Water transfer printing entails using a special paper printed with a design that is soaked in water and transferred to the surface of another material. It’s an affordable, accessible technique for home crafters with paper and water access but not much else.
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Do Work With High-Quality Paper
A good paper will be thick, have a relatively smooth surface, and withstand a lot of handling. Getting the right quality requires trial and error, but know your options; some papers work well with the method, while others turn out washed-out after one or two prints.
Don’t Use Paint That Is Too Light Or Too Dark
Use paint that matches the color of your project because too much contrast will wash out the design and cause it to fade. If you have darker colors at your disposal, use them rather than lighter colors when possible.
Do Pick The Right Design For Your Project
Use designs that are not overly detailed to transfer well to other surfaces. Also, ensure the design is appropriate for the material you’re transferring onto and that it isn’t likely to rub off or fade over time. Select a design that will last and look good on your project.
Don’t Use Thin Paper
Thin paper transfers poorly to other surfaces because it lets water pass through too quickly and becomes saturated before transferring the design.
Do Plan Ahead
Plan: you won’t have time if you wait until the last minute to plan out your design, so start early in the game. The paper and colors must also be chosen well in advance if you want things to come together smoothly and quickly.
Don’t Use Thick Paper That Is Difficult To Cut
Paper that is difficult to cut will also be challenging to find the design border and tends not to dry quickly, causing a delay in the transfer process.
Do Choose Your Surface Wisely
Your surface must be clean and smooth like a tile, glass or plastic board, or waxed wood; it is not compatible with porous surfaces like paper, cloth, or canvas.
Don’t Press On The Paper While It Dries
Pressure on the paper during the drying process will cause wrinkling, disrupting the design and leaving a ripple effect or creating air pockets that make it challenging to transfer correctly.
Do Be Careful With The Colors You Choose
You may want to choose more monochromatic colors rather than colors with hues of the same color but different shades/intensities (ex., Red and pink both contain shades of red).
Don’t Pick A Design With Intricate Details Or Small Spaces
Avoid designs with small spaces and details, such as stitching, because they become distorted during transfer. If a design with detailed features is all you have access to, enlarge it before transferring it.
In conclusion, water transfer printing is a relatively easy technique to keep in your DIY arsenal because it’s accessible and can be used to create conversation pieces like personalized coasters, ornaments, and greeting cards.