How to create a photo transfer head

Photo Transfer-How to Create an Acrylic Transfer Image


How to Make a Photo Transfer

Don't be intimidated by acrylic transfers (also called photo transfers). The process of creating an acrylic transfer is easy. An acrylic transfer can be a great way of creating visual art. It can be created on almost any surface that will accept acrylic paint and virtually any image that can be photocopied can be transferred.

An acrylic transfer basically takes the ink from a photocopied surface and makes it a part of the acrylic on a new surface.  Acrylic transfers, when embedded into a surface can produce expressive, dreamy like images.  It also allows an artist to embed images into paintings without harming the original. 

Supplies for Acrylic Transfer

You will need a few supplies in order to create an acrylic transfer. First, you will need a surface to work on. This can be any surface that will accept acrylic paint.  Watercolor paper and canvas work great. You will also need acrylic gesso, brushes, acrylic gel medium, a photocopied image, and acrylic paint.

Cover the surface with gesso first and let it dry. You may want to add some color to the surface.  You can do this with acrylic paint.  Allow this layer of acrylic paint to dry.  Tear or cut the photocopied image to the size that you want the transfer to be. 

Apply a liberal amount of the acrylic gel medium to the area that you want the acrylic transfer to be located.  Place the the photocopied image face down onto the prepared surface. Let this area dry completely.  You may use a heat gun or a hair dryer to speed up the drying time. 

Next, spray the area with water using a spray bottle.  Really soak the surface well and let the paper absorb the water.  Take a cloth and rub the wet paper off to reveal your transferred image.  Remember that your transferred image will be in reverse of your original image.  So be careful with text.

You can embellish your acrylic transfer with acrylic paint, oil pastels, colored pencils, and so on. Be creative and have fun.

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Video Transcription
Welcome back to another video tutorial, brought to you by  Today, I'm going to show you how to create an acrylic transfer. We are going to start off with some watercolor paper.  You'll also need a photo copy of the image that you would like to transfer.  A couple of brushes.  A spray bottle with some water in it.  You'll also need some gesso, and some acrylic gel medium.  So, the first thing I'm going to do is take some gesso and cover the watercolor paper.  Acrylic transfer is an incredibly easy process to do and you can create some really interesting and beautiful pieces of artwork.  I'm using watercolor paper but you can use any type of surface that you want... anything that acrylic can adhere to, you can do this process on.  So, I'm going to give it a good coat of gesso.  And I'm going to make my brush strokes go back and forth in a cross hatch technique to give the surface a nice texture.  So, once the entire surface is covered with gesso, I'm going to let that dry. And after it's had time to dry, I'm going to go back over it with some layers of transparent acrylic.  For this demonstration, I'm using some bronze  metallic acrylic paint.  And I've thinned it out quite a bit.  I really want to create some transparent layers.  So, I'm going to put several layers of washes of the acrylic paint on the surface.  And I'm thinking about my brush strokes when I'm doing that trying to create that cross hatch texture to try to give the surface some depth.  You can use whatever color that you want when you're doing this.  It doesn't really matter.  You can for go this completely and just do the transfer onto the gessoed surface.  But I'm doing this to add some interest.  I'm also going to add some texture to the surface by using the end of my brush.  Next, I'm going to tear the paper around the edges of my image. I want that rough texture around the image.  You don't have to do it this way.  You can cut it out with scissors or an Xacto knife.  Once I've got it torn out or cut out, I'm going to arrange it on the paper just to make sure it fits.  In this case, I'm going to set it up for a vertical composition.  And it will look good in the center, so that's where I'll put it. Next, I'll take the acrylic gel medium, and with a brush or a palette knife, you'll want to cover the area that you want the transfer to be.  So, I'll cover the entire area where I want the transfer to be.  And I'm going to put a liberal amount on there as well.  Next, I'm going to take my photocopy, and place it face down onto the gel medium.  And once it's down, you don't really want to move it around.  But you do want to take your fingers and adhere it to the surface.  Next, you want to let that dry.  You really want to let that sit overnight, or at least for a few hours.  I'm using a heat gun to speed up the drying time.  You may use a hair dryer if you don't have a heat gun.  Next, I'm going to use the spray bottle and liberally spray water on the surface. And you'll see the transfer show through the paper.  You'll want to give it a minute and let the water soak into the paper.  Then you'll need to take a rag or your fingers, and start to remove the paper. This process may take a bit of time.  You'll want to be careful to only remove the paper and not the ink.  So, you'll add some more water, let the water soak in and then remove it.  And as you remove the paper, you'll start to see your transfer appear.  And it may take a few times going through this process to remove all of the paper.  And once you have all of your paper removed, you can take a cloth and remove all of the excess water.  And you've got your image transferred.  And in this case, I'm going to do a little embellishment with some more acrylic paint.  You can do any type of embellishment that you want. I'm just going to paint a little border around the edge of this.  You can paint right on the top of this if you want.  You can use colored pencils, oil pastels, really anything that you want.  So, be creative with it.  And that's basically it.  That's how you use acrylic gel medium to create a photo transfer.  It's really easy.  And it'll help you create some interesting and cool pieces of artwork.  I hope you've enjoyed this video tutorial brought to you by 

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