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How to Transfer an Image

Updated on January 14, 2020

How to Transfer a Printed Inkjet Image onto a Hard Surface

There are many ways you can transfer a printed image to another surface. I had to search the web many times until I found the method that works best for me.

Transferring an image onto another surface can be a little tricky, but once you know how to do it, the possibilities of what you can craft are seemingly endless.

The method I use involves painting the surface I want to transfer onto with white acrylic paint, turning my image upside down onto the white paint, and then basically letting the image dry onto the paint itself. Once the image dries into the paint, we will rub the paper off in layers.

So come on along with me as we take this cute little picture of fairies to the left and transfer it onto a garden rock using my white paint method.

How to Prepare a Hard Surface (Rock) For Image Transfer

How To Transfer an Inkjet Image To a Rock Using White Acrylic Paint

Step-by-Step Instructions for Image Transfer

Read the directions through once before actually doing them

The very first step is to find a rock with a flat surface that you would like to transfer an image onto.

Rocks and slate can be found on the sides of roads, in woods or near streams if you would like to go the inexpensive route. You can also purchase rocks at your local stone center.

Stone centers (Google one near you) usually have a discard pile of misfit rocks where you can find pieces you might like to use. More than likely, they will charge only a small fee for these rocks so it is still relatively inexpensive.

1) After you find a rock you like and bring it home and wash it, you will then paint it two or three times with white acrylic paint, letting it dry in between coats.

2) After printing an inkjet image (color inkjet images work best for this method) you would like to use, paint over it (that's right, paint over the picture) with white acrylic paint as if you were trying to cover it up. Let the paint dry onto the picture. You only have to do this once.

3) Now, back to the rock - after it is painted and dried a few times with a few coats of white acrylic paint, you will next apply a sort of gloppy thick coat of white paint onto the rock surface but do not let it dry this time, this is very important.

4) Take your inkjet image (with the dried paint on it) and place it face down onto the thick coat of wet white paint you just painted onto your rock, making sure to place it in the spot on the rock where you want it to transfer to.

5) There will likely be excess paint underneath the image and it may get messy, but gently push the excess paint off of the rock by placing your hand on top of the top side of the image and smoothing it out with your fingers. Let the picture dry (image side down) onto the wet paint.

6) After the picture is dried onto the white paint (let the initial drying take place for 24 hours).

7) After it's thoroughly been dried for a whole day, take a clean flat paintbrush and clean water and paint over the picture. You will see the image start to appear through the paper as it becomes moist from the water being applied and the image will start to bleed through the paper.

8) Do Step 7 above at least 5 times (preferrably 10). It only takes about 1/2 hour or hour to dry in between, so you can likely do this in one day if you have time. It's the wetting of the paper and the drying process that you need to get a good transfer of the image, not the amount of time in between each part of this step.

9) After Step 8 is complete, it's time to start rolling the paper off of your image one layer at a time. Wet the image again with your paint brush. Wait 10 minutes (very important so that you get it moist but not wet). After 10 minutes, start by rolling fingers over the top side of the image EXTREMELY LIGHTLY, and I mean barely touch it as you roll. You should now see the top layer(s) of paper starting to come off in small peels.

10) As thin as paper seems, it has many layers, so after you get a good initial peel, let it dry completely again (probably about two hours). Reapply water to the image and you will see even more of the color showing through. Repeat the process until you are happy with the transfer of color.

Again, patience is key. I know the tendency is to rub the paper off quickly but please take your time because you want to get the best transfer possible.

You will know you're finished when you see only a white haze of paper showing through from your image. This is really the best result I have ever achieved from this method.

You have now successfully transferred an image onto a rock that you can now decorate and embellish with paint.

Have fun with this part, the tedious part is over (even though it can be fun rolling that paper off, lol!)

You can add other flowers, change colors by going over the flowers with a paint pen ( I like Deco Art paint pens). You can add butterflies, ladybugs or other cute little additions that will make your rock unique and one of a kind. You can use the same white paint transfer method above.

Try stencils to add images onto the white background of your rock, there are many available (I'll try to link some below or somewhere on this page, so look for that)

Remember, the sky is the limit with painting on rocks, use your imagination! Be creative and be happy! What have you got to lose, a rock???

I hope you have tons of fun!!!

How To Get The Transferred Image To Show Using the White Paint Transfer Method

This is how my rock turned out using the method outlined on this page


How to Transfer a Flower Image on to a Rock

How to Transfer a Photo Using a Liquid Gel Transfer Medium

There are other ways to transfer images, although this method can be a little more expensive because it requires using a transfer gel medium, such as Liquitex.

Liquitex is a liquid gel medium you can purchase at a craft store in the paint section.  You use a paint brush to get Liquitex onto your transfer surface to prepare it for receiving an image.

You will get a clean crisp transfer using this method, and using a gel medium is a great choice for image transfer if you want to transfer onto fabric or wood and possibly even glass.

Transferring a Photo to Wood

And the winner is....LIQUITEX

Liquitex Professional Gloss Gel, Medium, 8 Ounce (5708)
Liquitex Professional Gloss Gel, Medium, 8 Ounce (5708)
Liquitex by far surpasses most products in the art of transferring an image to any surface.

Part 1 - Transfer Image Using Transfer Paper

Part 2 - Transfer Image Using Transfer Paper

Please stop in and say Hello... - If you know of another way to transfer images, please feel free to share it here!

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    • decorloving profile image


      4 months ago from United States

      Very nice and amazing article. Thanks for sharing such amazing imformation.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Hazelton 

      23 months ago from Sunny Florida

      I love this hub. A few years ago I tried to transfer a picture onto a cover of a wooden box and just made a mess. I will definately try your method.

    • GetitScene profile image

      Dale Anderson 

      2 years ago from The High Seas

      Another great article. Glad I discovered your hubs because you are churning out some good stuff here. I will be re-visiting as I start the project you have helped me with. Bravo!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Amazing! I learned something today - thank you :)


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