1. Choose your surface and make sure it is relatively clean. Paper, cloth, or wood. Next, figure out what image you will be using the size and where you want it to go. This image should be a photocopy or a laser copy as the toner makes the transfer work a little better than an ink jet copy.

a. You can apply a medium either to the transfer surface( ie: paper, wood, or cloth) or directly onto the front of the photo copy image. Since you can use a variety of things as a vehicle for a transfer I will call all of them a “medium”. This medium can be clear tar gel, gloss medium, matte medium, acrylic paint, gesso, Gac 100 and many other acrylic like products.

2. When applying the medium to the font of a photocopy, you can use a brush, a palette knife, a butter knife or just your fingertips. I usually put on one coat at a time and allow it to dry. I like at least four coats. This depends on the thickness of the layers. Brushes tend to put on the thinnest layers while knifes put on thicker layers. It all works and you’ll have to try both to see which you like best. Remember to allow each layer to dry before painting on another layer. Clean your brush off between coats of medium or your brush will be stiff as a board when you get back to it.
3. After I have four good coats on the image, one final coat is painted on and is used like a glue to stick the transfer onto the surface of my paper, cloth or wood.

a. A really wet brush will totally throw off the consistency of the medium so don’t dip the brush into water while applying the medium. You do not want to water down the medium. If applying the medium to a surface… put the medium onto the surface and press the photocopy onto the medium, press evenly smooth out with a bryer and allow to dry. Whenever you apply medium either to the surface or to the photocopy, don’t leave uneven thicknesses or globs of medium, as it will slow down the drying and give inconsistent results.

4. Now.. like a block print or similar to gluing a collage, always use a baron, brayer or rolling pin, and place a sheet of wax paper, paper towel or a cloth over the image and begin smoothing and pressing down the image while removing all air bubbles. I usually just roll back and forth but some folks go from the center out or from the top to the bottom. Here’s where excessive medium can harm the process. If there’s too much, the image will slip around on the surface. Press down the image with the baron or other tool until the image is solidly seated and wipe off any excess medium.

Now the hard part…. The waiting…
5. Wait at least three or four hours but overnight always works best for me.

6. Finally.. Your ready to remove the paper from the back of the photocopy. Your photocopy should be stuck face down onto the surface of the object you wanted to transfer the image too (and all of it should be dry). To remove the paper from the transfer use warm water and your fingertips, rubbing the paper with wet fingers in a circular motion allowing the paper to disintegrate and peel away. Do this slowly and not too boldly as you can actually tear the image if you put the medium on thinly. Allow to dry and repeat the process, if the image still looks a bit milky, there is still a fine layer a paper to remove. You’ll see it begin to clear up and eventually all the paper will be removed and you’ll just have the image. Some folks use scrubbers but I have found them to be too abrasive, I use a very thin typing paper for these images so there will be less paper to remove.

This looks really cool especially if you use drawings from your sketchbook! You take an image with your camera upload them into your computer ( or on a camera card) print them out on a laser printer in black and white or take to a photo copier.. Then put them in your journal, collages, on furniture or incorporate into other fine art. It’s fun and easy.

transfer01The medium I’m using for this demo


transfer02My photo copy with the medium



transfer-024My surface ,which is gessoed paper painted with watercolor, the next photo I’ve folded the paper and have the wet side  of the photo copy facing up.

transfer245transfer25 I’ve selected the location and now turn the photo copy over and transfer06I use a brayer to push out air bubbles and wait 24 hours till all of it is dry.  sometime this can be in a few hours but why risk it?


transfer05With my finger tips I have started to put some water on

the transfer  to soften the paper..and you can see even when no paper has been removed  the water allows you to see the image pretty good. transfer041

Now the paper starts to pull away from the medium and I continue to rub until all the paper is removed, this takes a bit of patience but in the last photograph you can see (in the lower right hand portion) the stages of the paper being removed.

I will go over this image one more time, rubbing off the paper till its perfectly clean.  I plan to incorporate it into a collage.  I’ll be sure to up load a photo of it when its finished.  I’ll let it sit overnight at this stage so I can get the rest of the paper off without the transfer tearing.


Forgot to mention this is a photo of a  watercolor painting of my daughter Amy (sleeping). I chose it because it has a lot of contrast and will show up well with the colored papers I plan to use in the collage.  I used a laser printer to print the image from my computer.