Image transfer technique

A lot of folks ask me about the image transfer method that I use in my mixed media paintings. I thought this might be a good place to explain...

work in progress

The finished artwork begins with a digital "base image". Start by choosing a favorite photo to base the artwork on. I will often digitally enhance/manipulate the image with photoshop until I have the image to where I think it is in the right place. I spend a good amount of time adjusting levels and hues for best printout effects in preparation for printing, often eliminating all but a few colors for the final image.

Once the transfer image is created I print it up at high quality on the inkjet using coated matte photo paper by a company called Great White. This is a type of paper that I heard works really well and it is true. Something about the coating? Note: Remember to flip your image before printing, (since when you transfer it, it gets flipped!).

Once the image is printed, take some acrylic gel medium (I use Golden Brand Matte Medium but I am sure any brand will work) and coat the surface of the image. I usually do two coats, sometimes experimenting with paint on the image as well as gel medium. You can do a lot of experimentation but so far I have found that transfers work best on light vs dark surfaces. Play around with it and see for yourself!

After the image is coated and dry, you are ready to start the transfer process. Brush another coat of gel medium on the artwork and on the receiving surface. Place your image on the surface. Spray down the back of the image with water and use your hands/fingers or the back of a spoon to work out small air bubbles. Paper is more prone to tearing when it is saturated so be careful.

Allow piece to dry overnight.

Once dry, spray down the image again. Select a spot and begin rubbing away the paper - being careful to not overrub too much. I usually choose a corner area. Basically, you are rubbing off the paper and are left with the image transfer which can then be painted on, distressed, layered with other elements, etc.

It takes a little practice but part of the fun is the unpredictability of how it might end up. It is a pretty fun technique!

all together now


s0ulsurfing said...

another really cool blog, thanks for sharing your process with us, i'll definitley plan to give that a try sometime

Johna said...

Awesome! Thanks for checking out my blog. I hope you have fun with the image transfer technique. Cheers!

Christy said...

I've had trouble finding the Great White photo paper in stores in my you think a different type of photo paper would work as well, like Canson?

Johna said...

HI Christy! I'm not sure... you could try with another coated inkjet paper? I get mine online here:

Let me know how it works out :)

~ j

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing!

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