Step Two: Choosing the wood you wish to transfer onto and its characteristics.
The lighter the better. If you want your photo to be as true as possible to what it was on paper, choose a wood that is very light in color
The whites (highlights) in your photograph will be the color of the medium onto which you put your picture. For example: printing your photo on a white piece of paper makes the highlights white. There is no white ink printing the highlights (that would be pointless).
The same applies to transferring your photo onto wood. When you print your photo on a laser printer (before transferring it to wood), it uses the white paper to fill in the highlights. When you transfer your photo onto wood, that white paper color is no longer there (because you have slowly peeled the paper away); it has been replaced with the color of the wood you’ve chosen to transfer onto.
So now that you know what to expect in your picture’s highlights, choosing the color of the wood you are transferring onto is an important step.
Choosing a wood that is too dark (or maybe too light) may ruin the overall feeling of the photograph that you were going for. Also, since this process of transferring onto wood takes hours, if not days, you will be wasting your time producing a sub-par print on wood. Nobody wants that. So, when in doubt, go light.
Lighter woods will be the closest to what your photo looks like on paper. On the other hand, be wary of yellow woods. Sure they’re light, but they can also give an unwanted yellow tone to your photo once transferred.
If experimentation is your thing, by all means, have a field day; go dark, go light, go color! Just keep in mind the background color will be the color of your highlights.
Knots and Grain:
Knots are bad, mmkay? Especially for transferring photos with people in them. Your sister, or mom, or boyfriend won’t appreciate the beautiful wood print of the two of you that you’ve just spent two days on if they have a dark brown spot on the tip of their nose or in the middle of their forehead or covering one eye (unless they’re a pirate).
There are products out there that make wood panels with as little knots as possible. If those aren’t an option for you, try to position your photo onto the wood so the knots don’t take away from the image.
Wood grain can be just as big a pain as knots.
If you’ve picked out your nice light-colored wood, the next step (after looking at knots) would be to notice the grain. Consider what a heavy dark stripe of wood grain will do to your photograph. Maybe it’ll fit with your photo’s vibe. More often than not, it won’t. And more often than not, it will end up in exactly the wrong place in your photograph that you would have liked it to have been.
Try to find lighter woods, but also with very little knots and very fine and/or light colored wood grain.
Again, experimenters may want knots and grain for artistic flair. Just be mindful of where they’ll end up.
How Are You Going To Hang It?
So, you have this amazing piece of wood picked out: light-colored birch wood with no knots and very fine, light-colored grain. Perfect! Now, how are you going to hang it once all is said and done?
*flipping the piece of wood over and all you see is another flat side of wood*
If you are absolutely in love with that piece, a simple solution to hanging it would be attaching a sawtooth picture hanger to the back. This solution, however, may not let the wood print sit flush on the wall. The top of the wood print will be leaning forward away from the wall slightly due to the bulk of the picture hanger and nail sitting behind it. You can decide whether this is a deal breaker or not.
Another choice would be to choose a piece of wood with hanging in mind. Some art stores sell wood panels that are cradled. This means the panel of wood has a wood frame attached on the back (similar to a canvas print) so as to accommodate a nail or hanging wire. The piece can then sit flush against the wall when hung.
Once you have your photo and your piece of wood chosen, you can move onto the next step: making the transfer.