FAQs about Photo Transfer Paper / Sheets

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Instructions for using Inkjet Photo Transfer Paper / Sheets

The following is need to know information for printing an image to a photo transfer sheet.

by Sharla Hicks ©2001


Photo Transfer is a two-step process:

  1. Print the image on the photo transfer paper.
  2. Iron the transfer on to the project, like fabric, t-shirt, canvas bag, etc.

Before printing

  • If you are creating an image in a Draw or Paint program. Set the image setting at 720 dpi MAX (dpi means dots per inch). On other programs without dpi adjustment capabilities, use your printer setting to tweak the image for better quality printing.

  • For correct placement of the transfer image, REVERSE/MIRROR the image before printing or you will get a backward image. This is very important when doing letters and number.

There are two ways to reverse/mirror an image:

  1. Reverse/mirror the image in graphic software like CorelDraw, Adobe Illustrator, Freehand, Paint Shop Pro, and other similar programs using one of the program options. If you do not know how, look under the help files for your program.

  2. Locate reverse/mirror in the Printer Settings. To locate your printer setting, use the properties button in the printer dialogue box.


Reverse/mirror image setting in the Printer dialogue box example

NOTE: Your printer may not have a reverse/image setting, in that case see if selecting media/paper type prints reverse. If not, then you will need to reverse/mirror the image in a graphic program.


Preparing to Print by Adjusting the Printer Settings:

Important: Do a small test sample BEFORE doing printing the final image for transfer. Make printer setting adjustments as needed.

Check image quality. Many times what you see is not what you get when you print. The printout maybe dull, to dark or light, or not sharp enough. If you have a printer calibration choice in your graphic program, use it to help align more closely what you see with with what you get when your print.

If your program does NOT allow printer calibration then adjust the printer. Making a few adjustment to Printer Picture quality can make a difference. Look for an area in your printer or graphic program that allows the adjustment of halftone type. Below are examples from 2 different printers. Remember, each printer's adjustments will look different, but most have similar settings. Probe around the Printer dialogue box until you unearth the settings you may need.

Halftone adjustment example

Halftone adjustment example

Here are a couple more setting to look for that allow you to make color adjustments. Again, remember every printer is different. Here are some examples of adjustments that you may find.

Look for anything that allows you to adjust the quality of your printer output.

Ready to Print:

  • Many printers have options that are specific to the photo transfer process. Use them when possible. Here are a couple of examples.

Select Paper/Media Type Examples

  • The side to be printed on is usually is the side without marking.

  • When using InkJet printers with liquid pigments: Print one sheet at time and remove from printer to let dry. Do not let the printed pages touch before the ink has had time to dry.

  • If the sample printout has dried and smearing is a problem, reduce the ink concentration to a lower settings.
    • If you are creating an image in a Draw or Paint program, go back in and reduce the image dpi below 720 dpi. Experiment for the best setting.
    • If you are making the adjustments in the Printer dialogue box, look for Print Quality. My printers have the following settings. Other printers can have different ones. Remember, it varies with each printer.


    Print Quality Adjustments Examples

  • Do not store printout. After the ink dries, trim edges closely and iron on immediately.

Transfer image to project:

Ironing Surface:

  • Use a firm surface like Formica, tempered glass, or smooth masonite.

Iron Temperature:

  • Preheat 10 minutes at highest settings.
  • Do NOT use Steam.

Before Applying to Fabric:

  • Iron out any wrinkles.
  • Cool before applying transfer sheet.

To Transfer:

  • Iron directly on the face down side (paper feeling side) of the transfer.
  • Small Transfers: Iron from side to side to evenly heat the surface to prevent scorching and cool spots for the vent holes, continue this for 30 seconds.
  • Large Transfers: Iron one section of the transfer at a time as described above, then move to the next section.

To remove Transfer Paper

  • IMMEDIATELY peel away transfer paper while the transfer paper is HOT.
  • Peel smoothly in one continuos motion.
  • IF REMOVAL STICKS OR RESISTS, carefully smooth transfer flat again and re-iron as described above for 10-20 seconds and repeat peel.

After Paper Side of Transfer Removed:

  • Smooth on flat surface and let cool.

After Care: Washing and Ironing instructions for completed Transfer Project:

  • Do not iron directly on Transfer Image.
  • Use Teflon coated, nonstick press cloth (feels like heavy sheet of plastic) to cover transfer image before pressing.
  • Turn the garment inside out
  • Wash on gentle cycle.
  • Use cold water and mild soap. Do NOT use bleach.
  • Remove Immediately after wash is done. Do NOT let set wet as image may bleed.
  • If bleeding happens, before drying the piece, wash again to remove residue bleeding and dry immediately.
  • Immediately Tumble Dry on a cool setting.
  • Do NOT iron the image.

NOTE: We carry Inkjet Transfer Paper 8 1/2" x 11 and blank jigsaw puzzle, coasters and mouse pads for your transfer needs at discount pricing

What is a scanner and how does it do its magic?

The scanner is a tool that allows you to take a picture that computer understands. Scanned images can be used as Clipart, desktop wallpaper, watermarks, fabric in quilting software, instructions in class handouts, and many other wonderful ways.

The scanner uses a scanner interface program that directs you through the scanning process. In most cases the scanner interface must use another a secondary graphic program to complete its mission. For the purposes of this article, I will refer to the secondary program as the first destination graphic program.

The first destination graphic program takes the scanned image from the scanner interface software, creates a new window with the picture/scan and then you can perform tweaks like size, color, add special effects and other options.

The tweaked file is then saved and is ready to be imported into the final destination software like quilting software and desktop publishing programs like Word, Word Perfect, Word Start, Ventura, Publisher, and many more.

Scanners can interface with graphic programs like IrfanView (a freeware download available here on our website), Adobe Illustrator, Paint, CorelDraw, Corel Photo-Paint, PhotoPaint, Paint Shop Pro, Fireworks, or other graphic programs. Some are very sophisticated and do all kinds of manipulations -- others are simpler. IrfanView (a freeware available here on our website) is one such "destination" program that is simple and easier to use than most.

1. To setup your scanner interface so that it will interact with the first destination graphic program, look for something that says, Scan, Select Source, Select TWAIN or something along those lines. These options are usually found under the File Menu. The option called Twain refers to the drivers (software connectors) that allow the scanner interface program to talk to the first destination graphic program.

2. To scan the image into the first destination graphic programs look in the same place and find the option usually called AQUIRE. When you make the selection, it automatically open the scanner interface software.

3. In the Interface Scanner Software, select all options for the scanning. (See Part 2 below for scanning fabrics options.)

4. When the scan is complete, the software will import the scanned image to a NEW window in the first destination graphic program. Now the scanned image is ready for editing to a new size, color, add manipulations and special effect.

5. THEN save the tweaked scan in a format that the final destination program can use. (Click here for details on tweaking the scanned fabrics or other images.)

6. In order to use the tweaked scan that you have saved. Import it to the the final destination program. Final destination programs would be quilting software, e-mail, desktop publishing programs like Word, Word Perfect, Word Star, and Publisher and others. NOTE: Each program manual and the online help files will have instructions on how to import a file. To find the instructions, go to the Table of Contents, Index or Online Help Files and use Search.

PROBLEMS WITH INKJET SMEARING ON TRANSFER PAPER (Especially with Epson Printers when using Cannon transfer paper)

The photo transfer sheets we carry here work well with Epson printers

Gloria Hansen co-author of the book, Quilter's Computer Companion, writes: I have an Epson 800. Epson has a new driver (you can download it through their web page -- www.epson.com) that purports to help with transfer smearing problems. I found that regardless of the new driver, Epson's ink smears on Canon transfer paper (I've had great results with Canon paper on other printers), although you can lessen the smearing by using either the transparency setting or the photo quality glossy setting. Also, don't print over 720 dpi.

Interestingly, I've tried a couple different "no-name" brands of image transfer paper that I purchased at computer fairs. They each worked great -- as in absolutely NO smearing and very sharp images. So, if you've only tried Canon, try another brand. Good luck!

Gloria Hansen
Highstown, NJ.
e-mail: Gloria Hansen <gloriahansen@earthlink.net>
Website for: Quilter's Computer Companion book


NOTE: We carry Inkjet Transfer Paper, and blank jigsaw puzzle, coasters and mouse pads for your transfer needs at discount pricing

  • Did you know that you need to be aware how your printer sets it ink? For an optimal transfer, your transfer paper "should" match your Printer method of adding ink. Lasers use heat to set Carbon and a few inkjet printer especially "older or high end inkjets" use heat or dryers to set the ink, most inkjets use NO drying method, and then there is Dye-Sublimation (the latest consumer priced Alps Printer now on the market uses this method).
  • Did you know there are multiple types of "Heat Transfer Papers": Hot Peel / Cold Peel Plastisol Transfers (Note that PEEL is the operative word "because" both types of transfer paper use heat to transfer the image to the fabric), Color Copier Transfers, Sublimation Transfers with confusion about the differences between Dye Sublimation transfers and just plain Sublimation transfers.
  • Did you know that you can determine if your transferred image can be Satin or Glossy finish by how long you leave the image to cool before lifting off the transfer paper?
  • Did you know that some transfer papers require prewashing of fabric before the transfer and some DO NOT? Check you instructions carefully.
  • For additional information on the different types of Transfer Processes and the Ink options, go to Geo-Knights Overview of Heat Transfer (includes web sources.) Or are you trying to decide on Printer and are confused by the different types of inks each uses? This article will give you an understanding of what type of printer you may want to look into by clarifying the differences between ink types used.

NOTE: We carry photo transfer paper, blank Jigsaw puzzle, coasters and mouse pads for your transfer needs.