Use Image Transfer Techniques to Bring Portraits to Life

Recently a commenter on this blog asked, “What do you do with your art journal pages? Are they just art for the sake of making art?”

watercolor painting image transfer sharon hendry
This is Sharon Hendry’s original
sketch and watercolor portrait.

Those are excellent questions, and today I’m going to offer a suggestion for the first one.

A lot of artists use their art journals (and or sketchbooks), as fodder for other projects. One common practice is to scan the page (or portion of a page) into your computer and use the image (or part of the image) in a digital collage, print out the image on paper to use in a paper collage or painting, or use image transfer techniques on paper or fabric.

Here’s an example of how mixed-media artist Sharon Hendry uses her sketchbook to create portraits on fabric.

As Sharon writes in the April/May 2014 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine, “After working on a variety of portraits in my sketchbook, I was ready for a new creative challenge.

“I wanted to concentrate on sketching people proportionately from head to toe. Drawing figures provides an opportunity to express body language or show movement, which is something that cannot be shown when drawing a person only from the neck up.”

Using her own photos of people she observes while out and about, Sharon creates pencil sketches in her journal. Once she is satisfied with the proportions, she paints with watercolors and scans the image into the computer. Then she creates photo transfers using one of the following techniques.


sharon hendry mixed media quilt image transfer techniques
Sharon Hendry’s finished mixed-media art quilt,
using an image transfer of her sketch/painting.

1. Freezer paper transfer

– Cut the freezer paper slightly smaller than your 10″ × 13″ piece of fabric. Place the fabric wrong side facing up on an ironing surface. Place the freezer paper, shiny side down, on top of the fabric. Using a hot, dry iron, press the freezer paper until it adheres to the fabric. Accurately trim the fabric to 8½” × 11″. Place the fabric in the paper tray of your printer and, if possible, adjust the settings to accept thick paper. Print the image on the fabric.

Note: The image will not be washable unless the fabric is treated with a fixative such as Bubble Jet Set 2000 before printing. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for more information.

2. Transfer paper – Using TAP Transfer Artist Paper Following the manufacturer’s directions, print the scanned image on the white side of the TAP paper and press it to the fabric.

Note: Use the mirror image setting on the printer if the orientation of the final image is important (such as, if there are words on it).

3. Prepared inkjet transfer fabric sheets (such as EQ Printables or Jacquard® Inkjet Printing Cotton). Follow the manufacturer’s directions to print the image onto the fabric sheet.

After making the image transfer, Sharon adds batting and hand and machine stitching to complete her portrait.

I love this way of taking your artwork off the page and into the world.

The new issue of Quilting Arts is all about portraits, and many techniques have a mixed-media slant. Learn new ways of interpreting your art with fabric and stitch and a subscription to Quilting Arts Magazine.

P.S. How do you use your art journal or sketchbook images? Leave your comment below.


Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.