After an Instagram pic of the progress made in our play room, there was some interest in seeing a new tutorial on making transfer image canvases. I know transfer canvases are like so two years ago but you guys seem to love them still and since I was making a few new ones anyway, the post just came together.
Just to be clear, I still LOVE transfer image canvases. But what’s not to love? They are handmade, large scale photos of my choosing, done for very little money and the outcome is beautiful. I can make new ones any time I want and I can recycle ones that I’m not so in love with anymore. Plus I love the people in the photos and I like to see their faces on my walls.
This is my favorite view in the house right now.
This tutorial is one of the longest I’ve written in a while. You guys are making me work! :)
-gel medium – Golden Gel Medium in Regular Gel (Gloss or Matte)
-high resolution, toner-printed image/photo
-spray bottle filled with water
-cotton rag – I use an old washcloth for the texture
I’ve used both the gloss and matte versions of the Golden Gel Mediums with the same result. I do not know if other gel mediums work because I’ve stuck with the Golden brand. The medium also works to coat and protect the transfer when its finished.
As I said in the last installment, the quality of the image or photo is the make or break of the project. If the photo is no good, the transferred image will be no good. :) As you can see with this new crop of canvases, both full color and black and white images work, as would sepia and any other form of photo treatment. A few more things to keep in mind:
-Make sure your image or photo is high resolution. This means the file is rather large and has lots of pixels. High resolution means a clearer picture and a clearer picture means a clear transfer. If a favorite pic doesn’t look good in a big size, try scaling it down for a smaller canvas.
-Reverse the image, especially images that include text. Programs like Photoshop or Corel will do that.
-Size the image to the canvas you intend for it to go on. Canvases and copy prints aren’t usually the same size. You can either adjust it to fit perfectly or allow some of the image to hang off like I did. For the 11×14 canvas, I used a 11×17 print. I did specifically ask them to blow the image up as large as it could go on the print so it would work.
-Make sure the image or photo is printed on 20lb paper. It has to be the 20lb paper. If the paper is any thicker, the transfer won’t happen.
How to transfer
First, spread an even layer of gel medium on the surface of the canvas with a foam brush. I left the shot below in contrast to show what mine looked like. The layer is as even as I could get it and had just enough to coat the surface of the canvas. Make sure it’s all covered. If there are any bare spots, the image won’t transfer. Also, if there are any blobs or puddles of medium, it will transfer badly too.
Lightly spritz the printed side of the image and then lay it face down on the prepped surface, making sure to align the print to the canvas edges. Then, beginning in the middle, gently press the image down, smoothing it out with your fingers. I have found my fingers work best but you can use a brayer or straight edge to help smooth it out. Be wary of ripping the damp paper however. As the paper dampens further, more wrinkles and bubbles can appear. Just keep watching and smoothing. More than likely, it won’t be perfect but that’s okay. It’s really only the deep wrinkles and big bubbles that are troublesome. Let the paper and canvas dry completely. Overnight is a good length of time.
When it’s dry, grab the spray bottle and wet the paper surface until you can see you image. Begin to carefully remove the paper. The first sweep usually includes large pieces, like the extra that is hanging over the edges and such. Be careful! If you rush or try to do it too quickly, parts of the image can pull away with the paper.
After the larger pieces are gone, begin rubbing. The wet paper will ball up and peel away. I use both my fingers and a damp rag to remove the paper. The rag has some texture my fingers don’t and really helps remove the paper. This is my canvas after one pass.
When you’ve removed as much as you can on the first try, let it dry a little. As it dries, the white paper will be more visible, letting you know where you need to work. It’s tedious, yes. But the outcome is worth it. Below, the right side is dry while the left side is wet again so I can work.
Repeat the process until you are satisfied. I did between 2-4 passes on my canvases. It’s never going to be absolutely clear but that’s okay. There may be spots or bits of the image that pull away and leave white spots. That’s okay, too. It makes the canvas interesting. If you have large or badly located white spots, permanent markers or paint can be applied to fill in or cover it up.
When it looks just as perfect as it can, top it with a clear coat. The gel medium works, as will Modge Podge.
Still bothered by the little bits of paper that won’t come off? I have a trick for that:
Before the final coat, spray the canvas again. Use a towel to wipe away the excess water leaving the canvas damp. The white paper is invisible when the paper is damp. It shouldn’t be dripping or soaking wet, just damp enough that the paper is not visible. Finally, apply the clear coat and the paper bits will stay invisible.
And that’s all I know. If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to ask. I would love to help if I can.
A whole grouping of canvases can be done for so little and the look is amazing.
Have a wonderful, extended weekend and see you back here next week.