How to Transfer a Photograph Onto a Block of Wood

Here’s a quick and easy tutorial that’ll teach you a cool method of transferring a photo print (black and white or color) onto a block of wood.

All you’ll need (aside from the photo and wood) is some gel medium and Mod Podge. You’ll want to use prints made with some kind of laser printer or copier rather than an ink printer.

DIY Wooden Picture [ReadyMade]

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  • Heartofthematter

    I did it last night and it worked fine with ink jet

  • michelle

    I tried this in black and white using just the inject printer and the picture has a blue color to it. So if I do try it again using an laser printer will the image be black color not blue?

  • Heather

    There seems to be numerous kinds of gel medium- can you specify which one works best for this project?  i.e. matte, acrylic, gloss, etc

  • Ribbles2008

    Did this twice on canvas and STILL can’t get the paper off without ruining the picture! When it dries it’s still “ghostly” looking. If I rub any harder the pic comes off.

  • Jeff Prada

    This is a great idea. I can’t wait to try it! Will report back with results. Thanks!!

  • Danielle

    I use clear transparencies, rather than paper. Don’t have to deal with the messy rubbing over… and over… and over. Just one quick pull and you’re done :)

  • Steph

    I’m extremely impatient and refuse to wait 8 hours for it to dry. I found that it works perfectly fine with a decent thick but not too thick or thin layer of Gloss Medium, accelerated drying time by leaving it out in the sun. 10 minutes top, and ta-da! Image is transferred. Now I had a sample of Atelier Binder Medium and it works AMAZING! Only problem that it’s sold in select art stores for at least $10 per 250ml tube. I was thinking, well, wouldn’t Mod Podge would just as fine as a transfer medium? Yes, turns out it does and dries quickly. I’ve been using magazine images.

  • Jacobtbrown93

    I can’t figure out how much to rub off! Do you just keep rubbing untill it stops peeling, I feel like I’m rubbing the picture off after the top part is gone?

  • Goldie_Locks

     would the spray paint keep it from running even though its the back of the picture your seeing?

  • whit

    does it matter if you use treated or untreated wood?

  • JaLo

    what is the best wood to use?

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  • Kristah

    My picture keeps coming off no matter how light I rub. Any clue what I’m doing wrong?

  • Pascal

    You have to use pictures printed from laser printers…. home printers are typically “ink jet” and that will not work for photo transfers

  • pasca

    regular letter printer paper 8 x 11 typical

  • makoy

    where can i buy those things that you’ve spread out? is there any alternatives? thank you!

  • TobiathLee26

    Trying this today as a gift for my wonderful bride. Wish me luck!

    PS. Thanks for this, I was utterly stuck for gift ideas until I saw this. x

  • lindaoffen

    it says I’d need a Gel Medium and Mod plodge..does anyone know where and what gel medium to get in UK and roughly what it costs..also where in the process does the gel medium go on,?

  • ladlad0000

    Okay, so i really want to try this. Can i use a photography from a photolab. i.e snappy snaps?

  • Stacy Evans Humphries

    I do transfers onto wood with an inkjet print… works well!

  • Stacy Evans Humphries

    you can go to home depot or lowes and in the lumber section you can get wood planks for like $6 for a 6ft piece and they will cut it down into blocks for you….free!

  • Stacy Evans Humphries

    I found using matte photo paper works best because unlike regular paper, it holds in more ink making the ink darker on the wood when finished. before wetting and rubbing the paper off, take a medium sanding block and sand the paper a bit to rough it up… this will help the water saturate it better and therefore rub off easier. Don’t worry about the “cloudiness” of the image once it dries after you’ve rubbed the paper away, once you put the mod podge on it, that becomes transparent. I like to sand over the photo before I mod podge it and give it a rustic look, especially around the edges. :)

  • Stacy Evans Humphries

    use matte photo paper.

  • Stacy Evans Humphries

    I use matte photo paper and that seems to work the best.

  • Lex

    I just tried this with a simple pine 1×12 (8″ long) and a color image printed on standard printer paper (8.5″x11″) on a laserjet printer at Staples, and then copied by the same machine so that it was horizontally mirrored. It turned out exceptionally well, though just to note: if you rub the paper off too hard it will take bits of the picture off with it. But it’s an excellent looking piece now, and I’m very happy with it!

    The image is Arthur Rackham’s “Freia the Fair” from his illustrations of Wagner’s Ring Cycle.

  • Brenda Crews

    I have tried both inkjet and laser and they both rub off about the same so waht is she doing that I’m not but I did save the wood that I messed up and in a DIY book that I have show you how to put the picture on the wood by just gluing it down not as pretty but you get the same results and not the headache

  • Amy

    Can you do the transfer on to painted wood?

  • sport

    Can the wood block be painted prior to applying the photo?

  • SmurfyK

    I used a photo that was printed at Walmart, but it didn’t work. Do i need to print it differently?

  • Holley

    I went to CVS and used their copy machine to print a photo off, will that kind of print not work?

  • Allison Deal

    You can get the Gel Medium at Joann Fabrics..

  • Noni2005

    Thank you!!! I’ve been to Michaels & Aaron Brothers. Neither have this product. They offer something similar. Actually Gel Medium come in differnt forms for different uses.

  • Tracy B

    I had the best results when I used a higher quality paper that could hold more ink without blurring the image when the ink was applied to the paper. I used 11″ x 14″ Hammermill Color Copy Paper on boards that I had cut into 1′ pieces from a 6′ board at Home Depot (pay for the better wood without knots to get in your way too). I also sanded the edges after I applied the Mod Podge to remove the extra glue and paper and then painted the sides black followed by spraying a clear coat over all of it to protect it from water and other agents used to clean dust off of it.

  • Kate

    does gloss gel medium gel work?

  • Jesssss.

    I got mine in the lumber yard at Menards under the discount lumber section, $3 for two blocks of nice oak wood.

  • JessMade4u

    Omni-gel. I buy it at Michael’s. After 3 coats, it turns the paper into “vinyl” and after soaking in water for a few minutes, the paper can be rubbed off and the image remains intact.

  • cat

    Does it work on MDF? Need to know what type of wood to buy, thanks

  • Gabriellaxyz

    Is it okay if I use the “Gesso” type of Liquitex? It says on the bottle “surface prep”
    There were so many to chose from I had no idea what to pick!
    Now I see your video again, i’m kind of worried

  • Joseph Colson

    Is it possible to do this on a concrete paving slab? As an outdoor ornament? Thanks.

  • David Marcelo Palencia

    Can this work if you use a box of cardboard instead of wood?

  • Patman1835

    Notice: the video is filmed in mirror image. to get the right perspective, make sure the print is reversed ( Mod Podge and Gloss Gel label on the containers are reversed)

  • Thankful Parent

    Wow! Thank you!!!

  • 123

    Awesome review!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Tori

    If anyone has any advice I would really appreciate it! I have attempted 3 of these transfers and none of them have worked. I’ve let them sit for 8, 12 and 24 hours respectively. I’ve used tons of gel medium and the picture never transfers. Instead, when I start rubbing off the residue, the whole image just rubs off. I am using normal paper not photo paper. The closest I’ve come to the transfer actually working is whenever I just stopped rubbing and left a layer of the paper with the image still on it, on the wood. I don’t know what I’m doing incorrectly! Any advice?

  • Nicole

    when you say copier do you mean like a photocopy machines

  • Sarah DeBerry

    I did everything that the video shows, but I still had some of the picture to rub off. Also, I thought I had rubbed off all of the paper but I discovered that after I applied the mod podge, the picture turned white in some places as if the wet image still had paper…will have to play around before trying this for a christmas present again!

  • Norman Lowe


  • cjkw67

    has to be printed on regular copy paper.. not glossy picture paper

  • cjkw67

    going to say untreated.. if it has any “treatment” it wont let the ink absorb