Experimental: Sellotape-printing

Sellotape printing (also known as sellotape transfer), although not a form of digital experimentation,  has always been one of my favorite form of experimentation.
It’s one of the most simplest techniques and I’ve used it so many times in my A-level Art Sketchbooks simply because it’s fun, I love the final effect and it can be done using practically any image.
It doesn’t require hours of editing on Photoshop/Photomatix and all you need is a simple print-out of an image, some sellotape and water.

So all this about sellotape printing but:

What is sellotape printing?

I’m going to break it down as simply as possible and will provide a step-to-step guide.
Sellotape printing is as the name applies, printing an image or more appropriately termed ‘transferring an image’ onto sellotape and unlike a lot of the digital techniques I have recently discovered, sellotape printing doesn’t require any high-tech equipment or the latest editing software.
All you need is

  • Sellotape
  • A photograph of your choice printed on normal plain paper
  • A bucket of water
  • Your fingers (or maybe a sponge)

It’s a perfect technique to use when producing mixed-media prints/ pieces of artwork.
Some examples of sellotape printing are shown below:

sellotape transfer    Printgas masking tape print

For this experimentation I will be using one of the image from the ‘Experimentation: Shiny!‘ post.
I personally find that using a colored image produces a better result but for the purpose of this experiment, I’m going to be using a monochrome or B&W version.
The image I will be using:


I would like to slightly alter the image and have decided to apply the monochrome preset on photomatix, this can also be done on Photoshop (which I’ll also be showing).

There are are many ways to change a colored image to Black & White, the results are more or less the same.

Bulb b w
Done using Photomatix
bulb photoshop
Done using Photoshop
Adjust exposure to reduce the darker shades
Adjust exposure to reduce the darker shades

Lets begin!

Step 1:
After you have selected your image, load it to Microsoft Word and adjust the size accordingly.
Print it.

Step 1

Step 2

Place the image on a hard surface and begin covering the front of the image with sellotape as shown below. Make sure to cut strips and each time you tape down a new strip, ensure that it overlaps the first. You don’t want any gaps where the paper shows through. The whole image must be covered with tape.

Step 2 Step 2

DSC_0261 Sellotape Transfer

Step 3

Place the image face down (sellotape-side down) in a bucket or tray of water. You don’t need to fill the whole bucket, the key is to submerge the image. I find that lukewarm water works particularly well.
As I have done this before, I’m just going to use the worktop table.

Step 3

Step 4

Wait for the water to soak through the sheet and after a while  use a sponge or your fingertips to gently rub at the paper.
Keep rubbing until the tape underneath is exposed.

Step 4 Step 4

Step 5

Rinse the sheet and get rid of any paper residue. You should now be left with a just the print.
Leave to dry.

Step 4

Final result!

Final result

I regard this experiment an overall success.
Having said that, there are improvements that I personally think would have produced a finer result.
Like I previously mentioned, through personal experience I have found that using a colored image to carry out this technique generally does produce a better result.
Compared to the black & white, a colored image retains a lot more of the detail whereas with the black & white image; detail is lost during the process.
Sometimes the loss of detail is caused when a sponge is used or the paper is rubbed off too vigorously, but in this case it’s just the image I chose to experiment with. Choosing a image with sharper lines and high contrast would have ensured that detail is not lost, one can say that the image chosen was ‘weak’.

I’m satisfied with the final result though.
I like the effect produced, how despite there being a loss of detail, you can still make out the image when placed on a suitable background.

It’s always been one of my favorite image-transfer techniques and safe to say that I’ll probably be using it again in another project or assignment.

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