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Mod Podge Photo Transfer: Easy Canvas How-To & More DIY Ideas

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In this post: How to use Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium to create home decor on wood, glass, fabric, canvas, etc. from your photos and art! FAQ, tips and ideas.


I adore the look of black and white canvas photos and Plaid’s Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium was totally calling my name from my basement stash for this project. Plus, you can use it on so many other surfaces and customized home decor makes great gifts for family and friends!

How to use Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium to create home decor on wood, glass, fabric, canvas, etc. from your photos and art! FAQ, tips and ideas

Intro

Just like our last house, we’re working on this house a little bit at a time. Last week I got a little ADD with my painting: I painted the hallway – most of it anyway, I painted the stairs, I started painting our master bedroom, I painted a little of the basement family room. And so far none of it is finished!

But I did tackle this one *complete* and EASY personalized piece of art for our bedroom, this easy custom canvas using Mod Podge Transfer Medium.


What Surfaces Can You Transfer Images Onto with Mod Podge?

I initially transferred a photo of Dean and I onto canvas using the Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium. But you can also use this Mod Podge to transfer images to all sorts of other non-porous surfaces too! Check out these easy home decor and other ideas:

  • glass – candle holders, photo frames, antique windows
  • wood – plaques, signs, ornaments, furniture, coasters
  • canvas – signs, photos, artwork
  • fabric – shirts, shoes, pencil cases, pillows, napkins, placemats, table runners
  • clay – ornaments, jewelry, coasters
  • terra cotta – planters, pots

The sky is practically the limit to what you can make with almost any surface, photocopied images and Mod Podge Transfer Mediums!


Common Mod Podge Photo Transfer Questions

There are inevitably questions when you’re trying a new product for the first time. I know I wondered about several of these before I used Mod Podge too. Here are the most common Mod Podge transfer related questions and their answers:

Q. What kind of copies should I use?

A. Laser copied images on regular paper work best for photo transfers.

Q. Can you Mod Podge inkjet prints?

A. Yes, you can…sometimes. Inkjet images may work. But I highly recommend using laserjet/dry toner images.

Q. What kind of images work best with Mod Podge Transfer Medium?

A. Do not use photo paper or actual photos. You can use pretty much any type of image or artwork that you can photocopy – photos, graphics, word art, sketches, free printables, labels, landscapes, etc.  

Q. Can I use regular Mod Podge to transfer a photo?

A. Yes, you can. But you will need many additional materials and steps.   

Q. How long does Mod Podge Transfer Medium take to dry?

A. It takes the Mod Podge Photo Transfer medium 24 hours to dry fully. Don’t try to rush it. Be patient!

Q. Can you dry Mod Podge Transfer Medium with a hair dryer?

A. No, you need to allow for the full drying time of 24 hours for the Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium. 

Q. Is Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium clear or white when it dries?

A. The Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium dries white. That means that if you use it on wood or glass, you will have white edges and background. If you want those to be clear, you need to use Mod Podge Image Transfer Medium.

Q. Can Mod Podge Photo Transfer be used on outdoor projects?

A. No. Because the image is paper, it cannot be used on outdoor projects. 


Quick Tips for Your Image Transfer Project

1. Choose the right kind of Mod Podge for your project

Use Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium for projects:

  • where you don’t want or need to see the wood, metal, canvas (or whatever material you use) surface background (like the canvas project below – what you trim the paper to is the image you will get)
  • that you want to have a gloss finish
  • made from wood, canvas, glass, clay, terra cotta, metal, or fabric

Use Mod Podge Image Transfer Medium for projects:

  • that you want to have a clear, matte finish (no need to trim the paper, only the image will transfer)
  • on surface backgrounds you want to see (the clear matte finish allows the surface background to show through)
  • made from wood, canvas, glass, clay, terra cotta, metal (cannot be used on fabric)

2. Reverse your copy for text projects

If your project has words on it, make sure you create a reverse copy (in Canva or Photoshop) so the words will read correctly on your finished project.

3. Apply plenty of Mod Podge

Be sure to apply plenty of Mod Podge Transfer Medium, evenly over your project. 

4. Don’t wash glass with transfers

If you want to use any kind of Mod Podge image transfer on glass, you won’t be able to wash the glass. 


Where to Get Mod Podge Transfer Medium

Typically our local craft store carries several varieties of Mod Podge. When I look at Michaels.ca there’s no Photo Transfer Medium, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t have it (Michaels Canada’s online search and shopping feature is new, so I don’t find it entirely accurate yet.). 

Thankfully, all kinds of Mod Podge is available for shipping. Amazon is my favorite place to find the specific kind I want. 

 

Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium

Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium

Mod Podge Image Transfer Medium

Mod Podge Image Transfer Medium


Easy Custom Canvas Using Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium

Supplies

mod podge photo transfer supplies

Instructions

1. Choose your photo and using a photo editing software (I used Photoshop, but you can use Canva or any other photo editing program), resize it to fit your canvas. If desired change mode to grayscale for a black and white image.

2. Print photo on PLAIN paper. Photo paper will NOT work. For best results use a laser/dry toner copier/printer.

2. Trim photo to fit canvas, leaving about a half inch space for border around the edge. As noted above, the Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium doesn’t dry clear, so be sure to trim right to the edge of your image or you’ll have a solid white outline.

photo cut to size

4. On a protected surface (I used newspaper because I had it on hand), using a sponge brush to spread a thick layer of Transfer Medium all over the FRONT SIDE of your photocopied, trimmed photo. All you want to see is a nice even coat of WHITE.

squirting mod podge on image

mod podge spread on image

5. Without touching the sticky surface, place your photo paper sticky side down onto your canvas. Tap gently in the center and then smooth outwards toward the edges on all sides, removing air bubbles as you go. LET DRY FOR 24 HOURS.

smooth out bubbles

6. Softly press a fairly wet sponge onto the image on canvas until the entire thing is damp to wet. Now squeeze out the sponge into a cup.

beginning to wet the paper after mod podge dries

almost done wetting the paper

7. Using a circular motion and the damp sponge, rub the paper off the canvas; you’ll see it sort of rub off in small pieces  Continue until all you see is your transferred image. 

rubbing off paper

If the image doesn’t stay on your canvas or wood, it’s like too wet or you may not have used enough mod podge. If this happens you will have to try to redo the Mod Podge step and let it dry for 24 more hours. 

still rubbing off paper

8. Gently brush off any additional paper bits and pieces and let dry.

brush off paper bits

dry thoroughly

Note: that Mod Podge Photo Transfers give a vintage sort of vibe to your project, which can be very nice in farmhouse, rustic and country decor style homes. 

9. Optional: Using a foam brush and black craft paint, carefully paint just the edges of the canvas. That way you can display it with or without framing!

painted black edge canvas

custom canvas photo art

Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium Easy Custom Canvas

And voila an easy custom canvas in just a few simple steps!


Printable Mod Podge Photo Transfer How To Project

 

black and white photo on canvas on nightstand with lamp and flowers on stacked books

Mod Podge Photo Transfer: Easy Custom Canvas Art

Yield: 1 canvas
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Active Time: 45 minutes
Additional Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy
How to use Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium to create home decor on wood, glass, fabric, canvas, etc. from your inkjet photos and art! FAQ, tips and ideas

Materials

  • Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium
  • Canvas
  • INK JET printout of photo
  • Water
  • Sponge
  • Paint

Tools

  • Scissors
  • Two foam brushes

Instructions

  1. Choose your photo. Using a photo editing software (I used Photoshop, but you can use Canva or any other program you know), size to fit your canvas. If desired change mode to grayscale.
  2. Print photo on PLAIN paper. Photo paper will NOT work.
  3. Trim photo to fit canvas, leaving about a half inch space for border around the edge. Transfer Medium doesn't dry clear, so be sure to trim right to the edge of your image or you'll have a white outline.
  4. On a protected surface (I used newspaper I had on hand), using a sponge brush to spread a thick layer of Transfer Medium all over the FRONT SIDE of your photocopied, trimmed photo. All you want to see is WHITE.
  5. Without touching the sticky surface, place your photo paper sticky side down onto your canvas.
  6. Tap gently in the center and then smooth outwards toward the edges on all sides, removing air bubbles as you go. LET DRY FOR 24 HOURS.
  7. Softly press a fairly wet sponge onto the image on canvas until the entire thing is damp to wet. Now squeeze out the sponge into a cup.
  8. Using a circular motion and the damp sponge, rub the paper off the canvas; you'll see it sort of rub off in small pieces  Continue until all you see is your transferred image. Gently brush off any additional paper pieces and let dry.
  9. Using a foam brush and black craft paint, carefully paint just the edges of the canvas.

black and white photo on canvas on nightstand with lamp and flowers on stacked books

I think this Photo Transfer Medium is going to come in VERY handy for a whole bunch of projects brewing around in my little ol’ brain –  since it makes it SO easy to personalize any surface with favorite photos or even graphics created on the computer!

mod podge photo transfer easy custom canvas

Have you tried Mod Podge Photo Transfer yet?

I'd love it if you'd share:

home made lovely book on table with get it now text button

I'd love to chat with you in the comments!

Comments

  1. Mira says

    Hi there! I love making image transfers and this is a great article! =)

    I had a few thoughts that might be helpful.

    First of all, as Natasha said, be sure to print at as high of a resolution as possible, at least 150…

    I think you’re meant to use a laser printer (a printer/copier that uses toner rather than ink) for best results. The ink from ink-jet printers tends to run and wash away a bit from the water (and maybe the medium too?). Sometimes the vintage/faded look is ideal, but if you’re looking for a crisper image with more contrast, try using a laser print.

    Also, I’ve had the best luck making transfers by keeping the paper at least as wide as the canvas–either way you can leave a white (or whatever color the canvas is if you’re using a medium that dries clear) border around the photo if you want to, but this way you don’t have two different textures and a fine line where the image layer cuts off onto the canvas. Instead, the whole canvas is a smooth surface.

    And you don’t have to be stuck with a white medium to make image/photo transfers. You can use any acrylic medium and I believe that most will have a clear finish unless otherwise stated. I find that Liquitex’s Slow Dri Blending Acrylic Gel Medium and Golden’s Semi-gloss Acrylic Gel Medium both work well, especially if you use multiple coats in opposite directions on the canvas and let those coats dry before applying the image layer.

    Good luck with your transfers!

  2. Gina says

    So I tried this, and it has the vintage look that I like, but the texture makes it look kinda dry and scratchy up close(maybe there’s something I did). Is there a type of finisher to place on top to make it more smooth?

  3. Tina says

    I used the Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium, inkjet printer, inkjet 24lb bond paper onto a canvas that I painted a background with oil paint.

    My plan was to transfer the photo image onto the canvas with a painted background.

    I followed all the steps and the print did not transfer at all. I rubbed the paper away, but it did not rub off completely. The Mod Podged print just peeled off like a thick coat of paint. The photo did not transfer at all.

    Any thoughts?

  4. GARY KELLEY says

    A lot of the sites I have been reading says to use a laser printer. Mist says an inkjet printer won’t work. Is this true and why are they saying this. I have an ink jet printer. Can you help me and explain?

    • Shannon Acheson says

      I’m not sure about the actual chemical reasons why, but it is true. I tried it with my ink jet first and it did not work. So I sent it to be printed on a laser printer at Staples/Office Depot.

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