In this waterslide decal tutorial, I will show you how to create a waterslide image by removing the background and provide a few tips on how to make waterslide tumblers and mugs.
I made this mug the other day for our family friends. I thought the phrase “ruff life” was quite fitting for dear little Milo here given he probably lives the most pampered puppy life I’ve ever known.
A little irony always makes your coffee taste better.
I was going to make a pillow for Milo as well but didn’t get around to it so it will have to be another project for some other day.
In the meantime, I’d like to share some of the graphics I designed but haven’t turned into a project yet with all of you.
These dog lover SVGs are all free and available in my resource library.
Waterslide Paper and other Materials
*this article contains affiliate links for your convenience, see full disclosures here
Waterslide Paper – There are two broad types, Waterslide paper for Inkjet Printers and Waterslide paper for Laser Printers. I used the Laser Printer paper because I didn’t want to add a sealant to my mug which is something you have to do to make the Inkjet ink waterproof.
Scissors or Cutting Machine – Most waterslide paper comes with a clear background so there’s no need to be super precise with cutting the outline. However, if you are making a bunch and want to save yourself blisters from too much scissor usage, I would recommend the Cricut which is what I use. Here are a few recommendations on which Cricut Machine is best for Beginners.
Base Material – Waterslide paper is actually just a really thin sheet of paper so it works best on smooth surfaces that you can wet like ceramic, plastic or glass. It also works on smoother wood surfaces. Here’s a super affordable set of basic white mugs from Amazon.
Sealant (for Inkjet printing) – Any acrylic sealer like this Mod Podge Clear Sealer will work.
How to make a waterslide image by removing the background
There are a couple of reasons you might want to remove the background from your image. One, it saves a lot of ink. Secondly, if you are cutting the image on your cutting machine, it makes for a more precise outline around the subject of interest.
If your image has a simple, clean background, you can most likely just use the native software available for your cutting machine like Cricut Design Space.
For more business backgrounds, I use Clipping Magic, a browser-based automated background remover.
It is way more accurate then all the other available software out there and the best part is it’s all automated. You just upload your image and it just automatically removes the background without any additional work.
This is a great tool if you plan on selling personalized waterslide mugs or accessories. It save so much time and creates a great result with no learning curve.
DIY Waterslide tumblers and mugs
This really doesn’t get any easier. The hardest part of all of this is making sure your image works on the choice of surface. Most waterslide decal paper comes in transparent sheets.
They do this because it is easier to cut around the subject of the image. However, transparent also means your image is going to look a little different. It won’t be as vibrant because it won’t have white background and spots with no color will show the material behind it.
Just keep that in mind when you are making your waterslide image and choosing what items to place it on.
Step 1: Print and cut your design and gather your tumbler or mug
In this example, I decided to make the text out of black vinyl instead of the waterslide paper. Be sure to apply the non-waterslide pieces first as your waterslide paper will need a few hours to dry.
When printing the image, be sure to mirror the image as in flip it along a vertical axis.
Step 2: Soak the waterslide decal cutout
I then soak each cut out for about 30 seconds in some water. I then place it image side down on the surface. The paper backing should slide right off. At this point, I would smooth out any air bubbles in the print out part left and make minor adjustments sliding it in place.
After the air bubbles are out and it is in position, let it dry, it will take 2-3 hours depending on your climate.
Step 3: Sealing your waterslide decal
If you made this on something that does not need to be washed, you are all set.
If you used an inkjet printer and want to ensure the image does not smear, be sure to seal the image after it has dried completely. Use the spray sealant recommended above.
If you intend on doing some heavy duty washing of your item, I would also seal the item. Just be sure to do this in a well ventilated area.