Light or Dark Transfer Paper – How To Choose?

Video Transcript

So in this video we are going to talk about the differences between the light and the dark transfer paper, most of the calls about transfer paper we get in the office is with people who don’t understand why you have two different products and what product you should use for which color garment or substrate on which you are printing.  So we have two products, we have a light transfer paper which is used for light garments, mainly white t-shirts or whiter substrates and the dark transfer paper which is printed on any substrate or surface which is not white, the darker the garment, the more you need to use the dark transfer paper, there are some colors of t-shirts or surface onto which you would get away with the light, the main difference between them and that becomes apparent when you print it that one need to be printed with a mirror image and the other doesn’t.

When you are printing light transfer paper and you will see the reason why, you are printing it in mirror image, you can see this is the same image, this is mirrored, you can tell by the text but also by the orientation of the girl here, and on the dark transfer paper we print it normally, we do not mirror the image and you will see why, what we are going to do it pint the light transfer paper and show you the process quickly, this is not the main instruction video, you’ll find a full intricate video on our channel talking specifically about the light transfer paper, so we are just talking about the comparison here, quite a large white area around the image, unlike the dark transfer paper I do need to trim it but I don’t need to worry too much about going all the way to the image, I can leave an edge, the reason I’m trimming it is mainly to shorten the process and also the white area which is unprinted here will to a small extent show on the surface that you are printing, so it’s a better practice to just trim it.

So roughly trimming it, leaving a little edge around the image, I’m going to line my desk with a t-shirt, this is not the t-shirt I’m printing, this is just like as a cushioning and a bit of protection for the table below, you need to make sure that the surface on which you are printing is heat resistant and will not be damaged or affected by the heat, anything flat, table top, worktop, cutting board, as long as it’s flat never ever use a, an ironing board or anything with, which gives, which is not solid.  So here is our transfer, we printed it in mirror image and you’ll understand now why, we’re putting it face down on the garment, you’ll find in a minute when you see the dark process, in the dark process we put it face up, so the light transfer paper is placed face down that’s why the mirror image is printed on the paper and once we iron it, it will become sure again.

I’m using as you can see a simple iron, this one is 1400 watts, we recommend you use at least 1400 watt iron, if it’s hotter it’s better and I am very systematically covering every are of the transfer.  So that’s about right, I’m going to put the iron to one side, little stretch of the corner I’m peeling it away.  When you read the instructions you will see that there is another process that we ask you to do which is fixing process, excuse the noise, and the paper is supplied with the silicone sheet that we ask you to put back on top of the exposed image to give the image a quick additional press just to make sure in case you haven’t gone over everything if you missed a bit, if an area hasn’t been properly suck on, this is a fail proof stage, you peel that away here is the ready image, quite stretchable, soft and ready, as you can see the text has gone back to normal and the text has gone back to normal and the image is as was taken originally.

Now let’s talk about the dark transfer paper, very similar process, we still line the surface on to which we are working with, another shirt just to give it a bit of cushioning and protection, here is my favorite black shirt which we are sacrificing for this video, doesn’t need to be new, this is a well worn one, and here is the dark transfer paper.  Unlike the white remember when we printed the white we roughly trimmed the white edges, with a dark transfer paper you have to remove all the white areas of the print that you do not want visible, if I leave an edge, the white edge on this image, the white edge will be visible on the garment, the reason behind it, I’ll explain while I’m cutting these away, the reason behind this is that there is no white ink in your printer.  When you remove the white from the background of an inkjet print, the inks are translucent, they are see through, so if you print a darker garment using a light transfer paper, the image will be see through, you will not see anything and so what this paper does is introduce a white background to the image because we are going to take the white background away by printing it onto a black shirt.

So this white edge, if it print it like this, this white edge will be visible on a dark garment using the dark transfer paper, unlike in the light if you remember where we left a white edge around the image, I’ll show you quickly, and that white edge is not visible, it doesn’t discolor or change anything in the shirt.  So I’m going to carry on and remove this last white edge that I left here, and here is the ready image, almost ready to go, you can see that the image has been printed normally, so there is no mirror image and we are going to place this transfer face up on the garment, but before we do that we have to separate it from the carrier, it’s a little bit fiddly especially if you got big thumbs like I do, okay so we are now separating, this is the carrier, the one, the paper with the blue grids on the back, just holding everything together, peel off the corner and just separate it.

Now you don’t need to panic at this stage because this is not sticky, you can position it, reposition it, decide where you want to have it, change your mind, move around, do whatever you want, okay once you decide on the position, say we want to put it center of the garment, I got a bit of a crease of the bottom there, if I take my iron and iron directly on top of this, the unprotected ink is going to jump onto the iron and the transfer will be ruined, so what we need to do before we iron it, remember in the light transfer paper we did it after the ironing, on this occasion before we iron it, we need to protect it with a silicone paper, this paper is included in the pack, you don’t need to buy it separately, you get it ready in the pack and they are reusable, so we positioned the transfer, we peeled off the backing, it’s not sticky so you can do this at leisure, no panic, then we cover it with the silicone paper and you notice that the image is face up and with the iron directly on top using the same systematic method we did before up and down and making sure the whole transfer is covered, putting as much pressure as we can, obviously don’t damage yourself with the iron, but don’t just lightly iron it, that’s not enough, you need to actually press the transfer into the fabric as much as you can.

Just peel this away and it’s done.  That’s the dark transfer paper and the light.  Now I know a lot of you are wondering what would happen if I used the light transfer paper onto a darker garment and you know what, we will show you.  So this is not the intended use for this product, this is unlikely to work or it will not work, but what we are going to do is print a light transfer paper, so this is the one with the red grid, this is a paper designed for light garments only, white and light garments only, we are going to trim it like we trimmed the other one, very roughly, leaving al small white edge around the image, remember there is no white ink in your printer, so the white that you see on this transfer paper is the white of the paper and what we are going to do is put this light transfer paper onto a dark garment just so show you what happens, because a lot of you asked the question and it’s a bit difficult to, you know if you haven’t used transfer paper before, it’s a bit difficult to get the concept of this.

Right that’s enough for this paper, again a little stretch, a little peel, as you can see the image has gone from here, so it has been transferred onto the surface and what we have is the invisible image, because we have taken the white surface, the white background away from the image, the inks are translucent, they are near invisible and you can’t see anything, that’s why you can use a light transfer paper onto a dark garment, that’s why the dark transfer paper which we used on this side has got a white background throughout and your transfer the white background together with the ink, so the inks remain visible.

Just as a recap and a summary, you use the dark transfer on any dark colored garments, blacks, navy blues, dark greens, anything where you need the full gamete of color to be visible, remember that all the white edges will be visible, so it works best with block, square block images that, or images that you can cut around all the white edges easily, doesn’t work when there’s a lot of intricate graphics or if you have to cut out letters it’s less suitable for that.  the light transfer paper obviously works on white garments, but generally on anything where the image is significantly darker than the surface, so if we are printing on very light yellows or light pastoral greens and your image is dark black text it will work, if it’s an image like this the yellows will be lost, the whites will become yellow, then you need to use the dark transfer paper.

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17 Responses to Light or Dark Transfer Paper – How To Choose?

  1. M. Markandeya Sarma ( Mark ) says:


    I would like to buy these papers from India… do you have a distributor in India!! or Can you ship it to us if we send the money to your bank a/c….


  2. Emma says:

    I want to print on a grey t-shirt what paper do I use? Light or dark?


  3. Clarisse says:

    Hi is it better if I use dark transfer paper on all different color of shirts?and is dark transfer paper good for all different colors of what I’m printing?(for example pink text,gold text and other colors)

    Thank you..

    • Joseph Eitan says:

      Yes. Dark transfer paper suits any colour (including white), while light transfer paper only suits white colour fabrics. Dark is the safest option. Thanks for the comment.

  4. Dhruv Agrawal says:

    Hi what if i use dark transfer paper on white tshirt will it affect anything?

    • Joseph Eitan says:

      Absolutely fine. Dark transfer paper can be used on any colour fabric, including white. Light transfer paper can only be used on white fabrics.

      • Dhruv Agrawal says:

        Thanks a lot for your response i did a printing today and it was good just faced some issue with the corners and the print got a bit damaged when the tshirt was slightly strecthed.

  5. Carol Godber says:

    Thank you for a great video, now I know what I was doing wrong trying to print flowers on jeans. I have ordered the Dark transfer and will try again.

    Once again, thank you.

  6. Reena Patel-Parmar says:


    I would like to print on Fuchsia and light pink, would you recommend Dark transfer paper?


    • Joseph Eitan says:

      Yes. Light transfer paper is really suitable for white only fabrics. Any other colour will benefit from the dark type.

  7. Crystal Simpson says:

    Hey guys! Question… I recently made a shirt with black text and transferred it onto a grey shirt. The only problem is, you can still see the transfer paper behind the text. Even with grey shirts, am I supposed to buy the dark transfer paper? Will this help? Thanks!

    • Joseph Eitan says:

      hi, indeed you’ll need the dark transfer paper. Light transfer paper only suits white fabrics, while all others, including grey suit the dark transfer paper type. Thanks.

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