How to Use Siser® Sublimation Markers with Your Vinyl Cutter to Draw Quicker and Easier

So you got yourself a fancy set of Siser® Sublimation Markers, but you’re not the best at hand drawing. That’s ok- because neither am I! Lucky for us, Siser Sublimation Markers can fit into popular craft cutters like the Silhouette Cameo 1-4, Cricut Explores and Makers, and Brother ScanNCut machines so they can do most of the work for you! There are a few things to know in order for the whole process to go smoothly (if you haven’t read the Intro to Siser Sublimation Markers blog post you’ll want to start there!) so keep reading for all the details on this awesome drawing hack.

3 Ways to Fit a Siser® Sublimation Marker in Your Vinyl Cutter

#1: Adapters

Adapters are your most reliable option, but you’ll need to be cautious to select the right one. Some models require different adapters than others. For example, the Silhouette Cameo 3 has a different adapter than the Cameo 4 due to the change to flat back tools in the Cameo 4’s.

The Silhouette Cameo 3 and Cameo 4 Pen Holder.

The Cameo 3 Pen Holder (left) and Cameo 4 Pen Holder (right) share the same set of small, medium, and large adapters (center).

Brother’s Universal Pen Holder (not to be confused with the Brother Pen Holder that only holds Brother brand pens) fits most models and comes with a handy helping piece that shows you just how much of the marker to expose.

A Siser® Sublimation Marker in the Brother ScanNCut Universal Pen Holder.

Like ScanNCuts, Cricuts come with a marker adapter that will only fit Cricut brand pens. Don’t fret though! The built-in adapter can be removed and replaced with  several third party adapters that will allow you to use Siser Sublimation Markers with your machine.

Do ya’ll remember Corinne from her guest blog post? She’s got a great video on how to use other markers with your Cricut that shows the whole process of removing and replacing the adapters. Check it out on her YouTube channel.

A Siser® Sublimation Marker in an adapter loaded into the Cricut Explore 3.

#2: Tape

If you can’t get your hands on an adapter or maybe you want to try out the process before purchasing an additional accessory, you can always beef up the barrel with some tape until it fits snuggly in the tool holder of your machine.

A Siser® Sublimation Marker wrapped with painters tape to fit in the Silhouette Cameo 3.

#3: Pencil Grips

While not quite as reliable as an adapter, yet a little sturdier than the tape method is a pencil grip.

A Siser® Sublimation Marker in a foam pencil grip loaded in the Cricut Explore 3.

You’ll need to cut a slice down the side to fit it around the marker and securely in the tool holder. Once you’ve cut one to work though, you can continue using the pencil grip until the foam gets worn out.

How to Setup Your Drawing File for Siser® Sublimation Markers

A lot of the same fonts and files you use to cut HTV and PSV can be used to draw with Siser Sublimation Markers! Not all will be foolproof though, so you’ll have to play around a bit. We have several files for you to choose from to get started here on our website. Depending on the software you’re working in, there’s some hacks for all of them. Find your cutter below for some more specific guidance.

Silhouette Cameos

When it comes to settings, you’ll most likely use the Copy Paper, Medium (20lb) Pre-Set which has a Force of 7 and a Speed of 5. Make sure the tool is set to Pen and the action is set to Sketch before sending the file to the cutter.

Drawing settings for Siser® Sublimation Markers in Silhouette Studio.

Most of the time, the outline of fonts and designs will be drawn by the cutter and then you can manually color in the rest of the image as usual. However, if you want the cutter to do ALL the work and color in the image for you, then you’ll need one of the following: Silhouette Sketch Fonts, Silhouette Curio, or Silhouette Designer Edition or higher. All of these options will allow you to access the Sketch Panel that enables the option to add fills. For all the steps and further details on these options, check out Silhouette’s tutorial here.

Cricut Explores and Makers

After bringing your file into Cricut Design Studio, be sure to change the Operation setting from Basic Cut to Pen so the machine knows you’ll be drawing instead of cutting. After changing the setting, the shaded image (Basic Cut) should the appear as a line drawing (Pen).

Changing the operation setting in Cricut Design Space from Basic to Pen.

Similarly to Silhouette Studio, Cricut Design Space will draw the inner and outer lines, but it’s up to you to manually color in the design from there. Again, there are fonts for purchase that appear filled in and you can go even further to hack your designs with a cross hatch design. Check out Shawn Mosch’s tutorial on that process here.

Drawing settings for Siser® Sublimation Markers in Cricut Design Space.

Brother ScanNCuts

Almost any cut file can be transformed into a drawing file on the Brother ScanNCut with the touch of button. Simply select the action as Draw instead of Cut from the drop down list.

Turning a cut file into a draw file on the Brother ScanNCut SDX 125.

You can further customize the setting from there if needed, but for most projects, a Pressure of 1 and Speed of 3 will be suitable.

Drawing settings for Siser® Sublimation Markers on the Brother ScanNCut SDX125.

See the adapter in action, along with more tips in tricks in Stephanie’s video tutorial here.

5 Tips for Drawing with Siser® Sublimation Markers and Your Cutter

#1: Keep a Craft Stick Handy

Getting just the right amount of marker exposed can be tricky, but a simple wooden craft stick slid under the marker makes it easy to see when it’s time to lock it in place.

Using a wooden craft stick to measure how much Siser® Sublimation Marker to expose.

The stick should just barely touch the marker while being able to slide out freely from underneath. This typically leaves the perfect amount of space between the marker and the paper on your cutting mat.

#2: Test Draw

While mostly successful, the craft stick method isn’t 100% full proof. You can check your settings and marker position with a test! Just like a test cut, you can use a built-in test feature or simply select a small shape to test draw and see if the marker is working properly. A good test shows the shape drawn completely without any extra lines. A bad test draw will result in either nothing drawn on the page from the marker being too high up or oversaturation/additional drawing lines from the marker being too far down.

Test drawing with a Siser® Sublimation Marker in the Silhouette Cameo 4.

#3: Prevent Paper Curling

Use a lower tack mat or one that has been used for a while and is less sticky to help prevent paper from curling. Even with a light tack mat, the best way to prevent curling is to flip the mat over and peel the cutting mat away from paper instead of peeling the paper from the cutting mat. This will also limit the paper from the tearing and leaving tiny bits of paper on the mat.

Peel the cutting mat away from paper to prevent curling.

#4: Mirror Designs

Flip your designs backwards so that they print forwards- this is especially important with text and one of the main reason drawing with a cutter is so helpful! Mirroring your design during drawing will ensure the it is correctly oriented after heat applying. Since the paper goes drawing/ink side down on top of the blank item to press, words will appear backwards on the finished item if they’re not mirrored originally.

Draw backwards on paper with Siser® Sublimation Markers to press forwards on finished projects.

#5: Mark Your Markers

If possible, keep one set of markers for hand drawing and one for cutter drawing. This is easiest to do with the black pack of course because it comes with 2 of each nib style. A piece of tape helps remember which have already been pushed down on a cutter.

Tape on the end of the Siser® Sublimation Markers that have been used with a vinyl cutter.

I used a little bit of Siser EasyTape for my markers, but you can use whatever you have handy!

3 Siser® Sublimation Marker FAQ’s and How to Troubleshoot Them

Question #1: Why is my marker not drawing?

Answer: Sometimes the smallest gap can make the biggest difference. Ensure the tip of the marker can be seen at the bottom of the adapter. If you use a wooden craft stick to help measure, it should leave a mark on the stick. Then make sure the adapter is fully seated as far as it can go and locked in position. Finally, ensure you have your machine set to drawing and not cutting.

A mark on the wooden craft stick lets you know the Siser® Sublimation Marker is extended far enough.

Question #2: Why do I have lines on my drawing that I don’t want?

Answer: It’s possible the marker is too exposed. Use a wooden craft stick to ensure the proper length of marker is extended. If that doesn’t solve the issue, trying lowering your drawing pressure setting in your software. Lastly, if you’re able to view your artwork in an outline mode/wireframe view, you may be able to spot hidden pieces in your design that need to be edited out because they’re telling the cutter to draw them despite not being visible on your design screen.

Accidental Siser® Sublimation Marker lines across cutter drawn artwork.

Question #3: How do I fix my drawings from bleeding together/being oversaturated?

Answer: This could be the size of the images in your design file. If the design is small with delicate lines then the black fine point marker is your best bet to ensure the details shine through. Even with the fine point tip, some small designs will need to be enlarged in order to be drawn properly.

Small designs can bleed together when drawn with Siser® Sublimation Markers.

If you’re still experiencing oversaturation on an enlarged design then it’s possible the ink in the marker has started to flow too quickly. While we do recommend placing the markers upside down for 15 minutes before drawing to get the ink flowing, if you’re doing a lot of drawing with your cutter then you may need to take the marker out and flip it back over so that the tip is up and let it rest for 5 minutes before drawing again.

So what do you think? Are you ready to start using your cutter to draw for you?  Maybe you still have more questions and that’s ok! Leave them down below in the comments and I’ll be happy to help.

Help us spread the word that Siser Sublimation Markers are for everyone and every cutter by pinning the image below!

How to draw with Siser® Sublimation Markers and the Silhouette Cameo, Brother ScanNCuts, and Cricut cutters!