How to Make Heat Transfer Prints for Skateboards

By Rupinder Dhillon
The heat transfer process doesn't limit your color choices.

Heat transfers allow skateboarders and skateboard retailers to design custom skateboards with a limitless number of colors. Since the equipment required for the heat transfer process is expensive, individuals and retailers typically design their own prints and outsource the printing to professional skateboard print services. To make heat transfer prints, create an image using graphic design software and send the image to a printing service.

Create a blank document in the graphic design program using the guidelines provided by the printing service. The guidelines might include a preferred resolution defined in dots per inch (DPI), the document size and the preferred color profile, such as RGB or CMYK. Alternatively, the printer might provide you with a template to use.

Draw or paste images into the blank document using the graphic design program's tools.

Add text to the design, if necessary, using a text tool.

Save the design in the printing service's preferred file format when you're done. Preferred formats might include PSD, AI, JPEG, PNG or TIFF files.

Send the design to the printer.

Tip

If you're frequently creating large volumes of custom skateboards, investing in a dye sublimation printer, sublimation transfer paper, a heat press and heat-activated glue might save you money over time. If you want to change the design on an existing skateboard, paint over the current design and use screen printing or stencils and paint to print the new design. Some printing services allow you to upload designs through an online form, so you can save time.

Warning

Using copyrighted images or trademarks in a design is illegal and might prevent your design from being printed. Increasing the size of an image might result in pixelation.

About the Author

Rupinder Dhillon is an electronic artist, sound engineer and professional writer, specializing in technology. Her research has been published by the Association for Computing Machinery and College Art Association. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in digital arts from University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Bachelor of Science in music technology from London Metropolitan University.