Make a Photo Transfer on Canvas

Transfer Photos onto Canvas

Transform your favorite photo into an art piece, or perhaps a unique gift idea? In this tutorial, we are going to show you how to transfer photo onto canvas in just a few simple steps. All the supplies you need can be found at your local craft store.

With this project, you’ll end up having a beautiful piece of canvas, perfect for home decoration, and also a great gift for holidays or special events.

How to Transfer Photos onto Canvas in 5 Easy Steps

There are 5 basic steps to this photo project. Watch the video to see how it’s done and follow along with the detailed instructions below.

Assemble you materials

Get your photo ready

Transfer your photo onto canvas

Rub off the paper

Add texture effect

Assemble your materials

You will need the following materials for this project:

  • Photo
  • Canvas
  • PaintShop Pro or another photo editing program
  • Scissors
  • Smoothing tool (a brayer if you have one, but a credit card or any plastic card work fine)
  • Gel Medium or Mod Podge
  • Brush
  • Rag or sponge
  • A bowl of water

Get your photo ready

  • When the image is transferred to the canvas, it will be reversed so you will need to use your photo editing software to reverse the image first, especially if there is any text or other part of your image that shouldn’t be displayed backward
  • You may also need to resize your photo and/or crop it to the same dimensions as your canvas
  • Print your photo on regular printer/photo copier paper using a laser jet printer, or make a photocopy of the printed photo (a photo printed on photo paper or using an ink jet printer WON’T work)

Transfer your photo onto canvas

  • Cutout your photo from the printed paper
  • Apply an even layer of gel medium to the entire surface of the canvas using a brush
  • Place and press your photo face-down onto the canvas
  • Use a credit card or other smoothing tool to gently smooth out the photo and remove any air bubbles
  • Turn the canvas over and press along the backside of the canvas to make sure the photo is adhered.
  • Let it sit overnight or at least 5 hours to dry completely.

Remove the paper

  • Use a sponge and water to wet the paper.
  • Then use your fingers to gently rub the paper to remove it.
  • Repeat this process as many times as necessary to get all the bits of paper off. Remember not to press too hard or you might scrape away the image underneath.
  • Use a clean rag to lightly wipe the scrap of paper fibers over the photo.
  • Once it’s done, let the canvas dry completely.

Add texture effect

  • You can stop right here if you are satisfied with the look. Or you can follow the steps below to add a final touch.
  • Apply Mod Podge or gel medium to the canvas. Use your brush to apply an even layer to the entire surface, to top it with a clear coat.

How to Edit Photos

Before transferring your photo onto a canvas, make sure it is looking it’s best! These tutorials will show you how to crop your photo to the correct size, how to reverse it, and how to add some effects.

Reversing or Mirroring your Image
If you don’t want your photo transfer to end up backwards, make sure you reverse it first! Learn how to do this in PaintShop Pro.

Cropping and Resizing your Photo
This tutorial will show you how you can crop your photo to remove any unwanted parts and make it the right size to fit your piece of wood.

Removing Objects from Photos
Whether you need to touch up some blemishes, remove an unwanted object or erase a scratch in an older photo, PaintShop Pro has the tools you need – see them in action!

Don't have any photo editing software? Get your FREE trial today!

With PaintShop Pro, you can crop, straighten and resize your photo, and reverse the image before it’s transferred onto wood. You can also enhance the colors, clean up any blemishes and add special effects.

Convert to Black and White
Give your photo transfer an aged look by using a black and white or sepia photo. Here are a few ways you can convert your color photos using PaintShop Pro.

Add Some Creative Effects
PaintShop Pro’s library of Instant Effects makes it easy to spice up your photos by adding fun filters from a variety of categories like Film Styles, Portrait, Retro and more! Pick one or mix and match a few.

Transform your Photos with Scripts
Scripts are mini-programs that will automatically transform your photos with just one click! Watch this tutorial to see a few examples of incredible transformations.

Get your project started with these creative add-ons from the Discovery Center store

Light and Color Script Bundle

Easily create dramatic black and white or color High and Low Key images with this collection of 4 scripts.

Antique Painting Script

Create a unique piece of art by turning your photos into an antique painting with just one click.

Detail Enhancement Script Bundle

Turn any photo into a striking image with 4 detail-enhancing scripts, with light, medium, heavy and extreme effects.

Best-sellers Script Bundle

Easily transform your photos from ordinary to amazing with our 14 best-selling scripts for PaintShop Pro.

Comments (7)

  • Kierah Beaty Reply

    Would an epson printer work for this

    December 14, 2019 at 9:54 am
    • Adam Reply

      Hello Kierah,

      This method requires toner and regular paper, so as long as it is a laser printer the brand does not matter! Be sure to use regular printer paper – ink doesn’t transfer well using this method, and photo paper will hold the colorants too well to allow for transfer.

      Discovery Center Team

      December 17, 2019 at 8:38 pm
  • Paige Buchanan Reply

    What type of photo needs to be used for this? Can it be printed on computer paper or does it need to be a specific type of paper?

    November 20, 2019 at 12:12 pm
    • Adam Reply

      Hello Paige,

      This tutorial uses a colour laser jet print, printing onto regular 20 lb office paper.

      Discovery Center Team

      November 20, 2019 at 6:16 pm
  • Bonnie B Reply

    Thanks so much for the simple instructions. I may sound nuts and for sure crazy but our two year old granddaughter and I try to start a new project every weekend. From reusing her wooden rocking chair using some old paint and homemade confetti or creating a beautiful garden scene on an old standard size plate using that same old pay, plastic flowers & curled ribbon or even an front door wreath using an old piece of wood, miscellaneous lightweight bird knick knacks, feathers, popsicle sticks (birds needed a house lol) … Saved gift bows with the wire and if course, a handful of those gift basket flowers we all dry out and save for some reason or another and finally, my previous glue goin comes to the rescue & helps us create another present for her Mommy ! This weekend I’m hoping that tiny little gift from the Gods themselves also likes the idea … They’re her personal gusts to her Mommy after all & had final approval ! Thank you so much
    Mimi 😆😁🤗🙃🤔

    August 28, 2019 at 8:46 pm
  • Isobel Lansell Reply

    If I do not have mod podge or a gel medium would normal PVA glue work as it is quite similar to mod podge?

    August 1, 2019 at 4:17 pm
    • Adam Reply

      Hello Isobel,

      This process works with any clear acrylic medium, so PVA glue would work! We won’t go deep into the chemistry here, but it’s worth noting that not all acrylates are created equal – so while PVA glue would work, we would suggest testing on a smaller canvas first before committing to a larger project.

      Discovery Center Team

      August 14, 2019 at 9:22 pm

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