Transferring Images on Different Surfaces with Photo Transfer Medium

Hello everyone, hope you all are doing great !

Vaishali here and I am happy to be writing today about a wonderful technique -Photo Transfer also known as Image Transfer !! Yes indeed its’s transferring your imaginations, memories and creating  beautiful treasures from them…..

I have done photo transfer on various surfaces, like metal, glass, wood , fabric and chipboard, using Little Birdie’s recently launched Photo Transfer Medium.  All the recently launched Little Birdie products at Itsy Bitsy, have a unique feature – QR code .

This QR code appears on the lid of products or on the sides. On scanning the QR code, you will be directed to a video link that will show you how to use the product, with a step wise tutorial …..Isn’t that interesting and useful !!! I am sure this thoughtful feature will be of great help to all craft enthusiasts. Hats off to you Itsy Bitsy for this great feature !!!!


The Photo Transfer Medium from the store is water based, has perfect, smooth consistency and gives wonderful results, when done systematically. It works on all surfaces and is non tacky on drying. Try it once and am sure you will enjoy the process… Its pretty addictive as well….so I have ..not 1 but 5  projects to share today…. Let’s get started !!!!

Project 1 – Metal Planter …Let’s go to the flower market to fill the planter !!!

To do the transfer, you will require images, apart from the Photo Transfer Medium. Important points for the images to be used –

  1. You can choose any print that interests you. It can be a personal picture, a self designed print or just any appropriate  image taken from the internet.
  2. You will require to take a laser printout of the selected image, remember laser printout only as… in  an inkjet printout , the ink will bleed when the medium is applied.
  3. Take the printout to the required size. You will need to mirror the image before printing. The picture is going to be adhered face down, so any script or photo will appear straight, only when its mirror image is printed. Hope this very important part is clear!!
  4. Take the printout on a regular printing paper that a print store provides you . Do not use a thick photo paper or any special paper for the purpose.
  5. Even if you wish to transfer any photograph, you will need to take a laser  printout of it. Cannot use the photograph directly.

I have printed few images from the internet, that I plan to use for the transfers. Note they are mirror images of the actual. I took two prints of same image to be on the safe side.

For the metal planter, the first step was to give a base coat to the galvanized planter availble at the store.  I have given two coats of chalk paint -Tattered Lace. As I used  chalk paint, I have not used gesso. If not using chalk paint, then give a  coat of gesso and then a coat of acrylic paint.

As the paint dried (chalk paints dry really fast and give a nice chalky matte finish ) I cut out the images that I decided to transfer. I have used two different images on either sides of planter. You can fussy cut with scissors or hand tear depending on your requirement.

Coming to adhering the images, some important points –

  1. The image has to be adhered face down .
  2. The Photo Transfer Medium should be applied both on the part of the surface (on the planter, where image is to be transferred in this case ) and the side of paper that has the image (side with image that is going to be adhered face down ).  This is to be followed for all porous surfaces like wood, fabric, chipboards etc. Tin is non porous, however I have covered it here with a coat of paint, so I am applying medium on both surface and paper. If doing the work directly on non porous / slippery surface like metal or glass, without base coat,  its preferred to apply medium only on the surface not on the paper with image.
  3. Do not use loads of medium. Just enough to adhere, covering all areas. Just how you do in case of regular decoupage .
  4. Adhere the paper carefully, without any bubbles or creases. This is very important for a good and  complete transfer. Adhere one side and pressing down, gradually move towards the other. This works better than laying down the whole paper at one go and then pressing over it.
  5. Make sure you adhere  the edges well as they tend to come off (later at rubbing stage )if not stuck well.
  6. A top coat of medium is not required over the adhered paper in case of photo transfer (unlike regular decoupage).

Once the image is adhered, you need to leave it aside for 8- 10 hrs for good results. I prefer to leave it overnight.  Next step is very crucial and needs loads of patience…..that is removing the layers of papers to see the image transferred.

Use a moist sponge and dampen the paper, enough, so that you can see the image. Wait for a minute and then start rubbing out the paper gently with sponge or hand. I prefer rubbing out with my hand (with circular motion) Remember the paper is made up of layers and we are removing one layer at a time. Once you remove one layer, again slightly damp the paper and remove the next layer.  This will require patience.  Do it slowly till you see the image. 

I am sharing a set of pictures of  various stages to explain the above. The pictures are of my creation- personalized door hanger.

Hope this helps ….Do not harshly  try to remove all layers at one time.

And this is how the cycle image looked when transferred on the metal planter.

There were few, minor off white patches (as the image had off white background ). However I did not want to rub further as it would spoil the image and overall it looked good with the base coat colour -tattered lace given to the planter. Always give a background colour that looks good with the image.

On the rear side, I transferred the bird image.  Once the image is transferred, it needs to be sealed with a coat of Photo Transfer Medium. The medium works as sealant and dries clear. You can also apply a layer of soft gloss gel on the transferred image to seal it, in case you plan to do some heavy colour spray or texture work. Soft gloss gel will resist the colours and you can easily wipe off any accidental colours that have come on the image.

After sealing the images, I worked around the areas surrounding the images. I wanted to go minimal so that the focus remains on the images. Concrete effect was on my mind right from the beginning…to go with the inside metal look of the planter. An interesting way to create a concrete effect is here!!!!

Mix Texture Sand, Soft gel medium- Matte and Chalk paint – Misty Fog (any light grey acrylic colour) on a craft mat or palette. It will instantly create a concrete looking mixture, which I applied on the bottom edge of the planter and a little on the sides. Also applied around the images through the brick stencil. As the soft gel medium dried, the mixture adhered  permanently and this did not take much drying time either. Later, I dry brushed with tattered lace chalk paint to  highlight the textures of sand. Love the effects.

Further embellished with some flowers, pollens, blue paper twine and the new chipboard embellishment – Berry Branch . The new chipboard embellishments are pre- primed ie. they do not require a cot of primer /gesso. You can directly work on them. In this case, I used them as it is. Their  natural look was just suited for the planter, adhered one on either sides. I have used silicon glue – to me it’s a ‘wonder glue’ to adhere all the embellishments. Its great for sticking fabrics, metal, wooden, paper and all sorts of materials.Painted the top edge with camel red acrylic paint and varnished the whole planter with decor varnish matte for further protection. The rear view of the planter….Hope you liked it and understood the process of image transfer.

Moving on to the next project and another surface as well…

Project 2 – Glass lamp / votive.

The most interesting elements, used  here are the decoupage paper and fiber paste. This goes as my inspiration for the current monthly  Blog Challenge -14, using the decoupage papers.  I have transferred one of the image from the beautiful decoupage paper on a hollow glass cylinder ( used around the lamps/diyas). The thickness of decoupage paper -70 gsm is suitable for image transfer- one more feature of the new released decoupage papers !!!!

Tip – Do not apply medium on the paper while transferring. Only apply on the glass surface.  Glass is a non porous object, it will not absorb the medium at all. Hence excess glue may tear the paper ( both while adhering and rubbing the layers). Even when rubbing the last layer of paper, do not damp it too much, it will become sticky and the final image will peel off as well. This needs to be followed when working on glass surface directly without a coat of paint or primer on it.  Here I plan to make a lamp, so have not given any base coat.

Once the image was transferred, I applied  fiber paste in the surrounding areas an when dried, colored it with Artzone pearlised acrylic  paint- blush. The Fiber Paste is such a versatile product – can be used to give aged look, add textures and here I have used it to emit light through it.

The light is emitted both through the transferred image and the fiber paste. In my excitement to execute the idea, I missed out that there is some script on the decoupage paper that will look reverse when transferred. However that’s not evident much but you can choose an image that has no text.  Some interesting pictures.


I have embellished the lamp with burlap lace and flowers.

I told you this technique is enjoyable and I could not stop here. However when it comes on wooden surface, the frequently asked question is why to photo transfer and why not decoupage directly ??

Here’s the answer . When working on a wooden plank or an object made from wood , that shows evident wood grains, there is no point hiding the lovely wood figures. So its ideal to do photo transfer. You get the image printed and see the lovely wood grains as well !!!!

Project 3- Keepsake Wooden box


Here you can see the pinewood grains evidently through the image…..

Are you looking forward to more !!!!!

Project 4 -Fabric- Canvas Potli pouch

Next try was on fabric. I transferred an image on canvas potli pouch. Surprisingly, its easiest to transfer image on fabric as its the most porous surface, and hence simpler at rubbing out the paper stage.

Tip- Insert a cardboard piece, for support while doing the work. It also prevents the medium from seeping to the back side of pouch. Also note again,the  image is a mirror image.







Once the image was transferred, I only added some script stenciling using chalk paint drift wood and embellished with some flowers. I preferred to embellish minimal in all the photo transfer projects. 

Project 5 – Magnet – Transferring a black and white image on chipboard.

I have photo transferred a black and white image on to a  coaster size, mdf  piece to create a magnet. To create interest, I have adhered chipboard bricks from the store to the mdf square piece using silicon glue. Next I painted the whole surface with chalk paint frozen ice. When completely dry, I transferred a black and white image. Interestingly, the white areas got almost completely eliminated while rubbing the paper layers. That’s a great feature of the photo transfer medium from Itsy Bitsy-  You can see the background colour (in this case blue) as the white areas of paper come off  and the design in black  seems almost printed.For the final touches, I highlighted the chipboard lines with silver gel pen and embellished with paper twine and flower. Also distressed the edges with black chalk paint. Isn’t that cool !!!!Not to forget that for all the creations, I have sealed the transferred image with Photo Transfer Medium and varnished the entire product with decor varnish for further protection.

There are many among us, who are painters, graphic designers… this technique is  a great way to get your own designs and prints transferred on to objects to create unique handmade, gifting products. Also, photo transfer helps create personalized gifts with personal pictures.

I have more creations to share using photo transfer technique. Will be doing so in the Itsy Bitsy Crafter’s Cafe group in the coming days. Hope you are a part of the lovely group, where creativity spreads each day !!

Do give this technique a try…looking forward to your creations

Create, Express, Enjoy !!!

Vaishali Khandwala

Here is the list of supplies





  1. Wowwwww….. Kudos to u Vaishali… All the doubts are clear….. All the projects are adorable

  2. Your creations are always so inspiring Vaishali…. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing the details !

  3. OMG I am speechless vaishali now I became your fan what a fantastic post well explained like always, each projects are amazing you are decoupage master ???

    1. Thanks a lot Pooja… your words made my day.. reading this from an extremely talented crafter like you is happiness

  4. OMG, such lovely projects. It is really amazing that how beautifully you have covered so many techniques with one single project. The tutorial is beautiful outcome of your hard work. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  5. You are indeed an amazing teacher Vaishali! Beautiful creations & a fabulous tutorial loaded with tips & tricks.

  6. I used photo transfer medium to transfer photo on the wood. I applied this medium on normal photo print and left overnight and removed the layer by applying water. The picture is transfered but once its dried a white layer is formed which making my picture not visible. Again if i apply water picture is visible again but once dried it is completely white. What is solution ?

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