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DIY Gold Foil Printing At Home - How to Make a Gold Foil Print - Gold Foil Printing 101

I’ve been creating gold foil prints for around 18 months and it has been a bit of a steep learning curve as I have found gold foil printing can be a bit of a black art! And I am sure there is yet more to learn as I still constantly get flawed prints… so I am on a mission to get them as perfect as possible!

I sell some cool gold foil prints in my shop – check them out here! 

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So how does gold foil printing work?

Gold foil printing is done with the help of a laser printer, some gold foil transfer sheets and a laminator or a gold foiling machine. The image you want to foil has to be printed on a laser printer – not an inkjet. This is because laser printers print using toner which is effectively plastic. Inkjet printers print using inks. When the laser print gets passed through a foiling machine (which is hot inside) the toner heats up and melts slightly (because it’s plastic) and makes the foil from the transfer sheet stick to it - a bit like glue.


How to apply gold foil to your image:

  • Print out your image on a laser printer
  • Place the foil transfer sheet over your image
  • Your foil transfer sheet should entirely cover your image. You can only do this once (believe me I’ve tried!!!) so make sure your foil covers your whole image – there is nothing worse than getting a perfect print with a tiny edge missing..
  • Place your image and foil in the transfer folder (or if using a laminator then use a same sized piece of grease proof paper)
  • Pass through your foiling machine.
  • Once it has come out the other side wait a minute for it to cool down and then gently peel off the foil.

So is your print perfect? If not then keep reading…


Laminator or a specialist Gold foiling machine?

I went through 3 laminators (some of which were recommended for gold foiling!) before I ditched them all and bought my Heidi Swapp Minc. I must say there is a huge difference as the laminators were giving me patchy and inconsistent results. The minc is not fool proof but a massive improvement. To my mind it is the superior option because it has different foiling settings for different media types e.g. I use option 3 for heavyweight coated paper but there are other options for stickers, cardstock and chipboard(!) What I *think* this achieves is that it changes the amount of heat and pressure applied to the material being foiled. The minc also comes with a transfer folder which is ace for putting your prints through the machine. The alternative with a laminator is to use greaseproof paper or something similar. However, I have found that the greaseproof paper can crease in the laminator and create massive creases on your beautiful print which are then impossible to get out. And lastly laminators are less likely to take thicker items and can jam inside with your foil sandwich – that is how I broke my first laminator…

I went for the minc machine as from what I’d read this was the best one on the market (that wasn’t industrial size) however there are other machines available.


Would you like to try gold foil printing but lack the graphic design skills / software / clipart?

I've had a few of you contact me saying that you would like to try gold foil printing but don't have some of the technical skills required. So I have created a template you can use to make your own 'Dream Big Little One' print yourself (please note this item comprises the digital files you need to make the print - a background and a text file - and some instructions). Check it out here :

  1. How to Make a Gold Foil Print Template


My Top Tips for Gold Foil Printing

Before placing your foil on your image blow on both of them to remove any dust particles – these can cause patches of black in your foil
.Dust particles cause gaps in gold foil printing, gold foil printing at home, diy gold foil printing, how to make a gold foil print, how to print with gold foil, how to print gold foil on paper

Ensure your foil piece is nice and smooth and undamaged – if you use scratched dirty foil then the result will be a patchy image. The foil at the top is creased and damage so will not produce a good print. The one in the bottom is smooth and clean. 

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Use good quality foil – I have tried a lower quality foil but I have found it to give poor results. I now use deco foil (see bottom of the blog for link)

Store your foil carefully and be careful when handling it. I store mine in a sealed zip bag. 
Use one piece of foil for each toner area i.e. don’t overlap sheets when you don’t have a long enough sheet – you will end up with black lines on your print. 
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Print in black ink ONLY. Don’t be tempted to print in coloured toner because for some reason foil does not adhere as well to coloured toner as it does to black. 

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You can use scraps of old foil that has already been through the foiling machine once but ensure you cut off any previous outlines – leaving these on will leave small black marks on your print. The piece on the right in this image is ok to use - the piece on the left will leave a little black circle on your print.

The piece on the left will leave a round dark circle on your print. gold foil printing at home, diy gold foil printing, how to make a gold foil print, how to print with gold foil, how to print gold foil on paper

Try and print at a higher DPI than you need or print the image from a larger image i.e. if you are printing an 8x10” printout then create your image as a 16x20” and print it at an 8x10” size. I have found that this reduces the amount of flaws in the print.
Use good quality smooth paper suitable for a laser printer. The paper I use is in the tools section below. I have tried to use quality smooth archival matt paper but results are not consistent and I do find I get better results with the laser printer paper. See links below for the paper I use. 

Make sure that your laser printer is printing at the best quality setting (not economy mode) and I have set mine to ‘Overprint black’;

After you have foiled give your print a minute to cool down

Don’t be tempted to put your print through the laminator again – it will in all likelihood destroy the foiling on the other parts of the print (it takes off that lovely shine and leaves the foiled areas with a duller look). I have even tried to use my minc on a setting of 3 first time and then put the print through on a setting of 1 but this is what happens (notice the marks on the tops of the mane)

gold foil printing at home, diy gold foil printing, how to make a gold foil print, how to print with gold foil, how to print gold foil on paper


If you fancy watching a video about exactly how I create my prints then here it is : 


    My Tools and Supplies

    I am using affiliate links below - As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

    If you are in the USA

    If you are in the UK 

    • My Laser Paper
    • My Laser Printer - this has sadly been discontinued as I have an OKI C301dn :( I do need a new printer though as I think mine is coming to the end of it's life now. I think I may go for a brother mono laser printer next and I'm going to choose between these 3 : 
    • Brother 1212Brother 2350, Brother 2370 when I've chosen I will update this blog post to let you know what I went for and how it is :) 
    • My Foiling Machine - Heidi Swapp Minc - I have the 12" version
    • My foil
    • My Transfer Folders

    **Are you interested in creating prints? Why not check out my new website all about How To Sell Prints Online 

    **I also have a NEW How To Sell Prints Online Facebook Page

    **And a NEW How To Sell Prints Online Facebook Group in which you can ask questions!

    which I will post the latest offers/freebies/coupons etc as well as news 

    Do you have any Gold Foil Printing tips? Comment below!


    Hi Joseph!

    the key thing about foiling is that the paper needs to be very smooth. If you could get a really smooth laser printer paper at around 100gsm I think that would be fine. Tissue paper is unlikely to work properly unless you are not planning on applying toner with a printer e.g. you can get toner pens etc. If you wanted to put it through a laser printer though then tissue paper won’t work as it is too fine to pass through a laser printer.

    kind regards


    Hi, the article is very informative. thank you. my doubt is on the type of papers we can use to get the foiling done. is it possible on low gsm papers like an A4 paper or a tissue paper or a transparent sheet?

    Hi Courtney!
    I actually decided to replace the drum in my oki which worked a treat. Yes finding foiling printers is very difficult. I did buy the Brother HL-2350 as a replacement for my OKI. But to be honest I have not been terribly impressed with it as a foiling printer as I can’t get it to put down enough toner.
    Kate x

    Hey :) I was wondering if you bought a new printer yet? All the posts I seem to find with good laser printers for foiling are discontinued :( So I am really not sure what to go for!


    Courtney x

    Hi Lisa! If you only want a section of the print foiled you would need to print the section you don’t want foiled on an inkjet printer. The toner is plastic which when heated melts so unless it is covered with foil it will come off on the transfer sheet/paper you are using :) The only way around this that I know of is by using 2 different types of printers – inkjet printers use ink which is not plastic ;)

    Hi Jolene! Yes that’s right – you need to use an inkjet printer to print a background and then foil over the top of that :)

    Thank you for your blog post on foiling it is so helpful! I’m now on my third laser printer somewhere in foiling hell!
    I was just wondering if you only want a section of your print foiled, would you put the print back through the printer after foiling? I found when I print the whole image then cover the bits I want to remain black the ink comes off.

    How do you do gold foil over another printed design? Would you have to print first on an ink jet printer and then only print the gold foil portion on a laser printer?

    Hi Jo

    My oki is a colour not a mono :)

    Kindest regards


    Hi is your oki a mono printer ? I have an oki c911 but have no success ar all with foiling ?

    Hi Shajeda

    Yes that is pretty much it – though it doesn’t always go smoothly (missing areas in foil etc which this blog post is about :) )

    I’ve been viewing lots of tutorials on foiling and this is how I understand it.
    Print image/font in black → cover the area you want to foil in foil → send it through the laminator.
    Please advise if this is correct.
    Thanks in advance.

    Hi Luisa!
    This is a common problem. I am guessing you are printing the whole design with a laser printer? If this is the case then the foil can’t distinguish between the bits you want foiled and the bits you want to be left unfoiled. Laser toner is basically plastic and it is when it is heated (eg in a laminator) it melts slightly and means the foil can adhere to it. If you need to make a design with foiled and unfoiled areas then you will need to print the unfoiled areas on an inkjet printer first and then print the areas for foiling on a laser printer. Hope that helps! :)

    Hi. I am doing my brothers wedding invitations. They are navy blue background with burgundy flowers. Now, they want the lettering in gold foil and ever time I try to do it the whole foil sheet sticks on the paper and doesn’t come off. It transfers over to the navy blue background. What am I doing wrong?

    Hi Christopher! Yes I use ‘off’ brand foil as the minc foil seems a little flimsy to me. I have tried it a few times and I don’t get consistent results with it. the foil I do use is thicker and feels nicer quality. No I haven’t had any ill effects from using it – I find it produces a better finish too.

    I recently got the Minc foiling machine. The owner’s manual states to only use Minc foil with it, but I notice that you do not. Have you ever had any ill effects from using an “off” brand of foil?

    Hi Szilvia!

    I’m afraid I don’t know about this printer – you are best off contacting the manufacturer if you have questions about usage :)

    Kindest regards


    I already have a Samsung Xpress M2026W Mono Laser Printer… Do you know anything about this one? 🙄

    Hi Nic!
    Yes I ended up buying the Brother machine – and it is OK but I prefer my OKI still. A lot of people have success with the Brother but I have found that on smaller areas it just doesn’t foil as consistently. So I am still using my OKI for the most part!!! With regards to paper thickness – be careful with very thick paper in laser printers as they can’t cope with it as well as inkjets. The thickest I’ve managed in both my lasers is 260gsm via the manual feed tray. I also tried 300gsm but that got well and truly stuck. If I buy ANOTHER OKI I will keep you guys updated..

    Hi Sue
    In theory this is possible I guess but I’ve not tried it myself as I don’t use transfers on my work. I would think however that if you are wanting to use the transfer on items such as glasses or bags etc that there are better products more suited to this (e.g. vinyl) :)

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