Two Options for Quick and Easy Image Transfers

Sometimes, hand painted just isn’t the look you’re going for, and you long to add some machine printed accuracy to your latest project. Here’s two easy ways to add printed images to canvas, plastic, glass, paper, and whatnot.


  • Image from a magazine or book, or printed via laser printer or photocopier. (Inkjet printers will not work)
  • Warm water
  • Large bowl or pie plate
  • Credit card or bone folder
  • For Process #1: Clear packing tape
  • For Process #2: Acrylic Gel Medium (or gesso, paint, or anything which states “polymer acrylic medium”)
  • Paintbrush (a sponge brush will cut down on brush marks)
Process One: Packing Tape Transfer 

1. Apply packing tape atop image. Use the credit card or bone folder to burnish the tape to get rid of any air bubbles.

2. Wait an hour or two for the ink to seep into the sticky surface of the tape (Not necessary, but suggested). 

3. Submerge the image in water, and let soak for 4 to 10 minutes. The longer it soaks, the easier the paper will come off.

4. Remove from water, and use your fingertips (not your fingernails) to slowly roll away the paper fibers. Continue until all the white paper is removed.

Process Two:  Acrylic Gel Medium Transfer 

1. Using a paintbrush, apply a thin coat of acrylic medium all over your image, and let dry.

2. Repeat, adding several coats, until a thick layer resides across the image. 8-12 coats work well for standard copy paper.

3. Cut out image, and follow steps 3 and 4 above.

Applying the Image

    Spread an even coat of acrylic medium on the underside of the image, and press firmly on the desired surface. You may wish to add an extra coat on top to smooth out curly edges. (If the image is on packing tape, simply wetting it might reactive the glue, and it will stick easily.)

    You can now alter your work as you please. Applying a black and white print, and painting over it with acrylic paint thinned with gel medium can mimic a Warhol-ish celebrity print (though the asthetic is getting a bit banal, don’tcha think?)

So, which is easier? Honestly, the thickness of the packing tape allows for safer paper removal. Of course, your image size is bound by the dimensions of your packing tape. The acrylic medium has no size limitations, but maintains brush marks, and the paper often curls and ripples when applying the wet acrylic.

***This article originally appeared on April 01, 2007 on Used here with permission.