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Image transfer for engraving

I remember using something in school called chinese white that you could draw on. I watched a few image transfer videos and came up with this idea with things easily found. The hardest thing to find would be the Naptha but really you could get on without it. I use the naptha to thin white out so it’s a real smooth white wash. That dries quickly, after that just draw over it with any paper pattern and some carbon paper under it. It transfers beautifully into the white and it’s a somewhat durable layer. It won’t wipe right off you have to work it a little.


You can get Chinese White from any watercolor retailer in either block or tube form. It’s an opaque color and thins well with ordinary water (or spit!) You can also use it as a solder inhibitor. Another medium with similar properties is Liquid Paper (typewriter correction fluid.)

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Tony, do you mean the water-based or regular correction fluid or either type?

Either type of correction fluid will work - I prefer the regular as it dries faster.

Tony Konrath

It’s just a plain bottle of white out. I smelled it and it was familiar so I looked it up and it’s thinner is naptha. I had a bunch of that. It only takes a few drips and the little brush that comes with the whiteout and you can get a thin film on the metal. Without thinning it’s a little thick and streaky. I got the carbon paper at JoAnn fabrics in the fine art section. All cheap. The hardest part is shrinking a pattern to the size you need. Super clean line though.

Naptha is just Zippo or Ronson lighter fuel. I’ve heard it said that Ronson has less additives than Zippo, but Zippo has worked for me when I need Naptha.

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You could try using PnP paper. You photocopy an image on the paper, and then you transfer the image onto your metal with heat. I’ve used it for etching, but you could use it for engraving as well.

not a fan of Chinese white. drawing on it you must use a very fine tipped pencil press too hard and it does flake off. I gave up using it.
if you have a laser printer ( not the new plastic ink or ink jet) you can print your design which you can reduce easily and print out on plain paper. prepare your metal clean it off and get the finish you desire.
place the design face down , with a clean piece of flannel or other 100% cotton cloth moisten it with acetone sparingly and press down on the design for a few seconds, remove the cloth when the acetone flashes off pull off your paper if done correctly this is the crispest design layout you can use imho.
Or you can use beeswax warmed with your thumb and tamped down on your surface then draw on your design.
sooner or later you need to be able to draw your designs imho again.