How to Print a Photo on a Mug

Written by s.c. palmer
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How to Print a Photo on a Mug
Custom mugs make a great gift. (tim mug image by timur1970 from

If you're looking for a unique gift idea, why not try giving your friends and family customised mugs? You can print a photo or custom design on a coffee mug for everyone you know. While there are hundreds of online businesses that can do this for you, you will have more creative leeway if you make them yourself. While it might appear tricky, it's actually fairly easy to do when you have the right materials.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Computer
  • Digital photo
  • Photo editing software
  • Measuring tape
  • Ceramic mug
  • Transfer paper
  • Printer
  • Bowl
  • Fixative spray

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  1. 1

    Find an appropriate digital photo. You can either take one from your digital camera or scan a photo into your computer.

  2. 2

    Open your photo in your image editing software. Flip the image so it will appear correctly when it's on the mug. The easiest way to do this is to measure your mug with measuring tape, and then resize the photo to match those dimensions.

  3. 3

    Resize the photo so it will fit on your mug.

  4. 4

    Correct any flaws with your photo. Printers tend to make images darker than they appear on screen, so you might want to brighten it or adjust the contrast.

  5. 5

    Load your photo transfer paper into your printer. Insert the paper so the glossy side will have the printed image on it.

    How to Print a Photo on a Mug
    Any standard printer should be able to print on transfer paper. (paper feed image by Glenn Jenkinson from
  6. 6

    Adjust your printer preferences. Most printers will have a drop-down menu for transfer paper. If yours does, select that.

  7. 7

    Print out your decal. After each printing, examine the photo to make sure it looks right. You may need to adjust the photo before you get it exactly how you want it. Don't touch the photo before the ink has enough time to dry.

  8. 8

    Cut the photo out of the transfer paper. Excess paper will make it difficult to transfer.

  9. 9

    Prepare your mug. This works best with a white mug with no surface texture or detailing. Wash the mug, and allow it to dry before trying to transfer the photo.

    How to Print a Photo on a Mug
    A simple white ceramic mug is best for photo transfers. (white mug 1 image by David Asch from
  10. 10

    Place the transfer in a bowl of water. Take it out when the glossy sheet begins to peel.

  11. 11

    Peel the backing layer off. Do this carefully so you don't rip the photo.

  12. 12

    Place the decal on the mug. Firmly press down on the decal, rubbing out any wrinkles or air bubbles. Don't allow the transfer to move around on the mug as that will smudge the photo.

  13. 13

    Peel the transfer sheet off the mug. If the photo is still stuck to the sheet, stick it back to the mug and press down firmly.

  14. 14

    Spray the mug with fixative spray. Allow it to dry thoroughly.

Tips and warnings

  • If you don't have a printer or photo editing software, take your transfer paper and digital photos to any copy shop. They can print your photos on the paper for you.
  • Use fixative spray in a well ventilated area.

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