Transferring Images To Your Painted Projects

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Project by Seta Robbins

Artist Seta Robbins of Restoration Romance, North Reading, Massachusetts, shows us how to transfer an image to a project. It’s easier than you think!


·         Laser printed image*
·         Cleaning solution such as TSP or Krud Kutter
·         Item to transfer image onto
·         Paint of choice
·         Spray bottle of water
·         Paint brush 

*A Word About Transfer Art

The image you use to transfer onto your wood project can be as simple as wording that you print out in an interesting font (don’t forget to reverse it). Image can be black/white or color, but if it contains letters or numbers it must be printed in mirror image so that it will not be backwards on the finished piece. 

For this project, Seta used graphics from GraphicMarketplace on Etsy, printed on regular copy paper at Staples. There are a ton of “free downloadables” online, including a site she likes for vintage images called The Graphics Fairy. You can go to and find a lot of graphics for one or two dollars that you can digitally download and use as many times as you want for your own personal use. Just be sure to print with a laser printer.


Clean the piece with TSP, Krud Kutter or denatured alcohol.


Select graphic to transfer

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Clean project with TSP or Krud Kutter

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Paint the project with your choice of color, and then let the paint dry.


Apply another coat of paint where the image will be. While the paint is still wet, place your image face down. Press down firmly with fingers, removing air bubbles with an old credit card or room key as you go. Let it dry at least overnight to allow the image to transfer into the paint. 

Apply Transfer

Apply another coat of paint

Place image face down and remove bubbles


Spray the image with water so that the paper looks wet, but do not soak as you will pull up the image. Gently rub off the paper with your fingers in a circular motion. The top layer of paper will rub off easier. As it dries a bit, continue on to the paper that is left behind, spraying lightly with water as needed. Don’t worry if some of your image rubs off — this transfer method creates an aged, distressed look. Just leave that area until it dries before you go back to it. 

Remove paper

Spray image with water but don't soak
Gently rub off paper with your fingers

It will look like all the paper is gone but as it dries you will see there will most likely be more paper to remove. Just re-wet and continue rolling it off with your fingers. You may have to repeat this step a third time until all the paper has been removed.

For a more distressed look, you could sand a bit before adding your topcoat. Just go lightly at first to make sure you don’t take too much off.  

Here is a beautiful set of nesting tables that Seta completed using this technique with a different but coordinating transfer on each table. She used Black Dog Salvage Furniture Paint in Galvanized, That’s Gonna Leave a Mark and Black Dog, topped with Guard Dog Topcoat

Nesting Tables

Who is Seta Robbins?

Seta discovered her love of painting after stumbling upon someone doing a chalk paint demo at the Brimfield Fair a few years ago. “I thought it looked fun. I decided to try it and loved it!” she said. She works full time and paints furniture part-time, though she said, “I would love to paint full time as it has become a true passion.”  The best part? “Giving a new life to a piece of furniture that had been sitting in someone’s attic or otherwise might have been thrown away.”

She recently instructed a class on furniture painting at the Woburn Woodcraft location. The Woburn store holds a number of beginner, entry-level classes including “date night classes” that allow students to come together with a friend, date, or spouse to share in a learning experience while crafting a simple project that they can say they made themselves. The classes are designed for learning but also include a fun, social element that allows students to share an experience that eliminates any fear in getting started in woodworking.

Call your local Woodcraft store to see what classes are available in your area, or you can view the store’s class schedule online

We hope you’ll be inspired!

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