Indian Holyman Image Transfer

Mixed Media Painting Class – Doing Image Transfers, Method No. 1

Although I have yet to do a successful image transfer I am now going to attempt to describe the process.

  • Paint or stain your background with acrylic paint and let dry. If you only stain the panel then add a layer of medium to the painting – the transfer depends on the interaction between the plastic in the acrylic paint and the plastic in the laser print toner.

image is too grey to transfer well
my original image was too grey to transfer well

  • Images should be ‘high contrast’ as in mostly ‘black’ or ‘white’ Most of the ones I initially brought in had tons of gray in them which doesn’t transfer well.

high-contrast and reversed image
Image is now high-contrast and reversed so that the Indian script lettering on his head covering, as well as the position of his hands, will read correctly after transferring

  • Reverse any images with text on them so they will read correctly when transferred. This means all ‘text’ including Arabic script, Chinese characters, etc. plus any non-verbal communications such as my holyman’s blessing.
  • We used a fancy-dancy photo copier for this but you can also do it in Photoshop or Gimp if you don’t have access to such a thing. The key is to print it on a LASER printer, not an ink-jet. The paper should be ‘cheap’ paper as it falls apart easily – some of the higher quality paper results in better looking prints but the paper will not scrub off and you are left with a lot of white paper on your painting. Colour laser prints will also transfer but add the element of colour, and too many elements that can result in painting getting stuck right at the beginning.
  • Trim off excess white paper; otherwise you will have to rub it off and that’s a lot of extra work
  • Apply a medium amount of gel both to the canvas and to the PRINTED side of the photocopy, and lay face down on your painting.transfer showing problem areasArrows (from top left, clockwise): 1. excess gel that you DON’T want to get on the paper backing, or you will never get the paper off; 2 squeegeed too hard and broke through the paper; 3. push air bubbles to areas without any image to transfer.
  • Squeegee carefully; air bubbles cause unattractive ‘holes’ in the final image, and if you get gel onto the back of the paper you will never get the paper off.

peeling the first layer of paper off

  • gently peel/roll the first layer of paper off a minute or two after applying

    transfer of Indian holyman blessing on painted canvas board 
    transfer of Indian holyman blessing on painted canvas board

  • Once it dries through you can rub the rest of the paper off with warm water and a fairly rough cloth, revealing your image

There does appear to be some sort of ‘knack’ to it that I have yet to acquire. However, in a slide-show of some well-known artist’s pieces, our instructor Jeanne pointed out lots of broken transfers, saying that the eye fills in the missing bits, for instance, even though my hand is broken, it stills reads as a hand.

My previous post on my class: Selecting images suitable for image transfer.

About my original photo of my holyman:

holyman dispelling fear and offering benediction
I was hesitant to post this photo of this ‘holyman’ in Udaipur as he was a poser – he literally makes his living from looking holy for tourists. But he does such a great job at it so here he is – 10 rupees for a photo and a blessing; apparently his hand positions (mudras) dispel fear and offer benediction. Recently I was showing my photos to friend, who has been to Udaipur three times, and I said, “you must recognize this guy” and he said, “Oh yes, he hangs out at the back of the ‘xxxx’ temple.” So all you have to do is go to Udaipur, and go to the back of the temple (whose name escapes me) and you too can get a blessing and a photo of this amazing man…

Our super instructor’s site: On her site she has her work and offers lots of different workshops and courses.


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