Transferring Images With Gels

In this tutorial we are going to be transferring images into fabric using gel mediums. You can see the use of this method on my collage tutorial here.

Things you will need:
1. Golden medium heavy gel
2. Some type of fabric
3. An image to be transferred
4. Roller


For this particular tutorial I am using heavy gel matte, but you can use regular gel and soft gel as well. Similarly, you don’t have to use matte. Gloss will work the same way, but it will give you a glossy finish. As far as images go, I found it best to use an inkjet printout. Do experiment with other images such as magazine cut outs, brochures, postcards etc. I tried all of them, and to me inkjet printouts work the best.
Now for the fabric, I am using old cotton sheets. Begin by applying the gel onto the image. The easiest way to do this is to use your finger. Make sure you cover the whole surface. Don’t let it sit too long or it will dry and won’t transfer.


When you done, turn the image over and place it with the side that has the gel on it down onto the fabric. Take your hard roller and start rolling. Make sure to roll long enough for the whole surface to adhere to the fabric.


Let it sit for while. I let it sit long enough for me to make myself a cup of tea with honey and lemon. 🙂 Now, peel off a corner and if most of the colors transferred, peel off the whole thing. There is always going to be some ink still left on the paper. Don’t worry about it.


As you can see, there is still some white paper left on the transferred image. What you want to do is get a wet paper towel and slightly dab the white spots.


Rub the wet spots with your finger. Do not apply too much pressure or you will rub off the actual image. Do it until there is no more white left. The second picture below show half of the image rubbed off and half with paper still left on it.


Finish the cleaning up the whole image and then apply the same gel that you used in the beginning. This time, don’t put too much. Just enough to seal the image. Let it dry.


You’re done with transferring images. You can use this techniques on various surfaces such as fabric, wood, cardboard and more. If you’re going for a worn out look, just rub off more of the image. Don’t worry if you don’t achieve the desired results on your first try. You have to get used to the gels and get the feel of it. After that it’s a snap. I’ve ruined a quite a few images before I got the hang of. Different surfaces yield different results. Also, before printing out the image, make sure you bring up the contrast in your editing program. (I will do a tutorial on that as well). Hope you have fun with this. If you have any questions, suggestions, feedback, leave a comment.


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  • Lara Edelman January 28, 2014   Reply →

    Hi Lara,
    I was just looking over your tutorials. Great stuff, thanks for putting this out there. Quick question, can you use your same technique for image transfers directly onto the collage? Or will it smear and ruin what you have all ready done on your canvas?


    • Lara Berch January 28, 2014   Reply →

      Hi Lara!
      I’m glad you’re finding these useful! Yes, actually when I do collages, I transfer directly on. Sometimes it smears sometimes it doesn’t, depending on how hard you rub it. I like the layered look so if you work carefully, you can create layers by transferring directly onto the board/collage. If you want to avoid smearing, then cover the first/bottom image with a layer of gel or a sealer and let it dry completely and then put your other layers on top of that. It’s all about experimenting really. I would love to see your results! You can upload pictures right into the comment section!

      • Lara Edelman January 28, 2014   Reply →

        Hi Lara,
        Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. This is my first attempt and, I know it’s a long shot on the first try. I will do as you suggest, and hopefully it will go well and I’ll send you a pic.

  • Kelly B October 8, 2014   Reply →

    Hi, Just saw this tutorial and it is terrific. Thanks for putting it out there!


  • Kerri McArdle June 2, 2016   Reply →

    Lara, I have just come across your tutorial to do with transferring images with gel. Can you tell me what type of paper you use to create your image?

    • Lara Berch June 3, 2016   Reply →

      Hi Kerri,
      I use regular printer paper. Non glossy. Printed on ink jet. Laser will not work well at all.

  • Patricia Taylor August 2, 2016   Reply →

    Is the final product washable?

    • Lara Berch December 17, 2016   Reply →

      Patricia, I have never tried washing it. I would think that the image might come off or fade when washing.

  • Nicole December 17, 2016   Reply →

    The store sold to me Fluid matte medium to transfer a laser print picture to a canvas, will it work if I use this product?

    • Lara Berch December 17, 2016   Reply →

      Nicole, I would try it first on a scrap canvas or scrap piece of cloth. I never used laser prints but you know this may be a new product that works exclusively with laser prints. I typically used ink jet printouts where the ink is easily lifted off the paper by the medium.

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