Transferring a photograph onto wood is easier than you think! The possibilities are limitless! All you need is a few items and you’re ready to get started. I’ve even included some helpful tips for this project below.
I’ve been curious for a while now about how to do a photo transfer on wood. My local MOPS group (mothers of preschoolers) does an Antiquities fund-raiser and I just love these pictures.
Can you transfer photo prints on wood?
Yes, you can transfer photo prints onto the wood. It’s a simple process.
What kind of photos can you transfer onto wood the easy way?
You can use an image that has been printed on regular paper using a laser-jet printer. When you transfer your image, you will get a mirror image of the photo, so keep that in mind in case there are words in your image you want to transfer.
Can you transfer a glossy photo onto a wood surface?
With the right tools and supplies, you can transfer a glossy photo to wood. This process is described in this post.
I’ll walk you through the proper steps you need to take to successfully transfer a glossy photo to wood. You will need an image printed with a laser-jet printer on glossy photo paper.
What is the best way to transfer a photo to wood?
The instructions I’ll share with you today are one of the best ways to transfer your favorite photo onto the wood. It’s definitely one of the easiest ways.
You can use any piece of unfinished wood that you like – totally up to your preferences! I chose a simple wooden plaque. It’s sturdy and it looks great as picture frames, home decor, and other craft projects, such as this one. You can also use a wood slice.
How do you transfer a digital picture to wood?
A digital picture will need to be printed using a laser printer (not an inkjet). You can print from your desktop or smartphone. I know you can also go to a copy store like Office Max or Staples and get an image printed with a laserjet printer.
Can you use an inkjet printer to transfer photos to wood?
Technically you can use an ink jet printer, but I do not recommend it. You will see in the tutorial below, that the image looks washed out if you use an inkjet printer, and just doesn’t look good.
Today I want to share an easy project with you how to transfer these antique-style photos onto a wood frame to give this décor a rustic look. You’ll need some mod podge to complete this craft. The items on this list can be found at your nearest craft store.
Materials needed for your wood photo transfer project: (affiliate links)
- Wooden Plaques 4.5″ X 6″ X 1/8″ – these are the ones I used
- Pieces of unfinished wood – like these wood plaques – are also a great choice if you are looking for a more polished look/shape
- Liquitex Professional Matte Gel Medium, 8-oz or Mod Podge
- Sand Paper
- Drift Wood – I got my sticks from a beachfront – but that isn’t available to you, you can get some on Amazon.
- Hot Glue Gun
- Damp sponge or damp cloth
- A printed image from a laser printer (inkjet printer will NOT work!) on regular copy paper or photo paper
- Sponge or foam brush
- A credit card to smooth the paper image
Here are the simple steps for wood transfer projects:
- First thing, take your image that has been printed by a laser printer and trim it if necessary to fit on the wood.
- Then you’ll want to apply a thick layer of gel medium to your piece of wood. (You can also use a thick coat of mod podge.)
Use a foam brush to make sure you have a smooth and thin layer. You can find a sponge brush at most craft stores.
I found that it was easy to wipe on the gel medium and let it dry before doing another coat.
After about 5 or 6 coats of the gel, let it lightly dry between each coat. Yes, you’ll need 5 or 6 coats to get your “thick layer.”
3. With the picture side down, place onto the wooden plaque. Be sure to smooth out any wrinkles and air bubbles with your finger in a circular motion or with an edge of a credit card. I recommend beginning at the outer edges of the photograph and moving to the center. The gel will attach to the ink in your image as it dries, so you want to make sure all spots are well covered where you want your photo to be transferred.
If there are air bubbles, then that part of the picture may not get transferred and you’d end up with a small blank spot.
4. After this is done, let it sit and dry for 12-24 hours.
5. The next part is my favorite because you get to slowly “reveal” your image.
6. For best results, get a damp sponge or cloth and rub in circular motions on your paper. Make sure your paper gets wet enough and then start rubbing the paper with your sponge, cloth, or fingers until it starts to peel off. You will do this once, and not realize that there is still some paper left on top of your image. Your goal here is to rub off the top layer of paper until just the ink remains from your photo.
7. When the paper dries again, it turns back white (see below), and you’ll see that you’ll need to get it wet again and keep rubbing off the paper until it’s gone.
You may need to go back and do this 3-4 times.
8. Because these are antique-style photos, I wanted the finished product to look a little rough around the edges on purpose to give it a true antique/rustic feel.
Therefore, I used some sandpaper and gently rubbed it around the edges to get that worn and distressed look.
I finished mine off with hot gluing on both a piece of driftwood at the top and some twine on the back to hang it. To fully protect your image, your final step should also top it off with a coat of a generous amount of Mod Podge to seal your photo and wood together for a better quality look.
I mentioned earlier that you need to be sure to use an image printed with a laser printer. I did try this with an inkjet, and you can see above what you get.
It does not transfer enough ink with the ink from an inkjet printer.
These wood photo transfers are a simple way to make a personalized, great gift idea! If you are looking for inspiration for diy projects that have a little bit of a personal touch,
You will be so happy with the final product! There isn’t a better way to make a memorable gift that will be relevant for a long time, other than these photo transfer on wood decor pieces!