9 Best Free Sublimation Software for Epson Printers

free sublimation software for Epson

By Ecombridges    •   Updated August 6, 2022

In this article, you will learn about the top nine graphic design software on the market, especially the best free sublimation software for Epson printers.

Introduction

Sublimation printing employs heat to create a molecular link between the dye and the fabric. This sublimation printing process works on everything from t-shirts to cups.

Before you can print a design with a sublimation printer, you must first create or edit the image with design software. Choosing the best sublimation printing software will assist you in producing outstanding prints!

As a result, selecting the best photo editing software for your sublimation printing business is crucial. In this post, you'll learn about the benefits of using these design tools.

Finally, there are some pointers on how to make your first sublimation designs!

Let's jump in!

1. Canva

Canva graphic design software for sublimation printing

Canva may appear to be a simple drag-and-drop application for creating social media posts or school bake sale posters at first glance.

The design software has a feature-rich setup that you could use to create designs for your sublimation printing business! Over 75 million people use Canva so you can't go wrong with it.

Canva‘s main benefit is that it is web-based and incredibly user-friendly.

I recommend you to use this graphic design software for your sublimation printing business. It's one of the best free design software out there. Mainly, it is excellent free sublimation software for Epson sublimation printers.

You can start using free designs or templates or creating your original work in only a few minutes.

That's why it's amongst the best free design software in the market today.

Key Features

  • Combine Images: create beautiful designs by adding images together.
  • Photo montage: create a stunning photo montage from your images to design your sublimation prints. Upload your photos to add elegant filters and elements from Canva's photo editor.
  • Brighten Images: you can quickly improve your sublimation designs in a few clicks with beginner-friendly editing features. Brighten your images to make them stand out.
  • Image Enhancer: improve your photos with Canva's free image enhancer. You can work on enhancing sharpness and fixing low lighting while keeping quality.

You can read more about Canva's key features on their website: Start Designing in Canva.

User Experience

Canva offers an excellent user experience: the interface is straightforward and you can easily create your designs online from your browser before sending them to your sublimation printer. This design software is very beginner-friendly!

You have plenty of templates available for free, on top of millions of photos, designs, and fonts.

You can use Canva for everything, from simple editing for sublimation design to creating images for social media, brochures, and blog posts.

Pricing

  • Free: It has a free version that is excellent for those who want to play around.
  • Pro: $12.99/month or $119.99/year.
    For that price, you get up to 5 team members! I highly recommend the Pro version and I use it myself. It gives you access to millions of premium photos, templates, premium content, and tools such as Magic Resize or Background Remover. While Canva free is excellent, the Pro version unlocks your full creative potential.
  • Enterprise: $30/month/person. This advanced plan is for big teams of min 25 people.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Canva allows anyone to become a designer because of its ease of use. Indeed, the platform is user-friendly and easy to use compared to other design software like Affinity Designer.
  • Many photos, designs, and templates are available on the site.
  • It is cost-effective for those who want to start in sublimation design, looking for the best free sublimation software for Epson printers.

Cons

  • It can be difficult for one to create sublimation designs due to limited templates for this specific use case. However, you can easily create your designs from scratch with Canva.
  • Canva's design software is great for newbies but doesn't have enough tools for expert designers who may prefer using Adobe Creative Cloud, CorelDRAW, or Silhouette Studio.
  • You cannot save the “RAW” file to your PC but only in these formats: JPG, PNG, SVG, PDF, MP4, and GIF. However, PNG files are perfect for sublimation designs as you get better quality than JPEG or JPG formats.

Product Update

Canva recently announced that it would be dropping a new 50 Instagram Templates soon, which would only be available on their premium monthly fee package.

In short, you can use Canva as software for sublimation printing, which does the job for your Epson sublimation printer.

However, if you are more advanced and want the best graphic design software for sublimation, consider using the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, including Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, and InDesign.

2. Photopea

Photopea free sublimation software for Epson

The Photopea tool is also one of the best free design software for sublimation printers out there.

However, Photopea is not specialized in sublimation printing, unlike Cricut Design Space for the designs you apply with your heat press, or Sawgrass CreativeStudio.

The free design software for sublimation is a slimmed-down version of Adobe Photoshop you can only use online.

As a result, you'll need a high-speed Internet connection to use this software for your sublimation designs.

It's a good choice for beginners who want to brush up on their skills before diving into Affinity Designer, Silhouette Studio, or Adobe Creative Cloud. Besides that, Photopea is an excellent free sublimation software for Epson.

Key Features

  • Image Editing Tools: patch tool, clone stamp healing brush, spot healing, and more.
  • Layers Support: layer masks, layer styles, text layers.
  • Extended features: vector shapes, smart objects, selections, paths, filters, and channels.
  • Control: controlling the revisions and design space.
  • Text Editor: add text to your images with Photopea's text editing features.

My opinion: the overall experience with this graphic design software is excellent. Whenever I need simple but outstanding graphics of any kind, I quickly go to Photopea when I'm not using Canva because I can access it online and it's user-friendly.

Pricing

Photopea is free online design software for sublimation that you can check out.

However, if you want to help them, you can upgrade to a Premium plan for $5/month. It doesn't give you any extra features, but you show your support to the developers.

Pros and Cons

Here are some pros and cons of Photopea I experienced when using this software for sublimation printing:

Pros

  • Photo Editing Tools: Photopea is excellent editing software that's quite comparable with Affinity Designer, which has a free version that's quite nice and a premium version. Both software for sublimation offer simple and advanced tools. I like Photopea's editing features; they are great for sublimation printing. It's one of the best free graphic design software for creating a sublimation design.
  • Free: I believe this free sublimation software for Epson best fits all sublimation designs one can make.

Cons

  • Save your designs: In my experience, it would occasionally glitch, and I'd lose all of my print projects, which was a pain.
  • 3D limitations: Photopea's only 3D design choice is a filter, and it's pretty limited in sublimation resources.
  • PSD files: It is not compatible with all PSD files. Layers can sometimes disappear or appear in a different hue.

Product Update

Here are some of the product updates of Photopea: Stroke Vector Shapes, Color Spaces, Color Profiles, a CMYK mode, a new Noise Reduction filter, and the ability to add Text Background.

3. Inkscape

Inkscape logo

Inkscape is a free high-quality printing, open-source alternative to Adobe Illustrator.

This tool is also one of the best sublimation software programs, and it is a vector graphics design tool with thousands of add-ons, including raster imaging photo editing features.

With Gimp and Photopea, this is pretty much the only design software you can use to get completely free access to so many graphic design features! Look no further if you're looking for free sublimation software for Epson printers.

Key Features

  • Editing Tools: Drawing, shape, calligraphy, pencil, and pen tools.
  • Bitmap Tracing: you can trace a bitmap image into a <path> element. It's useful for your SVG drawings. You can learn more about tracing bitmaps in Inkscape's tutorial.
  • File Formats: Native support for SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), but you can also open many other file formats, including JPG, PNG, GIF, PDF, EPS, and even AI formats from Adobe Illustrator. You can also add a free extension to Inkscape so you can open additional proprietary files such as CorelDRAW or Sketch formats. Read more in their FAQ.
  • Anti-Aliasing: Inkscape, as a vector editor, applies anti-aliasing automatically, so you get sharp and clear lines.

User Experience

Inkscape is a free tool that allows you to create vectors on a desktop computer. Vectors are scalable graphics you can use for sublimation printing. Indeed, these vectors don't blur when resized.

It's so good that it's a serious competitor to high-end best software like Adobe Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop included in the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite.

Pricing

Inkscape is an entirely free program, so it is free to download, use, and share, as well as access to peering into the source code.

The Download page includes links to released builds and access to development and source code.

Pros and Cons

Here are some of the pros and cons I experienced with Inkscape when using it as design software for sublimation printing:

Pros

  • Features: The quantity of functionality for this graphic design sublimation software is astonishing, especially for open-source software. You can use it as an alternative to Adobe Photoshop, Affinity Designer, Silhouette Studio, or other premium software.
  • Free: I've had a terrific time using this software for sublimation printing. I created excellent designs for my business with astonishing detailed images. And as it's open-source, so you get it for free! You can't beat that.
  • Tablet Support: Overall, I'm ecstatic that such functionality and pen tablet compatibility are free. You can use Inkscape on an iPad with the Apple pencil, which is very convenient.

Cons

  • User Interface: you may not like Inkscape's user interface (UI). It's never easy to learn how to do something new, and navigating the UI can be irritating. However, some people like the UI of Inkscape and find it intuitive.
  • Adobe Illustrator file support (.ai): Illustrator is the industry standard for vector graphics. Inkscape can open its .ai format, but you can't save your work in this proprietary format unless you use some tricks (PDF saving, file renaming), with the risk of losing some properties or seeing your layers flattened, not merged correctly.
    It's much easier to use Adobe Illustrator directly, primarily if you use SVG files. Fortunately, you can save SVG files in Inkscape and edit them later in Adobe Illustrator. In that case, you will lose some blurring, layer masking, filter effects, etc.
  • Result: the result may differ from my typical style regarding my sublimation printing habits using Adobe Creative Cloud.
  • Learning Curve: It was tough to figure out how to use this design software with my sublimation printer and accomplish anything when I first started using it. But once you get used to it, read the documentation and watch tutorials, you'll do wonders with sublimation printing.

Are you looking for free sublimation software for Epson printers? Try Inkscape, it's free!

4. Gimp

Gimp logo

GIMP is another best open-source design software, meaning no company or individual owns its source code. It also means that it is free to use! Definitely one of the best free software for graphic design on the market.

You can also see GIMP as an excellent free sublimation software for Epson printers. Indeed, GIMP can perform most of the tasks offered by Photoshop, and it is one of the best software in the open-source category.

However, this tool is best suited for modifying pictures or image downloads rather than creating vector graphics. Indeed, GIMP is not a vector image editor but a raster image editor. It means that instead of creating vectors, GIMP makes pixels.

So, if you want to create vector graphics that don't blur when resizing, you may want to use Adobe Creative Cloud instead.

Key Features

  • Photo Editing Tools: Brush, pencil, airbrush, clone, and other painting tools.
  • Tile-Based Memory Management: Image size is limited only by available disk space, thanks to tile-based memory management.
  • Comprehensive Features: It has a high level of manipulation like Adobe Illustrator.
  • Alpha Channel: Support for the alpha channel in its entirety.

User Experience

The interface is highly customizable, and the GIMP community has created a slew of useful plugins that are all available for free.

Don't worry if you get lost — help is always available. Plenty of tutorials are available for Gimp; you can find help in the active and helpful community.

If you want to create free sublimation designs, look no further than Gimp!

Pricing

Free, open-source software.

Pros and Cons

Here are the main pros and cons of using GIMP when looking for a free sublimation software for Epson printers or sublimation printing in general.

Pros

  • Open-Source: The fact that it is open-source software is the best aspect for me. It provides a high level of satisfaction and paves the way for others to do the same.
  • Features-rich: It's free, it's feature-rich, and it offers the same powerful image capabilities as Photoshop does for producing sublimation designs, with the extra benefit of being completely free.
  • Alternative to Photoshop: Although designers widely use Photoshop, GIMP is a fantastic alternative. It takes some time to become used to all of its features, but it's well worth the effort.

Cons

  • Complexity: My only difficulty was that I couldn't figure out how to use the software initially for creating sublimation designs; there was a steep learning curve.
  • Speed: At times, it appears cluttered, and it delays, which may be aggravating. It depends on the performance of your computer.
  • User Interface: Layering and finding standard functions in the menu can be tricky for new users. I find the way it hides and expands the various options a tad perplexing.

5. Krita

Krita free sublimation software for Epson

Krita is one of the best in the sublimation space. You can use this free, open-source graphic design software for Direct-to-Garment printing (DTG), all-over printing, poster and canvas printing, sublimation printing, UV printing, illustrations, and photo editing.

It's a raster graphics editor like Gimp, so not specialized in vector images. The software focuses on digital illustrations, so it's perfect for artists who want to create their designs.

Key Features

  • Intuitive UI: movable panels and dockers, customized layouts so you can optimize your design workspace.
  • Layer Management: Krita uses filters, vector, group, and file layers, and you can combine, flatten or order them. A transparency mask, a filter mask, and a local selection mask are all examples of layers.
  • Plenty of Tools: more than 100 preloaded brushes with different brush engines to add special effects, brush stabilizers to mitigate shaking when drawing, and vector or text tools.
  • PSD support: open all Photoshop files to take your sublimation design in various design software.

You can learn more about Krita's main features here.

User Experience

Krita is worth downloading and trying out if you're looking for a nice piece of digital painting and drawing software, especially if you haven't paid for any program yet. It's free, just like GIMP, so there's no reason not to try it out.

Pricing

The software is free.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Ease of Use: Krita, as I said, is a great software to get started with Digital Art for sublimation printing. I used it to create some concept work and enjoyed every minute of it. With Krita, you also get lots of educational content to help you get started.
  • Free: This is a terrific tool, especially for free software.
  • Features: Many features to create the perfect designs for your sublimation transfers.
  • Compatibility: you can use Krita on Windows, macOS, Linux, ChromeOS, and Android operating systems.

Cons

  • Focused on Artwork: It's more focused on digital painting and similar artwork, so it's not the best software for editing photos. However, if you want to create artistic designs for sublimation printing, Krita is excellent.
  • Support: Krita is free, so you don't get a dedicated support team. However, you can ask questions in the Krita Artist forum with a vibrant community of artists.
  • Learning Curve: There is a learning curve, especially if you have never used a tool like this before. On my PC, there are occasions when it lags.

Product Update

On your device, get the latest version of Krita for free. Tablets running Windows, Linux, Mac OS, and Android operating systems are supported.

Krita is excellent if you're looking for free sublimation software for Epson printers.

Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Creative Cloud is a collection of Adobe software you can use for sublimation printing. It consists of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.

Adobe is the solution if you're looking for sublimation printing software. Indeed, Adobe Creative Cloud is simply the best software suite you can find in the market for your designs.

Pricing

Adobe Creative Cloud costs $82.49/month and $54.99 billed monthly for a yearly subscription.

Alternatively, if you only need one of Adobe design software, you can purchase them individually for $31.49/month or $20.99/month with an annual commitment.

6. Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop: best software for sublimation printing

On our list, it's the best photo editing software application for sublimation.

Photoshop is widely used on the Internet, and almost no one is unaware of its existence. It's one of the leading software for sublimation, an industry standard.

This software is a fantastic tool for designers, and it's handy for coming up with unique sublimation printing ideas.

Pricing

  • Monthly: $31.49/mo
  • Annual: $20.99/mo (annual commitment with a cancellation fee)
  • Annual, prepaid: $239.88/yr

    Recommendation: buy it as part of Adobe Creative Cloud, and get Adobe Illustrator and InDesign for $54.99/month, all included.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • High-Quality: Photoshop has drastically enhanced the quality of our designs; we've switched from Canva to Photoshop when creating advanced designs, and the difference is significant.
  • Industry Standard: It's one of the best in the market. Adobe products have an excellent reputation for quality, and everyone knows about Photoshop; it's the industry standard.

Cons

  • Customer Service: Like many other big companies, Adobe could improve its customer service. However, they are very experienced and will help you if you can't access Adobe Creative Cloud. You also get answers in their Help Center and forums.
  • Cancellation Fee: They have a high early cancellation fee if you want to get rid of your yearly subscription. However, you can choose to pay monthly instead, with no commitment.
  • Complexity: There is a barrier to entry as it takes time to master Photoshop. However, this is not an issue for most graphic designers, and plenty of tutorials are available online.

7. Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator: best software for sublimation printing

Adobe Illustrator is another fantastic graphic software for sublimation; Epson users love it!

It is a powerful design software with a vector graphics editor. Therefore, it creates vectors, in opposition to Gimp, a raster image editor producing pixels.

Illustrator is the industry standard for vector-based graphics. If you prefer to work with raster images (JPG, PNG) or do advanced photo editing, use Adobe Photoshop instead.

As previously mentioned, Adobe Illustrator also works with Inkscape, free design software that exports concepts in Adobe Illustrator's native SVG format.

In short, Adobe Illustrator is a fantastic tool for creating stunning sublimation prints with vector graphics instead of raster graphics! I highly recommend it if you're a professional designer or want the best in the industry; it has all the tools you need.

Pricing

  • Monthly: $31.49/mo
  • Annual: $20.99/mo (annual commitment with a cancellation fee)
  • Annual, prepaid: $239.88/yr

    Recommendation: buy it as part of Adobe Creative Cloud, and get Adobe Photoshop and InDesign for $54.99/month, all included.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Vector Graphics: The best feature of Adobe Illustrator is that it allows you to work in vectors, creating high-quality designs that won't be grainy when printed. You can scale your designs quickly without them getting blurred. As with Photoshop, your artwork is scalable. Indeed, you prefer to work with SVG or EPS vector files, not PNG or JPG pixelated raster images.
  • Versatile: you can create logo designs, sublimation prints, packaging, and web graphics. There are many use cases for Adobe Illustrator; it's very flexible and can fulfill all your design needs.
  • File Export: You can export your files in many formats: JPG, PNG, GIF, SVG, TIFF, BMP, PDF, and more. Export all your artboards simultaneously and save your vector graphics in SVG, EPS, or AI formats.

Cons

  • Complexity: If you have no experience, getting the best design software tools you'll need to perform what you want can be difficult. Due to the steep learning curve, beginners may not understand how to use Adobe Illustrator to create a sublimation design.
  • Heavy Software: There are large file size issues, so it takes lots of disk space. On top of that, it takes lots of computing resources to run Adobe Illustrator on your laptop. However, if you have a recent and powerful machine, you won't likely experience lags.

8. Adobe InDesign

Adobe InDesign is one of the best software for sublimation printing

It is yet another Adobe product that might be useful and one of the most effective software for sublimation design. InDesign is a page layout and publishing designing software you can use on Windows or Mac operating systems to create digital and print materials.

You can use it to create signboards, posters, digital books, magazines, brochures, flyers, and various other rich graphic design-related items.

As with Affinity Designer or Affinity Photo, Adobe InDesign makes detailed images and unique quality print projects.

Pricing

  • Monthly: $31.49/mo
  • Annual: $20.99/mo (annual commitment with a cancellation fee)
  • Annual, prepaid: $239.88/yr

    Recommendation: buy it as part of Adobe Creative Cloud, and get Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for $54.99/month, all included.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Publishing: In my opinion, to this day, InDesign is perhaps the best software for publishing and creating beautiful page layouts. All the tools include many useful features for all graphic layout creators. It's also helpful when using the Sawgrass print manager for sublimation printing.
  • Versatile: I love this design software because it gives various customization options compared to other design sublimation software I've used. Therefore, Adobe InDesign helps me print high-quality sublimation prints.

Cons

  • Expensive: The cost, as well as Adobe's inability to work with operating systems, has always been a hassle and a costly one. Indeed, Adobe products require the latest operating systems and updates to work correctly. There is also no free trial.
  • Learning Curve: For someone unfamiliar with design programs, particularly those from the Adobe Suite, I think the learning curve can be high.

9. CorelDRAW

CorelDRAW is one of the best software for sublimation printing

CorelDraw is a reliable and simple-to-use designing sublimation software. Its user interface is highly adaptive and customizable, making it a flexible design software.

However, unlike much other design software for sublimation mentioned in this article, this is not free software. Indeed, it works with a monthly subscription which is affordable compared to other software in the design space.

It's considered one of the best sublimation software and is very popular among graphic designers for its editing features.

CorelDraw also comes with a slew of unique tools to help you create and improve your design skills, and it runs smoothly with minimum lag if you have a good machine.

It can import files in several formats and export them in the most common formats, ranging from SVG, EPS, AI, JPG, PNG, and more, making it ideal for professionals.

My opinion: I prefer this software over Silhouette Studio; it's excellent and easy to use. The design space is also great; this is among the best sublimation software I've used for sublimation printing. It works with any sublimation printer.

Key Features

  • LiveSketch Tool: This software for sublimation includes a LiveSketch tool you can use with a pen-abled device to immediately capture your original design ideas.
  • Multi-Monitor: It comes with multi-monitor support, compatible with any computer screen.
  • Healing Clone Tools
  • Copy Curve Segments
  • Gaussian Blur

Pricing

CorelDRAW Graphics Suite is available as a paid monthly subscription with an annual commitment. You also get a lifetime deal for the previous version. CorelDRAW also offers a 15-day free trial.

  • Annual plan: $19.08/mo or $229/yr.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Robust & Versatile: Professional and creative design characteristics that assist you in obtaining the ideal design for your requirements. This isn't the best free software because it isn't free. But I would recommend this product; it is quite powerful and offers you the capacity to accomplish a great deal once you master it.
  • Drawing Tools: The tools are great; therefore, the sublimation prints are outstanding. The design process for me is slow but very rewarding. CorelDRAW transformed from an ugly duckling to a lovely and valuable piece of software.

Cons

  • Popups: Many people tried to contact Corel about this but to no avail. The options to disable popups are disregarded and cannot be disabled.
  • Learning Curve: Because there are so many tools, I become a little lost trying to find them.

Product Update

The latest CorelDRAW Graphics Suite includes:

  • Improved asset management.
  • A streamlined collaboration workflow.
  • Direct access to web fonts from within Corel Font Manager.
  • Improvements for various customer-reported performance and stability concerns.

Conclusion

In this article, we've looked at some of the greatest sublimation software options available, especially the best free sublimation software for Epson printers.

They are design software you can use for all your design needs, not just sublimation printing like Silhouette Studio for your Silhouette cutting machine, Cricut Design Space, or Sawgrass CreativeStudio software for Sawgrass sublimation printers.

We hope you may use this information to create significant improvements in your sublimation business workflow!

But some of the key features you should take note of before using one are:

  • Your budget for a graphic design sublimation software.
  • The features you need and your current expertise in graphic design.
  • Your use case: the software you need to create your sublimation designs depends on if you use it for personal use or as a small/medium business.

I believe that using the correct tool for the task is vital, and I hope that this article has assisted you in finding the right tool for your company's needs.

If you're a beginner, learn more about sublimation printing here.

You can also look at all the best software for sublimation printing, including Cricut Design Space, Silhouette Studio, Sawgrass Creative Studio software, and Affinity Designer, before creating your stunning sublimation designs!

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