Laserjet Transfer on Mixed Media Collage


I was looking for a new way to show my lomographs. I wanted to incorporate texture, mixed media, collaging and lots of contrast. I found laserjet transfers.

I was preparing to join a new art festival here in Cambodia called Art Explo. I wanted to feature some of my analogue photos, but wanted to do something different from framed prints or a LomoWall. I wanted to create something that involved a variety of textures and materials, but still highlighted the analogue nature of my photography. I decided to transfer my lomographs onto mixed media collages and textured surfaces and below is the final product.

There is a wide variety of methods that can be used to make image transfers. In this tipster, I’m going to explain the process I used to make transfers onto a canvas with a mixed media collage using materials available in most art supplies and hardware shops, including Phnom Penh where I live.

A bit of a warning here; this process takes a bit of patience and involves several steps.

Here is what you’ll need:

  • canvas – any size or shape. I used a square 90×90cm canvas for this piece.
  • collage materials. I used old newspapers, pages from textbooks and plastic feed sack material.
  • laserjet printouts of the photo or photos you plan to transfer
  • scissors
  • white glue
  • water
  • wood varnish or painters varnish
  • nail polish remover (acetone)
  • spoon
  • paint brushes

The first step is to prepare the canvas. You can apply paint or gesso or ink or any other material you like to add color or texture to the final image. To prepare my canvas, I cut and tore the newspapers, textbooks and feed sacks into pieces, then dipped those pieces into thin mixture of water and white glue until they were soaked. Then I covered the canvas with them, making sure to wrap the edge pieces all the way around the edge of the canvas. When the canvas was covered, I applied one last layer of the glue/water mixture with a paintbrush to make sure the pieces were firmly affixed.

After allowing the newspaper/collage layer (or paint or whatever other material you used to prepare the canvas) to dry completely, apply a layer of varnish. I used wood varnish because it’s all that was available in Cambodia. It had a yellowish hue to it which gave the final product an aged look. You may be able to find a more colorless varnish. After the first layer of varnish has dried completely, apply a second coat of varnish.

When the second coat of varnish has not yet dried completely, but is still tacky, it is time the laserjet prints of your photo(s).

Some tips for selecting and printing out your photos:

  • Pick images with lots of contrast. This is one of the reasons lomographs are great for transfers. Plastic lenses and cross processed color shifts can provide some great extreme contrasts.
  • When you transfer you image, the result will be a mirror image of the laserjet print. This means you need to flip your photo horizontally in photoshop or your transferred image will be backwards.
  • Make sure you are getting laserjet printouts. Inkjet printouts can also be transferred using other methods, but, using this method, I only got good results with laserjet prints.
  • You can use color or black and white printouts. I was only able to get black and white laserjet prints at my local copy shop here.
  • Make sure the prints are made on regular paper, not photo paper. Remember, eventually you want to get rid of all the paper and leave only the ink of the image.

Cut or trim your laserjet image to the size and shape you want. Since my canvas was 90×90cm and I had decided to use one photo image, I needed to tile out my image into seperate pieces to be applied to the canvas. I did this with photoshop and then printed each piece of the image on an A3 size paper and then trim all the excess border space away.

these are some of my tiled-out laserjet prints

While the second coat of varnish on the canvas is still tacky, apply your laserjet print(s) face-down on the part of the canvas you want the image transferred to. Use a spoon or your finger to smooth out any wrinkles or bubbles that appear in the paper.

After you’ve applied all your prints, wait 45 minutes to an hour to let the varnish finish drying. Then use a paintbrush to apply nail polish remover to the back of the prints. Again, smoth out any bubbles or wrinkles with a spoon or your finger.

After the nail polish remover dries (this takes only a few minutes), it is time to remove all the paper from the prints. Get some water in a bowl or a spray bottle and wet your fingers with it. Then gently rub the paper and it will begin to peel up layer by layer in little crumbs. Continue this process until virtually all the paper has been removed. This is the most difficult part of the process. If the ink image hasn’t set into the varnish or if you rub too hard, the image will tear. Working on this and several other large canvasses like this, I literally lost the figerprints on my thumb and forefinger!

When you’ve removed all the paper, the final image of your laserjet print will be bold in the foreground with the mixed media collage showing through the negative space in the print.

I’ve also had success using this process with mirrors, wood and plastic.

here are some of the other transfers I did for the exhibition

By the way, there is a much easier way to make transfers like this using Mod-Podge or gel medium. Neither of those materials are available in Cambodia, so I experimented until I found this method. If you’re interested in trying the Mod-Podge method, I suggest checking out Nitsa's blog Her blog is one of the places I found inspiration for this project and she’s a fellow lo-fi photographer.

written by tiro8 on 2012-01-13 in #gear #tipster #vivtar-uws #contrast #olympus-om-2 #texture #collage #diana-mini #holga-120n #transfer #art #black-and-white #mixed-media #tutorial


  1. stratski
    stratski ·

    Wow, those transfers look amazing! Well done!

  2. undiscovered
    undiscovered ·

    Wow! Your results are amazing! Congrats!

  3. ihave2pillows
    ihave2pillows ·

    This is ART!

  4. mczoum
    mczoum ·

    This is a nice review for an alternative way to edit and transfer our collages works and images from paper to canvas with an artistic touch. Thanks for sharing it and for the explanation.

  5. hustina
    hustina ·

    This takes collage to a whole new level. Awesome!

  6. philippa
    philippa ·

    Your collage really is amazing! I love it and the tipster going with it too! Will definitely try that our one day, too

  7. szzs
    szzs ·

    A lot of work, but worth it: You have amazing results! I like especially the first one on newspaper pieces canvas.
    Thanks for sharing this detailed review!

  8. mafiosa
    mafiosa ·

    Amazing results! Keep up the good work.

  9. rben675
    rben675 ·


  10. carsten-schmitt
    carsten-schmitt ·

    This is great stuff, mate. Seriously!

  11. didjitalsin
    didjitalsin ·

    awesome !!!! i'm speechless for a minute, great job mate

  12. tiro8
    tiro8 ·

    hey guys, thanks for all the nice comments and likes. most of the finished images i show on this tipster are rather large from 30x30cm all the way to 90x90cm, but i'm pretty sure it works well with small images too. smaller images would probably mean a lot less time, less mess and less work to some extent. so, if you don't feel up to a major project, just get a small piece of cardboard (or anything else really) and transfer onto it.

  13. maxmaclean
    maxmaclean ·

    This is really beautiful, so much so that i had a go at it myself !
    Heres the result, I'm pretty chuffed for my first go!

  14. tiro8
    tiro8 ·

    @maxmaclean really nice! and for a first go at it, your image looks incredible. it took me quite a while to start getting images that held together well enough to look how i wanted. yours held up nicely.

  15. maxmaclean
    maxmaclean ·

    thankyou! since taking that photo, the image has faded - and the constrast is less evident. did this happen to yours? I think i didn't take enough paper off it? Also, the tears/holes in the image occured with amazing ease, did you have trouble with that?

    Considering painting over it and having a second go!:)

  16. tiro8
    tiro8 ·

    the same thing happened to some of mine when i first started working on transfers. i found that rubbing harder does not help, you only end up tearing the image. instead i took a tiny paintbrush and applied small drops of linseed oil onto the image which i then spread around with my finger. a little bit will go a long way. the oil seems to take away the white residue and maintain your image's strong contrast.

  17. earlybird
    earlybird ·

    wowowow! love it!

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