How to Print on Tissue Paper

Tissue paper printed with tiny hearts used to make baking cups

The Spruce / Lesley Shepherd

Overview
  • Total Time: 60 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner

You can purchase pre-made patterned tissue paper, but it's often much more expensive than plain tissue paper. For an economical approach to creating patterned tissue paper, consider making your own. You can customize the design to fit specific holidays, personal tastes, and other preferences. Custom tissue paper can be a thoughtful touch to any wrapped gift. And you can use it for craft projects, such as tissue paper flowers.

This tutorial explains how to fix tissue paper to a paper backing, so the flimsy tissue won't jam the printer. It is a quick and easy process. You can use this method to print sheets of custom tissue just slightly smaller than the largest paper size that will fit in your printer. A laser printer is best if you want the ink to be stable in moist conditions. If you use an inkjet printer, you might want to spray the paper with a fixative to prevent the ink from running. Before you begin, have a design picked that you want printed on the tissue paper, and make sure to size it according to your paper size.

Tip

If you have the option, start with an economy ink cycle on your printer to see how that colors the tissue paper. Tissue paper is more absorbent than regular printer paper, so it might take less ink to achieve the results you want. Move to a higher ink setting if necessary.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Brayer, acrylic roller, or glass jar
  • Printer
  • Iron (optional)
  • Paper fixative/sealant (optional)

Materials

  • Tissue paper
  • Plain printer paper (enough to cover however much tissue you're making)

Instructions

  1. Prepare the Backing Paper

    Cut the plain printer paper for the backing to fit the tissue paper if they're not already the same size.

    Then, run a very narrow line of glue around all four edges of one side of the backing paper. Aim for a light, even coat. Make sure there are no blobs of glue.

    Leave the paper to slightly dry for a few minutes.

    Gluing the edges of a sheet of backing paper
    The Spruce / Lesley Shepherd
  2. Apply the Tissue Paper to the Backing Paper

    With the glue slightly dry, position a corner of the tissue paper directly over a corner of the backing paper so the edges line up. If your tissue paper has a shiny side, it's often ideal to place that facing down. But you can try printing on both sides to see what looks best with your printer.

    Gently roll the tissue paper onto the backing paper using a brayer, acrylic roller, or glass jar. Work slowly to keep all the edges aligned, and make sure the tissue lies flat. If your tissue blisters or creases, gently pull it off the backing paper and try again. If the tissue paper comes folded, you can iron out the creases before you apply it to the backing using an iron on a low, no steam setting.

    Once the tissue is securely glued to the backing paper along all four edges, carefully trim the tissue so it's perfectly even with the edges of the backing paper if necessary.

    Tissue glued to printer paper backing
    The Spruce / Lesley Shepherd
  3. Print Your Custom Tissue Paper and Remove the Backing

    Set the prepared paper into a straight feed on your printer, rather than a feed that rolls around to reach the print heads. (Often this is a suggested entry point for photo printing.) Make sure the tissue is the right way up to receive the ink from your printer.

    Set your design to print. Leave the paper to dry thoroughly after it prints before you handle it.

    Once the tissue paper has dried, you can treat it with a paper fixative or sealant spray while it is still attached to the backing paper if you wish. Wait for that to dry before proceeding.

    Cut along the inside of the glued edges, cutting away the border where the tissue paper was glued to the backing paper. Now your custom tissue paper should be loose and ready for use.

    Tissue paper printed on an ink jet printer being cut free from a backing of printer paper
    The Spruce / Lesley Shepherd

Tips for Using Printed Tissue Paper

Custom printed tissue paper is so sheer and thin that it's a good medium for decoupaging designs onto other materials. For instance, try printing photos on tissue and decoupaging them onto cardstock or photo paper. Printed tissue paper also makes a wonderful liner for custom cards. And it's suitable for miniature pastry cups. Plus, custom tissue paper can be good for printing realistic-looking leaves for paper plant crafts.

Valentine's tissue paper designs
The Spruce / Lesley Shepherd