How to Print Photos on Coffee Mugs

Written by carl carabelli
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How to Print Photos on Coffee Mugs
You can enhance a plain mug by adding a photo. (Mug Or Cup image by MrGreenBug from

A photo mug is a creative and clever gift to give a loved one for any occasion. While there are many vendors who will create one for you at a price, you may be better served making one on your own. It will likely cost you less money and the extra effort you put into your gift will almost certainly be appreciated by the recipient.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Coffee mug
  • Digital camera
  • Computer
  • Graphics software
  • Inkjet printer
  • Water slide decal paper
  • Fixative spray

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  1. 1

    Measure the area of the mug where you are planning to affix the photo. You will need to know the exact size prior to printing.

  2. 2

    Take several photos of the intended subject of the photo mug. You want to have a few choices before making a final decision. Even if you like the first one, you may take a subsequent picture that you like even better. If you already have a picture you would like to use saved on your PC, skip ahead to Step 4.

  3. 3

    Upload your digital photos to your computer. Save them in directory where you will be able to view the photos side-by-side to help you choose the best one.

  4. 4

    Open the image on your computer using graphics software. Most PCs have basic graphics programs pre-installed, if you can’t afford one or do not have the inclination to purchase one.

  5. 5

    Edit the photo so it will fit on the mug. Use the selection tool to highlight the area you want visible and crop the rest out. You can also use the software (depending on its capabilities) to remove red eye, add text or change the background. It’s up to you.

  6. 6

    Size the photo using the “Properties” or “Page Setup” option. Mirror the measurements you made in Step 1. If you cannot find where to resize the photo, you can consult the graphics program’s “Help” function.

  7. 7

    Insert the water slide decal paper so that your photo will print on the glossy side. Use white paper if the mug is coloured or clear paper if the mug is white. Print the photo.

  8. 8

    Spray the photo with fixative spray and place it aside to let it dry completely.

  9. 9

    Cut out the image and place it in water until the decal lifts off of the page.

  10. 10

    Affix the decal to the mug. Blot it carefully and set your completed photo mug aside to dry.

Tips and warnings

  • Print the photo on plain white paper before using the water slide decal paper. This will prevent wasting the good paper if there is an error in the size calculation.
  • Preserve your photo mug longer by hand washing. Using the dishwasher will fade the image quickly.

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