Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tutorial Tuesday {Transferring Pictures to Canvas}

Couple things first....
1. GO VOTE today! The only bad vote is no vote. Remember if you don't vote you don't have a right to complain!
2. Don't forget about the giveaway going on this week....you still have a few days to enter!
 and you can enter another giveaway I'm participating in over at mr. d & me
I've seen this done a couple different places on Pinterest and around the blog world, so I decided I would try it. This was my first attempt so I'm hoping my efforts get better the more I do it. Plus....it's waaaaay cheaper than buying a canvas print...even if it is imperfect.
Materials Needed:
1. Canvas {mine was 8x10 but you can use any size}
2. Gel Medium
3. Paint Brush
4. Picture printed on regular printer paper{make sure it fits on your canvas}
5. Water
6. Scrap Rag
7. Credit card or something to flatten out the wrinkles

This is the gel meduim I used. I purchased it at Michael's.
Print your picture out. Make sure it's the size of your canvas. You don't want it any smaller because obviously it won't cover the whole thing and it will peel a lot easier. Make sure it's on paper though, a regular picture won't work. Don't ask me why, but it won't. Also, your print will transfer as a mirror image so if you want or use a print with words on it, make sure you're printing it backwards or opposite of what it should look like.

Spread the gel medium all over your canvas. Make sure it's on there pretty thick. I tried to show it here in the picture but since it's clear it didn't turn out too well. Just make sure it's goopy on there, not just a thin layer.

It's up to you how you want to do the next step. I decided to lay my canvas on top of my picture so I could tell it was going to be straight. I lined my picture up on my cutting mat and placed the canvas on top of it. I tried my best to smooth it out in the middle while it was this way. Use a credit card to smooth it out, your picture hasn't transferred yet so you don't have to worry about smudging or smearing. This is an important step...you will see why later.

This is what it looked like when I flipped it over.  Make sure to smooth out all of those wrinkles or it will show on the finished product.
Let your canvas dry overnight or for a good 10-12 hours. The gel medium has to be completely dry before you can take the paper off. If it's not completely dry the picture will not transfer right and you will end up peeling it off.

This is what you should have after it's dry. I did notice that it shrunk a little and made some wrinkles on the one side. You can for sure see them in the finished product so make sure you leave room for that. Don't pull your picture 100% tight, but make sure all the wrinkles are out. It's a fine line! :) Anywhere you see wrinkles, your picture will peel off. You can see in the final picture what I'm talking about.

Take your rag and wet your entire canvas. Don't get it sopping wet, just dampen it. Ring your rag completely out before you wipe over your canvas. Notice in the bottom left corner the paper already starting to come off. Don't rub the paper off with your rag. Make sure you are lightly rubbing if off with your fingers. If you use your rag you run the chance of rubbing the picture off as well. This step is very time consuming. Be patient, you may have to wet it down again after it dries and get more off.

Here's the finished product. As you can see anywhere you see white {besides the upper left corner...that's a window} is where there were wrinkles in the paper. If you were using a black and white photo, I think it would look cool, kind of vintage looking. But, for a color picture it's not so flattering. Adds a little character, but not the look I was going for.

Here's a closer picture of the peeling.


And here is my canvas next to the most expensive canvas ever from our wedding. They are the same size and it cost me triple for the one I had someone else print. May be not as great quality, but like I said before...practice makes perfect. I will keep you updated when I do my next one so you can see the progress.


  1. I have been looking at other people's picture transferring projects, but never attempted to do it myself! Hopefully.. one day! Love your photo and the fact that you put so much love into making it makes it equally expensive!!

  2. oh VERY cool, I've been meaning to try something like this!!! looks great!!!

  3. Really nice project, thank you for sharing, great tutorial as well.

  4. Thanks for sharing. i just tried this yesterday and when i was rubbing off the paper, i couldn't get all of the white paper off, i rubbed gently for a while and the picture part started coming off. I used liquidex medium gel gloss. the only thing i can think of that happen is that I put it on at night and i had to go to work the next morning so it dried for a good 24 hours. could that have made the paper stick to the image part? Also, how thick of a coat of gel did you use? I really want this to work, I was looking on shutterfly and they want $63.99 for a canvas print!!

  5. What kind of printer did you use? I read a lot of people use laserjet to do this, but I have a regular ole inkjet and was wondering if it would still work?

  6. I've tried this with my inkjet printer but it just doesn't seem to work, maybe I'm using too much gel? or did you use a laserjet printer.


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