Would you love to incorporate gold leaf on paper for your next painting or drawing? If so, now is the perfect time to learn how to do it. Using gold leaf is easier than you may think. Plus, it can really have a dramatic effect on a finished piece of art. Keep reading to learn more.

Table of Contents

Why Use Gold Leaf on Paper

Applying gold leaf on paper can allow you to create stunning masterpieces. Rather than simply using a gold-colored pencil or gold paint for a golden item in your artwork, use real gold leaf instead. It will really bring attention to the part of the image and make it the focal point of your piece. 

You can also use gold leaf without any other paints or colors to make decorative accents to hang on your wall or give to a friend. The possibilities for using gold leaf really are limitless. Think about what you want to create, then bring your vision to life!

How to Use Gold Leaf on Paper

Are you ready to learn how to use gold leaf on watercolor paper? Read through the next few sections for a quick overview of the process, and then give it a try yourself. The best way to learn something new is through a lot of practice. Be sure to give yourself time to experiment and perfect your craft.

19 Tips On Water Gilding

Gather Materials

Before you’ll be ready to start your gold leafing project, you’ll want to make sure that you have purchased all the necessary supplies and that they are organized and ready to use. Below is an overview of what you’ll need to apply gold leaf to paper:

  • Paper for application
  • Any other drawing or painting supplies needed for your artwork
  • Water-based gilding adhesive
  • Clean paintbrushes
  • Gold leaf sheets (either loose leaf or transfer leaf)
  • Tweezers
  • Stamps (optional)
  • Clear spray sealant (optional)

Prepare the Paper

Before you can begin applying gold leaf, you’ll want to make sure that the material you are putting it on is ready. If you’re planning to incorporate gold leaf into the design of a painting or drawing, make sure that you have finished your design and know exactly where you want the gold leaf to go. It is also important to make sure that any paint or markers are fully dry before beginning to put on the gold leafing.

Use imitation gold leaf on paper and other surfaces

Apply Adhesive

Once you know exactly where you want the gold leaf to go, and the paper is dry, you can apply the adhesive to that section. When applying adhesive, you don’t need much to make the gold leaf stick. Use just a small amount of adhesive. And use a paintbrush to apply it in a thin layer over the surface where you want the gold leaf.

The best glue for applying gold on a material like paper will be a water-based adhesive for flat gilding. You can also use some craft glues.

After applying the adhesive, wait a few minutes for it to become tacky. You want it to be sticky but not wet before you start applying the gold leaf sheets.

Metal leaf gilding adhesive can be used to apply gold leaf on paper.

Carefully Apply Gold Leaf

After the adhesive has become tacky, you can carefully apply gold leaf to the paper. Gold leaf sheets are very fragile and can be easily damaged. Avoid touching them with your hands, as they may tear or get oils on them.

The best way to move loose leaf sheets of gold is to use a pair of tweezers. You can also use a transfer leaf, which is pressed up on a sheet of tissue paper and is a bit easier to move. Position the gold leaf sheet over the adhesive. Then, carefully brush over the top of the sheet with a paintbrush to get it to adhere to the adhesive. The paintbrush can also help you smooth out any wrinkled sections. 

These tips for applying gold leaf to a material like paper will also work with other types of leafing, such as imitation gold leaf, silver, copper, and metal leaf.

Remove Excess Leafing

Now you’re ready to remove the excess gold leaf. Work carefully using the paintbrush to remove any leafing that isn’t over the adhesive. Be careful not to brush so hard so that you remove any of the leafing that is stuck to the paper.

Using a Stamp for Gold Leaf Gilding on Paper

There is an additional option you can consider when applying gold leaf to paper. Rather than using a paintbrush to fill in your own design with adhesive, you can also use stamps to help you create your design. If you have a rubber stamp with a design you would like to gild, simply use a paintbrush or foam brush to fill in the design on the stamp. Make sure the entire stamp is covered with the adhesive, including all the edges.

Once covered, carefully line the stamp up where you want it to go and press it firmly down on the paper to transfer the design. Hold it in place for a few seconds to ensure that enough of the adhesive is moved to the paper. Wait a few minutes for the adhesive to become tacky, then use tweezers and a paintbrush as described above to cover the design with gold leaf and remove the excess leafing.

You can purchase gold leaf on paper to use it for your project.

Create Beautiful Works of Art With Gold Leaf on Paper

Do you feel like you’ve learned how to use gold leaf on paper? Are you ready to put your new knowledge to use and create a wonderful painting or picture to hang on your walls, give as a gift, or even sell to a customer? We think you’ll be impressed with how beautifully each piece of artwork turns out when you add some gold leaf accents.

For tips on applying imitation gold leaf, check out our dedicated blog post to the topic!


Can you use gold leaf on paper?

Yes, you can use gold leaf on paper. Putting gold leaf on watercolor paper and other types of paper can add a bright and shiny accent to paintings and drawings.

How do you seal gold leaf on paper?

To seal gold leaf on paper, you can use a clear, permanent spray sealer.

How do you use gold leaf on cardstock?

Applying gold leaf to cardstock is not very difficult. You can follow the steps shared above for applying gold leaf on a material like paper, and they should work well with cardstock too. As a quick recap, you’ll want to start by making sure the piece of cardstock is ready for the gold leaf by working on the painting or drawing so you’ll know where to put it. Then, apply a thin coat of adhesive and wait for it to become tacky. Once tacky, carefully place the gold leaf sheets over the adhesive and gently rub them into place (using tissue paper and being careful not to touch the gold leaf with your skin). Remove the excess leaf and apply a clear spray sealant.

Get 10% OFF on your first order

Sign up to our newsletter and get 10% discount on your first order. Check your inbox for the discount code and use it at checkout!

*Terms and conditions apply

You have Successfully Subscribed!