DIY Image Transfer to Wood


Last week, I shared with you a free printable declaration called “I am His,” and I told you I was working on a special way to display it…here it is!


Easy DIY image transfer to wood | #modpodge #gelmedium #wood


This was an easy DIY image transfer to wood using gel medium and sealing with Mod Podge.  I’d been wanting to try this technique for a while after seeing it on Pinterest.  This is the video tutorial I followed.  It is a WINNER!


Here is what you need:

  • Gel Medium – I found it at Michael’s with the artist acrylic and oil paints – not with the craft acrylic paints.  (FYI, the Mod Podge photo transfer stuff is not transparent, it will leave a white background, so don’t use it on wood unless you want a white background. I found that out the hard way…)
  • Mod Podge
  • Brush
  • An image – printed with a laser printer as a mirror image on regular paper so it’s reversed (if you don’t have a laser printer, use a photocopier to make a copy of your image and use that!)
  • A piece of wood, cut to the size you want, or whatever material you’re transferring the image to.  (If you’re painting the wood first, make sure it has dried completely.)
  • Sponge & water


Easy DIY image transfer to wood | #modpodge #gelmedium #wood


Step 1:  Gather your materials.


Step 2:  Generously cover the wood with gel medium.  (I covered the image…but it would have been much easier to just cover the wood.  Plus I don’t think I would have ended up with the cloudy smudge looking things around the edges of where the paper was.  But that’s ok, I think it gives it some character!)


Step 3:  Carefully place the image face down on the wood.  Smooth out all the bubbles and press it down firmly!


Step 4:  Let it dry for at least 24 hours!!


Step 5:  Using a damp sponge, wet the surface.


Step 6:  Rub off the wet paper with your fingers.  I had to repeat this step a few times to get all the paper off.


Step 7:  Cover with Mod Podge and let dry.


You’re done!  Find a great spot to display your artwork.


This is a really neat technique – I’m excited to try it with photos, and on other mediums as well!


In case you’d like to try this technique with the “I am His” printable, HERE is the mirror image version I used to make mine, so you don’t even have to flip it – just print and get going!


While you’re here, check out other winning ideas and projects in the Winner’s Circle for more inspiration!   Thanks for stopping by!

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94 Responses to DIY Image Transfer to Wood

  1. Donna Wilkes says:

    Great ob on the transfer! Very inspirational sign.

  2. This looks great! I haven’t done transfers like this before…Thanks for sharing:)

  3. Catherine says:

    Thank you for this tutorial! Glad to know a particular brand of gel medium that will work this way (clear). I haven’t had the best success with some transfer methods – but this looks great! I’ll be looking for this gel. Great project! Catherine (new follower)

    • Meredith says:

      Hi Catherine, thanks for stopping by and following! This worked really well, and the brand of gel medium that I got (artist’s loft) was actually pretty inexpensive, about $3 or $4. At first I was seeing other brands that are a little bit bigger jars for $13 or $14! So if you only need a little bit for a few projects, the cheaper one is definitely the way to go.

  4. Kim says:

    Great project! I’ve wanted to do something like this…you’ve made it look easy. Thank you for sharing.

  5. 2Momma2 says:

    I’ve been wanting to do this for a while too! I’m glad to see it worked out so well for you! Any idea why it is sealed with Mod Podge as apposed to a clear coat of varnish?

  6. I love this Meredith! I printed out your free printable last week and hung it on my bulletin board. Now I’m going to make my own sign. Thank you so much.
    Blessings, Patti@OldThingsNew
    P.S. Pinning too!

  7. Wow! First of all, cool sign!! And the tutorial is so easy to follow! I pinned it for future reference. I’m also following you on Bloglovin, Pinterest and Twitter! Have a great day!
    Selene @ Restoration Beauty

  8. Stephanie says:

    Awesome post. I can’t wait to give it a try :)

  9. Leah says:

    This is very neat! Thanks for sharing, pinned it to check out later!

  10. Kristen says:

    Very cool! I definitely want to give this a shot!

  11. I’ve tried this using Elmer’s glue instead of the gel medium because I found a tutorial about it, only it wasn’t the best transfer. I love the idea and your text, so I’m going to buy this gel and give it a try. Thanks!

  12. Emily says:

    I love this, what a good message to put up and how cool on wood. I will have to try this, so cute! Came over from Someday Crafts Link Party!

  13. That is so pretty! What an inspiring quote and wonderful process! Congrats on a job well done!!
    Keep ‘em coming… 

    hugs xx
    Crystelle Boutique

  14. Wow! Where have I been? I didn’t even know this was possible :) Thanks for opening my craft mind up to so many more possibilities.

    We’ve love for you to show your posts with our readers at our Finished Friday Link-up.

    • Meredith says:

      I know, I was a little bit skeptical until it actually worked! Linking up now :-) Thanks for stopping by!

  15. Emily says:

    I’ve got to get some of that Gel stuff!!! Amazing! Thanks for sharing at Tasteful Tuesdays @ You are being featured this weekend in me Writing on the Wall round up! :o) Would love for you to put my featured button at the bottom of this post…

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  17. Karen says:

    Love the message and the tutorial. Pinned and shared a link on my blog. Thanks so much for posting!
    Karen @ annumography

  18. Marie says:

    Wow, this is so cool! Thank you so much for sharing this. I will be featuring this on my party highlights this week. :)

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  21. I love this sign sooo much! I’m definitely going to be using this technique in the future! I have half finished night stands waiting to be monogrammed. This is perfect!
    I would love for you to come share this at my link party!
    I hope to see you there!
    Have a wonderful week :)

  22. Angela says:

    I love this! More importantly I love the promise! I’m hosting a new linky party at

    I would love to have you!

  23. Danielle says:

    Thanks so much for linking this up at the Pinterest Power Party! This post is being featured tomorrow! =)


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    Thank you SO much for sharing! :)

  28. SherryO says:

    I LOVE THIS! I just KNEW there was a way to do this – thank you for sharing. Very nice and very inspirational! Found you through 7Alive’s 5/1 linky party.

    ~Sherry from

  29. Sharee Jeffers says:

    I was just laying in bed an had the most incredible idea! I had pinned a image transfer tutorial before but couldn’t find it, that’s when I found yours! I will have to let you know when I complete my creation an I wanted to thank you for the easy to follow Instructions you’ve provided us! Thank you!

  30. crystal says:

    Wow amazing
    Tried this last night and rubbed paper off today… couldn’t believe my eyes!!!
    Mine turned out pretty white looking, I don’t know if maybe I didn’t get all the paper off or what but I didn’t want to ruin it rubbing too much.
    So I stained oak stain over the top and it seemed to disapear.
    Thanks so much for sharing

    • Meredith says:

      I know, isn’t it neat? I’m so glad you gave it a try! I also had a lot of white looking residue, and I found it was mostly paper…I just kept wetting it with a sponge and rubbing, and paper kept coming off! If you look closely at it, though, you can definitely see where the gel medium is, because I only put it around the text on not all the way to the edges of the wood. Covering it with a little bit of stain is such a great idea, though! I hope to try this again soon with another project, I will have to keep that stain idea in mind!

  31. Lthrbth says:

    Just FYI, I just did this yesterday and am rubbing off the paper today. I don’t know why but the blank ink is smearing and rubbing off too – I guess I don’t have the right printer ink or something. :( Not sure how to salvage the project.

  32. Eric says:

    Great article, quick question do you use a inkjet or laserjet printer? Or does it not matter? Thanks

    • Meredith says:

      Hi Eric, I have a laser printer…so I’m not sure how it would work with an inkjet! But if you try it with one, let me know how it turns out!

  33. Tina Conrad says:

    Is this just regular printer ink?

    • Meredith says:

      Tina I used my laser printer and it worked great…I’ve heard mixed results about how it works with inkjets. If you have an inkjet, take it to a copy center and just make a photocopy and it should work great!

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  35. Janie Box says:

    Hi Meredith! Thanks so much for sharing. I tried this and had a little trouble getting the paper off. Do you have any tips. It seemed that rolling it worked the best.

    I tried it twice and the 1st time I let it dry for 24 hours, the 2nd time I let it dry for 16. I didn’t see a difference but maybe that’s why I am having trouble getting the paper off easily. Again, thanks so much for sharing this!!!!! JANIE

    • Meredith says:

      Yes, definitely try a laser printed image…but I also had to work pretty hard at getting the paper off, too! I just kept wetting it and rubbing it off in little pieces. Hope this works for you!

  36. Janie Box says:

    UT oh, I just re-read this. I used an inkjet printer. I’ll try your suggestion!! THANKS!!!! JANIE

  37. Janie Box says:

    Oh Meridith I love you for showing me this. I finished this HUGE piece I was working on. I experimented with it thinking if it comes out really bad I will just sand it down and start over. I have learned so much…… First, ink yet does work but it makes it look more old, your lazer jet letters are beautiful. Second, I put a few letters on and blow dried them until they felt dry (about 5 minutes) it worked but they came out green not black so I would definitely recommend waiting over night at LEAST and third: I wet a few sections too much and there was painted wood underneath the letters. The paint started peeling off the wood so I had to stop, pat the letters down and let them dry. I LOVE the outcome though. Its cool looking. I’ll send you a pic if you want to see it. THANKS AGAIN!!!!!!!! JANIE

    • Meredith says:

      I would absolutely LOVE to see a picture, Janie!! You can email it to me if you’d like, So glad it worked for you. I have been wanting to try this on a bigger project for a while now…just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Thanks so much for sharing your tips!

  38. Janie Box says:

    PS as far as having trouble getting the paper off? I used the scrubby side of my blue sponge and GENTLY scrubbed then wiped away the mess with the sponge side. Then let it dry again and redid some areas. Its beautiful. Thanks again!! I don’t have the money for vinyl letters right now

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  40. Diana says:

    I want to try this craft with my son’s classroom and I tried several techniques to choose the easiest one. I tired it with Lumitex gel medium, Mod podge image transfer and regular Mod podge and surprisingly got the best results with the regular (matte) Mod Podge. The other ones always ended up with air filled bubbles, no matter how much I tried to get rid of them. I am still having difficulty getting rid of the paper completely, there is always some sort of “fur” left behind. Rubbing too much starts lifting the image. I found that a small ammount of the “furry look” dissappears with a coat of Mod podge.

    • Meredith says:

      Very interesting, thanks for sharing your results, Diana! I didn’t have any problem with the Artist’s Loft brand gel medium from Michaels, so maybe the brand does make a difference. I also did a final coat on mine with Mod Podge, that definitely helped to give it a nice glossy look.

  41. Carol says:

    I love this so much! I need one for me and one for each of my four daughters. I had better get busy!! Thanks so much for sharing.

  42. Amy says:

    Hi, i tried this recently and it worked.
    The only thing I’m wondering is.. if i have an image where the background is white, when i transfer it onto the wood and rub it off, all the white areas (including the background) gets rubbed off and becomes the colour of the wood itself. Is there any way I can make the white areas remain white instead of it being wood? I only want the piece to be wood but the image itself to still be the original state?
    Also, is there any way to brighten up the image? Because I tried and when transferred, the image colour becomes darker than the original. Thought of playing around with brightness and contrast in photoshop but not sure if that would work and how much of the brightness and contrast needs to be changed? amy.

    • Meredith says:

      Hi Amy, glad you found this helpful! This technique only transfers to ink, so unless you have an image with white ink somehow, the white doesn’t transfer. If you want a complete image to just be on a wood background, you might try using mod podge to just decoupage your paper onto the wood – that way you’ll have better color too. This technique isn’t meant to transfer a perfect photo with bright colors – it just creates a neat rustic effect of text or images on wood. I’ve only ever used it for text, not color images, so I’m sorry I’m not more help!

  43. Taylor says:

    I love this!!! I have never seen this done with words. It looks amazing. I’m thinking of printing something at office max large and putting it on a large piece of wood. Do you think that would work? Does it have to be printed a special way?

    • Meredith says:

      That sounds neat! As long as it is a laser print (like from a copy machine) and not an ink jet print (like an inkjet home printer) it will work!

  44. Katie says:

    I was just curious if it matters if you have an inkjet printer or laser, I’ve heard it matters and some others say it doesn’t matter.

    • Meredith says:

      Yes, it does have to be a laser printed image! If you don’t have a laser printer, you can just make use a photocopier to make a copy and use that.

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  48. Stacey says:

    Maybe you’ve answered this already but how can I make it fit a full sheet of 8 1/2 X 11 paper? I’d like to make it bigger than it’s printing out.

  49. Fay says:

    Kay, I have been dying to try transfers and I’ve only seen tutorials for transfers using inkjet printers so this is a revelation to me! You just saved me going out to buy an ink jet printer… so THANKS!! I’ll be zooming out for some gel asap and trying my hand at this!

    Also! I LOVE this quote…pretty much i love everything about this post! You rock!

  50. Rose says:

    I love this! Do you know how it might turn out on a canvas board? I’ve never tried this before but am excited to give it a try!

    • Meredith says:

      I did try this once on a stretched canvas and it didn’t work very well, I think because I couldn’t get enough pressure to adhere it to the canvas? Not sure why. But if it works for you, I’d love to hear about it!

  51. cara says:

    I have tried this 3 times, and they keep coming out with a green tint… any clues what i am doing wrong?

  52. cara says:

    Can it be done using an ink jet printer?

  53. Tracy says:

    This is wonderful! Thank you for sharing!

  54. porsha says:

    Do you mind telling me the size of the wood?

  55. Kentley says:

    Love this! Is it long enough just to let it dry over night, or does it have to be 24 hours?

    • Meredith says:

      I don’t know Kentley, I’ve never been brave enough to try it! I usually even give it a smidge longer than 24 hours just to be safe.

  56. Josie H says:

    Hey Meredith! I know you’ve said before the laser printed image works best but I don’t have one and do not have access to one. Will the transfer not work at all with inkjet or is it just more difficult? Also do you know if I can stain the wood after I transfer it or would I need to do this prior? I’m using Mathew 5:9 instead of the pretty saying you’ve provided. (It’s a Christmas present)

    • Meredith says:

      Hi Josie! No, this technique will not work with an ink-jet…an easy way to get a laser print, though, is to just take your ink-jet print out to a copy store and make a black and white copy! Don’t forget to mirror it first, though, so the words are reversed. As far as staining goes, I would stain before…the layer of gel medium would probably prevent you from getting an even finish on the wood. Then just coat the whole surface with a layer of mod podge or other sealer after you’re done for a nice, even finish.

  57. Gina says:

    This is so cute! Does this work on painted wood as well?
    Gina recently posted…Seasonal Depression…My Profile

  58. Ernesta says:

    Made mine but the glue has turned the wood an orange colour (yours went white).

  59. MyKin says:

    Can you use this technique on metal as well?

    • Meredith says:

      Hm, it probably would work to transfer the image/text, but because this technique is actually transferring the image IN the gel medium, it probably wouldn’t look so great on metal (it would lose it’s shine and texture since there would be a layer of the gel medium on top). But maybe worth an experiment? Let me know if you try it!

  60. Courtney says:

    Do you need to use a lot of medium? I used a thin coat and it’s not working very well. Most of the wording came off with the paper.

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