Awards & Engraving

2012 Sublimation Report

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This original parrot graphic depicted on this two foot by four foot SubliMural in the Johnson Plastics booth started out as a 5" x 7" 300 dpi image before being enlarged with no visible loss using PhotoZoom Pro. and PhotoZoom Pro 4 (built in to CorelDRAW X5/ These fractals programs allow you to import a graphic and enlarge it without losing too much clarity or resolution. They rely on various different algo- rithms that break up the individual pixels of an image to account for the size of your final output. Vector Resources While there are many online deposito- ries for bitmap images (e.g. iStockPhoto, Shutterstock, Fotolia, Getty, etc.) there aren't as many dedicated to vector art- work. The ones available on the above sites are extremely expensive, and it never seems worth it to pay $15 for a vector clip-art of something simple like a t-shirt for a one-time use. Recently, a customer introduced me to, and I've been hooked. The same artists have portfolios on many sites, and VectorStock consistently has many of the exact same $15 vector artwork files available for $1. If you're finding yourself struggling on your native software when it comes to converting bitmap graphics and logos into a more-workable vector format, there are other resources available. There are a number of outsource-country-based online services who will convert almost any sub- mitted bitmap image to a multi-layered, clean vector or embroidery digitized ver- sion for about $5 each (usually within 24 hours). If you don't mind doing your own, you can subscribe to for $7.95 per month. Originally developed as 32 standalone software by a graphics professor guru, VectorMagic offers access to the same standalone software engine through an online service. It does an incredibly good job on converting a low-quality (e.g. web- based) bitmap image into a working vector, and it is uncanny when it comes to repro- ducing a likeness of the graphic you saw on your screen while ignoring the noise. Graphic Styling Software One of my favorite techniques for dealing with a customer's only version of a poor quality photo is to convert the photograph image to an artwork image. In this way, it keeps the subject of the original photo but smooths out the lines to work better with sublimation. Addition- ally, I may find that a little teeth whitening and blemish removal on the subject does wonders. However creative you'd like to get with original artwork or photographs, Corel has a couple of standalone pieces of software that offer a variety of editing and styling options. PaintShop Photo Pro X3 and Painter 12 (along with Painter Essentials, a light version of Painter 12) are available at and offer many stock effects and filters that allow you to enhance and transform graphics. Whether it's the aforementioned teeth whitener or blemish removal tools, Paint- Shop Photo Pro has many cool built-in features. There is also a spray-on-tan tool as well as filters for converting photos to look like they were taken with his- torical film types from daguerreotype to sepia to Polaroid. Painter allows you to choose paint or art styles like oil, water- color, pastels and dozens more as well as brush styles like camel hair, sponge and others, then apply these effects to your original photo. For example, an original low-resolution image with bad noise and pixel damage can be converted into an oil painting version which can then be enlarged for the product. Instead of pixels, you'd see brushstrokes as if the original had been a painting over the mantle. The best part is the automated process after you've made your selection, and you will literally watch as the photo is transformed into art as the brushstrokes magically dance across the screen. CONCLUSION It should be obvious that as long as you are working in a business that allows for customers to submit graphics, you'll also be dealing with problem graphics. Knowing how to better use your software to import, transform, amend and output graphics will save you time and frustration. In addition, providing customers with a summary of the types of graphics that will work best for sublimation will help prevent time lost and customer expense over having to repair or redraw the wrong graphic. On the occa- sions when it seems your standard Corel or Adobe graphics software applications aren't doing the job, you can try out additional tools to edit or transform a customer's sub- mitted art. Be diligent on learning the basic functionality of the tools available to you, but know in the end that having a handful of core software skills in your wheelhouse will get you by with most customers. SR John Barker is a Subli- mation Sales Specialist at Johnson Plastics. Visit Johnson Plastics on the web at www.johnson- For further information, John can be reached at 877-869- 7886 or by email at

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