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How to Transfer Photos to Wood

Learn how to transfer photos to wood in three simple steps! All you need for this photo transfer to wood is your favorite image and a medium. It’s easy! Don’t forget to watch the video in this post that shows you exactly what to do.

Skills Required: Advanced Beginner. A photo transfer to wood takes some knowledge of how to apply mediums as well as a little bit of practice.

NOTE: This tutorial uses a laserjet image and Mod Podge photo transfer medium. If you’d like to do a transfer with an inkjet image and regular Mod Podge, go here.

Learn how to transfer photos to wood in three simple steps

Hi, it’s David from Cheltenham Road with a quick tutorial on my favorite thing to do: a photo transfer to wood with Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium. This medium is easy to use and creates terrific results. In fact, I’ll show you how to transfer photos to wood in three simple steps!

Any painting of the wood is an additional step if you choose to do so . . . the photo transfer itself is simple as can be and makes great decor on its own. (get more craft ideas using Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium!)

Transferring Pictures to Wood

If you’re wondering how to transfer photos to wood, it’s a relatively simple process. You’ll print a photo out on a dry ink printer (like laserjet or an HP). You’ll paint a medium on the front of the photo, and then smooth it onto an unfinished or painted surface.

The image will need to dry on the surface overnight, and then you will wet the surface and rub off the paper, leaving the image from the ink and the dried medium behind. This particular medium will give your image a white background (as opposed to clear).

Choosing Pictures

If you follow my blog you know I’m all about vintage graphics, so I thought I’d use one of my favorite images and just do a simple transfer to a piece of everyday plywood.

Black and white photos look great with this technique since there’s a rustic vibe, however, you can use color photos as well.

When you print out your photo(s), make sure they 1) they fit the surface you are transferring to and 2) any words should be backwards. When they are transferred to the surface, the words will be going the correct way.

Transfer Photos to Other Surfaces

The exciting thing about this project? You can use this same method to transfer photos to fabric or canvas. I’m showing you how to do it on wood, but don’t limit yourself.

Oh, and if you want to learn how to transfer photos to glass, that’s an entirely different method you’ll see here.

Wood board, image, image transfer medium, milk paint, and foam brush

Learn how to transfer photos to wood the easy way below!

Here’s what I used for this project:

  • 1/4″ plywood cut to 13 x 8 (you can also use a wood plaque from the craft store)
  • Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium
  • Matte Mod Podge
  • Folk Art Milk Paint: Plymouth Rock
  • Foam Brush
  • Damp rag or wet sponge
  • Image printed on regular paper using a laser printer or photocopier
  • Sharp craft knife
  • Brayer (useful but not absolutely necessary)
  • Silicone craft mat (useful but not absolutely necessary)

Tips and Tricks for This Project

Painting the board is optional. You can use any acrylic paint, milk paint, or chalk paint. You’ll let the paint dry completely before doing the transfer on top.

Reverse text before printing. Since the photo has text, I reversed the image before printing it onto plain paper using my laser printer.

Use DRY ink. Laser prints work as well as DRY ink toner prints (like HP ink). You may have to do some research or experiment to see if your printer has dry ink.

Protect your workspace. I laid everything on a silicone mat, which is great for this. You can use wax paper if you’d like but make sure to protect your work surface.

A brayer is great for smoothing. I smoothed out any air bubbles using my fingers and the brayer (the brayer is great but if you don’t have one use a rolling pin, a glass bottle, etc).

Distress if you want to. I wanted a very vintage/beat up feel so I went in with my sander and sanded away the edges of the graphic, revealing the plywood. Once I was happy with the look I sealed the whole thing with two coats of Mod Podge Matte.

photo transfer to wood

Now you know how to transfer photos to wood! Easy, sorta quick (if you don’t count the passive drying time), and inexpensive wall art!

TIP: I’ve worked with Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium a lot, but if you’re new to it, do a little tester piece before tackling a big project. And please check out the extremely useful list of tips that Amy has compiled for working with Transfer Medium here.

Yield: 1 transfer

Photo Transfer to Wood

photo transfer to wood

Learn how to transfer photos to wood in three simple steps! All you need is your favorite image and a medium.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Active Time 20 minutes
Dry Time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 30 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $5


  • 1/4″ plywood cut to 13 x 8 (or the size of your choice)
  • Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium
  • Matte Mod Podge
  • Acrylic paint
  • Damp rag
  • Image printed on regular paper using a laser printer or photocopier


  • Foam brush
  • Sharp craft knife
  • Brayer
  • Silicone craft mat


  1. Print the image or photograph to fit the surface using a laserjet toner printer. Remember to reverse any words so that they will read correctly.
  2. Paint the surface with acrylic paint. Let dry completely.
  3. Place your image on a mat with the ink side up. Squeeze a generous amount of Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium onto the photo and spread with a foam brush.Photo transfer medium applied to the top of a photo
  4. Continue spreading the medium until it obscures the image. Be sure to get the corners well.Spreading the medium across a photo with a foam brush
  5. Lay the picture image side down onto the surface. Smooth down, removing any air bubbles. A brayer helps here, as does having a wet rag (see Notes section).Brayer on top of the image smoothed onto to the wood
  6. Set aside for 24 hours to dry.
  7. Place a damp cloth down onto the back of the photo for several minutes. Start rubbing away the paper very, very gently. Rub harder as you get more comfortable, but use a light touch.Rubbing the paper off with a damp cloth
  8. After removing the top layer of paper, let dry a little and then repeat. It's better to rub gently and repeat the wetting process several times than to rub too hard and rub the image away.removing additional paper from the image by re-wetting
  9. Once you're satisfied with the image, further distress the piece with sandpaper if you like. Add a coat of Mod Podge Matte (or two) on top and let dry.Spreading the Mod Podge across a photo with a foam brush


Your best source for laserjet print outs is a copy store like FedEx Kinko's! But I'm sure you can order them online as well.

Make sure to keep a damp rag nearby to clean up any oozy extra transfer medium (like you see on the bottom edge of the plywood in the picture) as when it dries it dries pretty hard and it tough to get rid of.

Did You Make This Project?

Please leave a rating or share a photo on Pinterest!

Are you ready to see the video of the process? Just click PLAY on the video in this post. In this example, you’ll learn how to transfer an Instagram picture to a wood block. I’d love for you to check out the following posts as well:


Tuesday 19th of December 2023

Has anyone tried this with wood that has a coat of stain on it? Is it necessary for the wood to be bare?


Tuesday 22nd of August 2023

Is there a decent home laser COLOR printer you can recommend please?


Tuesday 3rd of October 2023

It's constantly changing based on what is out but I would say I get good feedback on HPs like this one: I have not upgraded but I need to. My printer is still kicking it tho :D But this is the one I would get!


Wednesday 8th of February 2023

Amy, here is my potential project. Using pages from a book (double side printed and not able to flip the image), I need to use a medium on the image, rub the paper off the back, then apply to canvas or foam core. The book is at least 40 years old - and professionally printed. What would be the best medium to use on the image itself so it is clear and not milky white. Used to use your method here to transfer on to painted wood as well as molded plaster. It is a lot of fun, but I want to try something new!


Tuesday 28th of February 2023

Hi Cathie! If it was professionally printed, then I'm assuming it's laserjet. This product requires laserjet (or dry ink) images and has a clear background:


Thursday 1st of December 2022

Can you use printed photos that you get from a photo lab


Monday 5th of December 2022

@Amy, thank you


Sunday 4th of December 2022

No you can't. You need the ink to be able to release from the printout. Regular photo paper has a coating and won't let the ink release to the transfer. Has to be laserjet!

Kathy Mortensen

Friday 11th of November 2022

Well I just picked up a dollar tree figure about 3/4 inch thick. It had a paper imagine that I sanded off. I am pretty sure it is a pressed paper not real wood. I painted it with chalk paint. Do you think the paint will seal the paper so it does not rub down if I am careful once the pic is on it. I used the transfer photo decapouge.


Saturday 26th of November 2022

Yes I think the paint will seal the paper just fine!

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