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5 Image Transfer Techniques to Use in Your Artwork

by Lauren Fallat, LPC LPAT ATR-BC

Whether you are working on an art journal page, altered book, or creating a mixed media collage, you may be interested in different ways of adding depth and layers to your artwork for various effects. One art process worth exploring is known as the photo image transfer technique. In this technique, an image on one surface is transferred to another using various mediums and methods. The purpose of engaging in this technique is to incorporate an image into a collage without having to use the original image and as a way to add softness to an image.

When creating a mixed media image, there are times when cutting and pasting an image is effective and there are other times when we are seeking to integrate an image more seamlessly into the image. Photo image transfer allows us to create that seamless effect, as if the image were printed directly onto the artwork, without having the abrupt edges that an image that is glued down onto another would have. There is also another benefit to using the photo transfer technique, which is that you can incorporate copies of original images and photos without damaging the original.

What you will need:

  • A photocopy (laser printout or inkjet printout) of an image that you are wanting to work with. Consider that most printouts will be in reverse after they have transferred. Consider mirroring your image prior to printing it out if there are words involved.

  • Black foam brush (for applying mediums)

  • Printer paper

  • Mixed media paper

  • Popsicle stick or other burnishing tool

  • Eucalyptus Oil

  • Acrylic Gel Medium- Matte Finish

  • Mod Podge

  • Acrylic Paint

  • Sponge

  • Acrylic Medium- Gloss Varnish

Mediums and Process for Laser Print

  1. Modpodge Medium Transfer- Coat your receiving surface with a generous amount of the mod podge medium using the black foam brush or paint brush tool. Apply your image face down to the wet surface and press the image down using a burnishing tool (such as an old credit card or a popsicle stick) to remove any air bubbles. You may want to let the image dry before removing the paper.

  1. Eucalyptus Oil Transfer to Wood- In this technique, you can add an essential oil, such as Eucalyptus oil to a wood or glass surface. Add your photocopied image to the surface, face down, burnish the image and then slowly rub the surface to remove the paper and reveal the image underneath.

  1. Acrylic Gel Medium Transfer- Add the gel medium with a black foam brush, to the receiving paper/surface and then add the image to the acrylic gel medium. Burnish the back of the image and remove any air bubbles. Allow the image to dry for 2-3 minutes and slowly peel the paper away. You can then moisten the surface with a water-filled brush or a damp sponge.

  1. Acrylic paint- If your photocopy image is in black and white, consider adding acrylic paint as a background on your receiving surface before adding your image. Once you have attached your image to the surface, you can then rub off the paper to reveal the image underneath.

For each of these techniques, you may choose to finalize your image with a gloss varnish as a finishing touch. Have fun with these techniques and enjoy the process of experimenting with something new.

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