Simple Tutorial on How to Transfer Photos to Canvas

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Some time ago, I wrote a post about how to transfer photos to wood with glue and other amazing methods. It became quite popular, so I’ve decided to write this complimentary post for those of you who want to know how to transfer photos to canvas.

You can then create a beautiful piece of art with your favorite photos that you can give to your loved one as a Valentine’s Day gift or hang on the wall.


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It’s pretty easy and only requires a few simple steps and some materials.

If you want to transfer a single photo, you can skip this step, keeping in mind to mirror the image before printing, especially an image with text. For those who want to play a bit more and create funky canvas collage, follow the instructions below. 

The first step is to create a photo collage. There are several ways of approaching this. You can create a collage online using a tool like Or you can use the MS Paint in Windows/Paintbrush for Mac and paste the images, which will give you more freedom in arranging the pictures(make them smaller or tilt them, etc.).

Another option is to print your images mirrored(especially when you’ve got words to transfer) and arrange them directly on the canvas. Any of these solutions are good.

How to transfer bigger images to canvas?

If your canvas is bigger than the A4 format(regular printing paper size), you can print it somewhere like a printing shop, or you can use your home printer.

How do you do that?

It’s very simple. Upload your collage/image to Block Posters, and it will split your image into several A4 formats. Then, print it and put it back together on your canvas.

What paper to use to transfer images to canvas?

Although I highly recommend printing the image(s) on a laserjet printer, the inkjet printer will also work. However, the results will be much more distressed. If you want to use color images, print them on photo paper and make color copies on regular paper.

This way, the quality will be a lot better. Don’t use photo paper directly to transfer the image because it simply won’t work.

What do I need to transfer photos to canvas?

You can use any gel medium like Liquitex or Golden. Then, when you’ve got your pictures ready, apply a generous layer of a gel medium to the canvas and place the photo(s) face down.

Make sure you’ll get out all the air bubbles. You can use a credit card, or something similar, to smooth the paper out. Let it dry, preferably overnight. 

Materials needed:

Can I use mod podge?

Technically yes, you can. And while you can successfully use it for transferring photos to wood with canvas, the results may not be as good as using the medium gel. You’ll end up with a more distressed look. But give it a try, if that’s what you after, and let me know how it went 🙂

Once it’s dry, get a spray bottle and apply water on the paper. Then thoroughly wet, gently rub the paper off with your fingers, and the image will be revealed.

Don’t worry if some parts of the photo will rub off as well. That’s just the way it is. Keep going until the paper layer is gone. Once it dries, the colors might be a bit pale/bland. To revive the color depth, you can use a veggie oil trick. With a clean cloth, wipe a bit of oil on the canvas. The colors should be deeper and more vivid. Then seal it with another coat of the medium, let it dry, and it’s done. 

I hope you like this quick and simple tutorial. If you give it a go, I’d love to see your results:) I’ll be happy to include them in this post. Don’t forget to check my post on how to transfer photos to wood to learn how to make awesome wooden projects/gifts!

Don’t forget to pin this post to your DIY crafts board!

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    1. Hi Ashley, thanks for stopping by!
      Regular photo paper won’t work, I’m afraid. However, you can have the copies printed in the photo lab and then copied in color on regular paper. If you have digital versions of your images, all you need to do is print them on a laserjet printer(inkjet printer will work as well, but the results will be a lot more distressed) using normal paper. I hope that helps.

  1. Hi I’ve been trying to do transfer images onto wood but been disappointed with the results so I’m hoping to invest in a laser printer, so was wondering if you had any advise as to which printers are great but not costly to buy x

    1. Hi Tracey,
      First of all, let me ask what exactly you have problems with when doing the transfers. Have you checked my post on photo transfers to wood? Before you spent $100 or more on a laser printer, maybe we could do some troubleshooting. Let me know what you think 🙂

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