How to Put an Image on a T-Shirt: A Technical Overview

Creating custom t-shirts with images of loved ones is a meaningful way to honor memories. This article will guide you through the process of putting an image on a t-shirt, exploring various methods and equipment options. We will discuss heat press transfers, dye sublimation, and VersaCAMM, while providing tips on selecting the right tools for your needs.

Heat Press Transfers: A Reliable Option

Heat press transfers are a popular method for applying images to t-shirts. This process involves printing an image onto a special transfer paper and then using a heat press to transfer the image onto the fabric. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Select Your Image: Choose a high-quality image. Remember, light colors may not show up well on dark fabrics, so opt for solid, dark colors for better contrast.
  2. Print the Image: Use an inkjet printer to print the image onto iron-on transfer paper. For light fabrics, use transfer paper with a clear background. For dark fabrics, use transfer paper with a white background to ensure the image's visibility.
  3. Heat Press Application: Place the printed transfer paper onto the t-shirt and use a heat press to apply the image. A reliable brand like GeoKnight offers durable heat presses. A swing-away model is recommended for ease of use and consistent results.

Choosing the Right Heat Press

When selecting a heat press, consider factors such as reliability, ease of use, and durability. GeoKnight is a trusted brand that builds solid presses. While cheaper options from lesser-known brands are available, investing in a reliable heat press ensures long-term performance and support.

Alternative Methods: Dye Sublimation and VersaCAMM

Dye Sublimation

Dye sublimation is another effective method for transferring images onto t-shirts. This process uses special sublimation ink and paper to create vibrant, long-lasting prints. Here’s how it works:

  1. Print the Image: Use a sublimation printer with sublimation ink to print your image onto sublimation paper.
  2. Transfer the Image: Place the printed sublimation paper onto the t-shirt and use a heat press to transfer the image. This method works best on polyester fabrics or poly-coated items.


VersaCAMM combines printing and cutting in a single device, making it versatile for creating custom t-shirts. It uses eco-solvent inks to print on vinyl, which can then be heat-pressed onto the fabric.

  1. Print and Cut: Print your design on heat transfer vinyl using a VersaCAMM machine. The machine will also cut the design to the desired shape.
  2. Heat Press Application: Use a heat press to apply the vinyl design onto the t-shirt.

Tips for Successful T-Shirt Printing

  1. Color Considerations: For images on dark shirts, use transfer paper with a white background to ensure light colors show up well. For black shirts, consider using white or light gray ink for a striking contrast.
  2. Image Rights: If you plan to sell your custom shirts, ensure you have the rights to the images. Avoid using images from the internet without permission. Websites like Etsy offer high-quality, legal artwork for commercial use.

Budget Considerations

When investing in t-shirt printing equipment, consider your budget. If you have around $400 to spend, prioritize purchasing a quality heat press. This will form the backbone of your setup, and you can add other equipment as your business grows.


Printing images on t-shirts can be a rewarding venture, whether for personal use or starting a small business. By choosing the right method and equipment, you can create high-quality, custom t-shirts that stand out. For more tips and tutorials, follow our YouTube Channel BCH Technologies or visit our tech blog. If you’re in Greensboro, North Carolina, stop by our local store for personalized assistance and equipment demos.

May 24th 2024 Jee Comendador

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