How to Copy a Photo Using Perler Beads

color beads image by jonnysek from

Things You'll Need

  • Photo
  • Scanner (optional)
  • Graphic-editing software
  • Fuse bead picture conversion software (optional)
  • Bead pegboard
  • Tweezers or beading tool
  • Ironing paper
  • Iron

Although it's fallen into use as a generic term, Perler is the trademark name for a brand of fuse beads. After arranging the colored plastic beads on a pegboard, you fuse them permanently together using a warm iron. You can make your own fuse bead designs from photos. For best results, use a simple image with few colors and a large, square pegboard.

Download digital photographs from your camera to your computer. If your photo is a physical image, you will need to scan it in to digitize it.

Open the photo file in your image editing program. Use the Crop tool to cut away any parts you don't want and to ensure that your picture is the same shape as your pegboard. For example, if you have a square pegboard, crop your picture so that it is exactly square.

Reduce the number of colors in your image to five or less by using an effect called "Posterize," which is usually found in the Effects menu. You can also reduce the variation in color and tone by raising the contrast of the image.

Use a "Pixelate" effect to reduce the level of detail and convert the image into a pattern of squares, with each square corresponding to a bead. Alternatively, if your software does not have this effect, resize your picture so that each pixel corresponds to a peg on your board. For instance, if you have a 100-by-100 pegboard, resize the image to 100 pixels by 100 pixels. Blow the image up again to its original size. You should see a version of your image made from blocks.

Print out your image to use as a reference. Place the fuse beads on the pegboard using the beading tool or tweezers, with each block corresponding to a bead.

Heat the iron to the medium setting. Place a sheet of ironing paper over the finished design. Iron carefully, making sure you cover all the beads.

Allow the beads to cool, then lift the design free.


  • You can also convert your image into pixels or squares using specialized conversion software.


  • Do not over-iron, as this could damage the pegboard.

    Don't let children use the iron. Irons become dangerously hot and can inflict serious injury.