Step-by-Step Part 2: Graphic Transfer

Wet graphic transfer method

This post includes step-by-step photos of the graphic transfer process used in my "Beehive Box" project that I featured in October. (Click here to view the Beehive Box Micro Project and/or click here to view Part 1 for the paint and wax tutorial.)

Getting Started

The first step is to determine what method to use to apply the graphic. For this project I considered using a decoupage method but decided against that because I wanted the color of the paint to show through. I was going to use a decal transfer method, but in the end my printer just wouldn't cooperate. I finally decided to use a transfer method which utilizes an adhesive and water. I used antiqued Mod Podge for my adhesive because that is what I had on hand.

Testing the look.
For this transfer method,
be sure to print your final design in a mirror image.
Next I went to The Graphics Fairy's website. Her website has wonderful images and it is my go-to website for graphics (and did I mention the cost is fantastic? FREE! Yeah!) I used her Bee Hive Clothing House graphic and also selected a bee image which I reduced, copied, and added for a few extra bees to buzz outside of the hive.

I printed my final design and held it up to the box to make sure it was what I wanted. The final graphic was printed in a mirror image so the letters would transfer correctly.

Step-by-Step Tutorial

Adhere graphic face down with adhesive.
1. Apply adhesive to the surface that will receive the transfer and let it dry completely. This will protect the piece from the water. I applied Mod Podge to the entire piece so that it will have a consistent surface throughout.

2. Apply more adhesive to the surface receiving the transfer and while it is wet place the printed graphic face down. Gently rub and smooth out any air bubbles. Let dry completely before proceeding to the next step.

3. After it is completely dry, use a wet sponge to moisten the paper. The image will start to appear. Continue to apply water until the paper is thoroughly moistened.

Wet Graphic Transfer Method.
Revealing the graphic.
4. Rub the paper gently with a wet sponge to remove the top layer of paper. Continue rubbing without tearing the paper. If the paper starts to tear (which it usually does around the edges) then it is time to stop and let it dry.
Removing the paper.
The adhesive from Step #1 outside the paper will change in appearance as it gets wet. But it will look fine again once it dries.

Don't worry about the adhesive outside the graphic.
It will look fine once it dries.

5. Re-wet the paper and continue rubbing. I alternate between rubbing with a sponge and my fingers. I like to use my fingers because it gives me more control. If the bottom layer of adhesive or graphic begins to tear then stop and let it dry then repeat this step until all the paper is removed and only the graphic remains. Apply less and less water throughout this step after each time it dries.

Wet. Rub. Dry. Repeat.

Dry after second rub down.
I stuck a towel inside the box to help further protect
the area not receiving the transfer.

Re-wetting.
Less water is needed as more of the paper is removed.

After three rub downs.


I rubbed a few areas too much.
I find this always happens around the edges
but it can be repaired.

Be gentle while rubbing around the printed areas. If rubbed too hard the ink will rub off and this will mar the graphic itself. If this starts to happen then simply stop and continue again once it's had a chance to dry. No need to worry if the area outside of the ink tears. This can give it a more rustic feel, or it can be filled in later with a layer or two of Mod Podge. 

6. Apply a final coat of Mod Podge to the entire surface to seal the graphic.
Sealed with a final coat of Mod Podge.
 As mentioned in Part 1 of the tutorial, I did not apply dark wax to the area in the center.
This gives a subtle highlight to the graphic.

Transformed and ready for a new home.

Supply List


Below are the supplies I used for this project. Some links are affiliate links which  means I earn a small commission if you make a purchase. It doesn't cost you extra, but it helps support the time and effort of maintaining the blog. Thank you for your support and understanding!




  • Wood project piece (anything will do -- painted or bare wood is fine)
  • A graphic to transfer
  • Printer & paper
  • Mod Podge (clear)
  • Small brush
  • Water

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