Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Poof! Make my drawing appear!

I’m happy with the drawing for my new painting, and I have already transferred it to my watercolor paper.  I did have someone ask me a question about exactly how I transferred my sketch to my watercolor paper so I thought that I would show you how I did it and tell you about some other methods I have used.

image traced onto watercolor paper with a tracing light box

Of course, I could have just sketched my drawing directly on my final art surface, or sketchrd it a second time on whatever I planned to use.  I know me, though.  Once I have spent all that time getting my drawing just right, I won’t want to draw it a second time on my watercolor paper.  Also, if I do start my drawing directly on the watercolor paper, I have to be very cautious because erasing pencil lines can disturb the sizing on the paper which makes it difficult to have smooth washes when I am painting.

I like to trace my drawing using a tracing light box.  You can see an *almost* free light box I made *here*.  I do my original sketch or drawing on tracing paper, shine the light through the tracing paper and the watercolor paper, and trace the image.  If I made my original drawing on a thicker paper and the light won’t shine through it very well, I just trace the drawing on to tracing paper first and then transfer it to the watercolor paper.

If you don’t have a tracing light box and you don’t want to make one, try taping your sketch to a window and then tape your art paper on top of it.  You will probably have enough light to trace your image to your final art surface unless you are working with something that is really thick.  Or unless it is night…

Another way to transfer a drawing on paper to another surface is to turn the paper over and, using a dark-ish graphite pencil (HB or 2B works well) cover the back of the paper wherever you have lines you want to transfer.  Then simply place your paper right side up on your art surface and redraw all of your lines.  You will transfer the pencil from the back of the paper to your final surface.

transfer drawing with pencil

Using a graphite transfer paper is a simple way to transfer lines on to paper as well as some other surfaces.  Transfer paper can be purchased at most art or hobby stores and it usually comes in both black and white.  Place the transfer paper on your final art surface making sure that the transfer side is down (guess how I know to check that…).  Place your drawing on top of the transfer paper and carefully go over all of the lines you want to transfer.  Use caution and don’t press too hard because some transfer papers will transfer a bit of wax residue if you aren't careful.  It’s not so bad if you are painting with acrylic or using colored pencil, but transparent watercolors won’t always cover waxy transferred lines.

graphite transfer paper

Are there more ways to transfer your original drawing to your final art surface?  You bet!  You can use a pounce method, a pantograph, or a grid – and there are other methods, too, depending on what surface you are using to create your artwork.

No matter what method you use to transfer your drawing, you need to stop and take a good look at your drawing to see if you need to make any changes before you begin to paint.  The nice thing about all of these transfer methods is that you can erase your transferred lines easily.

Have a creative day and let me know what your favorite transfer method is! or do you draw directly on your final art surface?


PS  This post is looooong enough so next week I will show you how to transfer drawings with a pantograph, the grid method and by using a pounce bag – just in case you are curious about those methods, too!


  1. Wow, I had no idea so much went into this.

  2. Great ideas! I've used the window method before for dry embossing.

  3. Great post. I have used all these methods and like them all, they all have their place depending on the paper used, the size, etc.

  4. Yup! RighteeO! I cheated and bought a lightbox, lol! I like coloring the back of my tracing paper design with watercolor pencil to transfer the image. When I paint - the lines disappear :D

  5. Drawing? Huh? heehee And hey, I just looked and my word verification to post this comment is "gatopoo" - did you plan that?!

  6. Jane - There is a LOT that goes on "behind the scenes" in all creative ventures. Sometimes we just need to let people know!

    memories - good idea! I hadn't thought about doing that on a lightbox - thanks!

    Totally true, Marlene. I go back and forth among several of them depending on what surface I am using.

    Great hint, Lee! Thank you - next time I do that, I will grab my watercolor pencil instead =)

    Glad you enjoyed it, Carole =) Thanks for dropping by!

    *roflol* hahaha, gatopoo - would that I could take credit for that! Hey - the lightbox is good for pattern tracing, too ;-) Some of Nana's old patterns are on paper bags and newspaper and the details she drew on them are in pencil.

  7. I've never used tracing paper or anything like that. Maybe if I drew something worth transferring, I'll tell you all about it! Like the idea of using watercolor pencils! {:-D

  8. Great post Kathy. And can't wait to see your finished painting. Beautiful so far.

  9. storybeader - you never know ;-) And these techniques are good for tracing all kinds of things.

    Thanks, Pam =) I had fun working on that painting today.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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