Tips on Image Transfers with Inkjet Printers

I have been a member of the group of artists frustrated by unsuccessful photo image transfers. It's been very hit and miss for me and mostly *miss*. But I think I've finally conquered one method using an inkjet printer and the final result, left, will be listed in my etsy shop Whyte this weekend. This was actually a second transfer from the same original inkjet image.

Our Melange team member, Glenda Bailey, swears by the Purell (yep the hand sanitizer!) method. When using Purell I think it is very important to use the PhotoWorks satin photo paper manufactured by Paris Business Products and found at some CVS, Target and Wal-Mart stores. I could only find it in my area at CVS. Attempts using other types of photo paper, Kodak for one, were not very successful for me.

The basics are very easily acquired, outside of the photo paper. I am a firm believer now that one does not need to own a fancysmancy photo printer, which was a real concern when I kept getting the *misses* instead of the hits in my effort. We have an HP Deskjet 1120C in our home office; it prints b/w and color with 2 cartridges. I mention this because more elaborate and expensive printers have a cartridge for each color. The cartridges themselves can get pretty pricey on those. So I had to make this work! Not in the market for one of the more expensive printers at this time! When printing out the image, I recommend changing your printer paper settings to premium, photo or whatever settings your brand recommends for photo printing. Mine says "HP premium photo paper" and automatically sets my printer to "BEST". Also REMEMBER!! If your image will have any words, you will have to set your photo editing program or your printer to reverse or mirror image because you will be transferring in reverse when you turn the actual image onto your substrate.

The other items needed are your substrates or what you are transferring the image to, and that appears to be limitless as long as it is not liquid! I used a gesso'd matt board and also used bleached cotton muslin. I've used paint brushes to apply the Purell, but I like the foam brush the best. Glenda advises NOT to apply with your finger because your skin absorbs the Purell like a sponge, not a good thing in this case. You also need something to burnish the back of the image to complete the transfer. I've used a bone folder, my finger and a spoon and have the best luck with my finger and a spoon. And be sure you are working on a hard surface, and I lay pieces of scrap paper under the substrate to catch any bleed through.

I 've read instructions to apply the gel directly to the photo image. That never worked for me. My inkjet inks are water soluble, therefore I had a mess before I even tried to transfer the image onto the substrate. I've only been successful applying the medium to the substrate you are transferring to.

I start by putting a good pump squirt of Purell directly on the foam brush and swipe it onto the substrate. I did not let it soak in long, but have read to let it sit about 2-3 minutes. My attempts worked fine without letting the Purell sit, but add that in case you need to try that in your experimentation. Be sure you cover enough of the substrate to pick up the image you wish to transfer; I did not go close enough to the bottom of the matt board and therefore the running cats from the image didn't make it to my treasure in the end!

Lay the image upside down onto the Purell covered substrate. Use your finger, spoon or whatever burnishing tool you prefer and rub the back of the photo image. Be very careful the image itself does not move or it will smear very easily. I use two hands, just didn't here because at the time I was demo leader and photographer, hubby was not to be found at that particular moment. One of the trials and errors in the transfer process is learning the amount of pressure needed. That's why I like using my finger first, it just seems to let me "feel" what might be happening....if I have too much medium or not enough. Once the transfer starts working, then I feel more comfortable going with the spoon.

Hubby joined me (gratefully) because I needed him to photograph this next important step 'cause I needed two hands. You are allowed (yayyyy!!) to check on the progress of your transfer, as long as you are careful not to move the actual photo image around. If you peek and see you have some areas that did not transfer well (very typical) try burnishing the area a bit more. If the image still does not transfer you are allowed to add some more medium, and I did so several times. Just be sure you go light handed and apply to the substrate, not the photo image itself.

This is a scan of 2 of the 3 images I was able to transfer from the same photo image print of the man in the moon. The 2nd, and really the best image is on my Halloween pillow shown above. The fact I was able to get 3 good images off of one image was quite an accomplishment. The only difference from any other attempt I've tried at the transfers was on the recommendation of my son, an amateur photographer, graphic artist and Photoshop guru, I changed the print setting in my Photoshop Elements to CMYK (instead of RGB) before I printed out the image using PSE and my inkjet printer. As long as yellow is one of your ink colors, you can use CMYK. Can I tell you what is so special about that? Nopie, nopie. My son is a man of few words. I googled CMYK and did a little research. Still can't tell you why that might work or not. But as with all trials and errors, one has to try any and all things until one hits upon the most successful method for oneself.

Don't give up, if you have some boo boos, save them, you can paint over them and use your *canvas* for another artwork. I've used bits and pieces of disasters in other mixed media artwork, you can end up with some fascinating messes of color! LOL! Happy transfers! Click on any image to get zoom.

---Pat May, aka whyte

21 comments:

  1. Pat, oh my, you MADE my day, my weekend. What a wonderful, step by step tutorial on how to do this transfer method. Thank you so very very much for doing this the readers of this blog. Beautiful, beautiful job.

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  2. thanks for the very detailed article on transfers! I find them intimidating, but you make it sound so easy...I must see if I can find the paper recommended.

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  3. Such an interesting tutorial...I'm definitely going to try this hand sanitizer method!

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  4. I'm going to try this again....but I NEVER get it to work!!

    Karen

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  5. Thanks, Pat, for the thorough walk through. I need to get of the fence & try this soon!

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  6. What a great tutorial - thank you so much!

    I can tell you that CMYK is a four-part color process, based on the colors cyan, magenta, yellow and something else, and it's used mainly for print work which requires more intricate color work. RGB is a three-part color breakdown used for screen work (websites, etc). When a work is done in CMYK and then uploaded to a website (which is in RGB), then that's when a lot of the colors get "chewed up" by the internet.

    That's my understanding of it, at least. Please ask your son if what I've said makes any sense!

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  7. Thanks for the CMYK explanation...I think you are correct from what I've read. I also read that when printed out, it's very difficult to tell the difference between RGB and CMYK. And I can't swear it had anything at all to do with my success! I've often said lining up the planets and holding your tongue just right has a lot to do with it too! :)

    And Karen, I almost gave up too, but to do so is not in my genes. And it was worth it as I've always loved the effect transfers leave!

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  8. Wonderful instructions =) Now I really want to try this!

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  9. Pat, what an excellent overview and very well written! Great Job!

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  10. I just found your blog. What a fantastic tutorial - I can't wait to experiment with Purell. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  11. I have seen several comments about using Purell for injet transfers - I tried doing a search on Google to find out how to do this with no luck. I was looking at Pam Carriker's (huge fan) Web site and blog and found her Halloween Transfer. I ran across your detailed notes and couldn't wait to try it (of course I new I was going to need the Purell eventually, so I bought that in advance). I transfered old photos of my family all day long yesterday - they came out great!!!

    Thank you so much for taking the time to explain the process!!!!

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  12. Transparencies work really well, too, and you can see where you're putting the image with them... (just make sure you get the kind for inkjet printers, not copiers or laser printers). Great tutorial!

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  13. The K in CMYK stands for blacK. I have no idea why it isn't CMYB! Thr difference in RGB and CMK is largely in the file format. I can make a difference to the in printed output, but that is visual and not physical. If you achieved better results nevertheless, all I can assume is that somehow the colour tones from a CMYK print look better in a transfer. I can't see any physical reason for it - the ink is exactly the same once it's on the paper.

    I must give this a try - I've only used acrylic medium so far. Thanks for the detailed tutorial.

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  14. Thanks for the explanation of CMYK Ian. I, like many artists working with image transfers, have tried many things to achieve a successful transfer, like the tongue trick and spinning in a circle twice to the left, once right and clapping 3 times......just add CMYK to the mystical list!

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  15. I just found your blog. What a fantastic tutorial - I can't wait to experiment with Purell. Thanks so much for sharing!Wonderful instructions =) Now I really want to try this!

    hand sanitizer purell

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  16. Transparencies work really well, too, and you can see where you're putting the image with them... (just make sure you get the kind for inkjet printers, not copiers or laser printers). Great tutorial!

    purell hand sanitizer

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  17. Hey, John, glad you found this! One other thing I learned, recently, is that you must use newer Purell. Since I don't transfer that often, my Purell has shrunk in the bottle, and that appears to be the alcohol evaporating. It's the alcohol that is needed! A recent attempt using a year old bottle of Purell produced nada!! I've wanted to try the transparencies, but the cost for a package has put the kabutz on that! Did you know there is a yahoo inkjet transfer group out there? Full of information http://groups.yahoo.com/group/inkjet_transfers/

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  18. Yay!!! Success - finally!!!!! (doing big happy dance)

    I've spent months trying to transfer images (plus cost of new printer which turned out to be the wrong kind of printer for the majority of transfer methods).
    This time it worked and with excellent results. Many many thanks!

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  19. Will this method work for transferring an image to wood furniture, for example drawer fronts, pair of doors, etc? Any special tips for this?

    Thank you!

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  20. I've never tried it on wood furniture or any kind of wood, Brat. Try it and let us know! There are several tutorials on the web for transferring to wood and one of our past members Lorraine Reynolds is quite accomplished on wood transfers. You can search for her via Google or on Facebook. Also, several posts above there is a link to a Yahoo inkjet transfer group that is an excellent source of information!

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