Best & Easiest Way to Transfer Images to Wood & Canvas

Best way to transfer photos & art images to wood, canvas, etc! Mod Podge vs gel medium No rubbing technique. Great DIY crafts & decor ideas!

When I started this blog in 2014, one of my first tutorials was on how to transfer images to pallet wood crates! It’s still one of my favorite projects, but I have always wished to find better and easier ways to transfer photos and art to wood, canvas, ceramic tile, and other surfaces. 

Best way to transfer photos & art images to wood, canvas, etc! Mod Podge vs gel medium No rubbing technique. Great DIY crafts & decor ideas!

The wax paper technique worked well but sometimes it would cause the printer to jam.  Another popular technique is to use mod podge and regular copy paper. It can be time consuming to rub the paper off, and if you rub too much the images can come off. 

Finally I think I have found the best and easiest way to transfer photos and art images to wood! The image transfer quality is really nice. No rubbing needed, and no more printer jam either! So, what is the secret? 🙂

Check out the video tutorial or skip to written tutorial below!

* Some resources in article are affiliate links. Full disclosure here .

Materials and tools to transfer images to wood

Materials and tools for image transfer to wood

Label sheets, a printer, Mod Podge or acrylic gel (see comparison below)

Can I use either inkjet or laser printer?

Both inkjet and laser printer will work nicely. Laser printer works a little better for this technique with a bit more clarity and details in the transfer.

a printed pineapple photo and a piece of wood

Which medium is better for image transfer: Mod Podge or acrylic gel?

Below is a side by side test I did with gel medium on the left, and Mod podge on the right.

photo & art image transfer to wood or canvas, with Mod Podge vs acrylic gel

I got great results with both. However, Mod Podge dries much faster, and it’s easier to find, so Mod Podge wins! I used the gloss Mod Podge, but the matte Mod Podge will work great too!

photo & art image transfer to wood with Mod Podge

Step 1: print images 

We will be printing the image on the the backing sheet of a label. Tape any score lines so the backing sheet stays together as a full 8.5×11 sheet. 

printing the image on the the backing sheet of a label.

Print on the glossy side. Because the transferred image is mirrored, you might want to Mirror the image first before printing.

If you are using an inkjet printer, be very careful not to touch the image as it may smudge!

Step 2: transfer images to wood with mod podge or acrylic gel

Brush 1-2 coats of  Mod Podge  onto the wood surface

Brush 1-2 coats of Mod Podge onto the wood surface, not too thin or too thick.

Carefully lay the printed image on the wood, with the printed side facing down. 

Use  a card to smooth out the paper and press the paper down  on the wood surface

Use something like a credit card to smooth out the paper and press the paper down on the wood surface so there are no puddles of mod podge.

Wipe off any excess medium.

beautiful results of photo image transferred to wood

After a few hours, the mod podge will be be completely dry . Peel off the label paper, and admire the beautiful results!

You can use acrylic gel the same way. It takes a lot longer to dry. It’s a good idea to let the piece dry overnight so you are not tempted to peel it off too early. 🙂

Additional tips on how to transfer images to wood

 transfer botanical flower art to wood

You can also use this technique to transfer images to canvas, metal, painted wood, etc.

You don’t need to seal the image transfer because mod podge and acrylic gel are both sealers as well.

Best easy way to transfer photos & art images to wood, canvas, with Mod Podge

As you can see, the lighter color the wood is , the more variations of tones will show in the transferred image. In other words, only colors darker than the wood itself will show clearly! Keep this in mind when you choose photos especially.

how to transfer image to wood easily and make beautiful, one-of-a-kind printed wood wall art, home decor or gifts!

If you want to use the wood pieces as wall art, saw-tooth hangers or tab hangers like these are great for hanging.

You may also love: how to make Anthropologie style trinket dish from oyster shells!

Beautiful DIY Anthropologie style oyster shell trinket dish,  look like hand painted blue white ceramics with gold edges

Happy creating! See you soon!

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  1. Hi! I did a few and they came out awesome, thank you! But right now I’m looking at one and it’s a picture for Father’s Day for my goddaughter’s father and I cannot even tell who they are. I have to toss the wood panel and everything. I did exactly what was shown and all of them came out “vintage” looking which I love but this one isn’t even vintage lol
    Do you have any tips?? Thank you!!! Ali

    • hi Alison! if you had good results before, then it might have to do with the wood. maybe the wood isn’t as smooth or dense as what you have used last time? 🙂

  2. I appreciate your idea. Printing on wood and canvas are very popular nowadays. Thank you so much for wonderful blog.

  3. this is really looking amazing and so beautiful. nowadays this is one of the trends, people would like this. thanks for sharing this amazing article.

  4. Such an amazing article and a great blog thanks for sharing this lovely and wonderful and helping us information about the transfer images to wood

  5. this is really looking amazing and so beautiful. nowadays this is on the trends, peoples would like this. thanks for sharing this amazing article about transfer images to wood.

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