Monday, November 2, 2009

Fuji image transfer

How to make image transfers using Fuji instant film.
Instant Film processes in a minute or so. If the process is interrupted and the film is pulled apart, the dyes can be made to transfer to another surface, in this case called the 'receiver'. The imperfections of this process, including color shift and a unique texture, impart a unique 'look'.

Image right: Fuji instant film transfer on canvas paper by Jackie Smith.


The peel-apart Polaroid color films, such as Polacolor 669, are no longer manufactured. Fuji Film is now making films that are the same size and format as some of the Polaroid films. The Fuji films can be used in the same cameras that held the Polaroid films. The Fuji emulsions are, however, different in both appearance and chemical consistency. They also have a different 'look' and have more saturated color when they are transferred and use a somewhat different technique.

Instant-Film image transfers can now be made using Fuji 100c film. The process for making these is varies from the Polaroid in that the receiver should be dry, not wet, and the transfer is done in relative darkness. The process is detailed below.

Source Images


The media for the Source Images depends on the type of 'enlarger' that will be used. The Daylab Instant Slide Printer prints from transparencies. The Daylab Copy System Pro uses positive prints of approximately 4 x 6 inches. In both cases these can be from film or digital.


The outside of the final print will be 3.25 x 4.25", but the actual image area will be 2.18 x 2.75" or 5.5 x 7 cm. This is an aspect ratio of 1:1.2727... that is different than most cameras. A digital camera that shoots in 3:4 will be pretty close to this aspect ratio. Pictures from other camera end up getting cropped.

Produce Source Images either on Film or as Digital prints on any of the following media:

  • 35mm Color Transparency Film for use in a 35mm Format Daylab Jr. Instant Slide Printer
  • Medium Format Color Film 2.25 x 2.25, or
  • Digital Transparency Film at 2.18 x 2.75" [5.5 x 7 cm], for use in a Medium Format Daylab Instant Slide Printer
  • Color Prints on 4 x 6" paper, or -
  • Digital Prints on 4 x 5.23" paper [10.16 x 13.28 cm] for use in a Daylab Copy System Pro


Source Images should be intensified in three ways, to compensate for losses in the process:

  • oversaturate the colors in the print because the transfer will be less saturated
  • add extra contrast because the transfer will be more 'flat'
  • boost the reds because the red dyes do not transfer well


  • Daylab Instant Slide Printer or Daylab Copy System Pro
  • Hard brayer (rubber roller) as used in printmaking


  • Positive Source Image on either
    Transparency Film for use in a Daylab Instant Slide Printer
    Prints on Paper for use in a Daylab Copy System Pro
  • FujiFilm FP-100c peel-apart color Instant Film
  • Receiving Material
    Archival Printmaking Paper, such as Arches 88, Rives BFK, Crane, Stonehenge, etc. that is un-sized with a smooth surface (hot-press), 140 lb or more
    Some other porous receiver material (optional)

The Process

1. Prepare the receiver

Tear the paper or cut the receiver material to the desired size. Don't cut printmaking paper. The rough edge from tearing is desirable. Use an acid-free printmaking paper that has a smooth surface and is non-sized for the dry-transfer method that is better for Fuji Film, (as opposed to 'medium wet' for Polaroid film). Sizing in paper will produce a yellow cast.

If using some other receiver such as cloth, wood, etc. it has to be porous to receive the ink. It should also be light in color because the highlights of the picture are transparent – the highlights will be the color of the receiver, and not necessarily white.

2. Make an exposure
Expose a sheet of Fuji film using a Daylab Instant Slide Printer or Daylab Copy System Pro. See the Instructions that came with either machine for more specific details. Set the Film Type = 3 for Fuji 100c, which is the setting for ASA 100. [Polaroid 669 is ASA 80, Film Type = 2]

3. Turn off the lights
A small night-light on the other side of the room is acceptable so you can see where the print is going.

4. Partially develop the print
Pull the film straight out of the film holder with a smooth, even gesture after the exposure is made. Do not stop part of the way through or use a jerky motion. You will not get an even print.

Wait 19 seconds precisely, then pull the two sides of the Fuji Film sandwich apart quickly and evenly. Save the positive part of the film for other possible uses.

5. Transfer the print
Turn the Instant Film over and place it emulsion-side down on the receiver material. Roll with a hard brayer. Do not allow the negative to shift its position on the receiver. Use firm pressure for about 45 seconds. Then rub the back of the print with your fingers for another 45 seconds.

6. Turn the lights back on
The rest of this process may be done in normal room light.

7. Remove the Fuji film
After waiting about another minute, gently pull the Fuji negative away from the paper. Do not let it sit too long or the print will turn dark green. The duration will vary in different environments, depending on temperature and humidity.

Start in one corner and slowly peel back the negative. If the image does not stick to the receiver, try another corner. Sometimes bubbles can form, but these can be smoothed out carefully with your fingers.

8. Neutralize the print
Instant Film chemistry is a base (as opposed to acid), and should be neutralized. Soak in a weak acid such as lemon juice. The acid bath can also intensify the colors. Mix a solution of about 1 : 4 lemon juice to water. Immerse the print briefly with agitation.

Transfer the print to a running water bath for a couple of minutes. Finally, let the print air-dry.

Chemical safety

Always be careful when developing and handling Instant Film materials. When the Instant Film prints are pulled apart, the developing chemicals are exposed. These chemicals are toxic and somewhat caustic. Keep away from the skin and eyes.

Aesthetic considerations

The thing to remember is that "Form Supports Content". The surface of the Image Transfer has a textural quality and the colors in the print shift. You should look at a variety of Instant Film Transfer prints before you begin the process. Then you should consider how the process affects the appearance of the final image. Appropriate subject matter should be shot that will benefit from this process.

Also consider using black & white source images.

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