Simple photo transfer, collage and paint


Combining photography with other forms of visual arts has the capacity to produce a very interesting and appealing final piece. Therefore blending mixed media and image transfer, two methods that are often done independently, is probably the ultimate union and can generate some exciting results.

What you need:

• Inkjet photo or laser photocopy
• Collage materials such as: newspaper clippings, designer or hand-made papers, stamps, ticket stubs, brown paper bags, wrapping paper, etc.
• Acrylic or water paints
• Mod Podge or gel medium
• Gesso
• Spray fixative
• Canvas or wood panel
• A water spray bottle
• UV-resistant clear finish

Broadway L.A. / mixed media photo transfer

Broadway, Downtown Los Angeles
Mixed media photo transfer on 11×14 canvas panel

1. Gather your collage materials and lay them out in a design of your choice on any size canvas or wood panel. Adhere the collage pieces onto the surface using Mod Podge.
2. Make sure to cover the collage pieces with Mod Podge so it not only adheres the papers to the canvas but also protects it for all eternity (or at least a few years).
3. Next, cover the collage layer with watered-down gesso. It will mute the layer a bit and also will tie the pieces together.
4. Optional: add a thin layer of acrylic or watercolor paint of your choice. Don’t over do it so it doesn’t overwhelm the other layers.
5. Let the collage thoroughly dry.
6. Convert the photo of your choice to black and white (not grayscale) by adding brightness and 100% contrast. If you prefer to use a color photo (like the one used here) make sure to mute the colors.
7. If you are using an inkjet, print a mirror version of your image onto standard printer paper and protect it with spray fixative.
8. Cover your image with Mod Podge and press it face down onto the collage. Rub gently with your fingers to smooth out any air bubbles.
9. If you are using an inkjet photo you will have to wait only about 15-30 minutes for the Mod Podge to dry and for the transfer to complete. If you are using a photocopy let it set for a few hours, preferably overnight.
10. Spray the back of your photo with water and gently remove and rub off the excess paper with your fingers in order to reveal the transfer. If you are using a photocopy you will have to repeat this step until all the excess paper is completely gone.
11. For the final touch you can add text, letters, gesso and paints.
12. Preserve your art work with a protective finish such as “preserve it!” by Krylon for inkjet or Krylon Crystal Clear if you used a toner based photocopy.
Applying the UV finish will help minimize the foggy appearance created by the leftover paper.
13. Clean up the mess!


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Quick Photoshop tutorial: adding texture to photo

Brooklyn Bridge - photo with a texture layer

Brooklyn Bridge, NYC : Original photo w/ texture layer

The fastest way to add a new dimension to a picture is to open your photo editor and insert an additional layer which contain texture on top of your original photo.
Textures are usually a photograph or a scan of some texture, such as peeling paint, distressed or scratched surface and even a vintage paper. These textures can be added on top of your own photo and merged with it by changing the blend modes and opacity level settings.
In addition to bringing a layer of depth, these textures often introduce the illusion of dust, dirt, stains and creases to the photo and create a final grungy and dramatic appearance.

1. Open the photo of your choice and the texture you are going to use in Photoshop. Photos with lots of sky or plenty of light areas work best and have the greatest effect.

Brooklyn Bridge, NYC

Texture for layers


2.Make sure your photo has a nice contrast appearance by adjusting the levels of brightness and contrast. Go to Image-Adjustments-Brightness/Contrast and adjust the settings by moving the slider.


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Adding brightness and contrast in photoshop


3. Select the texture by clicking on All in the Select menu. Now that the texture is selected (with the marching ants around it) copy it (Edit-Copy or Ctrl+C) and paste it on top of your photo (Edit-Paste or Ctrl+V).

Texture layer in photoshop


4. Make sure the layers palette is open (Window-Layers or F7). Change the Opacity and Blend Mode until you like the effect (Multiply @56% in this case)

Brooklyn Bridge with a Texture layer - final


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Painting your photos


Hand colored tulips

Hand colored (Marshall’s Photo Oils) 11″x14″ black and white darkroom print on warmtone paper.

Hand-coloring your photos not only allows you intimate contact with the photo but also a great deal of creative freedom.
Most photographs can be hand colored using watercolor, acrylic, or oil paints. You might also use gel pens, colored pencils, metallic pens, or even permanent markers.


More about hand painting photos:

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Quick image transfer


Venice Beach, California / Inkjet image transfer


This is one of the simplest and easiest ways to transfer an image, mainly because the transfer is done without applying any transfer medium and also because it is an instant process.

What you need:

• Inkjet Printer
• Standard Sheet Protector (or any other non absorbent surface)
• Receiving surface such as watercolor paper, photo paper, wood panel etc.

Inkjet or printer transfer is a very simple process. It works because the photo is printed on a nonabsorbent surface, like glassine or wax paper, the back side of the sticky labels paper or my favorite; a standard sheet
Santa Monica pier / inkjet transfer
As you print your photo into a non-absorbent surface the ink will remain wet for a while. All you need to do now is transfer the image onto the receiving surface of your choice (such as photo paper, but feel free to experiment) by pressing the print face down onto the receiving paper.

Now, a few words of wisdom:
1) It is recommended, especially if you have text in the photo, to print a mirror image of your photo – otherwise the final transfer will appear to be backwards.
2) If you are using a sheet protector and it does not go smoothly through your printer, try inserting a piece of standard printer paper inside the sheet protector before printing, and then try again.
3) You can set your printer to any of the paper/media type options available for your printer, but keep in mind that unless you wish to have the ink-smudge effect, the “plain paper” option will work quite well (not to mention it will help you economize the use of precious ink).
4) The ink works well on most surfaces I tried, but if you choose to transfer to a surface that is not so smooth such as canvas or watercolor paper it is a good idea to increase the amount of ink by setting the printer to a photo paper printing.
5) Using inkjet transparency film for inkjet transfer won’t work since this type of media absorbs the ink rather quickly. However you can still use  inkjet transparencies for gel medium image transfer.



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Hand coloring photos


Snowy day in Cincinnati, Ohio
Technique: Hand colored black & white darkroom print.
(Read more about hand painted photos)

Snowy day in Cincinnati Ohio

Snowy day in Cincinnati Ohio



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