OPTION 1: SEAL THE PAINTABLE TRANSFER WITH A FLAT SEALER.
Whichever sealer you use, you want it to work with your coloring medium without causing excessive beading. Beading means that it won’t sit still, and it wants to move into little balls. Water-based mediums like watercolors, will bead on slick surfaces. Some sealers will cause beading with these mediums, and some won’t. If you choose a sealer that does cause a little beading action with your medium, one option is to counteract that by buffing the dried sealer lightly but thoroughly with a fine sanding sponge with a 220 grit, to give it some tooth.
Alternately, you can use a ground that is specifically designed to mimic a porous surface, like a clear “watercolor ground”, or a clear gesso. We personally like to use the General Finishes flat out flat sealer and most of the time we don’t need to scuff it. The two upsides that I personally like when sealing my transfer prior to tinting are A) I have more open time with the medium so I can more easily blend it or even remove it if needed. it’s more forgiving than a more porous surface and B) It makes the paint and the transfer the same sheen, so they both respond to the mediums the same way.
OPTION 2: LEAVE THE PAINTABLE TRANSFER UNSEALED AND COLOR IN.
You don’t have to seal prior to tinting if you don’t want to, and whether you choose to will largely be affected by what medium(s) you are tinting with. For example, if you want to use watered down chalk paint or a really watery medium, it’s easier to control without beading on the surface that has not been sealed (unless you use one of the aforementioned sealers like a watercolor ground which is intended to make a porous surface for watery mediums). Another upside- It’s also one less step. Downside: If you are using mediums that are grabbing quickly, you have less open time and it’s less forgiving. In fact, many mediums move like magic on a sealed surface described in Route 1.
TINTING YOUR PAINTABLE IOD TRANSFER
There are so many different mediums that you can use with the IOD Paintable Transfers. Some of the qualities that I look for when using them for large pieces like furniture are:
Lightfastness. This is a property of a colourant such as dye or pigment that describes how resistant to fading it is when exposed to light. Dyes and pigments are used for example for dyeing of fabrics, plastics or other materials and manufacturing paints or printing inks. (Wikipedia)
Permanency. This is somewhat flexible because as long as a medium is lightfast, then the permanency can be enhanced by the sealer that goes over it, even if the medium itself is not considered permanent.
Translucency. For the purpose of tinting our IOD Paintables, we tend to favor a medium that is translucent and therefore will allow the lines to show through even if they are painted over. That said, chalk paint is very opaque, and can be made transparent by diluting with water. This method works fabulously, so keep that in mind when considering opacity and translucency.
TINT/PAINT MEDIUMS YOU CAN USE WITH PAINTABLE TRANSFERS
Big Brush Pitt Pens by Faber Castell. We adore these pens. They are different than most artists pens available, because they are made with India Ink, and therefore have a high lightfast rating. They are also marketed as “permanent”, though that may be affected by the surface they are used on, and I believe they have more movability even after initially dry, on a sealed surface. They come in about 50ish colors and are very vibrant. We actually find that I need to tone them down a little bit after we're done coloring a project, but we can live with that because it’s easier to tone down than to amp up color saturation and intensity. You can use these with a barely damp water brush and they move like silk over a sealed transfer. You can also get these pens in a thinner version which is less expensive and comes in sets. The brush tip is smaller and not quite as cool, but you might try it before investing in the larger more expensive option.
Diluted chalk paint. This works fabulously and you can get very watercolor like effects. It takes a minute to get your dilution right, and that will vary by brand. Play. I’ve used both on sealed and unsealed with excellent results. Sometimes you want muted earthy tones, and this is probably the way to go for that.
Dr. PH Martin Bombay India Ink. These have an excellent lightfastness rating. They have intense and saturated color. They aren’t as convenient as the Faber Castell big brush pens, BUT, you can premix colors in whatever shade you like, and if you love using a real artists paint brush, you may want to dive into these. They are lovely. Test for beading on whatever surface you use them on.
Dr. Ph Martin’s Hydrus Liquid Watercolors. These are lightfast and pigment rich liquid watercolors. Not all liquid watercolors have a high lightfast rating, so you should check before using if you need good lightfastness.
Water soluble crayons such as Tim Holtz distress crayons. We love these silky creamy crayons. They go on like "buttah" and are more pigment rich than other water soluble crayons we've tried. However, they do not have a high lightfast rating. They are great for smaller projects. You can also enhance the lightfastness rating by using an appropriate UV sealer, but we don’t know how much that increases it.
Alcohol Inks and Copic Markers. These are such great mediums for projects where lightfastness is not required. We would not recommend them for using on furniture.
Acrylic Inks. We haven't tried these yet, but they're on our to-do list. Some of them are reported to have great lightfastness, so we'll let you know when we get to the bottom of that business.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, it’s just a few of the top options we’ve loved so far. When you find new ones that you love, be sure to share with us!
After you have tinted your IOD Paintable Transfer, you will want to seal it. IF your medium remains reactive when dry(that means that adding liquid will cause it to smear), then you will need to avoid brushing on a sealer which could smear it. In this case, you will want to use a sprayable option. Even if you do a light misting to set it, and then brush on your favorite sealer.
There are so many creative possibilities with Paintable Transfers, allow yourself to have fun and enjoy the process.
IOD Transfers are a little delicate, need a little extra care, but are so worth it. With a little instruction, they are easy to use and add instant style to your projects. (Make sure to check out our new White Transfers for a beautiful design on your deeper richer colors! )
PREPARATION IS KEY.
Keep your transfer with its backing sheet until you are ready to apply. Keep free of dust or debris, which will interfere with adhesion. Do not allow the adhesive side of transfer to touch anything prior to application. When handling the transfer, avoid letting the adhesive side touch itself (don’t do in a windy environment). Do not store transfer in extreme temperatures or humid conditions, which can affect adhesion.
Start with a clean, dry, matte surface. If painted, make sure it’s well cured, and if you have sanded the paint make certain there is no residual dust. All of these things will interfere with adhesion. For best adhesion, seal your project surface with a high quality, water-based polyurethane sealer in matte before applying a transfer.
Carefully remove the transfer from its white backing. Slowly and carefully lower the transfer onto your intended surface, making sure that it does not touch until the placement is correct. Use small pieces of low tack tape to hold it in place.
Using the provided tool, or one of your choice, start at one end of the transfer and rub firmly to adhere the image to the surface. Do this until the entire image is transferred. You are welcome for the free arm workout as well. If any parts aren’t transferred when you lift, simply lay it back down and rub more on that portion. After it is transferred, with a clean dry hand, smooth down any bits that aren’t flatly adhered.
We recommend sealing with a water based (or not harsh solvent based) sealer (waxes created for chalk type paints also work well if they don’t contain harsh solvents).