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How to Decoupage & Transfer Designs

Updated on July 16, 2019
Rock Artist profile image

I am a rock painter, jewelry maker, and Mod Podge expert! Decoupage is one of my favorite crafts.


Learn How to Make Beautiful Crafts with the Art of Decoupage

Over the past few years I have become interested in the art of decoupage and using design transfers in my work. When I found out about decoupage, I wanted to learn more about it right away. With all the graphics available today, there are so many fun and interesting ways to transfer images to wood, rock, slate, or glass, just to name a few. Even tin cans!

You can easily learn to make beautiful home accents to decorate your own home, give away as beautiful one-of-a-kind gifts, or perhaps even start your own craft business. If you can print a picture from a computer, cut with a pair of scissors, and use glue, you can make projects just like the ones pictured here. I will give you step-by-step instructions on the different methods that I personally use to make floral creations like this. If you have any problems with the instructions given, please don't hesitate to send me a message with your questions, I would love to help you out. Like I aways say, "Be creative, and be happy!"

Free Butterfliy Clip Art is Everywhere! No painting skills required,- print out butterflies with a color printer, cut them out and decoupage onto your projects, easy peasy!
Free Butterfliy Clip Art is Everywhere! No painting skills required,- print out butterflies with a color printer, cut them out and decoupage onto your projects, easy peasy! | Source
Botanical prints are all over the internet.
Botanical prints are all over the internet. | Source


  • Something to decoupage onto, such as a wooden plaque.
  • Cutouts of something you would like to decorate your plaque with, like flowers.
  • Large scissors to cut out your flowers or designs that you choose.
  • Small nail scissors, possibly with a curved edge, for more detailed cutting of your design that gets close to the edges as possible.
  • Colored pens, pencils, or markers to enhance the color of the designs you cut out. You can use a pen to outline or stencil the word you choose and then fill it in with a Deco paint pen (these are decorative paint pens, and if you use the fine point pens they are great for filling in letters—A.C. Moore carries a good supply). You can also color in the letters with a nice black jelly pen, which you can also buy at most craft stores.
  • Alphabet or letter stencil to write a word such as ''Welcome," or perhaps a family name, if you so desire.
  • Drill to drill holes in wooden plaque (this is very easy to do).
  • Mod Podge (sealant) to use as glue for your designs, and then to seal your plaque with once designs are glued down.
  • Paint brushes to apply Mod Podge to the back of cutouts and also for sealing your plaque. You can use small brushes when you apply your designs to your plaque, and then larger brushes for sealing.
  • Craft wire to thread through the holes to hang your plaque.

How Can I Find Something to Decoupage Onto?

Personally, I like to work with wooden plaques when it comes to decoupaging. Wooden plaques come in all different sizes and can be purchased at most local craft stores and they are not expensive. In addition, they make a very attractive background canvas for working with decoupage and design transfers. In my opinion, the finished product is just as nice as if you were working on a much more expensive surface, such as slate.

Michaels, A.C. Moore and Jo-Ann's Fabrics & Crafts all carry wooden plaques. They are not expensive and, in addition, there is a weekly coupon available online that you can print out and use interchangeably at any of these stores, as they all accept competitor's coupons (although don't hold me to that because their policies change from time to time).

All you have to do is go to Michael's or A.C. Moore's website and click on the Store Coupon button to print out the current coupon and make sure you have the current date on the coupon. Also make sure when you click on the picture of the coupon you hit "Print Preview" in the upper corner so that you print the coupon with the barcode on it or they probably won't accept it. A lot of times, these stores will also scan the coupon straight from your phone. (Yay! I love saving money.)

I know A.C. Moore used to carry nice slate pieces with hangers already attached but I am not sure if they still do. Slate is a bit more expensive to purchase than wood, and, quite frankly, I think painting a wooden plaque with a slate gray acrylic paint works just as nicely to this effect. Plus, it lowers the chance of it falling down and breaking in half like the one I made for my Mom years ago.

There is a place online called Kulps that sells slate plaques. Slate does make an exceptionally eye-appealing canvas for decoupage and the transferring of designs. It's really up to you as an individual what you think looks the nicest. The possibilities are as much fun as they are endless!

Where Can I Find Pictures to Use For Decoupage Projects?

Dover Publications

These books provide a great resource for pictures you can use for decoupage products. If you're anything like me, your head can spin with ideas and you might feel like you don't know which one you would start with. All I can say is that you can't go wrong with any product you choose from Dover Publications, the best resource for clip art. The ones I highlighted here come with their own CD so that you can print out any of the royalty-free designs in them!

My absolute favorite is Ladies Flower Garden and it's the one I used for my Mom's welcome plaque (pictured in the intro to this lens). I had been wanting to make a welcome plaque for my mom as a gift so when she was visiting me last year in June I gave her Dover Publications' Ladies Flower Garden (a book of flower bouquets) to look at so that she could select which flowers she wanted on her plaque.

It actually took her almost two hours to make a decision because there were so many to pick from (192), but she finally decided on the ones featured in the lens introduction picture shown above (which are featured in Ladies Flower Garden) pictured in this module. Dover publishes a wide array of books that you can use to print pictures to use in decoupage products (there is a link to Dover Publications through Amazon on this page if you're interested in checking it out).

We decided together that a light gray background would be best to enhance the color of the flowers that I would decoupage onto the wood and the best color choice to complement the outside of her house. So simple, lots of fun, and not as difficult as it may seem to get this outcome.

An easy way to save clip art and print from your own computer!

When you start to decoupage you will need resources for the actual pieces to cut out. If you have a color printer you can print out these pictures from your computer using the following method:

1. In your browser, type the name of a flower, such as daffodils. Position the mouse over the "Images" button. Hit Enter.

2. You will see all sorts of pictures of daffodils as a result.

3. Choose one you would like to work with (try to choose one that will be easy to cut out with defined lines) and position your mouse over the picture. The picture should get a little larger.

4. Now right click on the picture you've selected and it will bring up a menu. Select: "Copy Image"

5. Open up a Word Processing document in another window.

6. When in the Word Processing document, right click, select "Paste"

7. Your image will appear and you can resize it simply by left clicking again over the image which should outline it with a black border and dots to mark the edges. With the size of the piece you're working on as a background in mind, resize the picture to fit by moving the mouse.

8. Print on a color printer. Cut it out and paste it to your piece using Modge Podge or a simple white craft glue (such as Elmers) will be just fine for this purpose of adhering your design. You will, however, need Modge Podge to seal the piece when you are finished designing it as this will give it a polished and beautiful finish in addition to protecting it from the weather if it is to be used outside.

This is an easy and inexpensive way to get flower pictures to use for decoupage projects!

Napkins offer a wide variety of images that can be used for decoupage.  Simply cut out the images, and peel the layers of paper off of the back of the napkin and glue to your project!
Napkins offer a wide variety of images that can be used for decoupage. Simply cut out the images, and peel the layers of paper off of the back of the napkin and glue to your project! | Source
A welcome plaque pictured above from a distance.
A welcome plaque pictured above from a distance.

Design Transfer - How To Transfer Designs with Transfer Paper

If you only have a black and white printer you can use transfer paper...

To transfer designs you will need a picture of something you want to transfer, transfer paper, a writing implement with a strong point (you can use a regular pen), and something to transfer your picture onto such as a wooden plaque or frame, a rock or a piece of slate for purposes of this web instruction.

If you only have access to a black and white printer, you can print the Dover Publications pictures or any color picture from the web for that matter, out in black and white, transfer the picture to your project, and use acrylic paints or artist markers to colorize your designs once they are on the surface.

Transfer paper can be purchased in all different colors. So, for instance, if you paint the background of your surface black, use a white piece of transfer paper or a light colored piece to transfer your design (see pictures below in the photo gallery of a design that was transferred with a yellow piece of transfer paper onto a black background).

For lighter backgrounds you can use a darker piece of transfer paper such as black or blue, it really doesn't matter as long as you can see what has been traced through to your surface.

Transfer paper can be purchased at most craft stores and you can also use what's called graphite paper for transferring onto light backgrounds. I know graphite paper can be purchased by the roll in some stores but not all of them.

Transfer paper sheets can be used more than once so don't be too concerned about the fact that they only come with a few sheets. They really do hold up well use after use. Of course, everything wears out, so if you will eventually have to replace them if you use this method of design transfer for your projects.

You can print out the fairy, cut it out, paint a background on a canvas, and use Mod Podge in a jar with a foam paint brush to glue her to the piece, then seal it with a brialliant glossy Mod Podge sealant spray, no painting skills required!
You can print out the fairy, cut it out, paint a background on a canvas, and use Mod Podge in a jar with a foam paint brush to glue her to the piece, then seal it with a brialliant glossy Mod Podge sealant spray, no painting skills required! | Source

How to Decoupage - Step by Step Instructions

1. If you are using a wooden piece for your canvas, sand the edges to get a nice smooth finish.

 2. Decide what design you are going to use to decoupage with, print out picture(s) and arrange on your piece WITHOUT glue to see where you want everything to go.

 3. Cut out the design(s) first around the whole picture using large scissors.

 4. Define the print by using a pair of curved nail scissors and carefully cutting as close to the edges of the print as possible.

 5. Lay the design(s) on a scrp piece of paper after it's been cut out.

 6. Go over the design(s) that have been cut out with colored pens, markers, pencils or acylic paint enhance the color and make them more vibrant if you wish (this is optional but I feel it gives your designs a more professional look)

 7. Once your design is color enhanced and dries completely, apply white craft glue or Modge Podge to the back of the design.  Carefully place it in the position you have decided on with your fingers (or tweezers) and just smooth the design on to the background. You may want to use thin craft gloves or you can also use a damp rag to smooth it over but make sure there's not too much water on the rag or paper towel as you don't want to saturate it.

 8. Continue this process until the piece looks the way you would like it to look, adding flowers where you feel they look the best. You might want to mix flowers in with other kinds but try to decide before using the glue to avoid mistakes.

 9. After it dries, and using your best judgement as to how long the word is that you want to stencil, position your stencil and using a pencil, stencil the word or words onto your piece. Go over the letters once you are satisfied with their placement with a black jelly pen or a black Deco art pen with a fine point.

10. Place two pencil marks at the top of your design where you think a hanger would look nice and using an electric drill, drill the holes (I was afraid of using a drill until I actually tried it, and I'm happy to say it's not difficult at all).

11. Using a large brush, cover your piece with Modge Podge at least three times waiting for it to dry in between each coat.

12. Thread your craft wire through the drilled holes from the back to the front and curl the ends a few times with a pair of pliers (or your fingers as craft wire is very flexible) in the front after the wire goes through to give it a beautiful and professional look and also to keep the wire from falling off (see the intro module picture for reference to this step at the very top of this page).


Video: Learn How to Use Napkins to Decoupage Candles

You can make these Easter eggs using napkins.
You can make these Easter eggs using napkins. | Source
Decoupage lovely Easter eggs!
Decoupage lovely Easter eggs!
Wooden eggs are "eggcelent" to use in Easter decoupae projects
Wooden eggs are "eggcelent" to use in Easter decoupae projects | Source
Pinterest is a great resource for finding images to decoupage with
Pinterest is a great resource for finding images to decoupage with | Source

Video: Learn How to Decoupage a Picture Frame


Video: How to Make Decoupage Plates with Fabric

You can use a mix of paint and decoupage cutouts to create a fabulous welcome slate for your home (butterflies are hard to paint, but easy to decoupage!).
You can use a mix of paint and decoupage cutouts to create a fabulous welcome slate for your home (butterflies are hard to paint, but easy to decoupage!). | Source

Thank you for stopping by today!

Fairies make beautiful clip art to use for decoupage projects
Fairies make beautiful clip art to use for decoupage projects | Source

Video: How to Use Napkins to Decoupage a Clay Pot

This may look difficult to make, but this lovely dish has been decoupaged with napkins!
This may look difficult to make, but this lovely dish has been decoupaged with napkins!

Video: How to Keep Decoupage Projects Wrinkle Free

Have you ever tried to decoupage? ... Do you think you'll try it again?

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    • profile image


      2 months ago

      I have not done decoupaging yet but all I have seen this in all the sites I've seen this is the best ones to teach and furnish pic's too. will let you know what I've done.

    • profile image


      3 months ago

      I tried a small wooden craft picture frame for my first decoupage project. It turned out better than I expected. I have a small wooden jewelry "chest of drawers" I got as a birthday present when I was very young. I'm searching now for the right images to decoupage this with. I'm excited about it but I don't want to make a mess. The frame was almost too easy, leaving me apprehensive about the next project.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      5 years ago from USA

      Yes I have, but I'm not that good at it. Thanks for the info and tips, I'll share this for sure. Giving it a tweet as well.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Very thorough! Thanks for this summary!

    • Jogalog profile image


      6 years ago

      I hven't done it since I was a kid either but I'd love to have a go again.

    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      We did a lot of decoupaging when I was a kid. Might be time to get my own daughters interested. The butterfly ones look beautiful.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Maribel here to say hi, I like your decoupage design transfer lens. I have done this with our little ones on rocks, and wood. Great fun!

    • Rock Artist profile imageAUTHOR

      Rock Artist 

      7 years ago

      @julieannbrady: Thank you so much!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I can honestly say that YES I have tried decoupage in art class in school years ago. My one sister is THE artist in our family, so I worked at being the creative writer and literary type. Love your creative work.

    • LouisaDembul profile image


      7 years ago

      My friend usually do decoupage with my kids, they all love it!


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