Foam Tattooing (Graphics Transfer)
Every gotten a tattoo. Well if you have this process might be a bit familiar. Transfer your graphics printed on a printer to foam with an old fax machine.
This is a process that I started developing in June 2022 where I needed to print a classrooms worth of Tombstone graphics and transfer them to foam for carving. The process is a near identical process to what tattoo artists sometimes do where they scan the image they plan to tattoo on a thermal copier. The copy produces a ink transfer that when your skin is moisturized it transfers the ink to your skin as a guide for the artist to tattoo. Since extruded polystyrene is pores as well, I figure might as well see if it works. With the right moisture catalyst... it is possible and works very well!

  • Thermal Copier Printer (Amazon)
  • Stencil Transfer Paper for Tattooing
  • Foam Brush (1-3 inch width)
  • Spray Bottle

  • Blue Dawn Dish Soap
  • Water

For this process to work you will need a moisture catalyst that distributes the right amount of moisture for the transfer to be clean. Too much moisture and you will get a mess of ink and no discernable text or image to guide your carving.

For this mix you will need dish soap and water... that is it. I have tested only with the blue Dawn dish soap so it is recommended to use that for equal results. That does not mean you can't use other dish soaps, this is just what I have tested.

50/50 mix of dish soap and water.
  1. 1.
    In the container you are using to mix the components, start with adding the water.
  2. 2.
    Add equal parts dish soap.
  3. 3.
    When mixing together do not agitate vigorously or you will create suds. Just more to deal with when you make suds.

It is recommended that you use a spray bottle to dispense the mixture.

This has been one of the most rewarding processes to come up with. It is really easy and when testing this with people, I explained how to do it for literally 1 minute and the entire group was able to repeat the process with zero help. I hope this helps in your prop making processes.

Well... Using your standard printer, print the desired graphics you want to carve in the foam. Make sure the graphics are converted to a black and white color palate.

For this process you will need a Thermal Copier and Transfer Paper. Using the instructions that came with the machine and the graphics you have printed create a copy of your graphics using the transfer paper. This may need a bit of trial and error to get it right. My machines require the mirror setting on and "deepness II".

Coming Soon!

Coming Soon!

Even though I do not guarantee reusability of the transfer beyond 1 piece, in user testing, the group unprompted just starting passing common pieces around and were able to use them 3-4 times. So do this on your own judgement, testers did prove that this was possible.
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On this page
Tools and Supplies
Tools
Supplies
The Potion (Moisture Catalyst)
The Ingredients and Ratio
The Process
Printing Your Graphics
Creating A Transfer
Pre-Made Transfers
Applying the Moisture Catalyst
Laying the Transfer
Reusability