Thursday, January 23, 2020

Personalized Photo Printing with Gelli Arts® by Jo Lawson

Greetings Gelli Arts® creators! Jo Lawson here with my favorite gel printing technique, with a new twist. As you might know, one of my favorite ways to use the gel plate is with magazines to create image transfers. Now, I have figured out a way to use my own photos!

Here is my creative process......


January and February are FULL of celebrations and birthdays in my life. So many of my friends and family love my art, especially the image transfers I create using magazines, so I wanted to find a way to make them more personal and use them as one-of-a-kind gifts. Everyone loves a personal photo, and I wanted mine to be a little extra and something truly special that I would love to create. 

So the research began...

The first thing I had to figure out was what type of paper on which to print my photos and where I could find it. With a quick Google search, I discovered that Vogue magazine (one of the best I have found to create gel prints from) uses M-real's Galerie Fine Gloss 80gsm paper. Now, this can be ordered in bulk from the website... however it is mainly sourced to large companies that print brochures, magazines, etc. I set out to find an alternative that would better suit my needs (and wallet) and found an article citing Xerox Bold Digital printing paper (glossy brochure paper). I ordered a ream and set to work. 

With the right paper in hand, a LaserJet printer (I have a Brother), high viscosity Liquitex® paints, and my gel printing supplies, I finally had all the tools necessary to make this dream a reality. Come on this journey with me and explore all the possibilities this process holds. Use this tutorial as a guide and then make it your own! Get creative!

For a list of all products used in this project, please see the materials section at the end of the post.
Personalizing your image transfer prints...


For the best instructions, please view the video tutorial above. Below are a few extra tips. 

1. Start by picking out a few photos you want to turn into gel prints. Just like when printing with magazines, look for images that have:
● strong focal points
● simple backgrounds
● high contrast

2. Once you have chosen your images, convert them to black and white using whatever photo editing software you have and prefer. 

3. Adjust the contrast and exposure of each photo if necessary.

4. Print photos on brochure paper using a LaserJet printer.

5. Bust out your favorite Gelli Arts® gel plates!

6. Apply high viscosity Liquitex® paint to gel plate. Try to get an even layer of paint- not too thin, not too thick. The balance is important with this type of image transfer. Perseverance is key: if at first you don't succeed, try try again! Stick with it and try not to get frustrated. It takes practice.

7. Place your image, face down, on the paint and burnish.

8. Lift (image should be a "ghost" print on the plate) and remove any undesired paint on the edges of print. 

Note: if there is only paint and no image, you used too much paint. If there is no paint and no image, you did not use enough paint.

9. Immediately print with cardstock or paper of your choice. BURNISH!

10. Voila! Add embellishments around the edge of the print to make it special. Perhaps use your favorite stencil and inks, like me!


The end result is amazing! All my loved ones immortalized in gel prints!
To make these truly gift worthy, find a nice frame with a mat and finish them off. Anyone would LOVE to receive these personalized, one of a kind gifts on their birthday or for any celebration. 

  • Gelli Arts® 8 x 10” printing plate
  • Gelli Arts® 4" Roller
  • Xerox Bold Digital printing paper (brochure paper)
  • Liquitex® Basics acrylic paints (high viscosity works best)
  • scissors/cutting tool
  • laser jet printer
  • frame with mat
  • personal photos
  • photo editing software
  • various stencils

Happy Photo Printing!

If you tried this technique, be sure to share with us @GelliArts and #GelliArts !

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  1. Oh, fun! I figured there should be a way to do this with your own photos. Thank you for doing the hard work of figuring out how! Do you think it would also work using Stazon Ink? I haven't tried this with the permanent ink, but it's on my list of "to dos"!

  2. Interest tips, Johanna; I've been looking for a good way to do this! When you say "high viscosity," do you mean Liquitex Heavy paints? Also, have you tried this process with color prints in addition to black & white?

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Apparently Xerox Bold Coated Gloss Digital Printing Paper has been discontinued. Any other suggestions for what might work with this process?

    1. Hello! From our search, we are still able to find the paper.

      Here's a link for you- hope that helps!

    2. Is the one in the link the one Jo Lawson used? I was able to find the paper in that link but it is not glossy and did not work at all with this process. That's why I thought perhaps she had used the gloss version.

    3. Hello! You're correct- she did use glossy and the previous link is not glossy.

      Here is another brand of the same glossy paper that will work for this technique!

  4. If you have photo editing capacity such as photoshop, convert to black and white and then try out some of the filters, such as "stamp" or "sketch". This will further stylize your image, if you are after less verisimilutude.


Thanks so much for taking the time to comment on our blog! We hope you find it fun and helpful in your artistic endeavors!

We will try our best to answer your questions and provide good, helpful information in a timely manner.

We look forward to hearing from you and thank you for stopping by!

Happy Printing!
Gelli Arts®

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