Easy Photo Transfers

Creating photo transfers onto metal is a simple and quick process that doesn’t require many supplies at all! First you’ll need to have images to transfer that are toner based, meaning images that are either printed on a laser printer (NOT inkjet) or color copies of your images from a copy center. And keep in mind that if your selected images have text in them to have the images printed/copied in reverse so that when the transfer happens the words will be facing the right way and not backwards.

The other two main ingredients for this project are Soft Gel (I prefer matte but you can use Glossy) and metal to transfer the images onto. With a brush, apply a thin layer of Soft Gel onto your metal surface and a thin layer onto the image you’d like to transfer.

With the image facing upward, place your metal piece (Soft Gel side facing down) onto the image. I like to place my metal down onto the image so that I can move the metal piece around if needed to line up the edges etc.

Flip over your metal piece so that the image (paper) side is facing up. Using a silicon brush (or similar), brayer out the excess Soft Gel from between the image and metal. This will also ensure of a more successful image transfer and hopefully remove any major air bubbles.

Once you have brayered your image, allow it to dry completely – the longer the better. I’ve found that it generally takes at least 5 minutes to air dry but can take longer depending on your climate. You can speed up the process using a heat tool but I’ve found that the best results come from patience.

After the transfer has dried completely, submerge the image into water and allow to soak for at least five minutes in the water. I use a shallow plastic bowl for allowing my image to soak and I’ve found that warm water works best. Allow the image to show through the paper (as seen above) before proceeding to the next step. Again, patience!

Remove the transfer from the water and GENTLY begin to rub away the paper from the transfer. If you have a heavy hand or long finger nails you may find it easier to use a sponge for this part of the process. Continue rubbing away the paper until the image is fully visible. After removing the paper, I like to let my transfers to soak again for a few minutes to ensure that I’ve removed all of the paper.

Watch the Video
Step-by-step video of how to make your own photo transfers.

There are a couple of different ways that you can finish your transfers once they’ve dried completely. The first is to simply apply a couple of coats of Soft Matte Gel over the top of the image, which will seal your work and protect the image from becoming damaged (left) or for an amazing finish seal the image with ICE Resin (right)! By adding a thin l ayer of resin over the image, it gives the transfers an increased depth and makes the images POP!

Before adding resin to my images, I love to create “frames” around the images and add texture to the borders. You can quickly add texture and color to the images. For example, you can add a couple of different colors of Metallique Paints (upper left) to the edges before adding the resin finish. The new Patina Pastes (upper right) makes the perfect frame and texture for any image transfer. For a quick and easy splash of color, add a quick coat of Heavy Black Gesso around the edge and add Antique Wax (lower right). If you create resin jewelry, the Wax finishes become even more stunning under resin because it amplifies the metallic properties in the wax.

I hope that this has inspired you to create your own amazing image transfers to incorporate into your next project!