Transferring a photo to wood is one of my favorite crafting techniques!
To begin with, know that you cannot use an image that comes from your ink jet printer at home. The ink will smear and you’ll be disappointed (unless you were going for an impressionist style piece!). You need to use a photocopied image. I went to my local public library to use the color copier.Supplies needed to transfer a photo to wood:
- Unfinished Wood Panel
- Photocopied Image (you must use a photocopy of your image or it will most likely not turn out correctly)
- Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium
- Craft Paint
- Krylon Clear Glaze Spray
Step 1: Paint the edges of your wood panel.
Step 2: Apply a generous amount of the transfer solution to the image. You’ll need a thick layer.
Step 3: Press the image, photo side down, onto the wood panel. Rub firmly to smooth out the image and remove air bubbles. Let it dry completely.
Step 4: Use a damp cloth or sponge to wet one section of the paper at a time. Begin rubbing gently to remove the paper and expose the transferred image below. I like to remove the top layer first, let it dry slightly, and then repeat the process as needed to remove the “fuzzies” that were left behind.
Step 5: Once you are satisfied with the image, sand the edges lightly. Seal the photo to wood transfer with a finishing spray.
I love the end result! What makes this process different from decoupage is that it looks as if the image is part of the piece, not glued on top of it.
You can also paint the wood before you transfer your image. Think of all the ways you could update your furniture or wardrobe with this technique! What project will you try first?
*** FAQ HOW TO TRANSFER A PHOTO TO WOOD
Q: What’s the best way to print out my image for this project?
A: For best results, use a photocopy of your image from a laser printer. You cannot use an
inkjet printer. The ink from an ink jet printer will smear when wet. If you’re not sure how well
your printed image will work, test it by dropping some water on it to see if the ink smears or
Q: When I copy the photo, what kind of paper should I use?
A: Regular copy paper- NOT photo paper.
Q: I tried this technique and rubbed too hard, lifting the image up. What do I do?
A: Do not over-wet the image. Try practicing on smaller pieces of wood and use a LOT of transfer medium. Be sure the image dries COMPLETELY before you start.
Q: Where can I buy the wood transfer liquid?
A: Amazon, ConsumerCrafts.com, Michaels
Q: Can I do this transfer with a magazine or book page?
A: Yes. If you don’t want to ruin the original image in this process just make a copy of it.
Q: How long should the transfer solution dry after pressing the photo firmly on the wood?
A: Let it dry overnight (or for about 18-24 hours). Smaller projects will need less time.
Q: Can I use an actual photograph for this transfer or do I have to get a photocopy of it?
A: Use a photo copy for the best results. The glossy and matte photos will not transfer well.
Q: Can I just use the Mod Podge without the gel medium?
Q: Will this work on a painted wood surface?
Q: I noticed that some white parts of my image are showing up clear on the transfer- how do I avoid this?
A: Paint the background white or use Gesso to transfer the image.
Q: I want to transfer my photo to a dark surface but I don’t want my image to turn out too dark – what do I do?
A: For a dark surface, trim the image to remove any excess paper and be sure to use the photo transfer medium that is specifically “for dark fabrics.”
Q: How can I get rid of the fine layer of paper that’s left after transferring the photo?
A: Rub over it gently with oily furniture polish like Old English. Then seal with Mod Podge.
Q: What program can I use to invert a photo?
A: Picmonkey.com, or Gimp