How to transfer newspaper to canvas

Transfer photo to wood - DIY instructions for photo potch

DIY photo transfer is the latest hit - no wonder, as all sorts of beautiful things can be conjured up with the special technology. Whether you want to transfer your favorite motif onto wood or canvas: You will get a great result with our instructions. In this guide we explain step by step how potching works with wood glue or other adhesives!

Everyone is talking about Fotopotch. The DIY technique enables you to “print” images and / or texts on wood and other surfaces. Fortunately, the process is not particularly difficult, so you can follow our guide without any problems. Apart from a detailed explanation of the implementation of the project, in our article we also provide you with valuable tips of a general nature that you should take into account for an all-round convincing result. We answer questions such as: “Which printer is the right one?” Or “Does it work just as well with wood glue as with a special photo transfer pot?” At the end of the guide you will find ideas and recommendations regarding the motifs and the use of the creations that you make using potchen. Start your individual photo transfer adventure with us now!

What does photo transfer or photo pot actually mean?

In a nutshell (the details come in the actual instructions): When potching, you take a printout from a laser printer and transfer the toner adhering to the paper to another surface, usually wood. In order to do this, a certain gluing technique is used. After all the measures have been taken, the respective motif is no longer on the paper, but on the target surface. Sounds exciting, doesn't it ?!


Basic tips for potching

The photopotch agent

Thanks to the trend towards photo pots, it is now easy to buy specific photo transfer pots. It is a transparent, adhesive-like agent that has the property of flawlessly transferring the toner to the desired surface. Photo transfer pots (and other adhesives) are also referred to as transfer media. Depending on the provider and content, it costs between four and 15 euros.

You are not necessarily dependent on the use of Photo Transfer Potch. Here is a list of potential alternatives:

  • waterproof wood glue (only for wooden surfaces!)
  • Napkin glue
  • Craft glue (diluted with the same amount of water)

Tip: Our experience shows that the results are best with Potch, closely followed by napkin glue and wood glue. The variant with diluted craft glue should be viewed more as a stopgap solution that you should only use if you want to start immediately and don't have time to buy a more suitable product. But please don't expect too much from the craft glue version. We only mention them for the sake of completeness, but we explicitly advise you to use the other means.

If you choose a photo transfer pot, you should always also follow the manufacturer's instructions on the packaging.

The photopotch printer

The potchen only works optimally with printouts from laser printers. If you do not have a suitable printer at home, it is best to go to the nearest copy shop and have your chosen motif printed there.

Note: Also note that the technique does not work at all with a real photo (on photo paper)!

The formatting

In order for the motif to end up correctly on the targeted surface, you have to print it out mirror-inverted. Otherwise the image or the writing will be transferred the wrong way round.

The motif size

We recommend that you print out your desired motif (picture or text) in the size of the "recipient" (piece of wood, canvas, etc.). Example: If the receiving background is 30 x 20 centimeters, the motif should be printed out in the same size. The paper to be transferred extends over the entire surface of the piece of wood or the canvas, which means that any paper edges are not visible at the end.

The underground material

The ideal material for photo transfer is undoubtedly wood. In addition, you can also potch your motifs on other elements - for example on the following:

  • Items made of cotton (such as canvas or a cloth bag)
  • Glass plates
  • Wax candles

The surface

Regardless of which substrate material you ultimately choose, the surface should be as light as possible. This is because the photo transfer is always accompanied by a slight loss of color and contrast. Especially with pictures, the photopotch result is not as beautiful on a dark base as on a white, cream-colored or light brown one. Furthermore, the surface must be free of dust and grease - i.e. simply clean. If necessary, clean it beforehand.

So much for the basics of the photo pot. You are now ready for our detailed guide to potching!

Instructions for potchen

What you need:

  • Piece of wood
  • Image / text as a laser printout
  • Transfer medium (photo transfer potch or wood glue)
  • soft brush (hard bristles can scratch the printout when brushing)
  • small sponge
  • water
  • Paper towels
  • Sandpaper
  • Underlay (newspaper or a piece of cardboard)
  • optional: white acrylic paint (liquid with a brush or as a spray can)

Step 1: Print out your desired motif mirror-inverted in the size of the piece of wood. Attention: Print with a suitable printer (laser)!

Tip: In order not to have to laboriously adjust the motif with a photo editing program, simply select “Flip horizontally” in the print settings.

2nd step: Take your (clean!) Piece of wood and sandpaper. Sand the wood thoroughly, because: the smoother the surface, the better the photopotch result.

Optional intermediate step: After sanding, you can prime the wood with white acrylic paint. This is particularly recommended for color photos that have little or no white content. However, if you want to transfer a very bright picture or a black and white photo, you should leave out the primer. But: Our tips are of course not mandatory. Test different variants - you will soon find out what you personally like best.

Note: In the case of a primer, you logically have to let it dry completely before you move on to the actual potchen.

3rd step: Transfer the printed motif to the prepared piece of wood.

3a) To do this, first spread out the base and place the piece of wood on it.
3b) Equip your workplace with some kitchen paper - it will be a little muddy in a moment.
3c) Take the transfer medium (photo transfer potch or wood glue) and a soft brush at hand.
3d) Brush the piece of wood generously and evenly with the transfer medium.
3e) Coat the front of your motif with the photo transfer potch or wood glue.
3f) Immediately place the picture with the coated side on the wood and smooth the paper with your hand.

Important: You have to be really quick here, as the paper soaks very quickly.

3g) Wipe away the excess glue with kitchen paper.

4th step: Let the resulting wood pattern dry out thoroughly.

Note: this can take a few hours. The paper has to dry really well until the motif is no longer visible. Help with a hair dryer or just wait until the next day before continuing with your work. In any case, it makes sense to wash the brush carefully in the meantime.

5th step: Once the paper is dry, wet it again.

5a) Take a small sponge and dampen it with water.
5b) Carefully move the damp sponge over the paper - until the motif comes out again.

Important: In order not to damage the wood, you must not hold it under running water or immerse it in water.

6th step: Gradually rub the paper off. Start at the edge and be careful so that the photo stays on the wood.

Note: This step requires patience and some experience. Do not be sorry if the first attempts do not succeed 100 percent. Few of them manage to achieve a pure result without flaws at their Fotopotch premiere. And: Small irregularities are absolutely normal even after the thousandth time. They are part of the technology - after all, you create something handmade!

7th step: Let the piece of wood with the motif dry a little more when you have freed it from the paper.

Tip: A white haze may remain on your first attempts. Don't worry, it's just leftover paper fibers. It's best to leave it that way and stop scratching at it. Alternatively, you can try gently rubbing off the fibers with damp hands.

8th step: Grab the sandpaper again and work the edges of the piece of wood.

9th step: Seal the subject. To do this, apply a thin layer of the transfer agent with the soft brush. How to protect your work of art. In addition, the white streaks of the paper fibers disappear. If you wish, you can spread two layers on it (the second only when the first has dried!).

Tip: You can also use clear varnish instead of the transfer agent.

10th step: Again, wash the brush carefully. Finished!

Tip: The principle is the same on other surfaces. So you can use the instructions for any surface (the only difference is that you don't need to sand anything).

Practical information on photo transfer

Printer and paper

We have already mentioned several times in this DIY guide on the subject of photo pots that a laser printer is a basic requirement. Unfortunately, using such a device is not an absolute guarantee of a perfect result. Not every printer of this type delivers equally good results. The quality of the toner often determines the quality of the final creation. That is why we advise you to use an original toner for your photopotch project. In addition, it has been shown time and again that large office all-in-one devices (printer, copier and scanner in one) lead to worse results than small home printers.

In addition to the printer, the paper also decides whether your work will be all-round beautiful or not 100 percent convincing. Use simple printer paper with a thickness of 80g / sqm - that is absolutely sufficient. Thicker paper is not suitable.

Brushing tip

If you look at the advice on potching on other pages, it turns out that some of them recommend that the paper with the motif should be coated again with the transfer medium (wood glue etc.) after step 3f. However, we strongly advise against this, because: Many products dry out waterproof. Assuming you rubbed the back of it again, you would no longer be able to do the sixth (and almost most important) step - the scratching. This means: if you follow our instructions strictly and don't let such strange recommendations fool you, then nothing can actually go wrong.

Design ideas

Of course, you can let your imagination run wild when it comes to the choice of motif. Everything is allowed. Nevertheless, we would like to give you a few more inspirations here - maybe you like one or the other idea and you will implement it.

Idea # 1: travel photos

Create a collage with your most beautiful travel photos. To do this, of course, you need a sufficiently large background so that every picture comes into its own.

Idea # 2: animal photos

Immortalize your pet in a special way with the help of the photo pot technology - or give a valued zoo or wilderness animal this special setting.

Idea # 3: couple photos

Transferring a lovely couple photo onto wood is a wonderful idea. It is best to leave a small area of ​​the wood surface free and scratch an infinity symbol or heart into it.

Tip: The couple photo variant described is also a witty gift idea for Valentine's Day (to the partner) or for the wedding of a couple of friends.

Idea # 4: black and white pictures

In general, we recommend that you design (at least) one of your photo transfer works with a black and white image. The classic look promises fantastic results.
We hope you enjoy potching!