Découpage is a decorative technique in which you adhere paper to your chosen surface with glue and then seal it with varnish. Since any image will have the tendency to run when completely wet, it's recommended to use images printed with a laser printer. You can découpage images printed with an ink jet printer by lightly coating the image with a base coat of white glue mixed with water, and letting it dry before proceeding. Using a water-based varnish will further eliminate any risk of your ink bleeding.
Use sandpaper to sand any unfinished wood. Sweep over the surface with a dry paintbrush or vacuum to remove all dust. If you are decoupaging onto painted wood, the paint must be water-based. This will lower the risk of your ink bleeding.
Wash any glass you are using and let it dry completely.
Paint any metal you are using with rust-resistant paint and allow it to dry. Apply two or three coats of a water-based paint, and let the paint dry thoroughly.
Cut out your image using a craft knife. Angle the blade to the outside of the image to bevel the paper. This will keep the background from showing in your final piece.
Mix your white glue with a little water, if you are using ink jet prints or pages from magazines. Thin the glue until it spreads easily but is not too watery. Skip this step if you are using a laser printer copy or colour photocopy.
Coat your image with the watered-down glue, if you're using ink jet prints or pages from magazines. Let it dry. Skip this step if you're using a laser printer copy or colour photocopy.
Dip your brush in water, then in the glue. Apply the mixture to the back of your image, starting from the centre and working outwards.
Place the image as you wish on your prepared surface. Apply glue to the top of your image. Keep your brush wet, and work from the centre outwards.
Use your fingertips to smooth out any air bubbles.
Keep your brush wet while applying glue, and clean thoroughly after use. Wear rubber gloves if you have sensitive skin.
Dried glue will ruin the brush bristles.