How To Transfer Prints To Wood: An Awesome Photography DIY Project - Digital Photography School

How To Transfer Prints To Wood: An Awesome Photography DIY Project

One thing I love about my family is that there never seems to be a shortness of creativity floating around. My wife Kristin works with her mother Lori running a website over at Katie’s Rose Cottage and this project was really just right up their alley. At the time of writing this article Kristin is less than a week away from giving birth to our first child and son Isaac. It’s almost a guarantee that by the time you read this I will be a father! So suffice it to say that Kristin has been doing quite a bit of nesting to get ready for baby Isaac. My father-in-law has a small Cessna and I’ve been working towards getting my pilot’s license for some time now, so because aviation is fast becoming a tradition in our family we decided to do an aviation theme for Isaac’s room.

I have several aviation photos in my portfolio and Kristin said she wanted to print the photo on wood. I had no idea what she was talking about or how that was even possible but I listened and let her do her thing. So here’s how to get from the ‘Before’ image to the ‘After’ image, you’re gonna love it!

Step 1: Needed Supplies

Here’s a list of supplies we used. You don’t have to necessarily use the exact same ones in every case but if you do I’ll let you know.

  • Laser printed photo
  • Wood cut to the same size as photo
  • Gel Medium (must be an acrylic gel medium)
  • Brush to apply gel medium to wood
  • Butter knife or flat instrument to smooth out print onto wood
  • Wood stain (optional) and rags
  • Pigment (optional)
  • Sander or sand paper
  • Soft Wax or Mod Podge to smooth and seal print
  • Brush to apply wax
  • Hanging brackets
  • Fastening brackets (if multiple pieces of wood are used)

Step 2: Finding A Print And Choosing A Look

The first step is obviously to find just the right print that you want transfered over to wood. If you took a look at my wife’s website then you can see that a lot of their stuff is very distressed and vintage looking. So my high resolution, vibrant and clean looking airplane photo just wasn’t going to work in it’s current state. So I took the image into Lightroom and converted it to black and white, bumped up the contrast quite a bit and added some film grain.

Step 3: Getting A Print Made And Getting Some Wood

This is VERY important: The image that you print for this project MUST be a laser jet print. Ink Jet will not work with this process so don’t even try it. We decided to get a 20×30 print made so we went up to Staples to have it made from a file we brought up there on a thumb drive. The 20×30 laser jet print cost us a mere $2.14 including tax and looked impressive for such a bargain!

Next we went to Home Depot to get some wood made. Kristin just got two pieces of wood that together measured 20×30. She wanted two separate pieces of wood but you could just as easily use a single piece of wood. Just whatever your preference is.

Step 4:  Apply Gel Medium To Wood

This is really the most crucial step. Apply a single layer of the gel medium to the entire surface of the wood. Not too thin but not gloopy either. If you get the layer too thick the paper will be hard to get off when it’s done setting. Too thin and the paper won’t stick at certain points and the print may not transfer. So you’ll just have to eyeball it here and do your best to make a nice, even layer.

After the gel medium is applied, it’s time to place the print face down onto the wood. This is just as nerve racking as trying to put a protective shield over your iPad or iPhone but it’s a step you have to take! There will no doubt be air bubbles in the print. Do your best to smooth out and eliminate as many of these as you can. We used a plastic tool that we found laying around but you can also use a butter knife, a ruler, a roller or anything you can find that you think might work.

Once the print is applied to the wood, let it sit overnight and make sure it nobody messes with it!

Step 5: Remove Paper From The Wood To Reveal Print

This is the really fun part. To remove the paper we just got the paper wet with water and used our fingers to rub it off. This is a pretty messy process and there might be a better way but fingers seemed to work best for us. Some parts of the print will come off easier than others so just know that your fingers and hands might be a little tired at the end. This whole process might have to be repeated several times and will probably take around 10-20 minutes. But it is really exciting to see the print come to life on the wood. Be sure to have a vacuum cleaner on stand by because there will be a mess to clean up!

Step 6:  Finishing the Print

This step is where Kristin took some creative freedom to get the look she wanted for Isaac’s room. She wanted the print to look old and vintage so that’s what she did. First we applied a single layer of wood stain to the entire surface. You have to be careful with wood stain though. The longer you leave it on the wood the darker the stains effect is so we would apply the stain with a rag, let it set for a few seconds and then rub it off with the same rag.

Next we sanded the edges to remove the excess gel and to distress the wood. Then we used a product called Pigment to distress the edges of the print (almost like a grungy textured vignette). Just use a sponge to apply this. It’s much darker than the wood stain so use it sparingly! This isn’t required but we liked the effect.

Finally, we added a layer of a product called Soft Wax to seal the print and make it all nice and smooth. Use a brush to apply a thin layer to the print. Just like waxing a car, let it dry and then buff it out with a cloth to smooth it out. The wax we used was, obviously, a soft wax. Not too glossy, not too matte.

Step 7: Hanging The Print.

Since we used two pieces of wood, we needed some fastening brackets to make sure the wood stuck together. You can pick these up at any hardware store. I used four at different angles to make sure they never come apart!

Next I screwed in some mounting brackets to hang it on a wall. You can use any kind you want but I chose these. One thing to note: Be sure that the screws you use to mount the brackets to the back aren’t longer than your print is thick! I made sure of this before I screwed them in and still placed my hand under the print as I slowly screwed the bracket on to make sure I didn’t feel the wood expanding.

Conclusion

Well that’s it! The total cost of this project is around $95. If you use a product called Mod Podge instead of the Soft Wax you can save over $50 because you won’t have to use the wax or the expensive brush in the picture. Mod Podge is another product that can be applied with a sponge brush. It won’t look quite as nice but it still acts as a sealant. You also have to consider that this is the initial cost. The more prints you make on wood, the cheaper it gets since you would just have to buy a print, wood and gel medium the next time around. I hope this will inspire you to go out and try it for yourself! Once more, be sure to check out Katie’s Rose Cottage, they are always creating new things and you may just find something you want for your home.

If you’re not already, be sure to follow me on Google+ and Twitter. You can also follow Lori and Kristin too, I’m sure they’d love to hear from you!

 

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like...

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category.

James Brandon is a travel photographer, photo educator and author from Fort Worth, Texas. You can receive a FREE video tutorial and ebook over at his website which is also full of photo tips and articles to help photographers keep their passion alive. James hosts workshops around the world and sells ebooks, video courses, presets and more through his online store. Use the coupon code "DPS25" for an exclusive (and huge) discount!

  • Sofia

    You use just regular white paper, NOT photo paper or cardstock… you want it thin enough so it starts to fall apart when you wet it down and rub the paper off. This takes some patience and persistence but the results are worth it once you get the feel for the process!

  • Connie Schneider

    Thank you so much! I am definitely going to try this kind of photo transfer.
    Best wishes to you and your family
    Cornelia from Switzerland

  • https://www.facebook.com/artseve Makeba

    I am a visual artist, and I just came up with an awesome idea yesterday, then I saw this tutorial. My question is, can you double transfer (like do another transfer on top of the first one?) or paint on top of a transferred image? I’m a mixed media artist, but primarily a painter first. I have done some photography, and would like to incorporate it into my art. Is this possible?

    Oh, and by the way, no one sells large scale laser prints for $2, unless it’s a black and white engineering print. What if you want sepia, or antique? Where can these be economically printed to large scale?

    Thanks and peace…

  • Steve Holland

    First off, I’d like to thank you for the great tutorial. I just made about thirty-five of these for an upcoming exhibit as a way to break free of the traditional “matte and frame” photography, and this was the absolutely best laid out tutorial I have found. I think for the look you were going for- you absolutely nailed it.

    However, I would like to point out to other readers that this absolutely WILL work with inkjet. I was sweating bricks as the print shop told me they couldn’t laser print my 16×48 pano, tried it in inkjet anyway, and I was overall pleased with the transfer. I did take note of some of the color being pulled off with the paper in the revealing process, but nothing too drastic.

    Also, I have found that applying a layer of gel medium [I like the outcome of matte over gloss] going with the grain of the board[s], let it dry, another layer going across the grain, a layer or two on the face of the actual photo itself, and then a final layer [going with the grain] on the wood to glue the photo down- will result in a near flawless and complete transfer. This clearly does NOT go along the lines of a vintage/rustic theme, but if anyone is looking for a complete transfer- layer and layer and layer and layer.

  • Brian

    My friend gave me a picture on wood, and I had no idea that this could be done, let alone DIY. Thanks for an informative article…these look great!

  • k

    Is the picture simply on regular copy paper? (this is the part most instructions are missing)

  • Tamisha Diaz

    I am absolutely loving this project! Definitely going to give it a try!

  • ErinB

    This is awesome! Great photos and directions. Thank you!!

  • Andrea

    Does the image get mirrored when your transfer?!? I want to do this with letters, so I just have to make sure they come out the right way!!! Thanks for your instruction, makes this much less nerve racking!

  • Tom

    yes.. you would need to inverse the letters before printing it

  • Daniel

    This is awesome! Woodinked ( woodinked.com ) can also do this! I`m a bit lazy so I got some from them and I absolutely loved it!

    I know their prints are a little more vibrant! That’s why I chose them! :)

    Great article!

  • Hayley

    I tried this out, worked great! Wanted to do my whole wall so I ended up getting the rest done through http://www.instathis.com They look amazing! Highly recommend printing on wood.

  • Tom

    Has anyone tried doing the transfer with multiple pieces of wood? I love the idea but want something that looks “planked” instead of solid. Would the paper and transfer work in the grooves between the pieces? I have seen a company online ( http://www.plakthat.com ) that does it but wanted to try it out myself! Here is a photo of what I had in mind from their blog. Thanks!

  • Heather Boshart Long

    Steve can you expand on your medium method and does this make the paper harder to get off?

  • Flip Cassidy

    I’ve been loving the results of this process. After making several wood prints, I’m still trying to figure a couple things out.

    1. Ways to prevent rubbing through the print (happens in places whether i’m using fingers or an eraser). I’m getting this mostly around the edges, which isn’t so bad depending on the image, but find myself having to sand off and redo the process if it’s right in the middle of my image.

    2. Ways to patch over areas that have rubbed off. Here’s what I’ve tried, and why it hasn’t been very effective.

    – Burning: this was my first thought, and while it does nicely darken the wood, the fire also seems to react with the layer of gel medium in a way that glosses it around where you’ve burned. Which in context of a nicely matte image, looks a bit more like a flaw to my eye than the blank wood where it’s rubbed off. I have yet to try compensating by applying a thin layer of lighter fluid over the whole image, and letting it burn just long enough to give the whole thing the uniform glazed burnt look (it also takes a while and multiple applications of lighter fluid before it really starts to burn the wood or affect the image)

    – Wood Stain: here’s something else I swore would work like a charm. I tried to use a dark wood stain to cover up, but that’s not very effective either, as the gel medium acts as somewhat of a protective layer over the wood that prevents the stain from taking to the wood.

    – Sharpie: last resort. Looks terrible.

    Anybody got any pointers? Figured something out? Please enlighten me if you have.

  • Flip Cassidy

    I’m curious if any of y’all have tried this process on materials other than wood. I tried it on some dark brown leather, and it didn’t work very well – likely because the leather was too dark. I just did a first run trying it on fabric, and it seems like it takes to thicker stuff like denim pretty well. I’m just left to wonder why the gel medium seems to come out more opaque on fabric, whereas it rubs away to transparency on wood. And it’s almost like the white of the print actually transferred some.

  • Bill

    More Advice on the type of paper used for the photo would be appreciated

  • robira

    Isn’t there ANY way to do this without a laser printer? All I have in ink jet.

  • redbeardtravels

    Yes, because in order to remove the paper it needs to be dampened. Photo paper would repel the water.

  • redbeardtravels

    I’ve seen another tutorial which says theirs worked with an ink jet print.

  • redbeardtravels

    Plain paper like you would use in a photocopier. Photo paper would not soak up much water and be much harder to peel off.

  • http://www.picture-power.com/ Scott Umstattd

    Excellent article! I’ve been looking for a hands-on project. Spending so much time looking at my pictures on a screen and working them over with a mouse has become old. Thanks for posting!

  • Alex

    I have done this a couple times recently. The first times I tried I thought I was printing on a laser printer and I wasn’t and it didn’t work. As I was rubbing the paper off the image kept fading and I never could get all the paper off. Once I realised what I’d done I sanded it down, reprinted on an ACTUAL laser printer, and it was super easy.

    I’m wondering if anyone has tried this with a light image on DARK wood?

  • Molly

    This is great but do you know how you got it to be a laser print at that large size? Everywhere I have checked so far- Fedex Kinkos and Staples are telling me they have inkjet only for large format and then laser only goes to 11×17. I already bought the supplies for the larger size so hoping to figure it out! Thanks!

  • MadameDelphi

    How do you mean to inverse lettering? My photography is mostly landscape with signage. Do I mirror image in Photoshop & use that as the file?

  • Kevin

    MadameDelphi,

    If you have Photoshop Elements 12, you go to image, rotate, flip horizontally to mirror it, so it comes out correct on the transfer.

  • MadameDelphi

    Thx!

  • Suzanne Solheim

    Awesome tutorial! I am happy to see that the stain worked on top of the gel medium, I have read that it wouldn’t penetrate but yours looks like it turned out perfectly!

  • Suzanne Solheim

    Copies at Kinkos are SUPER cheap. Like 15 cents or something. They will print anything on copy paper for you, even reverse the image, and they have the printers you need for this type of project.

  • ace

    I really want to know this as well!

Some older comments

  • Makeba

    August 11, 2013 11:50 am

    I am a visual artist, and I just came up with an awesome idea yesterday, then I saw this tutorial. My question is, can you double transfer (like do another transfer on top of the first one?) or paint on top of a transferred image? I'm a mixed media artist, but primarily a painter first. I have done some photography, and would like to incorporate it into my art. Is this possible?

    Oh, and by the way, no one sells large scale laser prints for $2, unless it's a black and white engineering print. What if you want sepia, or antique? Where can these be economically printed to large scale?

    Thanks and peace...

  • Connie Schneider

    July 3, 2013 07:47 pm

    Thank you so much! I am definitely going to try this kind of photo transfer.
    Best wishes to you and your family
    Cornelia from Switzerland

  • Sofia

    June 22, 2013 11:10 am

    You use just regular white paper, NOT photo paper or cardstock... you want it thin enough so it starts to fall apart when you wet it down and rub the paper off. This takes some patience and persistence but the results are worth it once you get the feel for the process!

  • joel

    June 21, 2013 07:37 pm

    What paper did you use to print the picture? is the the ordinary or the matte type?

  • Bob

    May 30, 2013 11:57 pm

    Interesting process. For what it's worth, I ordered a number of prints on wood from InstaThis and they turned out beautiful. Was pretty simple - uploaded a few images and received on 12x12 blocks (you can do other sizes too). Anyway, for what it's worth.

  • Sarah

    May 20, 2013 04:56 am

    to the mods - (please don't post this) - I accidentally commented twice as I wasn't sure if it went through, can you delete one of the comments?

  • Sarah

    May 20, 2013 04:45 am

    I've successfully transferred the print into the gel medium but had trouble staining the wood after that - the gel gets in the way of the wood stain. What am I doing wrong?

  • Sarah

    May 20, 2013 04:31 am

    I transferred the image successfully onto the gel medium, but I'm wondering how can you stain the wood afterwards? I tried and the gel is preventing the stain from getting to the wood.

  • Kate Danielle

    May 1, 2013 06:31 am

    I am just having such a hard time getting the paper off.... I am using regular paper (already made that mistake) When I switched to the regular paper and started rubbing it off it seemed so easy but I have gone over it several times now and I still can't get it all. And I have also rubbed some of the photo completely off.

    I used Birch wood acrylic gel medium, Laser print on normal paper, let it dry over night, wet it till I could see though it

    am I missing something?

  • David Hardwick Photography

    April 23, 2013 10:17 pm

    I will have to find the time to try this out for myself. Many thanks for the information.

  • sean

    April 23, 2013 07:35 am

    Hey guys check this out, you can make custom wood prints online... the print can go across multiple planks of wood - so awesome! and great prices too:

    http://www.plakthat.com

    Have fun! I just made an awesome one :-D

  • Aaron

    April 23, 2013 06:58 am

    Where is this Staples that does 20x30 laserjet prints? Nobody in all of San Diego County has a laser jet that prints bigger than 12x18.

  • Sofia

    April 22, 2013 12:06 pm

    you know, I'm not sure but I think I may have just figured this out. I think that the Mod Podge product called Photo Transfer Medium which I used doesn't dry clear, so the ink left behind is more opaque and which makes the colors stay brighter because there's a layer of white gel behind them which I mistook for paper. Whereas the gel medium that you used dries clear so the ink on your image is more translucent and shows the wood grain, which is actually the look I'd like to achieve. I am going to test this theory out by changing my transfer medium.

  • Sofia

    April 22, 2013 09:15 am

    I just tried doing this and am a little confused. I expected for the ink to be directly on the wood after I rubbed off the paper, so I could see the wood grain and such through the image... But instead what it seems like is that a very thin layer of paper with the photo on it is left behind stuck to the wood and if I keep scrubbing there's more white underneath the color and if I continue to scrub there's nothing at all... But if that's the case, I'm not sure why people would choose to do this instead of just decoupaging an image onto wood and saving all the mess... unless it's simply to get a distressed look. Anyways, I'm not sure if the issue is that I'm using the wrong ink/paper (I got color copies at kinko's - I was told they were laser copies) or if I'm not getting what the end result is supposed to look like. Thanks in advance for any feedback!

  • Ed

    April 1, 2013 04:57 am

    Then either try to use more gel, or different one ( i dont know which one you using), also the drying time is important, leave at least 8hrs.
    And make sure you press the paper properly down and eliminating air bubbles. (I am usually using kitchen rolling pin to smooth the print, eliminate air bubbles)
    As well as might be the hot water could be a problem. I usually use wet sponge to wet the paper, leave for a few minutes, so the water can do its job and use my finger tips to remove the paper.

  • Karthik

    April 1, 2013 04:21 am

    Thanks for the immediate response.
    It is not a photo paper. It is normal A4 size paper used for printing. I printed it out from Officemax in laser printer. Should the print on the wood transfers only the pigments or even the paper? If I had applied more gel initially will that make a difference? Photo transferred completely but the only problem was when I tried to remove the background paper.
    Karthik

  • Ed

    April 1, 2013 04:11 am

    Hi Karthik,
    Where did you get the print from?
    You most likely got a photo print onto a photo paper, which has a coating on the top, which prevent the gel to transfer the picture! Try to find a printing company which is doing prints without any coating, or if it is smaller than A4 then find a laser printer and print it for yourself!
    I had this issue with my first try, and that was the only thing I have changed (not using photo prints, just normal copy paper and laser printer) and it was working!

    Hope this helps!
    Adam

  • Karthik

    April 1, 2013 03:54 am

    Hi,

    I exactly did the same process. but I rubbed the paper, even the printed region peeled off. I also found that using hot water will remove everything from the wood and makes it look how it was when you purchased.
    I did not see any wood grains at all. What am I missing here... Will appreciate if I can get an answer.

  • Kate M

    February 11, 2013 07:12 am

    Do you have any suggestions for other places to get laser prints done? I checked with my Staples centre in town, but any prints larger then a 8x12 are printed off using inkjet. I checked Wal-Mart, Costco and London Drugs as well. I'm hoping to get a 24*36 print made up for a large canvas. Maybe the Staples in Canada don't offer large laser prints. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks!

  • ashley

    January 29, 2013 02:51 pm

    Hey. This is awesome!
    I used one of the images in a blog post I just made. Linked here as well!
    http://www.shleevincent.com/archives/2843

  • Renee

    January 11, 2013 04:19 pm

    Would this project work on canvas??

  • isabelle moore

    January 9, 2013 07:58 am

    Thanks for this wonderful tutorial. Wondering if you also know and could teach us how to transferring image to a tree leaf. I hope it is similar as transferring image unto wood. Here is an image I found about transferring image onto leaf. I'd like to do it myself if I could.

    [eimg url='http://www.artonleaf.com/image/image-on-leaf.jpg' title='image-on-leaf.jpg']

  • Victor Wiebe

    January 7, 2013 12:48 pm

    I found this post last year and just got around to working on it this weekend. I'm thrilled with the output from my first project! . http://wwwiebe.com/victor/photo-on-wood/

  • Ashlyn

    January 7, 2013 10:43 am

    If you just use mod podge it works too! You don't need the Gel medium.

  • Lee n NOLA

    January 5, 2013 12:58 pm

    Very nice project directions. Thanks!

  • Terry

    January 5, 2013 11:11 am

    Tried out this project with my 6yr son and it worked out great!!! Thank you!

  • Cosmin

    January 4, 2013 10:40 am

    I definitely have to do this. Awesome project, congrats!

  • MB

    January 4, 2013 05:13 am

    A video tutorial wld be a great addition to this! There are many on Youtube but yours seems to be much more professional. Also the name brands and where you got your products wld be helpful. Just a thought.

  • Sommer

    January 2, 2013 04:45 am

    Does it matter what kind of wood you use. I tried using fresh cut wood, but my pic keeps rubbing off in areas. Not sure what I'm doing wrong. Frustrated ????

  • Jonathan

    January 1, 2013 05:13 pm

    Didn't see this in the responses. I tried acrylic urethane. Basically a water based urethane from any hardware store ( cheap) Its like a thin version of the acrylic medium, but still works just the same.
    Plus it's easier to squeegee out the bubbles and excess. I'm still trying to get the right process perfected.
    But worked just as well as the expensive medium.

  • Steve

    December 30, 2012 05:03 am

    I am also working on my pilots licence and am just beginning to take an interest in taking nice photos of the aircraft I encounter. My coworker is very crafty and sent me this link. I can't wait to try this with especially with aircraft pictures. You've really got the cogs in my head spinning! Thanks for the idea and inspiration!

  • Wanibn

    December 29, 2012 12:26 pm

    after the project is finished is it ok to apply some acrylic paint (not much) to parts of the picture before it is sealed? I want to add a bit of color but I'm not sure what medium to use (acrylic, oil, color pencil, soft pastel) but on the print. Would this be ok?

  • Theresa

    December 26, 2012 02:33 pm

    Great tutorial! Trying this myself although I had a little mishap and have a question for you.. The paper didn't rub off, I think because I used a chemical laser print. I plan on trying again but not sure if a second try on the same wood will set me up for failure again. I was able to peel the picture right off very easily but there is of course the layer of gel medium. What do you think?

  • Benjamin

    December 24, 2012 01:22 pm

    Melissa, just a regular kids rectangular red pencil eraser.

  • Melissa

    December 24, 2012 11:38 am

    What kind of eraser?!
    My fingers are raw :(

  • Benjamin

    December 23, 2012 01:52 pm

    Worked very well, I used an eraser to rub off the paper and that really sped up the process.

  • Ben

    December 21, 2012 11:09 am

    Careful with the wood stain though, the one I used dissolved the ink :(
    http://instagr.am/p/TYA8-ayljw/
    http://instagr.am/p/TelRDWylls/

  • Aaron

    December 20, 2012 01:54 pm

    After having done a few of these in the last couple of days I thought I'd share some of my learns.

    After rubbing off the paper and rinsing the boards repeatedly I never could get rid of all the cloudy white stuff left after they dried. Applying the wood finish (I used Danish Oil), though, seems to have taken care of this. So if you can't get them completely clear don't worry about it.

    High contrast photos are good, but they should definitely be biased toward over exposure. Too much white areas and you'll just see lots of wood grain. Too much black and it's just a lot of black. Over exposed blacks will do best as greys that let you see more of the wood you chose.

    The process of washing the paper off the wood made the boards (I chose really heavily grained pine) made the boards absorb water and warp. Next time I'm going to seal the backs of the boards first to keep them from soaking up so much moisture.

    I'm going to be trying this again soon, so I'll let you all know if I figure out anything else that might help other people who want to try this project.

  • A Nasmyth

    December 20, 2012 08:54 am

    Just made 2 of these as gifts and they turned out beautifully! thank you so much for the post! can't wait to make more.

    i chose to skip the wood stain step and then to seal them with a matte acrylic spray (2 coats). couldn't be happier with the results! i did learn on the 2nd one that using a bit more gel medium makes it easier to remove paper without taking the print with it.

  • Stacey

    December 17, 2012 11:16 am

    This is so awesome! I'm doing this as presents for my family this Christmas! Love it! Thanks so much! They will love this!

  • W Smithson

    December 12, 2012 08:08 am

    I went to Hobby Lobby to get the gel medium for this project and the lady there said that there was a mod podge made for pictures now. It said on the package for applying pictures on fabric. She assured me it would be ok on the wood. When I did my project, the picture is there and looks ok when wet, but when it dries, the photo has a white filmy look. Any ideas how to bring out the color?

  • kk

    December 9, 2012 09:45 pm

    Thanks for sharing.
    I've tried and i have a question. The print will left on the gel instead of the wood, right? Because when i get rid of the paper it will remove the gel sometimes. And the print is on the gel so it'll remove away. Then the trick is i must have the gel on the wood, is that right?

    Thanks.

  • Philemon

    December 8, 2012 01:54 am

    I love this project! I was reading about it on another website and it was helpful to get a second way of doing it.

    Just a tip for anyone having trouble rubbing off the paper without rubbing off the print: try to rub off as much paper as you can without ruining the print but don't worry about the bits of paper fibers left, a thin coat of oil (I used olive oil) will darken the fibers and hide most of it. Hope this helps.

  • Tom

    December 7, 2012 04:45 pm

    Cory you can go to a Fedex/Kinkos and get it done there. Ask for an engineering print. I got my 20x30 done there and it was only 3.00. Bring the file on a USB drive and hand it to the person at the counter.

  • Cory

    December 6, 2012 03:29 pm

    I've done this with smaller prints on canvas, wood, metal, etc but I have literally called 5 different copy shops and they all say that a laser print that big (20x30) is impossible and this included calling 3 different Staples. So, what exactly are you printing at Staples that is only costing you $2.00 ??? because they all insist it's not laser printed. Info please! I'm trying to get an xmas project done!

  • Jon-Erik

    December 4, 2012 04:27 am

    I am having trouble finding the right printer. There is a black and white laser jet printer at the nearby kinkos, but the quality of print is fairly. Is this they type of printer you used at Staples?

  • Tara

    December 3, 2012 02:19 pm

    Would this work on metal or aluminum, as well?

  • Matt

    December 2, 2012 04:33 pm

    sorry about spelling, on my phone atm. email if anyone has questions. good luck and thanks again to the original post

  • Matt

    December 2, 2012 04:30 pm

    Hello,
    Just randomly came across this and it looks like a really nifty project. As a tile setter Id like to make a suggestion on getting an even later of the gel medium, I think a V-notched trowel would work really well. They make different sizes of notched trowels, I'm thinking 1/8" would be ideal, paint on a later of the gel then go back over it with the trowel, adjust the angle you hold the blade to the wood for either more or less gel left on, working in smooth movements from one side to the other in the same direction. Now you have a bunch of tiny, even, V's of gel medium on the wood. As I havnt done this yet and have no idea what works best I'm thinking you could either lay your print right on this and gently use the flat side of the trowel to smooth it over or you could do this before you lay the print down, you'd have to experiment I guess, as with the actual amount of gel you leave on the surface in the first place. Also, id go with a cheap plastic trowel as well because well, its cheap and a metal one would more likely rip your print as you work. Anyway, just an idea from someone who works with their hands. Thanks for the original idea, I had no idea this gel stuff even exhausted and am excited

  • Ed

    December 2, 2012 02:28 am

    David: Not very smooth, but smoother is better. If the wood is not even some part of the print possibly will come off from the wood. Sanding would do just make the surface even and make sure the wood is clean, no dust left on the wood.

    Kris: What print you using? I have had hard times with photo paper, as it wont come off completely. Ive got the best results with normal copy paper.

  • David Stembridge

    November 30, 2012 03:13 pm

    Really great tutorial! Is very smooth wood required (anyone?)

    It would be really cool to do something with old reclaimed wood. Wondering if perhaps sanding don the portion with print would go would work.

    Thanks!

  • Kris

    October 30, 2012 02:30 am

    Do I need to use basic med gel the one I have isnt transferring I need all the paper off correct?? Or little fuzz is ok

  • Kar

    October 2, 2012 09:49 am

    Thanks Ed/Adam. I know I used way too much gel medium on the second try and I did have areas that sat bubbled up too long before I got to them to smooth them. I will get a few more prints made at one time so I can try a few more times if needed.

    Thank you

  • Melissa

    October 2, 2012 06:26 am

    This looks awesome! One question, do you know if a digital print will work? I was going to order some prints through SnapFish in order to do this project. Any info would be great, thank you!

  • Peter

    September 24, 2012 01:22 am

    Hi and thanks for the tutorial!

    Just wondering if this technique would work on a painted wood surface or does the paint keep the image from transferring? Thanks so much!

    Peter

  • Ed

    September 20, 2012 11:46 pm

    Hi Kar,

    Try to eliminate the air bubbles completely, and make sure the gel is even on the surface.
    But IMO the peeling or not transfer can give a nice character to the picture, but it depends what do you would like to have.

    Adam

  • Kar

    September 20, 2012 03:40 am

    Hey Everyone,

    I have tried this twice now and each time I keep getting areas that are peeling the print off the wood when rubbing the paper off! :(

    Has anyone else that has had this problem overcome it? Please share how you did!

    Thanks

  • B

    September 7, 2012 01:00 am

    hi all,
    acrylic gel used in procedure may be unnecessary expensive, because it is made for fine arts use and has a lots of features just perfect for painting with acrylic colors, and those features are not important here. Same effect can be achieved with clear acrylic wall primer, costs between 4-6$ per liter and is made on same base.
    Colors will not fade if you apply a coat of acrylic medium with UV protection and let it dry before apllying wood stain.
    I used to make some very similar products a long time ago, about 15 years i think, but instead of acrylics which was hard to find i used polyester kits for boat repairs and pictures from magazines instead of prints, the rest of process was the same.

  • n.

    September 6, 2012 05:44 pm

    thanks for the heads up about the paper!
    meanwhile, I found an art supply store which carries gel medium (different brand tho but who cares) so time to experiment!

  • Ed

    September 5, 2012 08:57 pm

    Sorry, I forgot to write previously, in my experience the paper is the one which does matter!
    Even if I was using photo or picture paper and printed the picture myself, it was hard to rid the paper off completely. The best results I did get, when I was using plain, everyday copy paper!

  • n.

    September 5, 2012 08:40 pm

    thanks for the tip Ed, I'm going to do that if there's no "domestic" solution :)

  • Ed

    September 4, 2012 08:59 pm

    Hi n.!

    For Gel, try ebay, search for "Acrylic Gel Medium", I am buying there too.

    In my experience any wood could go!

  • n.

    September 4, 2012 04:08 am

    hi, can anyone give me some input about the "gel medium"? what is it, what it's made of. I'm trying to look into whether i can buy something similar in my country, that's why I need to what extactly that is (if I understand correctly that's the only necessary item, so i'll skip the others)

    also, what kind of wood goes well with this procedure? soft- or hardwood? is pine okay (you know, the resin...) Or it does not matter?

    thanks if anyone helps in advance!

  • Marcel Borgstijn

    August 20, 2012 07:53 am

    Great project. Definitely will be trying to do this myself. I'm curious if some of you have posted the results on your sites? Like to see some more ideas.

    Thanks for sharing, James

  • Ed

    August 17, 2012 02:22 pm

    Just a bit of update on my issue. The paper was the problem. I had a few pics done through a company (which actually doing the prints for Staples in the UK as well) but because those been printed off on a proper photo paper, the coating was not suitable to do this transfer. Same as Natasha at work we have laser printer too so I gave it a go and it was working (God bless workplaces with laser printer!).
    So now I have to find a company who is doing larger prints than A4 but not using photo paper.

  • Lani

    August 17, 2012 08:10 am

    So I tried this and it kinda worked i didn't do the staining part but while I was rubbing the paper off some of the print would come up and also I couldn't get the white off the wood so when i put modpog on there is still white all over it how do you get it all off without pulling all the print up. I used a Laser printer on normal paper.

    Help thanks :)

  • Natasha

    August 10, 2012 08:35 am

    Completely had a brain malfunction, finally went out bought all the things i needed, set up and away I ent as i stuck the wonderful photo I had chosen, to the wood realised that the photographic paper was not going to wipe off with water and a finger durrrh.
    Luckily I have a day job (that i will be holding onto for a while yet) where I use a laser jet printer, so found some old work prints on plain paper that were laying around and made practice prints on scraps of balsa wood, next day and they have turned out perfect.
    Ed if your printer can not go past A4 then take your prints elsewhere to be made up.
    Hardest part was finding the soft wax, in the meantime i have bought a tin of spray sealant for photographs and it has worked really well, have been given a store that sells wax so will try that method too.
    I would like to know what colour wood stain others have been using, i picked a nice light one but it came out very orange.

  • Jose

    August 9, 2012 12:46 am

    Dee, I am using a laser print on a regular paper sheed, no on a photographic one. Maybe the problem is due to using a laser print instead of a inkjet print
    Please guys, keep us posted with your resuts

  • Ed

    August 8, 2012 05:23 am

    I think the gel medium is the problem, not the paper tbh. I will try a different brand and will see...
    And the other thing, I cannot print on normal paper in big size.

  • dee

    August 6, 2012 07:19 pm

    You probably used photo paper -just use regular print paper. Also, this absolutely DOES WORK with jet prints. Have done it on canvases too.

  • Jose

    August 6, 2012 06:04 pm

    I don't know if a the thinner paper would help. Something like what it is happening to Ed is happening to me. In my second attempt, I got a better result but that white layer did not disappear completely. I suppose there can only remain the wood and the print with no trace of paper at all, ¿true?
    Regards

  • Ed

    August 5, 2012 07:25 pm

    Hello,
    I have tried this, but I had some trouble. :(
    I apply the gel medium on the wood, put the picture on face down, let it dry but when I try to rub the paper off, the back of the paper has some plastic coating on, which is repellent. That's still would not be too much problem, but the face of the picture has coating as well, so after I rub the paper off, the picture still has a white layer and if I rub it harder that top coating just come off from the wood and nothing left on the wood just the dried gel medium.
    Any suggestion/idea?
    Could the matt finish of the print be the problem?
    Thank you!

  • jose

    August 4, 2012 04:31 pm

    I tried it yesterday but, the paper took off some of the print also. I guess the paper has to be very very wet before taking it off. You have to rub very gently wetting the paper a lot. The problem I see is the quantity of product to apply. I will try again today with another photo changing the method a bit.
    It would be great that anyone who succeeded, told us the best method to get a perfect work
    Regards

  • Zimmer

    July 28, 2012 03:36 pm

    I tried this and it worked very well. The hardest part is finding the gel, I had to go to one of those big craft/hobby stores, Michaels, in my case. Took me a while to find it but I ended up using a Liquitex Gloss Super Heavy Gel Medium. I think they have a matte gel as well which I think would look better because mine catches a lot of light and reflects it but it still looks great. The one thing I had trouble with is when you first peel off the picture, whenever the gel dries it turns white, get a wet cloth and rub it vigorously then use a blow dries to dry it and make sure you get the whatever the remaining white cloudy substance is. Also things with transparent backgrounds are preferable. For putting the picture on, make sure the surface is flat, I didn't sand my wood on my first try and it came out kind of crumby but when I used a very flat surface and flattened the picture carefully with a credit card, it came out wonderfully.

  • nate

    July 27, 2012 03:52 am

    I tried this last nite on plywood with a color laser printer. I used matte gel from Joanne fabrics. Very impressed with how easy this was to do. Only change I would make for next time would be to make sure there are transparent parts in your image. I printed something with a black background. I should have edited out the background so the wood grain would show through. The trick is to make the image feel a part of the wood, mine just looks like it's just a sticker on top.

  • Lisa

    July 18, 2012 06:25 am

    I gave this a go last night and it worked like a charm!! One word of warning tho. If you use the back side of the scrubber sponge, go lightly otherwise you'll scrub off some of the image.

  • Yesica

    July 14, 2012 05:32 pm

    Emily and family, I could not be more plesead for you in the success of your new endeavor. Your pictures have moved me so many times and I am happy you are using your God-given talent. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas. Blessings friend,Fietka

  • KlausR

    July 11, 2012 07:41 am

    You guys are great. You really inspired me.

    I'd like to add 3 things I tried on behalf of your great description:

    - The whole thing also works with colour print outs.
    - I've successfully applied this on an aluminium plate. So it probably works with many other materials.
    - In order to really rub off the paper and all remaining cellulose I finally used one of those two-sided scrubbing sponges. It was astonishing that the laser toner is fixed in the gel medium.

  • AlexvZ

    July 1, 2012 11:33 pm

    Great project. I already have been doing some testing on spare parts of wood to get a feel for it.

    What color woodstain did you use if I may ask? It looks to be a very dark one. I tested with a light oak one, but it looked more like wet wood (used pine) than the old/weathered feel I'd like to create.

    The woodstain did help color the bits of paper still remaining on the print, so I suggest used a woodstain in all circumstances or perhaps the wax/modge pdoge would do the same.

  • Jon Dize aka DIZEMAN

    June 24, 2012 12:54 am

    I may have missed this small detail, if I did... sorry, but I did not see any mention of the fact the original print should be printed backwards ie; reversed as a mirror image.

    If this is not done writing seen in the photo will be reversed in the final photo.

    The photo may be normal when you look at it on the print, but when you flop it face down on the wood, you have reversed the image and are now looking through the back of the image, thus to get a normal forward/correct image on the wood, you need to reverse the image before you have it printed onto a laser jet media.

  • B Reader

    June 23, 2012 07:22 am

    If your print has numbers or letters they will appear backwards unless you reverse the photo or have the printer set to print in reverse.

  • Darren

    June 21, 2012 10:40 pm

    I love the final effect, does it matter to which of the 'Gel Mediums' you apply?

  • Rob F

    June 21, 2012 12:03 am

    I thoroughly appreciate how in depth you went in explaining this process. I expected to see it in the comments already; but didn't so I will pose my question.

    What effect would it have if you were to add an additional print before the final waxing? (Think of adding in a smaller plane in the distant sky or baby foot prints in the lower corner as a "watermark". )

    Would it transfer the unshaded area of the new print and make a round splotch of color variation or would only the darker area of the plane or foot prints transfer? I know that this could be done in PS before the print is made but this is more of an after thought...

    Thank you again for sharing your project!

  • Eva

    June 20, 2012 11:40 pm

    Hello,

    Quick question, if I use a colour lazer jet, will it work? Can we turn a coloured print to wood canvas?

  • Paul T

    June 20, 2012 10:56 am

    Fantastic project. I'm going to do it. Now to decide on the right image.
    Question. How might this work for color pictures?
    Any recommendations on the type of wood to use?

  • Ryan McGovern

    June 20, 2012 04:34 am

    What kind of paper was the photo printed on?

  • Mei Teng

    June 20, 2012 12:38 am

    Beautiful end product.

  • Marco

    June 20, 2012 12:25 am

    If I was to sell these to clients, I for one would feel morally obligated to stress that this is a craft project of unknown life span, not a museum quality print. My large prints are not guarantied, but do have a projected life of over fifty years with the final UV protection seal I have put on them by the print shop. This final seal also makes them washable with mild soap for household dust and to some degree nicotine from smoking in the house. Just be careful of managing customer expectations in all transactions.

  • Jeremy Christian

    June 19, 2012 05:03 pm

    Absolutely creative - This will be my next weekend project :-) Thanks for sharing!

  • Fuzzypiggy

    June 19, 2012 04:37 pm

    Never ceases to amaze me how ingenius some people can be when they realise that X could be made to work with Y! Brilliant!

  • raghavendra

    June 19, 2012 02:44 pm

    step by step process explains this accurately.
    every photographer would try this!

  • Juan

    June 19, 2012 02:33 pm

    Very nice!! Thanks. I'll give it a try.

  • Ani C.

    June 19, 2012 01:08 pm

    Alternatively you can use plywood if you don't want to join two pieces of wood together.

  • Ani C.

    June 19, 2012 01:07 pm

    I'm trying this tomorrow!

  • Katherine - Kapcha The World

    June 19, 2012 01:01 pm

    Wow this is brilliant - I've done art classes before and done similar on canvas, but never thought to do it on something like wood. Thanks for the tutorial.

  • Alexx

    June 19, 2012 12:04 pm

    Wow! That's amazing and it looks amazing too! Can't wait to try! This will give me something new to offer to my clients!

    http://disney-photography-blog.com/

  • oliver

    June 19, 2012 11:53 am

    very nice article / project! I hope DPS post more of this kind of DIY projects =)

  • EnergizedAV

    June 19, 2012 04:11 am

    WOW! Looks great, can't wait to try it
    Thanks!

  • Cliff Baise

    June 19, 2012 03:11 am

    Great article, James. Looks like a fun and rewarding project! Congrats on your baby!

  • Average Joe

    June 19, 2012 02:07 am

    This looks so cool! Excellent idea.

  • Regan

    June 19, 2012 02:02 am

    Excellent project. I am a former woodworker and I used good old fashion photocopies (aka Xerox) to transfer designs for carving. One issue that will come up when using wide boards is wood movement. A board will twist and cup away from the core of the tree. Also, wood still absorbs humidity, so sealing the end grain with some type of film (varathane) or acrylic will slow that expansion/contractions caused by the changing seasons

  • Isac Nilsson

    June 19, 2012 01:43 am

    This is really awesome actually, what a different way to hang your photos on your walls! Do you have any idea of how long the print will stay? Im thinking it might fade with time, especially in sunlight?

  • Ashley

    June 19, 2012 01:15 am

    Awesome project! This would have been a great Father's Day gift. Next year!

Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

Sign up to the free DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

GET DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS Feed

Sign up to the free

DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

GET DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS Feed

Sign up to the free

DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download
DPS NEWSLETTER
DPS NEWSLETTER
DPS NEWSLETTER

DPS offers a free weekly newsletter with: 
1. new photography tutorials and tips
2. latest photography assignments
3. photo competitions and prizes

Enter your email below to subscribe.
Email:
 
 
Get DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS feed