Easy and Fun Image Transfer Techniques

Earlier this week, I wrote about how to turn your doodles into personal imagery you can use again and again in your art. That got me thinking about another way you can reuse a drawing, doodle, or an entire collage or painting: image transfers.

rub-onz image transfers on mason jars
Drawings printing on Rub-onz image-transfer film, then applied to glass.

There are so many image transfer techniques, from a fairly low-tech packing tape transfer method to gel transfers to photo transfers using transfer paper. But over the weekend I played with two ways to transfer an image of your art and use it in another way: with Grafix®  Rub-onz Transfer Film and Shrink Film.

Because I’d never worked with either of these products before, I decided to keep it simple.

I started with the Rub-onz Transfer Film and a couple of images of my husband’s drawings. The drawings were already scanned into my computer. I sized them with photo-imaging software and printed them out on a sheet of the transfer film according to the directions.

You can print out the images or draw directly onto the film. Hint: If you are printing, I highly recommend putting as many images as you can on a sheet so you don’t waste any of the film.

shrinkfilm charms
Our Shrink  Film charms measure 1/2″ across.

While again carefully following the instructions, I transferred the sticky backing onto the image and then applied the now-sticky rub-on to a glass jar. (The rub-ons can be applied to most smooth surfaces.) Voilà!

Next I enlisted my daughter to help me with the Shrink Film experiment. Now, technically, this is not a transfer technique, but it is a way of using your art imagery in another way, so I’m including it here.

Shrink Film is just what it sounds like: Film you can draw or print on that shrinks after a few minutes in the oven. My daughter had wanted to create some jewelry based on her drawings, so I suggested she make charms. She drew her motifs with Copic® markers directly on the Shrink Film, making them about twice the size she wanted the finished charms to be after shrinking.

Amanda Russell made image transfers with Rub-onz (top) while Lisa Thorpe put a bird on it with another Grafix product, Dura-Lar (above).

We cut them out and punched a hole before baking. I used a regular garden-variety hole punch and was worried the holes were too big. Wrong! They came out the perfect size. The charms got all cute and tiny and we were thrilled. (Tip: This would make an excellent party activity for kids or adults.)

As I said, I kept to the basics to get the hang of these products and to show you how the results look. But in the May/June 2013 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, several artists took our Great Grafix Challenge to see how they could use these and other art products by Grafix.

Amanda Russell used the Shrink Film to make gears on a Steampunk Heart collage and the Rub-onz made it easy to create image transfers of words and fire hydrant parts.

Lisa Thorpe put a bird on it, using the printable transparency for her central image and the Matte Dura-LarTM to create three stencils. By the way, Put a Bird on It is the theme of this issue, and the editors and contributors had quite a bit of feathered fun you won’t want to miss.

You can read more about the Great Grafix Challenge in the May/June 2013 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine.

P.S. Have you made your own rub-ons or created shrink art? What was your experience like and how did you apply these techniques to your art? Share with everyone below.

P.P.S. Lynn Krawcyzk also took the Grafix Challenge and shows how to screen print with paint onto Dura-Lar film on her blog.


Blog, Collage, Mixed-Media Techniques, Printmaking


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