Guy DIY: Easy Photo Transfer on Wood

2 Y ears ago by

Creating a photo transfer on wood is simple. In fact, if you’ve ever used Silly Putty to lift an image from the Sunday comics, then you understand the basic idea behind this easy technique. Instead of using Silly Putty to pull the image from our paper, we use gel medium.

Here’s how you get started:


First, find an image you like and print it on a laser printer. If your picture has words, you may want to flip it horizontally (think mirror image) before you print it.

Next, find the perfect piece of wood. I used a Basswood Country Round® from our Wood Crafting Section, but you can pick up wood at any home improvement store. You may even find that perfect piece of wood at home in your garage.

Cut out your image to match the size and shape of the wood, and you’re ready to get started.

Step 1: Add gel medium to wood.


Spread the gel medium on in a thick, even coat. I used Artists Loft™ Acrylic Gel Medium, but you can use any gel medium you like.

Step 2: Apply your picture.


Make sure the image is face down. Then, smooth it out with a brayer or your fingers. Some bubbles and creases are okay – they add character to your artwork.

Note: Try not to get gel medium on the backside of your paper. It will only make it harder to pull your paper off once it dries.

Step 3: Let it dry.

A few hours should do the trick, but you may want to leave it overnight.

Step 4: Rub off paper with a damp cloth.

The next day…Use a damp washcloth to rub the paper away, but be sure not to rub your image too hard. You don’t want to take your picture away with the paper.


There will be some paper residue left behind, so continue to work with your image until you get it exactly how you like it.


You may also paint, stain, or sand your project to give it a more personalized look. You can even add another layer of gel medium to create a clear coat, or add brackets to hang on the wall.

Have fun with it!


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52 Like This Post

  • Janie

    Beautiful!! I want to take this idea and run with it for the glory of God. Thank you for sharing.

  • Jennifer Stephenson

    Thank you for sharing this project, it is truly amazing. I am going to try it soon, but first I wanted to ask you if this can be done with say like a family photo or photos of children to be exact? If so, and I do not have a laser printer, where could I find a public one to use? Are the printers at say like CVS, Walmart and ect. laser printers? Thank you in advance for your response to my questions. Again, Thank You for sharing your ideas and DIY projects. Jennifer S.

    • carrie

      Office depot
      Or similar office supply

    • Stephen

      Hi Jennifer, This project works great for family photos too. You should be able to find a laser printer at places like Kinkos or Office Depot. Just make sure you print your pictures on regular paper and not photo paper.

  • KC

    Will it work with inkjet printers? Just not as sharp? Does the gel medium work on plastic too or is this only for wood?
    Thanks! Awesome idea.

    • Stephen

      Hi KC, I wouldn’t recommend using an ink jet printer for this project. Laser jet printers generally produce better quality image transfers. This process should also work on other surfaces like canvas, glass, stone and plastic.

  • Carly

    will this work with a ink-jet printer also, if not why not.

    • Stephen

      Hi Carly, An ink jet printer may work for this project, but you’re probably going to sacrifice image definition.

  • Martin

    Hi… i can’t find gel medium, been to art store, school supplies, hardware and they don’t have.. any alternative for gel medium? tnx in advance

    • Stephen

      Hi Martin,
      I used Michaels Artist’s Loft™ Gloss Gel Medium, but Liquitex makes a gloss gel that you should be able to find at most arts and crafts stores.

  • 008cats

    Hi – I am really pleased to find your method using normal (inexpensive) art materials! One question: does the area around your cut-out fish – that has the gel medium brushed on, but has not received an image pressed onto it – does that affect the way that it will accept any further treatment like stain or wax, etc.?

  • Stacy

    I tried this with a photo I printed out at Walmart at the instant photo machine. But when I did this my picture didn’t turn out. Am I using the right type of photo to do this?

    • Hi Stacy! The photo must be printed on paper on a laser printer. Photo paper will not transfer the image. Let me know if this helps!