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Image Transfer

I have recently been experimenting with 3 methods of image transfer: the alcohol gel method, the Gelli plate method and the image transfer medium method. I have shared my techniques with you below as videos and written notes. I hope you find it interesting - and if you have any questions, please feel free to email me at

There are a number of important things to remember when undertaking image transfer:

  • work in a WELL VENTILATED space - some of the chemicals used in these processes give off strong smells and the interactions between transfer mediums and inkjet ink/toner may also produce vapours.

  • I have gathered the information shared here from a number of sources and I am hugely grateful to all the artists who have worked to develop image transfer methods and refine their process.

  • I am only just starting to master these processes and I hope to develop my process further over time. 

  • Different techniques require different papers. Alcohol gel transfer seems to work best on absorbent (non-primed) papers (like printing paper and cloth paper). On the other hand, the transfer medium process is better on primed surfaces (surfaces that have a layer of gesso or acrylic medium on them). Gelli printing can work on a range of (unprimed) papers, so you may want to experiment with this. 

  • The transfer medium process requires images that are laser printed, although they can be good quality prints on ordinary copy paper. The Gelli plate technique works best when images are printed on a colour laser printer (even if the images are black and white) on thick silk or satin paper (at least 200gsm). I used inkjet prints on ohp (overhead projector) transparencies for the alcohol gel process. Make sure that the transparencies are designed for use in an inkjet printer. 

  • I found it helpful to prepare my images before they were printed. I edited my photographs to increase the contrast. I also made some of my images black and white. This can be done in a number of ways on a phone or computer. I edited some of my images using the Notanizer app, which is a really easy way to create high contrast images.

  • Remember that some transfers are printed back-to-front. This is true for the alcohol gel and the transfer medium methods. If you want the images to be the right way round, you will need to reverse then before you send them to the printer.

Inkjet image transfer with alcohol gel

I have used alcohol gel (hand sanitiser) to transfer images using old-fashioned inkjet ohp transparencies (left over from when I was a University Lecturer!). I print the image using my Epson inkjet printer. Remember to print on the 'gritty' side of the transparency. 

Before printing, I create an A4 document with all of the images that I want to use. I use Canva to do this. It is a good idea to edit images so that they have a lot of contrast. 

Printing on to paper with a degree of absorbency seems to work best - unprimed paper does not seem to work. I used cloth paper (Khadi paper).

The video shows the process that I have been using. It was inspired by the work of Trina Baker. I have done an experiment to explore the effect of leaving the transparency on the paper for different durations. If the transparency is left on for too long, it will stick to the paper and tear the paper when it is removed. 

So far, I have done these transfers on blank paper and then added collage and paint afterwards. It may be possible to add these transfers to paper that has been painted with water media, but I have not tried that as yet.

Laser print image transfer with Gelli plate

I have been using a Gelli plate for almost a decade but only recently attempted to create image transfers on the plate. I am indebted to Jane Faase who shared her process in the 2023 Gel Printers Summit.

I used the same method as Jane and have got some good results so far. The crucial thing seems to be the way that you get your photographs printed. I initially tried using laser prints on normal copy paper, but this did not work. Jane suggests getting your photographs printed on heavy silk or satin paper on a colour laser printer

After finding a local printer who could do this, I tried the process again and it worked really well. I have demonstrated what I do in a short video. So far I have only made image transfers on the Gelli plate using black acrylic paint. I used the Amsterdam brand (as suggested by Jane). Once the black paint is dry, I use Liquitex Matt Acrylic Medium to transfer the print to the paper. You need to leave the paper on the plate until it is dry, before carefully peeling it off. 

I use a lot of collage in my work and I like to print on wet strength tissue paper. So far, I have found this to be a good paper for this process. Other (non-primed) papers may also work well.

Laser print image transfer with transfer medium

I believe that many acrylic mediums can be used to transfer laser printed images, however, I decided to try some Amsterdam Photo Transfer Gel to see how that would work.

I created an A4 document with my photo images. The images had been edited to be black and white using the Notanizer app. I got this document laser printed at my local printers. They were printed on ordinary copy paper on a black and white laser printer.

In the video I transferred the image on to a piece of watercolour paper that had been painted with acrylic paint. The paper had a bit of texture and this did affect the way that the transfer went down. I think this process probably works best on smooth primed paper

It is important to make sure that the transfer paper is pressed down firmly and allowed to dry for at least 24 hours.


I then moisten the copy paper by spraying it with water and gently rubbing in a circular motion. If you rub too hard, you risk removing the transfer along with the paper. I repeat this process a couple of times. It is only when the paper dries that you can see if there is any white copy paper remaining. After removing the paper, I would seal the transfer with acrylic medium.

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