How to Transfer a Photo with Mod Podge

Of all the crafting techniques I do, this is easily mod podge photo transfer is my favorite. I just love to transfer photos and images! I get a kick out of the vintage, weathered appearance a project takes on by simply transferring images to wood.

mod podge photo transfer

This isn’t like decoupage….we’re not attaching the paper to a surface. This process involves keeping the pigment from the image and losing the paper, so it’s important to use the right materials for the technique to work correctly.

Transfer a Photo - materials

What is Mod Podge?

It’s an all-in-one glue, sealer, and finish you can use in crafting projects. It was invented in 1967, and you can find it in virtually all craft stores.

By definition, it’s a “synthetic resin made by polymerizing vinyl acetate used in paints and adhesives.” 

What is Mod Podge used for?

It’s a glue used in DIY and craft projects. It is similar to glue because it will stick materials to most surfaces. But, it also serves as a sealer and varnish. The ingredients used to create the substance are stronger than standard and school glues.

Even though it’s white in liquid form, the substance is clear once dry.

What is the difference between Mod Podge and glue?

Regular glue is something you can use for most crafts and simple adhesions. However, if you are working on decoupage projects or need a strong adhesive, mod podge is stronger than glue.

How to Use Mod Podge

Mod podge is not like Elmer’s glue because it’s more substantial than most standard and school glue. And you can use the substance on almost every surface like:

  • Paper
  • Wood
  • Fabric
  • Glass
  • Ceramic
  • Terra cotta
  • Tin
  • Certain plastics
  • Painted surfaces

Using mod podge is reasonably straightforward and easy. You can start by:

  1. Preparing your surface – sand wood, wash glass, paint the exterior. Then let it dry.
  2. Next, you can cut your paper or fabric to fit perfectly on the surface.
  3. Apply the mod podge to the surface and back of your paper or fabric.
  4. Work quickly because it dries fast.
  5. Let dry 20 minutes before decoupaging over the top.
  6. Apply 2 to 3 more coats and let it dry for 24 hours before use.

Supplies you’ll need for photo transfer:

  • Unfinished Wood Plaque
  • Laser copier printed photo
  • Mod Podge
  • Towel
  • Paint

Mod podge photo transfer tutorial step by step:

Step 1: Printing

Print the photo using a LASER copier. Do not use ink jet, as the ink will just smear and bleed. You must use a laser copier or use a photocopy machine. Trim the image to fit the plaque.

Transfer a Photo - laser copier

Step 2: Painting

Paint the surface of the plaque with an even layer of Mod Podge.

Transfer a Photo - paint the surface with mod podge

Step 3: Press firmly

Place the paper image side down on the Mod Podge. Press firmly to make sure there are no air bubbles. Let it dry completely.

Transfer a Photo - paper image

Step 4: Essential peel away

Get a towel wet, then wring it out completely so it is damp but not dripping wet. Press the towel on a section of the paper to wet it. Once you can see some of the image through the wet paper, scrub the paper gently. It will peel away and reveal the ink left on the wood. Continue until the entire image has been revealed.

Transfer a Photo - add mod podge to seal it

Step 5: Add more mod podge

Paint over the transferred image to seal it.

Transfer a Photo - paint over image

Transfer a Photo - sand

Step 6: Edges

Paint the edge of the plaque, and let it dry. I chose to distress the paint finish so it would have a rustic, old look to make the photo image.

Transfer a Photo - hang

Add a bit of twine or a photo hanger to the back of the plaque to display your art! Imagine all the beautiful decor you’ll be able to create with this technique. Have fun crafting and creating with laser printed image transfers!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Is mod podge waterproof?

Depending on the variety you buy, it can be extremely water resistant. But it’s not waterproof.

Does mod podge dry clear?

Even though it looks like a white milky substance, it will dry clear when you apply it correctly. It won’t dry completely clear if you add too much mod podge to a surface.

How permanent is mod podge?

In most instances, it’s incredibly long lasting. Unless it’s constantly exposed to weather or getting worn down, it will last for decades.

How to Remove Mod Podge

It’s a solid substance and can be difficult to remove. However, if it’s dried on glass, you can use a razor to scrape it off. And if it’s on wood, you can spray the podge with warm water and scrub it off. If it’s on paint or paper, you can expect the mod podge to remove whatever it’s adhered to.

How long does it take for mod podge to dry?

After you complete your project, the substance can feel dry after an hour. However, you should leave it set out to dry for 24 hours so the project can set completely.

Get Crafting with Mod Podge

Mod podge works great for crafts and photo transfers you can do independently or with your friends and family. It makes for fantastic gifts and decorations that will last a long time.