One main thing I learned while researching image transfers: there is no one correct way to do an image transfer. In fact, there are so many different types and different ways you can create an image transfer it makes my head spin. All you have to do is go onto Pinterest and type “image transfer” and you will be swept out to sea with all the craft tutorials involving transferring images onto things.

A short explanation of the process from The Book Of Alternative Photographic Processes by Christopher James.

Image transferring color copies involves the breaking down of thermographic dyes with a solvent to produce a copy transferred onto paper, fabric, wood or other substrates.
Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) is an artist whose work influenced many generations of artists with his “radical approach to his artistic practice.” ( This practice included a solvent transfer process that he started experimenting with in the late 1950s.
(Robert Rauschenberg, Rectroactivo II. 1964)
Solvent Transfer Technique (Basic)
(James, Christopher. The Book Of Alternative Photographic Processes. Albany, N.Y.: Delmar Thomson Learning, 2002. Print. Page 800.)
  1. Place paper on hard clean surface (plexiglass) so the solvent will not destroy surface
  2. Use light table to register your xerox copies and tape them together at top (registration)
  3. Lay them face down on receptor paper and tape
  4. Prime receptor paper with solvent
  5. Lay first page copy
  6. Coat back of first copy
  7. Burnish (woodblock brayer, stubby brush, metal or wooden spoon)
  8. May need several copies to achieve the right density/saturation
Citric Acid or oil of wintergreen less toxic solvents.
Duracryl (auto painting shops)
Many states illegal to dispose of used solvents.
Artists I like so far…
Two brothers observe, one investigates triangulations.
18 1/2 x 42 x 2 5/8 inches
Acrylic, Found paper, ball point pen, white-out &
xerographic gel transfer on wood panel.
Finished in a matte varnish.
I cannot tell you how much I love the image above. It has movement, graphical elements, subtle warm palette, image transfers, silhouettes, etc. There is nothing about this piece that doesn’t speak to me. Unfortunately, I cannot find the artist’s name.
Michelle Caplan is a mixed-media collage artist from Los Angelas who creates narrative pieces using old photographs, advertisements, children’s book illustrations, and text.
Another transfer process that I had no idea existed is the acrylic gel lift and transfer. This process floats the dyes in a gel film/skin and it gets applied by taking the film and dissolving it on your intended object.

gel-transfer-18finishedAcrylic gel lift and transfer





Doss medium on metal


Lazertran Image Transfer on Glass