Inkjet Image Transfers

inkjet image transfers
Extra photos for bloggers: 1, 2

We recently saw this cool post on Craft Chi* about inkjet transfer stamping, and our brains nearly exploded.

“Hmmm,” we thought, “we could use our inkjet printer to mimic rubber stamps, only we could use our own pictures.”

“In fact,” we mused, “we could go beyond plain old stamps and go full-color. Golly Moses,” we postulated, “we could transfer photos onto paper, or wood, or nearly anything, just like Xerox transfers but without the fumes!”

We would have gone on thinking huge and glorious thoughts, except the bus driver got tired of our muttering to ourselves and waving our arms around and kicked us off the bus.

But our humiliation is your gain, sweet reader, because after we walked home, we wrote an image transfer tutorial just for you. Armed only with an inkjet and some copier transparencies, you too can put images on anything you like.

*via Craft!

p.s. Thanks to all our peeps who came to see us at Maker Faire this weekend! We feel so loved.

Why’s It Cool?

Using your inkjet printer means you can transfer any image you want to nearly any surface you happen to have handy. Plus you get a cool sort of pointillist effect from the droplets of ink. It makes your photo look like an Impressionist painting.

What You’ll Need


  • An inkjet printer
  • A digital or scanned photo
  • Copier transparency film — the kind for plain paper copiers, not the inkjet stuff
  • Something to transfer your image to — watercolor paper works well, but you could also try wood, or cardstock, or your kid brother…
  • A brayer (optional)

Step 1: Get Ready

Have all your ingredients laid out and ready to go before you print. You have to transfer the image before the ink dries, so you’ll have to work quickly.

Step 2: Get Set

Choose the rockin’ supa-bad image you want to use. You can use a whole photo, or remove the background and use one element of the photo by itself (like somebody’s face).

Use your favorite image editing software to reverse the image- otherwise it will be backwards when you transfer it. Resize your image to the size you want your transfer to be (e.g. 2×3 inches).

If you want to mimic the look of a rubber stamp, make your image black-and-white and punch the contrast up as high as you can stand it. Play with color if you don’t want to use black ink. If you choose a colored receiving paper, remember that inkjet ink is transparent, so the color of the paper will show through (blue+yellow=green!).

Step 3: Go!

Load your printer with the transparency film. Play with your printer settings so you get the most amount of ink on the print: the glossy photo paper setting worked well for us.

Ready? Okay…. PRINT!

Step 4: Lay It Down

lay down the transparencyWhile your print is still plenty wet, position it face-down over the receiving paper. Carefully press it down flat, making sure not to move the paper underneath.

Step 5: Rub It In

rub in the inkRub your hand (or roll the brayer) over the image to make sure all the ink transfers to the paper.

Don’t let anything shift around or it will smudge your image. Use one hand to transfer the ink and the other to hold the paper still.

Step 6: Lift Off

lift off the transparencyLift away the top sheet to reveal your lovely transferred image. Admire your handiwork. Then go show off, ’cause you’re all done!

Do More!

journal and fabricPlay around with your receiving material. Anything smooth and absorbent should work. Some ideas to try:

  • Moleskine journals
  • Sanded, unpainted wood
  • Smooth fabric (you wouldn’t be able to wash it afterwards, unless your printer uses waterproof ink)
  • Blank greeting cards and envelopes