Saturday, February 16, 2008

How to Make a Photo Transfer with Gel Medium

Subsribe to have these blog entries delivered straight into your inbox. Subscribers will be entered to win periodic art giveaways! (sign up on the form to your right.)

The Cremation of Frida Kahlo
Mixed media collage on wooden panel
13.4" x 9.5"
Stacy Alexander


I am an avid photographer who is rarely seen without camera in hand. I often use elements of my pictures in my collage work, either by print and cut methods or photo transfers. There are times when I will end up with a photo whose composition pleases me even if it is out of focus or otherwise technically imperfect. This is when I will turn to digitally enhancement to make an entirely new image. What follows are some of my digital images that would have found themselves in the waste bin if not for some creative Photoshopping techniques. (Some are abnormally cropped because I am not using Blogger software to upload them.)

Eyes of Narada's Wife

Chinese Pagoda - Golden Gate Park

Tulips at Foreign Cinema


Window Treatment

There are many different ways to make photo transfers. This is the method I most often use.

1. Print your digital image onto common typing paper. Use the most inexpensive paper you can find, as the less expensive papers have more "tooth" and are able to grab the image. Avoid glossy papers.

2. Wait a minute or two to make sure the ink has thoroughy dried. Then liberally apply gel medium with a utility brush or sponge brush all over the image in one direction. I like Dick Blick's house brand of gel medium but you can use Modge Podge, Golden or any brand you like...glossy or matte, depending on the look you want.

3. Allow to dry for 10-15 minutes. Then apply the gel medium in the opposite direction. Allow to dry thoroughly. I sometimes set these (weighted) in front of a fan or on a windowsill for faster drying, but find it is best to apply the gel at night and simply leave them overnight for deep, thorough drying.

4. The image is ready when it is dry to the touch and slightly pliable. This is the time to flip it over so that the back of the paper is facing you. Add small amounts of water to the back, a little at a time, and begin to gently rub the paper off in a circular motion. Add more water as needed.

5. Continue to add water and gently rub until as much paper is removed from the back as possible taking care not to tear the image. If image does become torn, it can still be used, however.

6. When as much paper is removed as possible, leave image to dry. The end product will be pliable and semi-transparent.

7. Use more gel medium to apply photo transfer to desired surface.

1 comment:

Susan Tuttle said...

Your work is gorgeous! I came across your blog through a link I followed on Jen Crossley's blog - so glad that I did.

Stop by sometime if you get a chance.


Blog Archive

Stacy Alexander