Monday, February 21, 2011

Transfering Images using Packing Tape

One of the cool new techniques I have learned in the last year has been to transfer images. I am sure there are many ways to transfer images, but I have had the most experience and success with three types of transfer: packing tape, gel medium and Chartpak marker.
I have passed that information on to my students and now I will be teaching you the same processes beginning with packing tape transfers.

To create a packing tape transfer you will need to
gather a few supplies:
Images - you will need toner based photocopies, laser jet prints, or magazine images in color or black and white (ink jet prints WILL NOT work!)
a scissors or craft knife, a container of water, transparent packing tape (clear or a color), a glue stick, and a sketchbook or other paper to transfer onto.

To begin, cut out your chosen image just like you would if you were going to glue the image into a collage.

Next, stick your image onto a piece of packing tape so the picture faces toward the sticky part of the tape.
If your image is too large for one width of tape, you can overlap multiple pieces to create a sheet of tape big enough to cover your image.
I like to trim some of the tape off my image now, so that the shape of the tape and the shape of my image are close (or you can trim later).

Now, place your images on the tape into a small container of clean water. They will need to sit in the water for about ten minutes.
You can create multiple transfers at once in the same container.
I have both a black and white and a colored image that I am using for this demonstration.

After your image has been soaking for ten minutes or so, pull it out of the water and put it on the table with the paper backing side up.
Then using your finger, carefully roll off the paper from the image and the tape.
Two things to remember: 1) keep your finger damp, dip it in the water often 2) do not use your nails or another tool, it will scratch off the image with the paper.

All of the paper will come off your image, creating a clear sheet of plastic tape with your image affixed to it.

If the paper does not want to come off all the way, return your transfer to the water and wait a few more minutes then rub off any remaining paper.

Now you can glue your completed transfer onto your paper. If you didn't trim off the extra tape earlier trim it now before gluing the transfer to your page.
Be sure to glue your transfer onto your page, it will seem like the tape is still sticky enough to hold the image in place, it is not and it will bubble up off the page in a couple of hours without glue.

This method of transfer can be a fun way to move text (nothing reverses) and images from magazines or photocopies of your artwork into your sketchbook or onto greeting cards or other work. Because the images end up transparent, you can paint or draw on your paper first and still see the color through the clear image you have transferred.
The only drawback to this type of transfer is that the image is glossy because of the tape, which makes it hard to draw or paint over the finished transfer.

Have fun! Go make a transfer.


  1. Suzanne, I've used this kind of thing myself and it works just fine.. yes, sometimes the paper doesn't come all off, but with some patience (do we know what that is) ??? it will.
    Now onto reading your next technique.

  2. What an interesting post and thanks for sharing this how to, Suzanne!