Top 17 Transfer Paper Craft Projects (Water Slide Decals)

Top 17 Transfer Paper Craft Projects (Water Slide)

Ever wondered how people are using transfer paper in the home? 

Here are some popular craft projects for Water Slide Paper (Decal Paper) and Dry Rub Film. (Rub On)

1 – Miniature Modelling Transfer Paper

Creating decals for miniature modelling comes in at number 1 as it provides modelling enthusiasts with the ability to complete their craft project at home using either their inkjet or laser printer,  scale decals which either they just can’t find or just want a way to create lots of home decals without paying a fortune for lots of varied pre-printed decal sheets.

miniature modelling transfer paper

Many blank models come in white or a light shade making the Clear Inkjet Waterslide Transfer Paper the best option.  Any decal print becomes possible as the white surface of the model takes the place of the white paper in a printer,  what you print is how you’ll see it on your final model.

Switching to the White Water Transfer Paper provides the solid white background for models that are darker in colour and also provides the white colour for inside the area of your transfer.  Any areas of white will be left clear by your printer but remain white due to the white film background.

Transfer Paper as Water Slide can also come with a blue backing release sheet.  These are used to print white only transfers.  For this the printer needs to either carry a white ink or have a ghost white ink cartridge installed.  The only difference between the clear water transfer paper and the blue is the colour of the backing paper.

2 – Candle Transfer Paper

As Candles are often white or off white,  their surface is perfect for the transparent transfer paper either the inkjet or laser waterslide.  Photo’s text and designs can all be applied easily transforming the candle into a customised product in just 60 seconds.

candle transfer paper

My biggest customers who make candles to sell in volume always opt for the laser printer water slide transfer paper as this cuts out lots of time and expense due to not having to seal with clear coat spray after home printing.

For dark coloured candles a switch to the white waterslide is necessary and its just a case of checking that your design is going to work as any areas of clear will show as white.

3 – Nail Art Transfer Paper

Nail Art becomes simple and the A4 Clear Transfer Paper Blanks are ideal as hundreds of nail decals can be printed off per sheet.  The favourite here is the transparent laser printer transfer paper for the same reasons as the candle decorating,  it cuts out time and expense. 

nail art transfer paper

You’ll often see that nails start off with a white base coat,  or a plain white artificial nail.  The false white nails provides the same white background as a white piece of paper would and so any design becomes possible.  

4 – Custom Glass Transfer Paper

Stained glass effects can be created using the clear water slide decal paper but many customers printing onto glass use the white water transfer paper. 

stained glass effect

There are many potential glass decorating projects from custom pieces of artwork to wine bottle labels.  Customising kitchen containers and decorating glass coasters are just a couple more interesting craft projects that I have seen.

5 – Bicycle Decal Transfer Paper

Either vintage reproduction or personalised modern,  I’ve seen both.  Once again,  with white frames the transparent water transfer paper is used and the white waterslide decal paper for darker coloured frames.  On these craft projects and any project where the finished work is going to be subject to a little wear and tear,  always finish the project off with two to three spray coats of clear varnish spray.

vintage bicycle transfers

6 – Crash Helmet Decals

Finding the perfect vinyl sticker for your helmet isn’t always easy and so some users have taken to water slide paper to create their perfect helmet transfer.  The same rules apply here for outdoor transfers and so be sure to have a tin of clear coat varnish at the ready to give your finished craft project the protection it will need.

crash helmet transfers

7 – Photo Transfer Paper

A very popular craft project for both fun and business is to create personalised photo gifts using the decal paper.  White decal paper gives the solid background for any photo to be transferred onto any flat hard surface opening the way for a thousand potential craft ideas.

photo transfer paper

Your personalised photo can be printed using your home inkjet or laser printer and transferred onto candles, ceramic mugs, decorative plates, plaques, clock faces, mobile phone cases, laptops, headstones and so much more. 

Using the water slide transfer paper is the number one way to turn these photos into memorable gifts and are hence a favourite amongst Etsy sellers and Amazon Hand Made shop owners.  But why pay to have just one personalised item when you can print many yourself for half the price.

8 – Ceramic Mug Transfer Paper

Using the Clear Paper on white ceramic mugs is popular as it gives the user the potential to create 30 mugs for the price of one POD (Print on Demand) mug.  Photographs and plain text design are common and as with other projects,  a few coats of clear sealant spray are a must.  If creating to sell on,  I also recommend adding a note to say “hand washing will preserve the life of your mug design” just because transfer papers are not as durable as the sublimation printing used with POD (Print on Demand)

ceramic mug transfer paper

9 – Guitar Transfers

Guitars, peddles and accessories have always been popular to customise for both bands and individuals and the smooth hard plastic used for many guitars makes for an ideal surface for the water transfer papers.

guitar custom transfers

Choosing the right transfer paper for your guitar project comes down to the guitars surface colour and material.  For White Plastic guitars,  I recommend using the large format water transfer paper to enable you to shape the decal to your guitar.  This way their will not be any slight film edges to see as the edges of the decal will be around the edge of the guitar.

The same rules apply,  if the surface is a dark colour,  choose the white water transfer paper.

For light coloured wooden guitars,  it may also be worth experimenting with the dry rub film as this has been especially created for custom transfers onto wood.

10 – Balloon Transfer Paper

Printing your own Photo’s or text onto balloons is easy with the white or clear transfer film.  The balloon needs to be fully inflated and large as this will reduce the amount of curvature which is always best for waterslide paper. 

With the transparent transfer paper,  the balloons surface needs to be white or a light shade. 

custom balloons

For photos onto darker coloured balloons,  choose the white transfer film.

11 – How to personalise Phone covers and Laptops

Creating your own customised phone cover or laptop is easy with decal paper.

Start by determining which type of transfer film you’ll need.  Many phone case covers are black and to print and transfer your own photograph onto a black phone case,  you’ll need the white waterslide decal paper.

Start by finding the image on your computer and inserting it into a word document or photo shop.  Size the image so as to be just slightly smaller than the surface area of the cover.  You can do a test by printing out the image on a regular piece of paper,  cutting it out and placing it over the cover to check its sizing.

customised laptop

If the sizing is correct,  go ahead and use the water transfer paper to print your photograph onto,  then follow the instructions for how to use transfer paper below.

12- Tattoo Transfer Paper

Popular in theatres and film production,  tattoo transfer paper is easy to use with temporary tattoos lasting around 2-3 days.

One way to find tattoo images to use is via a google search for “your design” but also include the words “on a white background”.  Doing this will filter out many photographs of actual tattoos on skin and leave you with just the designs,  ready for you to save and print out onto the tattoo transfer paper.

tattoo transfer paper

Temporary tattoo paper comes in two part,  the white print on paper and a yellow adhesive sheet which peels away a clear sticky sheet of plastic.

Start by printing as many tattoos onto your sheet as you can fit or 1-4 large tattoos.  Remember to print in “reverse mode”.

Then remove the yellow paper backing from the adhesive sheet and apply the sticky side flat down onto the tattoo images.

Smooth the surface and cut your tattoos out,  close to the edges.

Peel away the clear sticky sheet and place the printed side directly onto the skin and press down.

Then,  gently run some water or a wet flannel over the tattoo paper until the backing paper slide away,  leaving your temporary tattoo smooth and flush to the skin.

13 – Wood Transfer Paper

Whilst the water slide paper can be used on hard wood surfaces,  for white painted wood or light shaded wood,  we recommend trying the Dry Rub Transfer Film.  This product is similar to the Rub On which you may have seen in the past but blank,  allowing for you to create your own decals.

wood transfer paper

Popular on draws and table tops the dry rub transfer film is available in A3 large format as well as A4 size and is good for creating a hand painted effect as well as text and other designs.

When printing,  size your design so that it fills the surface area of the wood so that the edges of the film are around 2-3mm in from the edge of the surface.  That way,  the design will look more realistic as no film will be notably visible.

For more detailed information on our wood transfer paper along with some finished craft project photographs,  see here.

14 - Custom Kitchen Containers

Customising kitchen containers and household objects can be fun as you can let your imagination run freely along with some personalisation or humour.

personalised kitchen containers

Customising Jars, bottles and plastic cereal containers are popular as the surfaces are usually either glass, ceramic or plastic,  ideal for the water transfer paper.

15 – Sign Transfer Film (Clear and White)

To learn how to print your own signs,  we recommend switching to either the clear or white adhesive film.  Adhesive film has a print on side with a paper backing sheet which is removed after printing to expose a sticky back surface which can then be used to position and stick to walls or other surfaces.

You print in normal mode with no need to reverse the image and the film is cuttable allowing for you to make lots of smaller signs from one sheet if required.

 how to print your own signs

The clear adhesive film works well for black text and black printed designs that are going onto either glass or white walls or white wooden surfaces.

The white adhesive film provides a solid white background and so is usable on darker coloured surfaces.

It’s just a case of print, cut out, peel and stick and can save money on buying pre-printed one off signs or having to pay for custom made vinyl stickers.  A must have accessory for any company office.

16 – Engineering panels / instruments

The clear laser water transfer paper is often used to recreate vintage instruments or to manufacture modern engineering panels and they provide for a cost effective way to produce unique sets of numbers or symbols to place onto either white or clear panels.

Instrument transfers

The advantage here is that potentially hundreds of miniature transfers can be created from each a4 sheet of transfer paper allowing companies or individuals to create exactly what they need either as a unique one off or in large quantities.

17 – Fishing Rod Transfers 

Just before we move into our tips and instructions for transfer paper,  our last popular project that we’ve seen is the creation of branded transfers for fishing rods and tackle.

fishing rod transfers

As rods and accessories are often black,  we see the white paper used more often.  With a little practice,  smaller transfers can be created and applied with ease.

One recommendation here is to ensure that several coats of clear protective spray are used on the finished work to ensure that the transfer remains in place during all weather.

How to use Transfer paper (Water Slide Transfers - Tips)

One of the questions I am asked frequently is what printer should I use for transfer paper?  The answer depends on how often and how many transfers do you plan to create?  Is it for a one off miniature modelling project? Or will you be making many as part of a business or personal project.

The quick answer is that if you are planning to produce many transfers,  choose a laser printer.  This removes the requirement to purchase or apply a clear coat sealant spray after printing which saves much time and money.

For a one off project or for just creating transfers for a hobby,  just use your home inkjet printer and purchase some spray varnish.

To use the Inkjet water slide transfer paper, start by dropping your text,  images or photo into word or photoshop.  Its wise to fill the paper with as many transfers as you can although you can still reuse unused parts of the paper. 

Should you only wish to use half a sheet of A4 for instance,  you could cut the sheet in half to create x2 A5 sheets and then size up according on your computer,  placing the other half to one side to use in the future.

After printing,  allow 30 minutes or so to dry.  A hair dryer can be used if you are in a hurry.

Next,  spray seal the transfers with 2-3 spray coats leaving around 10 minutes or so between coats and allow at least an hour to fully dry and harden.

You can now cut your transfers out and dip them into water.

Ensuring that your transfer surface is clean, hard, flat and non-porous,  remove your transfer from the water still with its backing paper on catch one edge of the release paper with your thumb and finger and slide 5mm to your left whilst placing the 5mm of film onto the surface.

Then slowly drag from underneath the backing paper,  allowing your transfer to sit flat to its surface.

With some cotton wool,  remove all excess water from under and around the transfer until you are happy that it is free of water and ready to harden.

The hardening process can take several hours but will be quicker if you’ve done a good job of removing all water from under the transfer by pushing it gently to the edges and away.

For ceramics,  you can also place into an oven at low temperature to speed up the drying process.  On ceramics,  this does not provide a permanent fix and you will still need to spray seal the finished item.

When creating many transfers,  switching to a home laser printer is best.  The instructions are the same as above but without the need to spray seal after printing.  To provide your transfer with protection you will still need to spray coat the finished item.


Further learning

See our transfer paper Infographic





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