I have so many ideas about how to use my images and designs on lutradur, and I wanted to get more clarity on the difference between printing on it with Digital Ground and transferring onto it with TAP (Transfer Artist Paper). Building on my earlier attempts with these two products, I decided to print the same images on them and see what happened.
Since it’s springtime I’m surrounded by butterflies in our garden and our house — we’re raising some monarch butterflies from eggs that were laid on the milkweed in our garden. I’m going to put up a blog post about that, but if you want to see my closeup photographs now, visit the Monarch Butterflies gallery on my smugmug site.
It seemed natural, then, to do the experiment with some butterfly images. I took my photographs of a swallowtail butterfly and a monarch butterfly, and fashioned designs from one wing of each. First I printed the wings on lutradur that I had coated with white matte Digital Ground (see my prior posts for detailed instructions). I printed on the enhanced matte media and highest quality settings. Next I printed the same files onto TAP, using the settings that Lesley Riley recommends: plain paper and fine quality, and ironed the TAP onto the same weight lutradur.
The results are quite different. The monarch butterfly wing image on the right is the one I printed with the Digital Ground-coated lutradur, and the one on the left is the TAP transfer.
The DG print is much sharper, you can see more detail, whereas the resolution of the TAP wing is blurrier. The colors on the TAP transfer are more saturated than the DG print. I had the same results with the swallowtail design. You can see more vividly the difference in the color saturation.
This time, the print on the right is the TAP transfer, and the other one I printed using Digital Ground.
Another difference is how the back of the wing looks. In this photo, the back of the swallowtail wing on the right is the TAP transfer. As you can clearly see, the image is much more visible from the back than the one on the left, the DG print.
Another difference I can’t photograph is how the wings feel. TAP transfers are made of polymer, and the wing just feels a bit thicker than the DG print.
I haven’t priced out the difference in using TAP and DG, but in terms of time and effort, using the TAP is easier and quicker because coating the lutradur with Digital Ground takes longer to do and is more work than just ironing on the TAP.
Overall, I would choose one or the other method depending on what I wanted my end result to be. The main benefit of the TAP is that you can just print it and iron, no need to prepare the lutradur. However, the resolution of my images is extremely important to me.
I’m starting to post some earrings I’ve made from the wings on my artfire or etsy store, if you’re interested in checking them out. I also have an online class that will teach you how to print on lutradur yourself.