“For use with White, or Light Colored fabrics.” You often see this in the instructions of light heat transfer papers. What does this mean? Where is the boundary between light colored shirts and dark colored shirts?
The answer isn’t that simple. It really is a case by case basis. When determining whether your colored shirt will work with your light transfer papers, you need to determine the type of image it is.
All Black Images
If your image only has black in it such as simple black text or simple line graphics, etc. It is likely to work on a darker colored shirt such as red and blue shirts. For most light transfer papers, you will still have to trim around your image to reduce the polymer background.
Photographs/Graphics with solid, non-neutral colors such as reds, deep or dark blues, and greens.
These images can be printed onto colored shirts like pink, beige, or light blue. But keep in mind that there may be a bit of color distortion depending on the image and the shirt color.
Photographs/Graphics with gradients, drop shadows, light or neutral colors such as grey, light blues, and some yellows.
These images should only be printed on white fabric only. This is because colors will distort significantly due to the large amount of white used in the graphic. Wherever white is used (in gradients, drop shadows, and to produce light colors such light blue), the shirt color will show through and mix with the image.
On light transfer papers, keep in mind that any white areas of any image will become the color of the shirt, as most laser and inkjet printers do not use white ink. The white comes from the paper. When using light transfer papers, the white base paper is peeled off leaving the ink and a transparent coating on the shirt.
If unsure whether your image will work on a colored shirt, it is a safer bet to use a dark heat transfer paper instead of a light one. Dark heat transfer papers will work on any colored fabric. However, dark transfer papers tend to be a little bit thicker and costs a little more than light transfer papers.