How to Transfer Photos onto Wood

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How to Transfer Photos on Wood :: Mod Podge Photo Transfer with Gel Medium
This is a visual how-to tutorial that has so many applications! Once you know how to transfer photos to wood, you can make wonderful personalized gifts for the whole family! You’re set for Christmas gifts this year! Also great for a ‘Thank you’-collage in Photoshop on your computer, print and use that image for the transfer, which would make a perfect Teachers Appreciation gift. Or, collage a love quote and use that for your wedding decorations. Oh, man, the sky is the limit on its use.

How about making personalized bookends (a project on our mind for this weekend!). Anyhow, here is how you transfer photos onto wood.


Step-by-step Tutorial How to Transfer Photos on Wood – with Gel Medium


photo credit: Found! These photos are by a wonderful lady called Crystal Hethcote. After looking for this for 2.5 years, a kind reader told me of her!

The most versatile and easy photo transfer technique ever.

DiY Photo Transfer onto Wood Step-by-step video tutorial


Answers to Your Questions (in Comments):

What is Gel Medium?

  • Gel medium dries clear to translucent, depending on thickness of application.
  • 2 types: A gloss gel medium is a transparent medium which dries to a gloss finish while a matte gel medium dries to a matte finish.
  • In painting and decoupage work, use the gel medium as transparent ground for acrylic paint instead of gesso to allow substrate to be seen.
  • When applying a medium gel to raw canvas, be sure to use adequate pressure to force the medium into the canvas, weave to insure proper bonding between the gel and canvas.
  • These are all general comments relating to its main use in acrylic painting. Most specifically for this photo project posted here today, gel medium offers excellent adhesion for collage and decoupage.

I personally like Liquitex for all my acrylics medium supplies. Golden is also excellent. However, for a craft project like this that you don’t expect to live for hundreds of years, you can get away with choosing ‘student’-grade art materials. Have a look; and thank you for using my links to buying something. The small commissions I earn from affiliates is what allows me to maintain this blog. It is much appreciated if you make an effort to use my affiliate links. Thank you!)

Gel Medium: Where to Buy

This is gel medium (US Canada link) | gel medium (UK/Europe link).

Meanwhile, Mod Pod is simple white glue | household glue | craft glue diluted by about 30-50% with water. No big deal. You probably already own this, so I am not adding a link, but Amazon sells this also in case your supplies get low. In fact, gel medium and mod pod is often bought together by decoupage crafters.

I hope you’ll make some really great art with this, and it would be AWESOME if you were to send in photos of what you have made! Will you?!

Have a happy day!

Stenciling, Stamping & Transfer DIY Craft Projects


  1. Seriously?? Wow! Awesome!! Thanks:)

  2. cheyenne says:

    Is it picture paper? Or just printer paper?

  3. well …. try both. See which you like best. I think they will both work!

  4. Looking forward to trying this. You made it look so easy!

  5. I believe it only works with printer paper, photo paper wont rub off

  6. What is the gel medium in step 1?

  7. Marilyn Harris says:

    Like to have more information on what Gel, and Mod Podge, to use, (brand, etc) and suggestions where to purchase it at. This is an awesome idea!

  8. Darlene says:

    What is the gel medium that you use.

  9. What is the “gel”. not familiar with this

  10. What type of medium gel is that?

  11. Samantha says:

    What is gel medium and where would you get it?

  12. You mention using a gel medium. Can you give examples?

  13. Roy Huling says:

    What is the ” gel medium and where do we find it ?

  14. What is the ‘gel medium’ project starts with?

  15. Can you give an example of a “gel medium”? Mod Podge?

  16. Gel Medium you can get at a craft store in with the acrylic paint it is a gel you un in painting. and mod podge is sold in any craft store or you can mix elmers white glue with water to make the Mod Podge that they sell in stores

  17. Gabriel says:

    Haven’t you simpletons heard of Google. Jeezycreezy!
    I found a brand name “Golden” Gel medium, you can get it Hobby Lobby or Michael’s

    8 comments asking the exact same question almost word for word….

  18. Hey hey, watch your language, young man. We are all on God’s planet to learn. I’m glad they asked!

  19. Would the finished project be waterproof?

  20. Loves Crafts says:

    how much do u need of gel and mod in oz.

  21. Not much! Just buy a small container if you want to do a single project.

  22. Waterproof? No. But if you add a couple of layers of varnish, it will be water resistant, in that you can wipe it off with a wet cloth. You know, that sort of thing.

  23. Thank you, Jessi. That’s a great/ correct answer. I have included all the question and answers in the copy of this article.

  24. Curious if you have tried transferring an image to Birch tree bark? I have a Birch tree that sheds its beautiful with bark and I ironed it flat to glue down to. a wooden surface to create the look of that tree on a frame. It is very fragile medium to use but I have a old 1950’s cowboy/bronco photo that would be perfect but hesitant to bc of its natural look. Any suggestions?

  25. Where did you get the piece of wood?

  26. Chagui!!! You are making my day!!! Thank you so very, very much for finding this link. I am going to add it to the post right away! Hugs, Rose

  27. Hi J9
    I haven’t used birch tree bark myself but I can imagine that a blond wooden base might give you better contrast / a cleared image as the surface is not as smooth texture-wise/not as light all over but has spots. My suggestion: just try! You can always ‘enhance’ the result with a soft grey sharpie if you have a bit of drawing/copying skills. The best thing about the pursuit of art is .. happy surprises! So, go take it to the next step and please DO SHARE WITH US YOUR RESULT. I’d love to see and feature (if you think that’s a good idea).
    Good luck,

  28. Hi Sara,
    From the garage. But you can find pieces of wood everywhere. It seems that any building site (your neighbor) has pieces of cut off wood. I’m a recycler and love to upcycle pieces of wood that way. If you are a ‘buyer’ instead, and want it ‘now’, then hop over to home depot, home hardware or shops like this and buy a small piece. There too, you might be able to buy a ‘cut off’ and not have to buy an entire huge plank. You might want to call them first so you don’t go on a scavenger hunt. Good luck, Rose

  29. Is the photo made a photocopy or laser printing? Thank you.

  30. I think both will work, Connie.

  31. Do I need to reverse image if there are words?

  32. Yes, good idea.

  33. Courtney says:

    Are the pictures on regular printer paper?

  34. Hi Courtney,
    Yes. Simple, regular printer paper will do the trick.
    You might want to experiment with different printer papers for best result.
    Good luck, Rose

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