How to Transfer a Photo to Wood with Mod Podge

Supplies Youll Need for a DIY Photo Transfer to Wood

  • Piece of Wood (any size, but I chose this wooden plaque) These small round wood slices would make great Christmas ornaments!
  • Mod Podge
  • Photo or image printed in reverse on 20 lbs. printer paper (with a laser printer) – be sure to make it approximately the size or smaller than your piece of wood. (Use my free printables that I used in my example by clicking here.** When you get to the printables, just look for the files that have “mirrored” in the name.)
  • Brush (foam or regular, doesn’t really matter)
  • Cloth (that you will dampen and use to rub off the paper)
  • A dose of patience

** If you are already a VIP e-mail subscriber, you can find these printables in the free printable library. The access to it is included at the end of every e-mail I send. 



First you will need a piece of wood to transfer your photo onto. You can use a variety of wood surfaces: plain piece of wood, a wood slice, or a piece that looks like a pallet (this technique works on canvas too!). I found this 12×16 inch wood pallet at Walmart. Sand it until it’s nice and smooth, then wipe off any dust.

You’re also going to need a laser print of y

You’re also going to need a laser print of your photo. It should be printed on regular printer paper (not photo paper) and must be reversed. My local copy shop can print color laser prints on normal paper up to 13×19 inches in size – check with your local copy shop (Kinko’s, Office Max, etc) to see what size they can print at before your purchase or make your wood piece. Be sure to crop your photo to the size of your wood piece, and then send it to the printer. Remember your print must be printed:

  • on a laser printer or as a laser color photocopy
  • on normal paper
  • as a reverse image
  • the size of your wood piece (mine is 12×16)

The copy shop should be able to do all of that for you. Be aware this project will not work with actual photographs or with a picture printed on an inkjet printer.

Finally, you will also need Mod Podge. Some wood p

Finally, you will also need Mod Podge. Some wood photo transfer techniques use gesso or another type of gel medium, but I just use Mod Podge matte. It’s easy to find in any craft store and most big box stores.

NOTE: there is a Mod Podge Photo Transfer medium made specifically for photo transfers, but I prefer NOT to use it. The photo transfer mod podge will transfer the whites in your photo, whereas using normal mod podge turns the whites in your photo clear, allowing the wood grain to show through any white space.

Get my free SVG files to create beautiful Transfer Photo to Wood Projects

I love seeing what you make with my designs and how you use them! Please share a photo of your Transfer Photo to Wood project in our Facebook group or tag me on social media with #jennifermaker.


What Surfaces Can You Transfer Images Onto with Mod Podge?

I initially transferred a photo of Dean and I onto canvas using the Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium. But you can also use this Mod Podge to transfer images to all sorts of other non-porous surfaces too! Check out these easy home decor and other ideas:

  • glass – candle holders, photo frames, antique windows
  • wood – plaques, signs, ornaments, furniture, coasters
  • canvas – signs, photos, artwork
  • fabric – shirts, shoes, pencil cases, pillows, napkins, placemats, table runners
  • clay – ornaments, jewelry, coasters
  • terra cotta – planters, pots

The sky is practically the limit to what you can make with almost any surface, photocopied images and Mod Podge Transfer Mediums!

Paint the wood block black

Be sure to do two coats and that the paint is completely dry before moving on to the next step.

Easy Custom Canvas Using Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium


1. Choose your photo and using a photo editing software (I used Photoshop, but you can use Canva or any other photo editing program), resize it to fit your canvas. If desired change mode to grayscale for a black and white image.

2. Print photo on PLAIN paper. Photo paper will NOT work. For best results use a laser/dry toner copier/printer.

2. Trim photo to fit canvas, leaving about a half inch space for border around the edge. As noted above, the Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium doesn’t dry clear, so be sure to trim right to the edge of your image or you’ll have a solid white outline.

4. On a protected surface (I used newspaper becaus

4. On a protected surface (I used newspaper because I had it on hand), using a sponge brush to spread a thick layer of Transfer Medium all over the FRONT SIDE of your photocopied, trimmed photo. All you want to see is a nice even coat of WHITE.

5. Without touching the sticky surface, place your

5. Without touching the sticky surface, place your photo paper sticky side down onto your canvas. Tap gently in the center and then smooth outwards toward the edges on all sides, removing air bubbles as you go. LET DRY FOR 24 HOURS.

6. Softly press a fairly wet sponge onto the image

6. Softly press a fairly wet sponge onto the image on canvas until the entire thing is damp to wet. Now squeeze out the sponge into a cup.

7. Using a circular motion and the damp sponge, ru

7. Using a circular motion and the damp sponge, rub the paper off the canvas; you’ll see it sort of rub off in small pieces  Continue until all you see is your transferred image. 

8. Gently brush off any additional paper bits and

8. Gently brush off any additional paper bits and pieces and let dry.

Note: that Mod Podge Photo Transfers give a vint

Note: that Mod Podge Photo Transfers give a vintage sort of vibe to your project, which can be very nice in farmhouse, rustic and country decor style homes. 

9. Optional: Using a foam brush and black craft paint, carefully paint just the edges of the canvas. That way you can display it with or without framing!

And voila an easy custom canvas in just a few simp

And voila an easy custom canvas in just a few simple steps!

How to Use Mod Podge

Mod podge is not like Elmer’s glue because it’s more substantial than most standard and school glue. And you can use the substance on almost every surface like:

  • Paper
  • Wood
  • Fabric
  • Glass
  • Ceramic
  • Terra cotta
  • Tin
  • Certain plastics
  • Painted surfaces

Using mod podge is reasonably straightforward and easy. You can start by:

  1. Preparing your surface – sand wood, wash glass, paint the exterior. Then let it dry.
  2. Next, you can cut your paper or fabric to fit perfectly on the surface.
  3. Apply the mod podge to the surface and back of your paper or fabric.
  4. Work quickly because it dries fast.
  5. Let dry 20 minutes before decoupaging over the top.
  6. Apply 2 to 3 more coats and let it dry for 24 hours before use.


  1. Print your image according to the guidelines below. Trim to size.
  2. Paint a layer of Mod Podge on your smooth wood surface.
  3. Lay the image, printed side down, flat on the surface.
  4. Smooth flat the image flat, and let dry.
  5. Using a scrub rag and a bowl of water, soak the paper.
  6. Then gently begin to scrub away the paper.
  7. As the paper begins to peel away, set aside the scrub rag. Use the friction of your fingers to remove all of the paper, leaving the image behind.
  8. Let dry, and make sure that no paper remains. If there are still white spots remaining, re-wet the surface and rub the paper away.
  9. Seal with a layer of Mod Podge. Let dry.

Reader Interactions

  1. Alejandra says

    Hi! Do you ad water to the modge before you paint the wood with it? Because it is very tick.


    • Autumn says

      Hello! I do not add water to it, but it’s not usually very thick. Could your Mod Podge be old?


  2. David Higgins says

    Hi can you copy onto glass tumblers


  3. Bistra says

    Hi Autumn. I have been making phototransfers for over 6 years now and I am yet to find a color laser printer that prints larger than 11×17 inches. I have tried all of them, FedEx, office max, staples, ups. Where exactly do you print and could you tell me what printer they use? Regards, Bistra


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