The transfer process requires application of a thin layer of acrylic medium over or under the image to be transferred. After complete drying, the paper backing of the image needs to be soaked or dampened with water and then removed. This leaves a transparent or translucent image imbedded within the acrylic medium.
Selecting an Appropriate Gel Medium
Nearly any gel, medium or acrylic paint will work to lift an image. We have found that the Soft Gel (Gloss) provides the clearest image transfer of all the gels if the acrylic is brushed on. To avoid brush strokes it may be necessary to pour on a medium. Thickly pouring on mediums can lead to crazing of the surface, making it look like a topographic map. Pouring mediums also tends to reduce control over the thickness of the final transferred image.
GOLDEN GAC 800, specifically formulated to avoid crazing, is the medium of choice when pouring. Other very good pouring gel mediums include Self-Leveling Clear Gel or Clear Tar Gel. Both level out before drying. Be careful when brushing these gels; they are less resistant to foaming, which can reduce the clarity of the transferred image.
For ease of transfer, the minimum layer to use is 1/32 to 1/16 of an inch. A thinner layer makes it quite difficult to handle the image without tearing.
GOLDEN Fluid Matte Medium works well for more translucent images.
Gels can be tinted with color before application to the image to be transferred or painted and/or stained after the transfer is complete.
Image Transfer Methods
Transferring images can be done with photocopies, some magazine images, inkjet or laser prints. There are essentially two ways to transfer images:
- Apply the acrylic gel or paint to the surface receiving the image. While it is still wet, place the image face down into the wet medium and allow to dry thoroughly.
When the application is completely dry, dampen the paper with a wet sponge. Give it a few minutes to allow the water to penetrate the paper pulp. Begin rubbing carefully to remove the paper but leave the image intact in the acrylic application. Use a nylon scouring pad or soft cloth to remove the paper. You will probably have to dampen the paper a few times for a clean transfer. When the water evaporates, you will be able to see the areas that you missed. Please see this link for a few visual examples of various GOLDEN Gel Mediums.
- Find a level work surface and cover with 4 mil plastic sheeting. Lay out the images face up and either pour or brush apply the acrylic medium of choice and allow to dry. When thoroughly dry, use a lukewarm water bath for soaking the coated image, as this will speed the process. The longer the image sits in the water, the easier it is to remove the paper from the back of the image. Take the image out of the water if you see any blanching (fogging) of the image. Three or four minutes are all that is typically required. DO NOT soak longer than 15 minutes.
Remove the coated image from the water. Begin rubbing off the paper backing and continue rubbing until all paper is removed. Let the image drip dry until it becomes physically dry. It is common that the acrylic used will become milky again. This is because of the water being re-introduced back into the film. When the film becomes clear again, you are ready to use the transfer in artwork.
We have been successful transferring images derived from photocopies, inkjets and laser printers. Two papers that are marketed to make the image transferring process easier can be purchased from:
We recommend artists contact these manufacturers directly for further information regarding their products.
Soaking or Dampening the Acrylic Skin / Transferred Image
Make sure the image is completely clear before soaking. This is a good indication that the film is cured. For best results wait 2 to 3 days before soaking.
Adhering the Transfer
Using Soft Gel (Gloss) or any other Gloss sheen GOLDEN Gel Medium as an adhesive, brush onto the side of the transfer that is to be affixed to the canvas. Quickly press the transfer against the canvas-apply sufficient pressure to be sure of uniform contact with the support. Allow to dry and the transfer is complete.
The above information is based on research and testing done by Golden Artist Colors, Inc., and is provided as a basis for understanding the potential uses of the products mentioned. Due to the numerous variables in methods, materials and conditions of producing art, Golden Artist Colors, Inc. cannot be sure the product will be right for you. Therefore, we urge product users to test each application to ensure all individual project requirements are met. While we believe the above information is accurate, WE MAKE NO EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, and we shall in no event be liable for any damages (indirect, consequential, or otherwise) that may occur as a result of a product application.