Sharpie Mugs {Transferring a Design}

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Oh, Sharpie mug.  How I love thee.  If you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll know that I have a slight obsession with making Sharpie mugs.  What can I say?  They’re easy, inexpensive, and just plain cute.  After pondering over what to get one of my friends as an engagement gift, I decided to make another Sharpie mug.  Armed with my knowledge gleaned from The Ultimate Guide to Sharpie Mugs, I decided to do Mr. and Mrs. mugs for the couple.

As much as I’ve learned about hand-lettering from calligraphy, I didn’t really want to free-hand the mug design, so I found a great solution for transferring a design onto mugs.

Transferring Words to Sharpie Mugs


  • Mugs (Dollar Tree has great mugs for $1)
  • Oil-based Sharpies (the regular ones will wash off)
  • Pencil
  • Your pattern, words, or design (printed or hand-drawn)
  • Painter’s tape

How to Transfer Your Design

I learned about this technique when I was making my canvas wall art.  Anyone else do this in middle school?  You’re in class and there’s down time.  You take a scrap of paper and draw a design on the front.  You fold that little corner of paper over and trace the design on the back.  When you fold that little corner back, your design has magically reappeared reflected next to your original drawing.  It’s a great way to make an exact copy of something (and to pass the time in middle school).  The lead from your original drawing rubs off on the other side and you’ve got a copy of your pattern.  The same principal works on mugs.

First, draw or print off your design that you want to use.  I played around with a few designs, but ultimately went with making my words on PicMonkey.

Turn your print-out over and shade the reverse side of the design.

Print Outs with Pencil on Back

Tape your print-out or drawn design to your mugs with painter’s tape.

Design Taped On Mugs

Using a sharp or mechanical pencil, trace over the letters.

Mrs and Mrs Tracing

Mrs and Mrs Taped and Traced

Peel the tape off.  Your pattern should have transferred to the mug.

Design Transferred with Pencil (2)

Trace your pencil lines with an oil-based Sharpie marker.  I found it was much easier to do long strokes than to make small line with the marker.  The lines seemed to be smoother and more well-connected.

Traced Mr Sharpie Mug

The pencil rubbed off on some parts of the mug, but you can fix that later.  Fill in your letters using your marker.

Finsihed Mugs Collage

Touch up any stray spots (like the pencil smudges) with rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover.

Put the mugs in a cold oven and preheat to 250 degrees F.  Set the timer once the oven preheats for 2 hours.  Turn off the oven and leave it in the oven to cool.

2015-10-23 09.45.36

Lovely, easy, inexpensive.  The best.

Mrs and Mrs Mugs

For more DIY mug ideas and patterns (including the secret to making glitter mugs dishwasher safe), check out 10-Minute Mugs.

10-Minute Mugs | Tips, Tricks, and Designs to Make Beautiful Mugs in a Flash | 7 Unique Mug Tutorials | Plus 18 Mugs Patterns

For more Sharpie mug tips and tricks, grab the freebie: 17 Tips and Tricks to Perfect Sharpie Mugs.

Looking to make stunning mugs? Get 17 Tips and Tricks for Perfect Sharpie Mugs.

17 tips and tricks for perfect sharpie mugs

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7 Responses to “Sharpie Mugs {Transferring a Design}

  • Shells
    2 years ago

    Hi! Quick (and possibly very silly) question. Does painting over the initial pencil sketch affect the way the Sharpie sinks into the mug at all? Have you noticed any sort of extra fading or anything?

    Thanks for the tips!

    • Not a silly question at all! I actually had never thought of that. To be honest, I’m not sure what effect the pencil would have because I gave these mugs away as gifts. I don’t imagine the pencil would make any difference, but if you’re worried about it (and have a big enough pattern) you could always make a “stencil” from cardstock and trace the stencil with your markers. Hopefully that’s helpful! Let me know if you happen to try it with pencil and how it holds up to washing.

      • Shells
        2 years ago

        Ah, gotcha. Well I’ll be making two mugs – one with a pattern simple enough to freehand and the other I’ll need to sketch for. Since it’s for my SO and me, I’ll be able to compare the two and let you know how they hold up in the coming weeks!

  • Amanda
    2 years ago

    Hey there! I LOVE this transfer idea! Question.. What did you originally shade with? (On the paper). Also.. Does it matter what paper you use?

    • Hi Amanda! I shaded with a mechanical pencil, but you could use a regular pencil as well. As far as paper goes, I don’t think it matters but I would stay away from thick papers like cardstock. I think it would be harder to transfer with cardstock because you’d need to exert more pressure on the pencil to get the lead to transfer.

  • Amae
    1 year ago

    Hi. I am just wondering if there’s another way to sink the sharpie into the mug? What if I don’t have an oven to heat up the mugs? Do glossy coats works too? Thanks.

    • I haven’t tried it yet with Sharpie mugs, but you should be able to put a couple of coats of Dishwasher Safe Mod Podge over the letters. Make sure you let your Sharpie dry completely and follow the directions of the Mod Podge (it needs to dry for 28 days). Also, make sure to avoid putting the Mod Podge where you drink from. Good luck!