 and 13" x 19") are preset.

Page Previewing
You can preview individual pages in both the output queue and the "processed jobs" queue. This can save a lot of time if a mistake is caught before expensive media is wasted.
Job / Page Priority
Allows users to change print priority on a per-job or per-page basis. When manually inserting jobs in the RIP or re-printing jobs that have been ripped; simply use the slide-bar to set values from 1 to 99 (just like Window's Print Manager) or enter the number by hand. The job or page will then assume it's new print priority. When printing from applications (Quark, PageMaker, etc.) select the priority in the print settings dialog.
Re-Print Pages without Re-Ripping
Allows you to re-print individual pages or colors from a separation with a few simple clicks of your mouse. Once the job has been processed, simply open the job item in the queue, select the pages you wish to re-send to the printer (1). Select the number of copies (2) and click "Print Selected Pages" (3). The selected pages will be sent to the output queue. When making multiple copies, the pages can be "stacked" (1,1,1, 2,2,2, 3,3,3 etc.) or collated (1,2,3, 1,2,3, etc.).
ICM/ICC Based Color Management
Supports the use of ICC and ICMs for color management. The user can select the color space of the input CMYK and RGB as well as the output ICM if they desire. All media types included with MultiRIP have been pre-linearized and the manual selection of an output profile is seldom needed. If the user has created a custom output profile, however, MultiRIP uses it per your request. You can select the ICC/ICMs at print-time or right at the RIP control panel when manually inserting PostScript or PDF files or re-processing previous jobs. A utility is included in the software which allows you to add ICM name entries into your PPD so that they appear at print-time in the print configuration dialog.
Print Spot Colors
To ensure accurate spot color reproduction you can activate MultiRIP's "TrueSpot™" you use special logo colors or product colors then you can easily add them to MultiRIP with the Spot Color function. Just click on Add and type in your special color. MultiRIP will remember your color and use it each time it is requested within your application.

 More, Veel:

Available Applications for MultiRIP:
o Screen Printing Film Positives
o Dye Sublimation Printing on Fabrics
and hard substrates

o Inkjet Heat Transfers for Light and
Dark Transfer Paper

o High Quality Photograph Printing
o General Printing for Invoices, Marketing
Materials, Reports, Forms & More

MultiRIP is THE Multiple Application RIP for the Decorated Apparel industry!
Highlight Features for Printing Screen Printing Film Positives:

o Print from any artwork program
o Halftones Printing
o Page Previewing Capability
o Job / Page Priority
o Re-Printing without Re-Ripping
o ICM/ICC Color Based Management
o Generate screened separations from
any composite PostScript or PDF file
o Adjustable Density Curve

Highlight Features for Printing Dye Sublimation Transfers:
o Color Profiled for Maximum Color and
o Calibrated for Proper Ink Usage
o Add Custom Page Sizes
o Page Previewing
o Job / Page Priority
o Re-Print without Re-Ripping
o ICM / ICC Color Management
o Print Spot Colors

Highlight Features for Printing Inkjet Heat Transfers
o Color Profiled for Maximum Color and
Brightness for Light & Dark Papers

o Calibrated for Proper Ink Usage
o Borderless Printing
o Page Previewing
o Add Custom Page Sizes
o Job / Page Priority
o Re-Print without Re-Ripping
o ICM / ICC Color Management
o Print Spot Colors

Highlight Features for Printing High Quality Photographs
o Color Profiled for Maximum Color
and Brightness

o Presetting for Matte & Glossy Paper
o Calibrated for Proper Ink Usage
o Borderless Printing
o Add Custom Page Sizes
o Page Previewing
o Job / Page Priority
o Re-Print without Re-Ripping
o ICM / ICC Color Management
o Print Spot Colors

Highlight Features for General Printing (Invoices, Marketing Materials,...)
o Share the Printer over the Network
o Print Queue Management
o Recomposite from Separations
o Pre-Profiled and Easy to Use
o Support ICC Profiles
o Spot Colors
o Add Custom Page Sizes
o RIP to a Disk Feature
o TIFF Output
o PDF Generator and Printing
o Borderless Printing


Grrrrreat argument:

Hilights: ICC or no ICC, CMYK or RGB

 Rest assured places like Conde Systems and Marvelpress do tons more fulfillment stuff than you or I do. Marvelpress 90% uses desktop printers.

Rest assured Conde and Marvel Press are color managing per the consensus methods.

Marvel Press is one the largest fulfillment companies in the country, they have Walmart and most of the major retailers that offer custom products to customers.

The CEO of Marvel Press is Paul Hirst, he was the original owner of Artainium. He was the first to offer sublimation ICC profiles for ink jet and the proper way to color manage sublimation was all pioneered by him. I'm not the expert, I learned from experts like Paul and followed their advise.

See what is possible with cheap desktop printers?

I do this but on a smaller scale, don't try and draw up a strawman of me.

Do you think they spend much time tweaking those thousands of "one ups" they make? Or not use ICC sublimation profiles or throw CMYK data into their printers? NO


 All professionals I have dealt with, my shop included, will use RGB colors with smaller, non-industrial printers, with the provided color profile. That gives the results intended by the companies selling the inks and accessories.

" I've read article after article year in and year out but it doesn't change the fact that for "me" using CYMK color mode gives me better colors that I can not get in RGB. So all science aside it seems CYMK works just fine.

I have spoken with Wasatch and they also say there is no reason you can not use CYMK color mode with their RIP Software even though most people use RGB."

So it's not clear to me what you are really using. ???

Again, what is "my opinion" is based on others I deem expert and has consensus among other experts, it is not my invention.

New comers you can't assume anything. If they think they can throw CMYK data into a printer with a RGB driver or not use a ICC sublimation profile they are going to have serious trouble doing any kind of complex color graphics. It's that simple.


Jimmy, I'm Mike BTW, but no big deal (There is a Mark posting here as a sock puppet though LOL).

I do a lot of work in vector. I don't disagree that your method swatches work. But I compose from scratch in vector using RGB values straight from my palette and don't have to swatch except rarely as what I see on screen matches the output nearly every time. I also take in vector artwork from customers. I also have mixed bitmap and vector work as well.

If you are not color managing correctly then you are pretty much forced to swatch for a lot more than if you color managed properly.

Swatching for me is the exception and not the rule.

I simply can't agree that working without a ICC profile is good practice.

No matter what palette you are using colors are just numbers going into your printer, there is no reason that an RGB color cannot be found that matches other colors that you need that you find in other palettes. The only thing that limits you is your ink gamut. There is nothing magic in those other palettes, you just have more number combinations available.

I understand exactly why you are using the other palettes, you just don't have a big enough RGB palette and using the other palettes just lets you get there without expanding your existing RGB much. I can see some time savings there not expanding your RGB palette and just use what is already there.

This may not be applicable to you but most of my artwork I don't care what printer I will be using in the future.

As soon as you start composing strictly from your swatches, ***which represent error*** then your file is married to the specific inks and printer you have now.

Not saying I won't have to adjust things in the future, but the "porting" of the graphic is less fuss if you color manage.

There is no such thing as perfect color management but your swatched artwork will need radical changes once you change to a new system and/or inks, or if you start using an ICC.

Since you are not color managing at all it really makes no difference what palette you pick from.

I'm not against your method of swatching, what I do take exception to is not using a sublimation ICC. Swatching is a necessary evil at times, so it's best to avoid swatching when you don't have to. Correct color management means less tweaking.

If there are a ton of colors in artwork given to you then going in a re-assigning swatch values to hundreds of objects in vector is very time consuming.

 Print this photo and transfer ...

You will not get accurate colors across the entire gamut of your inks with what you are doing.

It is only that using swatches you can pick whatever color happens to "land" to the right color you need after transferring.

My money says what you are seeing on screen isn't true either. 'Super dark" "Awesome" and "Super Clean" indicates you are seeing colors subjectively and not objective. Being accurate requires objective color and correct color management. While you might like the colors you see I bet they are not accurate. If you don't have a wide gamut calibrated IPS monitor then you have no true reference. But if your color management setup is correct in the application software, your using an ICC that was made correctly and you apply it correctly, and your printer/inks are good then you can get by without a high end monitor. But you can't trust onscreen viewing 100%.

Swatching using other palettes just means you have more color variations to choose from to find a matching color.

To each his own? You are sublimating without using a sublimation ICC, I don't recommend anyone do that

 Yup color swatching allows you to pick the exact colors that you need.

As I stated if I give you art that needs to be accurate you now have to jump through hoops to make things color accurate, the more objects in the vector file the more you have to play with things. If a vector file has a hundred objects you are going to have to click each one and reassign the color in the object. I don't need to tweek much because I do things correctly. Most of my stuff I print the source image without modification.

I agree on your point about Sk Daves requirement though.

What you do can only work for you or someone only doing what you do. As soon as you try anything else you now need to tinker more tweak and experiment.

What I do works for ANY art, vector, photograph, mixed.

 Time is everything for me.

I do a mixture of all kinds of art. I do a decent volume of product and I sell wholesale. Most of my stuff are individual unique graphics and photo novelty and low volume per design, but I do many many of them, typically all in one batch.

If I followed some of you guys methodology I would spend more time tweaking than I can make on the product.

I spend very little time ever tweaking.


Just because some of you guys do simple color doesn't mean new comers here won't be doing more advanced stuff or even photo novelty items, so why promote a practice that can only work in narrow situations?

I can assure you for the times I do need to swatch or tweak I don't spend any more time doing so than if I didn't color manage, so I don't get your "efficiency" point. Swatching only requires you keep your color workspace and color management fixed and don't change it. But when I don't have to tweak (most of the time) I save a ton of time by using accepted proper color management.

Here you go again - trying to elevate yourself above those of us that do "simple" colors and claiming the way you do it is the same as all "Experts". You are offensive and clueless to anything other than what is in your tiny little box. I can assure you if you are working on a little WF1000 we produce more in a day than you do in a year yet it is you that is the "expert". You are an expert in your world - in my world you are inexperienced and all noise.

If I followed your methodology I would be selling misc goods from a spare room in my house versus making a living producing custom dye sublimation apparel.
I told you, I'm OCD so my colors are near perfect...I spent countless hours, tons of size 5X shirts for making swatches, went back and forth with profiles, back and forth with RGB and CMYK art boards until I was happy...I didn't just take one persons advise and use the Cobra ink CIS profile, I tinkered until I found what I liked the best and gave me the best results...

As far as calibrated monitors yada yada, I'm small time, so I use my laptop, tons of memory, CS6 Illustrator and my monitor shows me whatever it shows me but I can assure you, most people on this board are like me, small time with simple computers and software and not super calibrated crazy stuff...we are startup people so to say, I'm far from an expert but I've been doing sublimation for 10+ years and along the way learned from people like you and also by trial and error and sweat and hard work...

If you want to be good, fine, if you want to be better than prepare yourself, try things, experiment and you'll find your own way to make things better...go


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