In today’s post: This is the absolute easiest and most reliable way to transfer a photo to canvas!
I love photo transfer projects, but they can be a hassle. Most photo transfers require a laser print of your photo and some sort of transfer medium (or Mod Podge). They also require you to carefully rub away the paper from your transfer…while not rubbing away any of your image. Once you get the hang of it, it’s really not that hard, but it can be quite frustrating the first time you try it.
By contrast, the transfer method I’m going to show you today is super easy and pretty much FOOLPROOF. It only takes about 15 minutes of hands on time (plus some drying time). The secret ingredient for this much easier method is: Temporary Tattoo Paper.
Photo Transfer to Canvas using Tattoo Paper
That’s right, we’re going to use tattoo paper – the same stuff they use to make those temporary tattoos you liked to wear as a kid. Remember how easy it is to put on a temporary tattoo? Just peel off the plastic, place the tattoo down and get the back wet to transfer it.
Well that’s exactly what we are going to do! This is a super easy way to transfer a photo onto canvas and I love how the beautiful canvas texture shows through.
A couple notes before I get to the tutorial:
- This photo transfer method is easy and quick, but there is one drawback: because we’re using tattoo paper you cannot transfer an image that is larger than the paper size (8.5×11). For a larger transfer you’ll need to use the Mod Podge photo transfer method, like i did on this wood pallet photo transfer.
- For the example in today’s post, I used an app to convert my photo to a painting before transferring it to the canvas. The app I used is called Brushstroke.
DIY Photo Canvas VIDEO
You can watch this video to see the photo to canvas transfer process. Detailed instructions are below the video. Please note that if the video isn’t showing up below, that means you are using an ad-blocker. Whitelist this site in order to see the video. I know no one likes watching ads, but they allow me to create tons of free content for you. Thanks!
DIY Photo Canvas Supplies
- InkJet Printer
- Temporary Tattoo Paper for inkjet printers: for today’s project I used this tattoo paper found on Amazon. I was very pleased with how it worked and if you will be making multiple projects it’s a great value. I have used this brand of tattoo paper in the past which may be cheaper if you are only doing one project, but it only comes with two sheets which can be frustrating if you end up making a mistake.
- 8×10 canvas – I used a cheap one from the Dollar Store and it worked great
- Popsicle stick, ruler, credit card, or something else with a straight edge that you can use to smooth down the paper
- Matte Finish spray (optional but it improves the finished look)
Photo Transfer to Canvas INSTRUCTIONS
Flip your image horizontally using Preview or another program (In Preview go under Tools -> Flip Horizontal). Print the image on the glossy side of the tattoo paper (if you use the same brand I did, it’s the paper that says “tattoo/inkjet” on the back. I used the glossy photo setting on my printer and it worked beautifully. The paper instructions say you should allow it to dry for an hour, but I found the ink was dry in about 10 minutes.
NOTE: You want your image to be slightly larger than 8×10 inches so it’s a bit bigger than the canvas you’re transferring it to. In Preview, choose “scale to fit” so that your image will fill up the entire 8.5×11 page.
Next you will apply an adhesive sheet onto the printed side of the tattoo paper. Peel up one corner of the backing and place the sticky adhesive side down onto your printed image. It’s easiest to see how to do this by watching the video above. Gently pull off the backing sheet, smoothing down the adhesive sheet with a popsicle stick or ruler. Smooth across the entire image with the popsicle stick or ruler, removing any air bubbles. This will transfer the adhesive to the image.
Peel off the glossy adhesive sheet. The adhesive will remain on your image.
Place the image face down onto your canvas and rub it down well. It’s easier to do this if you turn it over on a flat surface and rub from the back of the canvas. Use scissors to trim away anything that overhangs the edges of the canvas.
Dab a damp cloth on the tattoo paper. As it gets wet, you’ll begin to see the image through it. Continue to dab until you can see the entire image.
Carefully peel away the tattoo paper. It should come away easily, leaving the image on your canvas.
Use your damp cloth to gently wipe across the image, ensuring it is well adhered to the canvas.
At this point the image may look a little wrinkly when the light hits it. This will lessen as the tattoo dries completely.
Finally, you can spray the canvas with a Matte Finish spray (I used Krylon brand). This reduces the shine on the image and protects it. It’s probably not strictly necessary, but I like how it looks. At this point, you’ll be able to see the texture of the canvas through your image. It’s really pretty!
These would make great gifts! The tattoo paper I used costs about $2 per sheet, and the canvas was only $1 at the dollar store. Even factoring in the cost of a can of matte spray and printer ink, these are e a very reasonably priced handmade gift.