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"Just Dip It - Dip It Good!" - An At-Home Guide To Simple Immersion Printing ("Hydro-Dipping" 101)

“Hydro-Dipping” (also known as immersion printing, water transfer printing and hydro imaging ) is a unique process that allows you to apply graphics to almost any three-dimensional object. There are various methods and materials that can be used for hydro-dipping projects at home depending on your budget, how much time you have, and just how wet/messy you mind getting your workspace...

The last post I made about my hydro-dipped artwork was on the Sploosh Spray Painting Facebook page back in March 2021 when I posted this set of 3 canvases for sale:

(Which are still available by the way! Contact me for more info about purchasing! -

or message me on the Sploosh Facebook page!)

I create all of my hydro-canvases with the same medium used ceating the majority of my work, using spray paint, as in my experience it remains one of the simplest and the most fun way to use this technique since I first dipped my toe into trying immersion printing at-home.

These pieces, and some of the other canvas sets/objects I've dipped have started many conversations since I have them hung in my living space, which just makes me want to make more!

It is strange/fascinating how those who see them in person often report what I first noticed after pulling them out of the waster how, if your gaze lingers for any length of time on a single canvas, your mind, in its attempt to rationalize the irrational, will interpret the abstract visual information into something that it can more easily recognize, causing the paintings to appear to shift and reveal shapes and figures that are simply not there. The effect is very similar to that of those ink-blot tests used in psychology. I very much enjoy hearing what those who visit my home discover within them, some report seeing visions similar to my own, and some are altogether different!

If you do try this out for yourself, or have already, I'd love to hear about/see what you

and your friends/family see within your paintings! Send pictures/comments/questions of your hydro-dipping adventures to:

If given your permission, I'd love to make follow-up posts to this one featuring your content!

If you are interested in dipping your toe (and whatever else!) into the pool of at-home immersion printing, I've Splooshed together this "beginners guide" gleaned from my own experiences back when I was first inspired into trying something out of my usual box, and resulted in the creation of many conversation-provoking and unique pieces which are, for lack of a better expression, simply very cool! [Click Here To Jump to Insctructions]

Part I

"Just The Dip"

"Every pro was once an amateur." - Robin S. Sharma

A few years ago, I was helping one of my many crafty and creative friends do some Spring cleaning and organizing around her and her mothers home, and by the time we were finished I ended being gifted and returning home with more than one armful of the excess craft supplies that she simply had no place/use/time for. The other creative types out there will understand how I was unable to put up much resistance to this offer, being that the alternative was seeing unused paints and craft supplies go into the trash.

This was also around the time where I had started teaching myself how to paint, and had only finished a handful of spray-paint posters as I followed along with dozens of online tutorial videos. This is the time I look back fondly upon as the prologue to Sploosh Spray Painting as I still held a career in the field of mental health rehabilitation, had no feasible workshop or ventilated workspace, and outside was the typical frigid New England winter which dominates 2/3 of the year here. I was living by myself in a 1-bedroom studio apartment in busy part of Maine's capital, and I had just begun to practice painting as a way to unwind after working long hours in a very stressful and demanding occupation, and resigned myself to creating spray-paint art on the island in the kitchen of my efficiency apartment, here's a picture:

I never did get that security deposit back...

(Totally worth it!)

Upon returning to my apartment with my newfound haul of salvaged art supplies feeling like a dragon returning to roost upon his hoard of treasure, I realized I was now facing the issues which had caused led to me benefitting from my friends clutter-clearing endeavors...



2 things that only those who are close to me know:

  1. I hate seeing things thrown away that are still useful. (Food is the biggest pet-peeve) Waste-not, want-not!

  2. I pride myself on my ability to think outside the box, especially when it comes to organizing, or arranging something to help save space or for the sake of my own version of Feung-Shui.

Being faced with the options of staring at the box of potential art shoved under my coffee table or onto a shelf for the foreseeable future, or tossing it myself in the trash, I chose door number three:

Use it. Use it now. - Make room!

Or at least enough room so that I would be able to stuff the remaining supplies into the apartments only closet, and place an “Avalanche Warning” placard on the doorknob hoping for the best...

So I began searching the plethora of DIY and craft channels/content on Facebook, Youtube, and Pinterest, seeking inspiration for something fun and practical (and cheap/quick!) which I could create with what I had on-hand using as little effort as possible. I was still working an extremely draining day-job with a long commute as I worked one-on-one with people in their homes. (Plus, let's be real, I’m lazy.)

I came across a video on one of the social medias titled something akin-to “What To Do With Your Old Nail Polish” where the creator's delightfully manicured and disembodied hand took a small clear plastic tub, around the size of a shoebox, and filled it with water. The next shot in the video was a tray crammed with bottles of nail-polish featuring the full spectrum of colors and finishes. Alongside the tray was I believe a phone case, or a cutting board, I’m not sure exactly what it was, I just remember that it was small and plastic, and the project seemed totally doable.

I was mesmerized by the next few steps as I watched the hand unscrew the bottles of polish and lacquer and drizzle small dots, splatters, and streaks onto the surface of the water in the small tub, and to my amazement, the colors all floated! I knew it was something I wanted to try out and I quickly googled the term I saw in the video description “hydrographics.” I was not disappointed.

According to wikipedia, “Hydro-Dipping,” also known as “Water Transfer Printing” or “Immersion Printing” is “a method of applying printed designs to three-dimensional surfaces. The resulting combinations may be considered decorative art or applied art. The hydrographic process can be used on metal, plastic, glass, hard woods, and various other materials...The water transfer printing process is used to decorate items that range from entire all-terrain vehicles and car dashboards, to small items like bike helmets or other automotive trim. Films can be applied to all types of substrates including plastic, fiberglass, wood, ceramics, and metal. For the most part, if the item can be dipped in water and can be painted using traditional techniques then the hydrographic printing process can be used.” []

I had so many questions! - How was this process discovered? And who discovered it? - Wikipedia had this to say, and it seems to track with my other research on this topic, although if you know something i don’t know on this topic, please contact me! - I’d love to learn/share more about the history of this art form and its techniques!

“The exact origin of the water transfer printing process is unclear. However, the first hydrographic apparatus registered for a US patent was by Motoyasu Nakanishi of Cubic Engineering KK on July 26, 1982. Its abstract reads, "[a] printing apparatus provided with a structure which supplies a transcription film into a transcription tub containing a liquid so that the transcription film is kept afloat on the liquid, a structure which makes the liquid flow in a direction in which the film is supplied, and a structure which slantingly immerses an article to be printed into the liquid in the transcription tub from an upstream position to a downstream position of the liquid.” []

[Pictures above are linked to sources found while researching for this post - My thanks to their creators!]

Most of the articles, videos, and pictures I came across at the time talked about using special films and other fancier methods of doing intricately detailed and beautiful design transfers, but the muse had already struck me in the form of that first disembodied hand, and had given me the confidence I needed to just go for it and attempt small, experimental DIY/craft version that the space in my apartment could easily accommodate.

Since using up those nail polish bottles wouldn’t create very much space, I decided I'd try and use up the largest items I could which, thanks to a coupon some time before, fell to my surplus stash of Wrapped Canvas.

I mean… Why not? Right? - In what I had researched, I hadn’t seen any examples of using this technique on a 2D surface. The closest things I had read about had been an equally fascinating article about paper-marbling .

Another article I found while doing my homework on this new medium talked about a method of decorating acrylic nails created in the mid 1990s by nail-artists working in Japanese nail salons called “Water-Marble Nails” further popularized sometime around 2010, when it could be seen in many shopping centers throughout China, and was being featured in magazines worldwide.

Since this technique seemed so ingeniously versatile, simple, and produced such unique and impressive results, using a variety of mediums and surfaces, I may as well have some fun and enjoy both the process of learning, and of being a creative introvert of questionable sanity as I delved into the world of immersion printing. If a disembodied hand can pull it off, I should be able to as well, right?

It would also break up the monotony from the repetition of spraying planets and trees, preventing me from becoming bored, and preserving the novelty of creating spray paint artwork and posters. (I know myself enough to know that it doesn't take long for me to become bored and impulsively abandon one hobby for another...)

Part II

Dipping Your Toe Into Immersion Printing -

The DIY Guide For Beginners

Difficulty: Easy

Time: Varies depending on number/size of items


spray paint
  • Spray Paint - Whatever colors you choose

  • Item(s) to paint/dip - Size is only limited by how large of a container of water you have on hand.

  • Container filled with water, large enough to fit whatever item you’re dipping, and that you don’t mind getting paint on.

  • Gloves

  • A dowel, small stick, or your gloved finger to help disturb/clear the water between rounds of painting - Wooden skewers from the grocery store work quite well.


  • Sanding/Priming - Prepare your surface just like any other paint project.

  • Depending on the size of your items, plan ahead on where you’re going to set your objects to dry after they come out of the water. - I keep a couple of old grill grates around for random projects like these.


  1. Paint Everything! - Once you've gathered all of your materials, it's finally time to be creative! -

Spray a generous amount of one color directly onto the water, you can do one big spray in the middle of the container or a few smaller sprays around the surface. Different spray locations will produce different patterns. Don't overthink it though, the pattern will change quite a bit with each successive spray, and the angle of your spray will cause the water/color to flow in different ways creating different shapes and effects. Have fun and experiment with layering your colors! My favorite part of this project is that there are no wrong answers to how to lay down color on the water. Go with your gut.

2. As you can see in the video, the paint will float on water when you spray. Switch up colors and give a few blasts of the new color over the first. Grab a spray can in each hand and keep spraying all over the water surface, creating all kinds of intricately unique patterns and shapes. Keep spraying until you're happy with how the patterns created on the surface of the water seem to be forming.

3. Dip it! - Push the surface of the object directly into the water until it's completely submerged. You'll find different results depending on the angle on which you submerge your work, and the speed. - Note: The paint will stick to whatever it comes in contact with. If you push your work into the water and through the paint it will stick to the first surface, you'll notice that sometimes the paint can even wrap around the piece and stick to the topside of the piece as well. Use caution!



For these I used Krylon Fluorescent Spray Paint to give them an extra touch of Sploosh, more fully appreciated when placed under black light:

~Rock the Croc!~

4. Disturbing the paint - If you don't want paint to cover the top of your work as you bring the piece out of the water you'll need to "disturb the water" and push away the paint to clear yourself a spot. You can shake the piece underwater to agitate the water surface, or push the paint away with your hand, or a small dowel, rod, or (my choice) a wooden skewer. Alternatively, you can leave the surface undisturbed and create another pattern on the topside of the piece as you extract it from the water.

5. Clearing the water: After removing your item from the water you’ll notice some remnants of paint still floating, as depicted above. To reset and make way for another item or to simply make cleaning up easier, take the stick/skewer and swirl the water around a bit. The paint will stick to your stick, clearing the way for your next dip!

6. Let dry - After dipping, your piece is going to be wet, both with paint and water from the bath. Let your work dry completely before handling.

7.Protect/Seal - To prevent the paint coming off it's wise to protect your work with a polyurethane spray. Apply the spray like with any other project, spraying about a foot away in even sweeps across the entire piece. Allow to dry for about an hour before applying a second or third coat.

8. Paint Everything! - I’ve used this technique on a variety of surfaces including canvas, animal skulls, skateboard decks, shelf brackets, helmets, and even ceiling fan blades.

That first night trying this out in the bathtub of my studio efficiency apartment, aside from making my maintenance man/plumber hate me, I created everything in the picture below. Even after I ran out of canvases, I tried it out on some cabinet doors which gave me the white and gold patterns you can see. I was more than pleased with the final outcome!)

-The set of 5 Red/Gold canvases are currently hanging in my living room,

and are available for purchase here.-

​Doing this project also taught me the importance of remembering to wear gloves when having fun with paint. - These were my hands afterwards. Now imagine what my bathtub looked like... (Still, worth it!)

I would not recommend anyone else use their tub as their paint studio space, especially if one is a renter... I do however, admire the ingenuity of my fellow creatives who inherently understand the struggle of, if struck by just the right wavelengths of inspiration, our creative flow and its fallout crosses the threshold into need and if that need is not met we may spontaneously combust. During such times, there is nothing that can stop us from finding a way to accomplish whatever we are determined to achieve. Even if that means sacrificing a security deposit... (Do as I art, not as I do!)

After having such success with the canvas pieces, I've taken the opportunity to try this technique on a variety of items differing in size, shape, and surface types.

Here are some pictures of my favorite hydro-dipping projects since beginning my quest to PAINT EVERYTHING

that I'm hoping to will inspire others!

Ceiling Fan Bladeds and Hardware

and hardware at a roommates request in another apartment I later would move to where I was lucky enough to have supportive and understanding roommates who were ok with me setting up a workspace in the basement:

(Skateboard decks are a great surface of a similar shape to these,

on which to practice this on as well!)

My all-time favorite project I got to hydro-dip would be this skull,

which was found in nature, cleaned and treated, and then gifted to me as a piece on which to create by one of my dearest friends.

(Found) Small Animal Skull:


Primed with coat of silver (spray paint)

I used Krylon colors "Black," "Seaside," and "Lime" on the water surface and I was not disappointed with the results as the skull emerged. This remains I believe the most unique item I've dipped so far, and is still one of my most treasured pieces, that I don't believe could ever be replicated. It is truly one-of-a-kind.


If you do try this out for yourself, or have already, I'd love to hear about/see what you

and your friends/family see within your paintings! Send pictures/comments/questions of your hydro-dipping adventures to:

If given your permission, I'd love to make follow-up posts to this one featuring your content and to see what others are creating!!!

Please hit the buttons, ring the bells, do all the things if you like this contents as it goes a long way in supporting Sploosh Spray Painting and helps in keeping the paint flowing! Share if you like sharing or know someone who likes sharing! - It is caring, after all.

-Stay Weird.

Mandatory Legal Buzzwords That I Hate Including But I Am Required To Include:

[All images that are not my own I have credited through linking to their sites of origin and are the property of those creators which were discovered while researching for this article/post. My thanks to them!]

-Intellectual Property Warning Regarding Terms Of Use Of Anything On This Page-

All other images featured and the rights regarding the use of these images as well any text used here are reserved as my own intellectual property, and have been copyrighted as such by Sploosh Spray Painting. They have been granted license for personal use however they are not to be used or replicated or used in any format considered to be for commercial purposes without exclusive written permission or license granted and signed by their creator, the owner of Sploosh Spray Painting. Any violations of these terms regarding the images, text, and their replication/use without appropriate credit citations, and the written legal consent of Sploosh Spray Painting bearing signature and dated prior to their re-use and/or re-publication will be considered illegal, and will be subject to legal recourse if discovered to be in violation of these terms. Don't be a dick.

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