I love the look of family photos printed on canvas, but I never knew I could make them at home! After transferring photos to fabric, I was super excited to try some pieces using stretched canvas. I hope this inspires some of you to make something special for your home…
Here’s how I transferred my photo to canvas:
-stretched canvas (I chose an 8×10 size)
-paint brush and the image you want to transfer (laser copy)
-spray bottle filled with water.
Remember, your image will print reversed.
1. Completely cover your canvas with gel medium. Use a heavy coat.
2. Press the photo copy onto the canvas and let it dry for several hours or overnight.
3. After your image is completely dry, use a spray bottle to wet the top of the paper.
4. Rub the surface with your fingers until pieces of the paper start coming off. When pieces start coming up your image will be revealed. This step takes patience and is messy!
Be careful not to rub too hard as this can remove your transfer on accident. Continue until all the paper is removed and the image is completely visible!
6. Cover your canvas with one more coat of gel medium to seal and protect the image.
Note: You can expect an imperfect transfer. I think the imperfections are absolutely lovely! It’s best to choose an image that is not incredibly detailed to work with. Each transfer is different. The more you experiment, the better!
Q: Can I print my photo on photo paper?
A: No. A photo printed on regular photo paper (like what you would get from any 1 hour photo) will not work. The reason is that in steps 4,5+6 you need to be able to rub the paper off from the canvas. Any photo with a plastic feel on the back will be water resistant. The best thing to print your photo on is regular printer (or copy) paper.
Q: What is a laser copy? Can I just use my home printer?
A: The method we’ve had the most luck with uses laser copies. Inkjet printers (home printers) can also work, but if you choose to use them be sure to print on regular copy paper, not photo paper.
There was some confusion about what a laser copy is. It’s the kind of copy machine that you could use (for cheap!) at any copy shop, office or public library.
I’ve personally had several successful projects using a laser printer, so that’s what I would recommend! I take photos in and blow them up to fit the canvas side. I always print in black and white because I think that a contrasty black and white transfer looks better than color.
Q: I don’t have Liquidex, can I just use Mod Podge?
A: No. Although I’ve heard of readers using it with success it didn’t work well for us. We tried the gloss and the matte varieties of Mod Podge. The results were the same with both types. It’s normal for the transfer to have imperfections, but with Mod Podge it was much more than usual. Mod Podge is awesome, but it’s not ideal for this project.
What we DO recommend for this project is any gel medium that you would get at the art store. We usually use glossy. Liquidex Gloss Gel or Golden Gloss Gel work great. I know they are a little pricey, but it’s worth it for this project.
Q: There is a white film covering my photo. What did I do wrong?
A: You didn’t do anything wrong, it’s just not done yet. If your transfer looks like this (below) it simply means you need to keep rubbing the paper off!
A lot of people get nervous when some parts of the image wear off and don’t want to finish. If you look at my finished example at the top, there are some spots that wore off during the process, especially around the edges.
This is totally normal and should be expected. Use a spray bottle and rub gently until the paper is completely removed. Then gloss the photo with another coat of gel medium while the surface is still slightly damp.
I’m so excited to have this little keepsake for our home. These would also make amazing gifts! I can’t wait to make more. xo. elsie
So it has to be like on copy paper not a original picture that came from a school picture or something like that
Yes- it only works on coffee paper.
WOW! There are a lot of questions and comments. You may have been asked this several times, but if I mess up on the first picture, can I use white paint to paint over it and try to transfer again?
We absolutely love this Idea! They would make an amazing gallery wall in different sizes! It’s been featured in our lastest blog post
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Keep up your (very,very) creative posts!
Do you press the image on face down or up?
I love this idea. I am going to give this a go.
This is brilliant!!! 🙂 I have just discovered this website and i am in love with it!! 🙂
I was just wondering what paper did you use? was it just normal plain paper or a type of photo paper? 🙂
Thanks so much for the great ideas!!
What kind of paper do you print the picture on?
where were you able to get a laser print photo?
great post – i am new to anything “DIY” and crafty and was wondering what a “gel medium” is and if Mod Podge would work the same as Liquidex? Thanks!
I am making this as a present for my mum’s birthday. Praying it works!! Thank you for the idea (:
Curious as to your paper choice, did you use photo paper? Plain paper? I tried it and mine did not work out but would love to try again.
Is there an alternative you could use for the gel medium? I cant find it anywhere living in Northern Ireland! Thankyou! x
cant wait to try this, thanks!
That’s very inspiring! I’ve been using the gel medium for 3d ornaments and never thought it could be used as a transfer medium… thanks a lot for that!
When my eldest two were little I had professional photos taken that were mounted on board, over the years, and there have been a lot since then they have become damaged. I was thinking of scanning and reprinting them. This is such a fantastic way to do these, I will also do the same with the photos of their families. Thankyou for this.
Are you using photo paper when making the copies to transfer or just regular paper?
This is such a great idea. I can’t wait to try it. Is the picture on photo paper or regular computer paper?
What Liquidex did you buy? Is it matte, or gloss heavy, ultra matte? I love this so much and want to do it for a wedding present! I just want to make sure I use the right kind of gel.
I tried this and the paper wouldn’t come off. I used pictures I had printed at Walgreens. I covered the canvas with gel medium. I let it dry over night. Did I miss a step or use the wrong type of photos? Help!