How to Transfer a Photo Onto a Mug

Updated March 23, 2017

Running out of gift ideas for the grandparents,the teachers and the coaches on your list? A personalised mug with a photo of the grandchildren, schoolhouse or soccer team can be a sure winner. Transferring a photo onto a mug is an inexpensive, thoughtful gift for any occasion and it is very easy to create. You can use one photo or a different photo on each side. Just use your imagination.

Purchase a smooth, plain, light-coloured ceramic mug. Select the photo to put on the mug and scan it into your computer or download the photo from your camera into your photo software. If you need photo software, Picasa is a free program and Adobe Photoshop offers a free trial period.

Open the photo in your photo software and cut away (crop) the unwanted portions. Save the part of the photo you would like to transfer onto the mug.

Add any text you would like to include onto the picture by clicking "Add/Edit Text on a Photo." Choose a colour for the text that is easy to see and that complements the photo.

Print a sample image to make sure it is what you would like to use and to check the size of the photo. If the photo needs to be made smaller or larger click on "Print" and use the "Print Layout" window to choose the correct size.

Print the selected image on the water slide decal paper, which can be purchased at art supply stores and online. Trim the image the way you would like it to appear on the mug.

Place the decal paper in water until the edges curl and you can lift off the design. Arrange the design on the mug and let dry. The image can be sealed with a resin sealer, which can be found at arts and crafts stores.


Placing the finished mug in the dishwasher may cause the design to lift off. Washing by hand is recommended.

Things You'll Need

  • Smooth ceramic mug
  • Photo
  • Printer
  • Water slide decal paper
  • Inkjet printer
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About the Author

Martha Burg has been writing since her retirement in 2007. She has traveled extensively and resided in Germany for several years. Burg received certifications working with circuitry and electricity and assisted in writing training and procedural manuals while working in the telecommunications field for 20 years.