How to Make Cyanotype Prints of Your Digital Photos at Home

Photographer Mathieu Stern has put together a simple step-by-step that will teach you how to turn your digital photographs into beautiful cyanotype prints. If you’ve never made physical prints at home, consider this your gateway drug.

The cyanotype is a photographic printing process that was invented in 1842 by astronomer Sir John Herschel. The process involves using two chemicals—ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide—and sunlight (or UV light) to create a cyan-blue print on watercolor paper, using a photographic negative as your base image.

The basic, step-by-step process involves:

  1. Turn your digital photos into negatives in Photoshop, and print them on transparency.
  2. Using a foam brush, evenly coat a piece of watercolor paper with equal parts ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide.
  3. Once fully dry, layer the negative over your coated paper and “expose” your image using either a UV lamp or plain old sunlight.
  4. Rinse the final print with clean water

The result will look something like this:

The process is extremely simple, and most of the “equipment” you need is easy to acquire if you don’t already have it. The most obscure items are the chemicals themselves, which you can get as a “cyanotype printing kit” for just $25.

Check out the full step-by-step tutorial above to see how its done, and if you want to see more cool photo experiments and weird gear reviews from Mathieu, be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel.