Acetone Image Transfer

If you’re looking for a technique to make your transfers look polaroid-like, look no further than an acetone transfer. Playing with Image Transfers shows you the steps to create the perfect transfer using a color image. The possibilities are endless when it comes to image transfers, and they can add a wonderful personal touch to a last minute gift idea.


Acetone transfers allow you to make a solvent-based transfer with a color image. You can also work with a larger image using this method. This type of transfer results in a more distressed, vintage feel, similar to a Polaroid transfer effect.



– black-and-white or color photocopy

– scissors

– paper, fabric, or other transfer surface

– cotton balls

– acetone

– bone folder or other burnishing too


1. Select a high-contrast image to transfer. Trim your photocopied image, leaving a ½-inch (1.3 cm) border. This gives you an area to hold the photocopy in place while transferring.


2. Place the photocopy face down on your chosen surface. This can be paper, a book page, smooth uncoated wood, or smooth fabric. (See A.) Dab the photocopy with a cotton ball saturated with acetone, about the same amount you’d use when removing nail polish. The paper will become transparent. While the paper is saturated, burnish the image with a bone folder. Don’t be afraid to burnish aggressively. Unlike the blender pen, this transfer needs a little more muscle. Don’t remove or shift the photocopy prematurely or you will blur the image.


3. Lift a corner and peek to see how the image is transferring. You will most likely repeat this process several times while transferring because certain areas will start to dry. Continue dabbing the surface and burnishing until the image is transferred.


4. Remove the photocopy to reveal the transfer. (See B.)


Acetone transfers are great because they can work with color photocopies. Overall, they can give a much more distressed look, which can be really beautiful, but keep in mind they result in a paler, more textured final image.