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Behind the scenes: Making the products!

In addition to commissioning me to draw a cartoon for you, you can also opt to have your cartoon sublimated onto various products. Each product has been carefully chosen to ensure that your cartoon will look it’s very best on the selected item.

We sublimate the cartoons onto products ourselves here at Scotty’s Cartoons, with the main reason being that we can quality control the whole way along and make sure that we’re completely satisfied with a great product for you every time. So here’s a behind the scenes peek at how it’s all done!

What is sublimation?

Sublimation is when a substance, in this case the ink, passes directly from a solid state to a gas state, without passing through a liquid state. With other printing processes, the ink “sits” on top of the item, but with sublimation the ink becomes a part of the item itself.

Scotty’s Cartoons Sublimation Process

1.      Select the cartoon.

The first thing I do, is draw your cartoon! Then, when I'm ready to make the product with your cartoon on, I select it on my computer.

2.   Input the material and print settings

I open the sublimation printer settings, where I select the material that the cartoon is going to be printed onto. In this example, I was printing onto a Chromaluxe metal board, so I selected metal, high quality, the relevant sublimation paper, and which printer tray I would like it printed from. See the little box at the bottom where it says “mirror”? That discreet little box has caused me sooo many frustrations! (See * below)

The ‘layout’, ‘Jobs’, ‘Colour’ and ‘Other’ tabs must all be filled in too, to ensure that everything will be printed to the requirements.

( *If it is to be printed onto glass, the ‘mirror’ box must be left unchecked. The print is placed behind the glass. If it’s any other material, the ‘mirror’ box must be checked. This means that the printer will flip your image horizontally, so that when you place your print onto the item, it will flip back the right way again. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve either forgotten to check it or to leave it unchecked, and the process must be started again or else you end up with a back to front product!)

3. Print onto sublimation paper  

Now it’s ready to print! The printer and paper don’t look very different from standard printers, but the ink is very different and the paper has a sublimation side and non sublimation side, so it’s important to feed it in the right way around!

4. Remove the film

    Sublimation items all have a white coating, which is what the ink will meld with. With the metal products, there is often a film that needs to be removed before attaching your print, so this handy hook tool is great to catch the edge of it to peel off.

5. The printed image

Here’s the printed image, ready to be attached to the item. It’s a mirrored image, so that mirrors back the right way again when the paper is removed.

6. Attach heat proof tape

     Heat proof tape is used to attach the image to the item, to stop it moving during the next stage.

  The item is flipped over to check that it’s secure on the other side too.

7. Input settings into the heat press

   My husband Martin does all of the heat pressing for Scotty's Cartoons. The first thing he does is to input the data into the press settings. For every item, the temperature, length of time, and pressure needed, is different (found through a long process of trial and error until we found the ideal settings for each item, and now we input those each time)

8. Test a spare item.

     We have a spare of each item, that is used specifically for testing. In this instance, Martin took the spare Chromaluxe and placed it into the heat press to adjust the pressure needed whilst the heat press heats up.

9. The pressure dial

  The dial at the back with the knob is the pressure dial.

10. Adjusting the pressure

He lifts the heat press handle and turns the dial to adjust the pressure.

11. Repeat testing

     Then he pulls the handle down again to test. This is repeated each time until the perfect pressure is set.

12. Place item to be sublimated.

Next, the heat press is swung open and the item to be sublimated is placed inside.

13. Swing to closed position

Swing the cover back until the top heat plate is directly over the bottom plate

14. Firmly shut the press.

Use the handle to firmly close the heat press

15.   Sublimation complete

   When the alarm beeps to mark the end of the time frame for the item to be sublimated, it’s time to remove the sublimated item from the press. (With gloves, as it’s hot hot hot!)

16.  Remove the tape

    Martin hands back to me at this stage, so next I carefully remove the heat proof tape (with my trusty hook again!)

17. Leave to cool.  

   Carefully peel the sublimation paper from the item, and then leave to cool.

18. Complete product preparations

      With the Chromaluxe metal boards, once it’s cool I turn it over.

I attach the hanging hook and rubber stoppers (the stoppers ensure that the board hangs parallel with the wall)

19. The finished product

      Here’s the finished Chromaluxe metal board, sublimated with a cartoon and ready to be packaged.

20. Send to the client!

The product is now complete, and ready to be sent to the client.

Thank you for reading. If you have any questions, I'm always happy to have a chat with no obligation to you to book. You can contact me HERE


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