How to Print Tissue Paper With an Inkjet or Laser Printer

Easy Way to Print Tissue Paper With an Inkjet Printer

Tissue printed with tiny hearts used to make baking cups in dolls house miniature scale.
The Spruce / Lesley Shepherd

If you only need small sheets of tissue paper for your craft or decoration projects but want a custom design, this easy way to print on tissue is for you! Tissue paper sheets can be custom printed with any design so you can make your small-scale designs or custom papers for transfer or decoupage. 

As shown in the photo above, a miniature hearts design has been printed on tissue in roughly 1:12 scale to allow it to be used to make miniature baking cups or chocolate cases for a dollhouse.

You can also use this method to print sheets of custom tissue just slightly smaller than the largest paper size which will fit in your inkjet or laser printer. Sheets of tissue paper printed with this method should be printed on a laser printer if you want the ink to be stable in moist conditions. If you use an inkjet printer for your tissue paper, you may have to spray it with a spray fixative to prevent moisture from damaging your tissue.

Materials Needed to Print on Tissue Paper

Printer paper, glue stick and scissors used to prepare tissue paper for ink jet or laser printing.
The Spruce / Lesley Shepherd

Tissue paper on its own will jam in the feeders of your inkjet printer. To avoid jamming the tissue paper as you feed it through, you need to fix the tissue paper to a regular printer paper backing sheet. These are the materials you'll need to get started:

  • Regular printer paper—make sure the piece you choose has crisp edges (not dog-eared or folded) and is a size your printer can handle.
  • Glue stick—The ones that change color as they dry are helpful, but not essential. Use as fresh a glue stick as possible, as the sticks age, they lay down thicker layers of glue than you may need, and can also lay down "blobs" of glue.
  • Tissue paper—You can buy large sheets of Acid-Free or Acid Neutral white tissue paper at your local art store for around 25 cents a sheet and add it to backing sheets. Always choose acid-free or neutral materials if possible. If you can't find an acid free tissue, use quality gift wrap tissue, the type that comes on a roll is easier to work with than the folded sheets.
  • Sharp scissors or a paper cutter
  • Inkjet or laser printer—some printers have ink and ink dispersal methods that work better on tissue than other printers. Start with an economy ink cycle to see how your printer handles the more absorbent tissue paper move to a higher quality setting—more ink—if you can.

Prepare the Edges of the Backing Paper for Your Tissue

Gluing the edges of a sheet of backing paper to prepare for printing tissue paper in an ink jet.
The Spruce / Lesley Shepherd

The backing paper for your tissue will be trimmed to cut your tissue free after printing. For this reason, run as narrow a line of glue as possible around all four edges of your backing paper, using a fresh glue stick. Leave it to dry slightly before you attempt to position your tissue on the backing paper. Make sure there are no blobs of glue, and that the glue is only a light, even coat along all paper edges on one side of a piece of printer paper.

Smoothly Apply the Tissue to the Backing Paper

Tissue glued to printer paper backing so it can be run through an ink jet or laser printer.
Lesley Shepherd/The Spruce

With your glue slightly dried, position a factory corner or edge of your tissue paper along the edge of your glued backing paper so the factory cut edges of the tissue and the glued printer paper backing line up. We prefer printing on the "shiny" side of tissue paper but try both sides to see which works best with your printer.

Gently roll the tissue paper onto the backing paper, using a brayer, acrylic roller, or glass jar, rolling as you fit the paper, so the tissue paper lays down flat onto the backing paper, especially at the glued edges. If your tissue paper blisters, or creases, gently pull it back off the backing paper and try again. It is relatively easy to do this with a large sheet of tissue paper on your kitchen table, but if you have limited space, cut a piece of tissue paper slightly larger than your backing paper and work with that reduced tissue paper section.

If your tissue paper comes folded, iron out the creases first before you apply it to your paper backing using an iron on a low, no steam setting.

When your tissue is securely glued to the backing paper along with all four edges, carefully trim the tissue even with the edges of the backing paper.

Set your printer tissue into a straight feed on your printer (rather than a feed that rolls around to reach your print heads). Often this is a suggested entry point for photo printing. Set the paper so the tissue is the right way up to receive the ink from your printer. If you aren't sure which side is up, mark a piece of printer paper with a pencil mark, notice how it fits into the paper tray on your printer, and print a test copy. Take note of whether the print shows up on the side you marked or on the reverse.

Print your tissue on an economy setting for your first trial, to see how much of your printer ink is absorbed by the tissue. Leave the tissue to dry thoroughly after it has been printed, before you handle the printed paper.

Remove Your Custom Printed Tissue From the Backing Paper

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

When your printed tissue paper emerges from your printer it may be slightly buckled due to moisture. Leave it to dry thoroughly before you proceed to free it from the backing paper. Once the custom printed tissue paper has dried thoroughly, you can treat it with a paper fixative or sealant while it is attached to the backing paper if you wish. When the fixative has dried, use sharp scissors to cut along the inner glued edge of your tissue paper, cutting away the border areas where it was glued to the backing paper.

Experiment With Tissue Papers and Designs

Valentine's tissue paper designs suitable for dolls' house chocolate boxes and baking cups / cases.
The Spruce / Lesley Shepherd

Custom printed tissue papers are so sheer and thin that they are a good medium for decoupaging designs onto other materials. Try printing photos on tissue and decoupaging them onto card or photo paper before you assemble printables. Use them as thin labels for dolls house scale jars and bottles, or as ways to transfer designs onto dishes or trays made from paper or plastic. They also make wonderful liners for custom cards, as well as miniature gift wrap, and tissue suitable for miniature pastry and chocolate cases or baking cups. Custom printed tissue papers are also good for printed leaves for miniature plants, as they allow light to pass through the paper more realistically than regular papers.

Wherever you use regular tissue paper in small amounts, you can use your printer and this method to produce custom-designed papers for the same purpose.