Making Illustrated Portrait Mugs for the First Time

Behind The Scenes New Products

10oz Illustrated Portrait Mug

Recently I completed my fourth successful Kickstarter campaign to fund my latest business venture - a mug press!

As a reward for helping my biz grow, I offered personalised portrait mugs as the reward. This was a bold move for me as 1) I struggle to draw people and 2) I had never used a heat press before. So I was definitely setting a challenge for myself. 

The mug press arrived a few weeks ago and I have been experimenting with how to get the perfect print. There were a lot of mistakes made and a lot of mugs sent to the graveyard in my cupboard (Thank you to Toni from TeePee Creations for the amazing name 😂), but I think I have finally cracked it! 

10oz Illustrated Portrait Mugs

This week I sent out the first batch of mugs and it has been so fun seeing them pop up in Insta Stories once they've arrived! Some of the mugs came out perfect first try, and some of them took LOTS of attempts to get the colours and the brightness just right. 

To print onto the mugs you need to use sublimation ink rather than standard inkjet ink, and the sublimation in acts in a different way. When the sheets are printed they look really faded, so the only way to really test what the colours will come out like is to print onto the mug.

Some colours come out perfect every time (like browns and oranges) and other colours take a lot of tweaking because they come out really dark and high contrast, or really pale and washed out (like light blue), so portraits that had these colours tended to take me multiple attempts until I figured out how to properly adjust the files to compensate before printing.

Here's a little video I took of some of the first mugs:


 I also tried a few tests for full-colour mugs, as the main reason I wanted a mug press was to put my existing designs onto mugs without buying in bulk from a manufacturer. So far I haven't managed to press any of these successfully as neither of the attachments I have fit properly for a full print. This is something I'm going to have to email the website that I bought the mug press from to see if they can help. Fingers crossed!

10oz Illustrated Portrait Mug

Once I've finished all the Kickstarter rewards I will be uploading the portrait mugs to the shop for more people to enjoy! I'm hoping they'll be a bit hit in the run-up to Christmas.



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