Hand Tinted Photo Transfers | Polymer Clay Tutorial

Tinted Photo Transfers - Polymer Clay TutorVideo #228: “As far as tutorials are concerned, I would love to learn more about transfers and working with liquid clay.” ~Christl-P

Don’t you just love the nostalgia of a hand tinted, vintage photo? I sure do. What if you could take that old fashioned technique, and use it with modern materials… like say polymer clay? Wouldn’t that be cool? Of course it would!

Well, now you can, using this neat image transfer technique that uses a regular black & white photocopied image, and some other simple supplies you may already have on hand.

Cindy, I would love to learn how to do transfers on polymer. I have seen so many beautiful beads made from them. Not only flat beads but tube type beads. I have a laser jet printer that does not have color printing. My husband prefers it that way. This would be a good topic for a future tutorial. Thanks. ~Carolyn-K

Have to agree with Carolyn K… a tute on polymer transfers would be awesome! I joined fairly recently and am LOVING the tutes! Cindy has such a great way of explaining her techniques, and I’ve had great results so far. Friday mornings are such a treat -thanks Cindy, you have a real talent for teaching!! ~Lesley-S

I am just about to start experimenting with the transferring of images onto clay. I am so happy I came across your site. Thanks so much. ~Lisa-C

So… coming up tomorrow (Friday, November 4, 2011) in the Vol-042-1 members video at the Polymer Clay Tutor Library, I will teach you how to do unique colored transfers onto polymer clay… great for making vintage Christmas ornaments, gift tags and jewelry.


Please Note: A general prerequisite for all of my weekly tutorials is that you have a good understanding of the polymer clay basics, including: conditioning clay, using a pasta machine, clay blade and other simple tools, making Skinner Blends or Teardrop Blends, baking clay, as well as sanding and finishing. If you need help in these areas, my Polymer Clay Beginners Course will get you up to speed quickly. There is also plenty of free information on this blog. Use the search box at the top of the page to find articles on specific topics.

Supplies & Tools: Video-042-1 Hand Tinted Photo Transfers:

  • Polymer clay in any light color. I used: 55057 Frost White Glitter Premo Sculpey.
  • Pasta Machine or Acrylic Roller.
  • Black & White Photocopy or Laser Printed Copyright/Royalty-Free Image (must be toner based NOT inkjet based copy).
  • Pencil Crayons.
  • Scissors.
  • Sculpey Clay Softener (optional but will give a higher success rate).
  • Spray Bottle filled with cold water.
  • Small smooth ceramic tile for working on (optional but very handy).
  • Adirondack Alcohol Ink in Butterscotch (optional).
  • Rubbing Alcohol and Paper Towels.

The full version of the Vol-042-1 Tinted Photo Transfers video will be posted in the Polymer Clay Members Library on Friday Nov 4, 2011. But if you would like to see a sneak peek intro clip right now, scroll down the page a bit to the video player below.

Click Video Play Button

The full version of the “Tinted Photo Transfers” preview video shown above, is now available for purchase at the Polymer Clay Library in the Volume-042 Back Issue Package.

Customer Feedback About Membership Value:

Oh my oh my I don’t know where to begin. THANK YOU BOTH is a good start, though I wish I could do more than just thank you because you deserve so much more. Once again the filming was awesome Doug. Cindy you continue to amaze me beyond words. You have taken a technique I enjoy and stepped it up not just a notch but beyond imagination. You challenge our imaginations to inspire above what we ever thought possible. I wish I could shake every PC lover out that does not join your tutes and convince them what they are missing. Even if they just got a fraction of what I do they would be inspired beyond their wildest dreams. So much for so little you PC addicts. Thanks and Uuuuggs. ~Peggy-B

Cindy, you work so hard… I can’t imagine everything it takes to provide 2 gorgeous palettes each month, as well as a fresh new video tute every week. Plus, you keep it all running smoothly, and offer helpful, friendly advice. Thank you! I do try to leave feedback and/or a thank-you comment on each of these palette threads (and tutorial posts, too.) Once in awhile I get busy and forget. On those occasions, please know I’m still enormously grateful! I get a huge smile on my face every time I open your newsletter and see the goodies inside. I love you, dear Cindy… and your wonderful work! You’re a giving soul, and you’re so, SO appreciated! I think most everyone would LOVE a membership here, if only they’d just try it! $10 for 3 months of videos (1 per week) is such an incredible deal. If they signed up, they’d be bona fide admirers too. ~Phaedrakat

Any tute you can get here is worth the money!! ~Catalina

The following topics are included in this week’s Polymer Clay Tutor Library, Hand Tinted Image Transfers video tutorial:

  • See examples of Christmas Tags/Ornaments using several different Hand Tinted Photo designs.
  • Discussion of the tools, supplies and techniques needed to create this wonderful vintage photo transfer technique.
  • Find out how improve your image transfer success by using this unique clay supply. Never heard of any other polymer clay artist using this cool trick!
  • Find out tips for cleaning up imperfections after doing the transfer, and tips on avoiding them in the first place.
  • Plus, with some creativity and ingenuity, there are many ways to come up with other unique designs of your own.

The full version of the “Tinted Photo Transfers” preview video shown above, is now available for purchase at the Polymer Clay Library in the Volume-042 Back Issue Package.

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Lupe Meter, 03 November, 2011

    This looks like a fun tutorial! I love to do transfers on clay so this is up my alley, plus I love the vintage digital images and old looking photos. Looking forward to it!

  2. Elizabeth S., 03 November, 2011

    Oh, I need to be ready for this one! Suggestions please on where to find images? Also I have an inkjet printer. What do I do? Thanks.

  3. Cindy Lietz, 03 November, 2011

    Hi Elizabeth! There are tons of places online to get digital vintage images and some even have free samples. Dover publications and The Graphics Fairy are just a couple but a search will bring up many more. You need to read their angel policies to make sure they are copyright free, royalty free and that you are allowed to use the images on pieces that can be sold.

    As far as the inkjet printer, sorry that won’t work. Do you have access to a photocopier? You could take your inkjet print to a copier and use that. Or you could have it printed on a laser printer. The ink just needs to be toner based to work for this technique.

    Can’t wait to see what you make!

  4. Elizabeth S, 03 November, 2011

    Oh thank you! I’ll start checking out sites right now, and now that I know I can at least print the image using my printer and then have it photocopied somewhere I’m in good shape. I just love pc pieces that include image transfers and can’t wait to learn this technique.


  5. Jeanne C., 03 November, 2011

    I’m really looking forward to this tutorial, I love the vintage look. Are the pencil crayons the same as the regular color pencils or a special type of crayons?

  6. Cindy Lietz, 03 November, 2011

    Yup! Just plain old pencil crayons that the kids use. Nothing fancy!

  7. Phaedrakat, 03 November, 2011

    I’m still confused (that’s sooo me, LOL!) I’m not familiar with the term “pencil crayons”, but I’m guessing the video will clear things up tomorrow. I tend to think of children’s crayons as short, waxy & paper-covered; colored pencils are generally wooden with a colored “lead” inside. The two write very differently on paper. Which type is used here?

  8. Cindy Lietz, 03 November, 2011

    Ohhh I guess Pencil Crayons is a Canadian term. What I’m talking about is the wooden colored pencils, not the wax crayons. It never dawned on me that that would be an unfamiliar term. Gosh, sorry for the confusion!

  9. Phaedrakat, 03 November, 2011

    No, I’m sorry, Cindy! I should’ve looked at the picture…I can now see that they’re (what I call) colored pencils. Thanks, you’re the best!

  10. Ken Hamilton, 03 November, 2011

    Goodie, Goodie, Goodie !!!!!!!! (jumping up and down) I have a Dover book of Egyptian motifs on cd, I could bring it to work one day and scale the images I want to use here, and then take them home, I’ve been wanting to make myself an Eye of Horus necklace (used in ancient times to ward off evil) for a long time but really didn’t have the time to fit one together as a mosaic.

    OH Friday, come quickly, PLEEEEEEEASE!!!!!!!!

  11. Jill V., 03 November, 2011

    Looking forward to this.

  12. DawnB, 03 November, 2011

    Love the look of these Cindy. I’ll be printing off some images and taking them to work to copy tomorrow too. I like the photo transfer technique and yours far and away works best for me. Woot!

  13. Elaine Faulks, 03 November, 2011

    Hi Doug.

    Been out of action for a while and having probs with viewing videos. Just a black screen. I have an EasynoteE2 netbook running Windows XP. It’s midnight here in Uk and tried to view latest preview of toner transfer but no luck. Might be me ,so will try again later…as have not had any probs in the past.

  14. Phaedrakat, 03 November, 2011

    Wow Cindy, these hand-tinted transfers look amazingly cool. Love their antique look…perfect for ornaments to decorate a “vintage” themed tree. It’s ingenious how you’ve turned cracked, funky, “untrimmed” clay edges into a design element for these ornaments! I can see lots of applications for this technique…thanks! You must be one busy lady, coming up with all these amazing projects & ideas! ~Kat

    Doug / FYI: I cannot watch this preview video on my Vista PC laptop. Same “pixelation” problem I had with last week’s vid…looks like puzzle pieces removed from the video, then every so often it clears up (just often enough to make me crazy about what I’m missing!) Intro video doesn’t work on my Android phone, either, but DOES work on the old family desktop PC (Windows XP.)

  15. Sara C, 03 November, 2011

    The quality of the video for the last two lessons is really bad. I don’t know how to describe it but to say that every time the “subject photo” changes it messes up the picture for several seconds. The quality of the lesson is very high, thank you for sharing your talent. Sara

  16. Polymer Clay Tutor Doug Lietz, 03 November, 2011

    This video player situation is very frustrating! The task of finding a player that works 100% for everyone, all of the time, is definitely easier said than done. It really is too bad that Apple decided to not support Flash technology. That is the crux of the problem. Not to worry though… I’m not giving up on my search for the ultimate solution.

    By the way, it would be greatly appreciated if everyone could keep their comments regarding the video player, over at last week’s blog post. I’d like to try to keep the technology conversation in one place, rather than scattered all over the blog in different threads. Thanks for your cooperation.

    PS: Last week I posted some work around tips that may be helpful for some of you with older computers and/or slower Internet connections.

  17. Rebecca Chisenhall, 04 November, 2011

    Wouldn’t this technique make fabulous gift tags, just writing To/From on the back??? Then next Christmas, the recipient could use it as a Christmas ornament. Great tute! I love the Victorian-looking theme, as well.

  18. Hope M, 04 November, 2011

    So many ideas come to mind to use this technique! Thanks for sharing it!!

  19. pollyanna, 04 November, 2011

    love this tute. So easy but with a classy look. Now to find a photo copy place. I live in the boonies so to speak.

  20. Elizabeth S., 04 November, 2011

    Cindy, you’re amazing! You didn’t stop with just teaching the technique but figured out how to ensure success using the clay softener. I loved watching that precious little girl come to life in your capable hands.

    Now, to make this about me—–A few days ago I blogged about my husband’s “man cold” in a slightly ridiculing way. Well, the gods of runny noses (yes, the snot gods) have repaid my folly by laying me low with the same affliction with the addition of a honking cough that would scare even the heartiest of folks. Therefore, I cannot get out to get my photocopy made for a couple of days without getting “the look” from those wondering why I am spewing germs all over El Paso. Why am I sharing this not so lovely bit of info???? I am doing so because I am going to have to live vicariously through all of you until I can try this myself. Please, please please post pics of what you do with this tute. It will be like sending me pc chicken soup; it will raise my sagging spirits; it will get my white blood cells marching into battle against the evil honking goose cough and snot affliction; it will make me happy; it will keep me going in my time of need. (How’s that for a sappy attempt to garner sympathy?) The bottom line is that I think this is an awesome tute and can’t wait to see what everyone does. So, please?

  21. Elizabeth Kerr, 04 November, 2011

    Hi Elizabeth S, so sorry to hear about your affliction,or anyone else who has been thru this I know exactly what it is. I have had it, as have had many people here thru the winter here in Australia. I regret to say to you that it is not something you get over fast.
    I first got it in May this year and am not fully right yet, having still got the hackkng cough. just when you think it has gone, you start coughing again. they were saying it was a 100 day flu, well I am going towards the 200 day mark.
    hows that.
    I was very very sick with it in the first throws of it, and it keeps coming back. Here they thought it was Whooping Cough ,or Pheunmonia, and sure has laid me low ,my D and her DH were both in bed together with it. They are a lot better than me at least now.
    I have been to my Doc numerous times and just about bought the Chemist out of cough mix, which does no good at all. I hope those 200 days pass soon. for quite a while I could not even do my Poly clay and had to cancel classes more than once. Today I feel good, except for that hacking cough that creeps up on you, just when you think you dont have it anymore. So take all the sympathy you can get if you get,
    and keep claying when you can.
    Cindy, thanks for this nice tut on photo transfers, I have done it before but you always seem to come up with some new trick to heighten the experience, so thanks for that. love to all
    Elizabeth K. XXXX

  22. Elizabeth S., 05 November, 2011

    Sounds like this is a world wide virus. Sure hope you are on the down side of yours. When one from this group does not feel like claying you know they are not feeling well.

  23. Phaedrakat, 08 November, 2011

    Dear both Elizabeths~
    Get well soon, my sweet PC pals!!!

  24. Linda K., 09 November, 2011

    I agree. Please feel better, both of you.

  25. Brenda M, 04 November, 2011

    I love this technique. It is one of my favorite. Cindy the little tip you added to make the photo transfer easier is just Fab! I just wish I had a toner printer. I think I will add that to my Christmas list ;)

  26. Tantesherry, 04 November, 2011

    Good Morning Cindy,
    WOW, you are SO smart to figure out the advantage using clay softener ! How in the world did that come to you ? :) Did you dream it? I used to dream in/about polymer clay all the time (about 10 or so years ago when I first stumbled on to this wonderful medium.

    As you can see from my new picture ‘my baby’ nephew is now a little boy :) almost 5. Such a sweetie, the past 2 weeks have flown by and now he and my SIH (sister-in -heart) are back in Germany with my brother.

    Time to get back to work/play at my kitchen table :) w/ Christmas coming SO soon…

  27. Silverleaf, 04 November, 2011

    Transferring is one of the few techniques I haven’t tried at all, for some reason it never interested me that much. But I like the vintage effect and I can see this working really well with line drawings of birds (I love birds, and they are still very much “in”). I’ll have to have a play with this one if I can find some good images.

    I’m going to try using liquid Fimo, rather than the dilutent, since that’s what I have.

  28. Betty Collins, 04 November, 2011

    Wonderful!! Now another excuse to get a laser printer. Thanks for all the great colors and tutorials.

  29. Carolyn Fiene, 04 November, 2011

    Would Prismacolor pencils work? I just got a 24 pencil set. If they’d work I’d have to say … what timing! There are a gazillion makers of color pencils … some for watercoloring (those might not work) … It looked like you had a Crayola pencil – right? Have you tried Prismacolor? I used to do something like this with wedding invites … making the modpodge sheets and then adhering them to pine boards that I first antiqued around the edges. That process was iconage … do you remember it? Or are you too young …

  30. Cindy Lietz, 04 November, 2011

    I’ve seen the packages of Prismacolor pencils Carolyn, but haven’t tried them myself yet. As long as they are not the watercolor kind, I can’t see why they wouldn’t work. Try them and let us know!

    As far as the wedding invites you’re talking about, I am actually not familiar with the technique. Maybe I am too young… that would be nice for a change! :-)

  31. Linda K., 04 November, 2011

    Doug, this video ran very smoothly for me (Windows XP) as did last week’s. As I mentioned last week, before that I had several months of videos that kept locking up. This wasn’t just a buffering issue–I’d have to reboot my computer a couple of times to get through them. So I’m very happy with this version you’re using now.

    Cindy, this tut is right up my alley. Every Christmas I’ve been making an ornament for each of my 3 nieces. I try to do something different each year, and I love it when I can find a new technique that incorates their photos in the ornaments. This is the third week in a row that you’ve given me ideas for their ornies. Thanks!

  32. DawnB, 04 November, 2011

    Wow Cindy! Your transfer technique works so well for me and now you’ve added an enhanced version using the clay softener. Can’t wait to try this on the weekend!

  33. Dixie Ann Scott, 04 November, 2011

    What a neat tutorial Cindy! I am so excited because I have a library of The Dover Royalty Free designs. Adding the clay softner was
    a brillant idea. Are colored pencils the only media we should use to do the coloring or can we use other ones like gel pens, sharpies etc?
    I have never done this technique so am excited to try it. I think a lot
    of us will be heading to the copy shop or office to make our copies!
    Thanks again Cindy for another great tutorial!

  34. Cindy Lietz, 11 November, 2011

    I haven’t tried using gel pens or sharpies for this technique Dixie Anne so I have no idea if it would work or not. Why don’t you put on your Mad Scientist lab coat and try it out yourself? I’d love to hear if it works or not!

  35. Cherie, 05 November, 2011

    Wow!! Amazing tutorial. I love the vintage look too. I have so much I want to try out and I have to still get my home settled. I hope I’m able to get at least a couple done for Christmas.

  36. Koolbraider, 06 November, 2011

    (Smacks head with heavy hand after realizing a photocopier is only a mile away!) For ages now I have been getting copies of single page documents at the local hardware store. It never dawned on me that this was an honest-to-gosh toner copy machine. These are definitely great tree ornaments, as well as jewelry.

  37. Kathy G, 06 November, 2011

    Great tute! Thanks so much……I’ve tried endlessly to perfect image transfer even down to investing in a laser printer. I’ve only been able to successfully transfer images w/t-shirt transfer paper. Needless to say, I am excited to try the clay softener technique and rubbing more gently…..lol.

    Thanks, Cindy and Doug.

  38. Elaine Faulks, 08 November, 2011

    Hi Doug,

    Me again. Did all your trouble-shooting steps and at last was able to watch the two latest tutes. So thanks for your help and advice. It’s so good to know we can rely on your brain when ours is a bit rusty!!!

    Whoops gotta go, timer has gone off so will inspect my latest bunch of snowmen. Then to buy some clay softener as cannot wait to do the toner transfer, such a neat idea Cindy……..bye………xx

  39. Peggy, 11 November, 2011

    WOW – Just watched the tute again and I just want to remind everyone how much I love what Cindy and Doug do for us week after week and now even year after year. Still under the weather and probably will be for awhile but I so hope I can get a few of these made up to send as an extra in our Christmas cards this year.

    Holidays coming up and more stress on the way for most I hope it is a very happy stress. But when you get down just re-watch some of your favorites of Cindy’s and it is one relaxing medication FREE refresher I promise will make you feel much better. And also unlike a lot of meds MUCH MUCH cheaper to pay for.

    Many Uuuuugggs to all my wonderful clay friends.

  40. Elizabeth Kerr, 13 January, 2012

    Hi alI, have just gone over the tinted transfer tut, and looks like I was writing about when I had that terrible flu in our Winter. Yes it was nearly 200 days before I really really got over it. thanks for the wishes at the time. It was not nice.
    Just a point here about using a toner , as most people here said, they may go out and buy one, what I do is go to the Office works shop or any other place that prints things out for you , so no need to actually buy a laser printer. Here they are quite excy, and the toner roll itself is excy to replace,
    ,So go get anything you want printed.
    Sorry to be so late here, but was just looking back on some videos, which is a great thing about Cindys tutorials they are always there to look back on and help.
    bye, love to all
    Elizabeth K. XXX
    P.S. I too like the idea of the clay softner, great thought.

  41. Cheyrl B, 12 June, 2013

    Great tutorial to re-visit. It will do so nicely for image transfers onto my faux ivory tiles which I can then bake and etch making scrimshaw, as well as pics of our one and only granddaughter for x-mas ornaments for the other grandparents who had to move to Florida and are missing her terribly. I asked my son if they were thinking of having another baby and he asked me ” Have you met my daughter ” I guess that is a no for now, she really is a bundle of unique and very active. Can’t wait to teach her all that I am learning.

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