How Does Transfer Paper Work – The Ultimate Guide

What a relief for artists! You no longer have to use tracing paper and carbon paper to make a copy of the design you want to paint or embroider. Transfer paper has taken over the ‘old technique” of transferring images. No mess of carbon now onto the surface of the canvas.

Modern-day transfer paper is a thin paper coated with pigment and wax. These papers are indispensable for textile workers and used in DIY arts and crafts projects. The transfer papers are the media of iron-on or images imprinted in textile, fabric, and T-shirts. To enable transferring let us see the requirement and procedure on how to do transfer paperwork.

Printer and Ink

Any business or home printer is suitable for transfer paper to work. If you use an inkjet printer, the ink recommended by the brand of the printer will be fine. It is import note that a good transfer process depends on the quality of the paper, rather than the printer or ink.

How Does Transfer Paper Work

Transfer Paper or Thermal Wax Paper

Transfer paper is wax and pigment-coated paper used for printing images, which are transferable onto canvas, fabric, T-shirts. The transfer paper or thermal wax paper is the media of carrying the designs for printing onto fabrics. The convenience of transfer paper is that it has no grease, easy to erase, and does not leave any residue. Transfer papers come in all colors so colorful prints are possible.

how does transfer paper work cricut

Transfer of Designs

You may directly draw your design on paper with markers, crayons, or ink. Using a printer may be an easier and faster way of printing the drawing on the thermal transfer paper from your computer.

Heat Transfer of Prints Onto Fabric

Heat transfer, also known as thermal printing, thermal-transfer printing, and thermal-wax transfer, is a method of printing that allows you to print a design onto a piece of clothing or an object. From the printer, the image will be a mirror image. To enable correct printing of the text and drawing you would need to use the photo imaging software to flip the image.

The heat transfer of the image onto the fabric takes a few steps.

  1. Washing the fabric or the T-shirt before printing as the design will settle better. Dry well before printing with a hot iron.
  2. Place the designed transfer paper on your T-shirt with the back facing up. A wooden or hard surface will be best. Take care to place it in a perfect position of the place you want it. You will iron the back not the transfer paper.
  3. Heat the iron as you would do for cotton if your T-shirt is of cotton fabric. You may also the manufacturer’s recommendation on the temperature of any transfer paper. Slowly iron backing to staying on each part for 10 to 20-second. To make ironing easy, you may place a light towel or parchment paper in between the iron and the transfer paper. Cover the entire image. Let it cool for 2-3 minutes.
  4. The backing is now ready to peel off. While peeling makes sure, the design is complete on the fabric or the T-shirt. Otherwise, run the hot iron over again. Dry again before use.

how does heat transfer paper work

Some Techniques to Remember

In creating design and how best to transfer paperwork there are some techniques that you need to remember.

Types of Transfer Paper

As we have said before, the quality and type of transfer paper are important for achieving excellent prints on fabrics. The application of the type depends on the substrate. Therefore, it is important to know the various transfer paper available for a specific purpose.

1. Inkjet Transfer Paper

The most popular method of producing transfers with an inkjet printer is inkjet transfer paper. Inkjet transfer paper is made of thin paper and excellent for text, image, design, logos, and graphics. A regular inkjet printer with the use of dye-based or pigment ink works out well on cotton-blended fabrics. This is also the best transfer paper for shirts.

Transfer Paper

2. Sublimation Transfer Paper

This type of paper is an excellent paper for transferring designs on polyester and synthetic materials. In this procedure, the ink becomes a gas of ‘sublimates’ without becoming liquid. You can also primary colors for printing design.

3. Vinyl Transfer Paper

The makeup of vinyl transfer paper is a synthetic polymer, which is tough, durable, and flame retardant. They are also reusable. It is cumbersome to use this type of paper with multiple colors. They use vinyl transfer paper for designing logos and other products.

printable heat transfer paper

4. Inkjet Heat Transfer Paper

This is also as known as WALAPaper and allows the creation of fully colored designs, t-shirts, bags, and activewear. This type of paper is good for printing both on light and dark-colored fabrics.

5. Fabric Transfer Paper

This type of ‘Iron on’ paper is appropriate for cotton fabrics with either inkjet or laser printer. You can print your t-shirt and other home accessories such as pillowcases, napkins, aprons, bags, and more.

how to use transfer paper

6. Light Transfer Paper

In printing designs and images to white or light-colored, fabric or any substrate, the light transfer paper creates bright and accurate prints. Inkjet printer is the printer for printing

7. Dark Transfer Paper

This type enables the images to look like the exact color in the fabric dark transfer paper is used. You need to create the images in a solid background that matches the color of the shirt, so the prints look bright with a light-colored design.

how does iron on transfer paper work


Printing t-shirt and other home accessories with transfer paper designing do not seem to be a hard job. If you are artistic and an enthusiastic designer, you can easily produce creative designs and text, as you desire. However, the internet has many ideas. All you need to do is to browse and recreate your own. Inkjet or laser printer is a great help in aiding transfer paperwork for ultimate printing in fabrics.

Hope you enjoy this simple guide!

About Author


Alice covers platforms, policy and big tech at Printer Reviews. Prior to rejoining here, Alice was Senior Technology Editor of the TechDen. Alice first joined PrinterReviews in 2021. Before joining, he was the Tech Editor of the Daily Dot and a reporter and deputy editor at ReadWeb.

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