Transferring Images To Your Painted Projects

3 Materials
3 Hours
This process is way easier than you might think and the results are so neat! I am thinking of so many possibilities with my projects now!

Project by Seta Robbins

· Laser printed image*
· Cleaning solution such as TSP or Krud Kutter
· Item to transfer image onto
· Paint of choice
· Spray bottle of water
· Paint brush

*A Word About Transfer Art

The image you use to transfer onto your wood project can be as simple as wording that you print out in an interesting font (don’t forget to reverse it). Image can be black/white or color, but if it contains letters or numbers it must be printed in mirror image so that it will not be backwards on the finished piece.

For this project, Seta used graphics from GraphicMarketplace on Etsy, printed on regular copy paper at Staples. There are a ton of “free downloadables” online, including a site she likes for vintage images called The Graphics Fairy. You can go to and find a lot of graphics for one or two dollars that you can digitally download and use as many times as you want for your own personal use. Just be sure to print with a laser printer.
Clean your project first
STEP 1 – PREP – Clean the piece with TSP, Krud Kutter or denatured alcohol.
Paint then let it dry
STEP 2 – PAINT – Paint the project with your choice of color, and then let the paint dry.
Place transfer face down
STEP 3 – APPLY TRANSFER – Apply another coat of paint where the image will be. While the paint is still wet, place your image face down. 
Remove bubbles, let dry overnight
Press down firmly with fingers, removing air bubbles with an old credit card or room key as you go. Let it dry at least overnight to allow the image to transfer into the paint. 
Spray with water but do not soak
STEP 4 – REMOVE PAPER – Spray the image with water so that the paper looks wet, but do not soak as you will pull up the image. 
Gently rub the dampened paper off
Gently rub off the paper with your fingers in a circular motion. The top layer of paper will rub off easier. As it dries a bit, continue on to the paper that is left behind, spraying lightly with water as needed. Don’t worry if some of your image rubs off — this transfer method creates an aged, distressed look. Just leave that area until it dries before you go back to it. 
It will look like all the paper is gone but as it dries you will see there will most likely be more paper to remove. Just re-wet and continue rolling it off with your fingers. You may have to repeat this step a third time until all the paper has been removed.  For a more distressed look, you could sand a bit before adding your topcoat. Just go lightly at first to make sure you don’t take too much off.   Let it all dry, then apply topcoat to protect it.
Suggested materials:
  • TSP or Krud Kutter   (Woodcraft)
  • Paint   (Woodcraft)
  • Printed image   (Online)
Lori Haught Harper
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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  • Clök Concept Clök Concept on Oct 23, 2017
    Thanks for this post! I beleive (need to try it again...) that we used Mod Podge instead of paint when I was a kid.

    • Lori Haught Harper Lori Haught Harper on Oct 24, 2017
      I know a lot of people use Mod Podge with great results. This just seems so much easier, doesn't it? Give it a try - good luck!