View Full Version : Transfering a Traced Drawing.

08-24-2007, 04:15 PM
This may sound school-time knowledge or naive, but I've to ask.
How do you transfer a traced drawing from the tracing paper onto your paper/canvas? Are there any visual tutorials anywhere?

I've never been able to perform this step accurately and always wonder how do artists do it? I must be missing an important step in this process.
Any help is appreciated.

08-24-2007, 04:28 PM
Hi Anoop, I use Saral graphite transfer paper or Royal Langnickel white graphite paper to trace my images onto my painting paper. You put this paper between your painting paper and your image, and trace over the image. I use the dark or white depending on my paper colour. I'm not sure if that's quite what you are asking or not. Jane

08-24-2007, 04:47 PM
Hi Jane
Sorry to be ambigious. Let me try to be more clearer with a mock situation:
Say, I already have an image traced on my tracing paper. Now, I want to transfer that to my main paper on which I'll paint. How to do that?
Those papers you mentioned, are they specially made to transfer a traced drawing to the main paper?
Hope its clearer this time.

08-24-2007, 05:38 PM
Anoop, yes, they are designed to transfer from a drawing (or any source - I often print out a photo from my computer in the size I want to paint and trace that.) The transfer papers are coated on one side with either black or white graphite. You put that side against your main painting paper. Then you would place your drawing on top and, when you draw over the lines in your image, the graphite is transferred to your painting paper wherever you have applied pressure.

Some people, instead of buying this type of transfer paper, will apply graphite to the back of their traced image by using a graphite pencil rubbed back and forth over the areas where they will be retracing lines. This seems like too much trouble to me, when you can buy the paper and it lasts a long time. Jane

08-24-2007, 05:42 PM
Hi Anoop,,

Yes, the Saral paper has graphite on one side-- you simply put that face down on your art paper, put your drawing on top, then retrace your drawing. The pressure of your pencil or pen will transfer graphite from the Saral to your art paper. You can make your own graphite paper by rubbing a sheet of regular old paper with a pencil- but that tends to be messier in my experience.

Another method is simply to tape your original drawing to a window, then tape your art paper over it. Now you can trace the drawing since light from the window should provide enough illumination to make the lines visible (provided you do this during the day of course ;-). It's cheaper than a light box.

Some artists use a projector to project their original drawing. Some use a grid system.

Because I often make a lot of changes along the way, I almost always work my drawing out first on cheap drawing paper then transfer it by one of these methods (usually the window system).

Hope this helps.


I see Jane beat me to the response but I'll leave this up too :-)

08-24-2007, 05:57 PM
Rich, great minds think alike :) - and you covered several other useful methods.

Anoop, just a point if you buy some Saral paper. They make several different kinds and you want to be sure to get the graphite version. Jane

08-25-2007, 01:20 AM
Oh That was an awesome amount & quality of information. So now I know the 'secret' of image transfer:)
Had never heard of those papers before Jane mentioned, didn't knew something like that existed.
Many Thanks to Jane and Rich for such detailed explanations and help.

Pat Isaac
08-25-2007, 09:16 AM
In my classroom at the top of this forum, I explain how I transfer an image. Sometimes you can't use the window method as the paper is too thick to see through.
good luck.


08-25-2007, 03:12 PM
I was thinking about that too Pat, 'what if the paper is too thick?'
I just got back from looking at your method in your thread.
But all methods mentioned here are interesting and have to see what works.
Thanks for that Pat

08-25-2007, 04:24 PM
Hey Anoop, Pat is right of course-- it depends on the paper-- but you'd be surprised how much you can see even thru heavy watercolor paper. The small details do tend to vanish, however, and colored paper is hard to use. Of course, I live in the desert now where the sun shines very bright much of the time. Back when I lived in Cambridge (MA) this method was a lot tougher ;-) It's still my favorite though when it can work. Transfer paper is 2nd for me. Interested to hear what you wind up preferring.

08-25-2007, 04:58 PM
just do it the easy way...get some tracing paper, trace the image, then go over the reversed image with charcoal on the back. Tape the paper, charcoal side down, onto the canvas or paper or whatever. Just tap and rub the charcoal onto your surface, and the image is there lightly. You can go over it freehand if you want it darker. if you plan to paint in another medium over it, this is the best way since charcoal doesn migrate through layers.

08-25-2007, 09:31 PM
I sometimes find that the graphite gets all smudgy and dirty looking. I have a cheap box of soft pastels (these are cheap and are actually quite hard) I rub it all over the back of the picture I want to transfer and then turn the picture over and trace the drawing.
Another thing I have done on paper up to 140 lb is to tape the picture onto a piece of plexiglass and put it on my desk-top easle that does not have a solid back and put a light behind it. I've also put a lamp in a box and put the plexiglass over the box or over the edges of two chairs.
My daughter prefers the grid method in which you draw a grid on both your picture and the paper you want to draw on.You hand draw the picture square by square. I personally find this method too frustrating and prefer to free-hand draw.

Pat Isaac
08-26-2007, 12:12 PM
I never use graphite either, as I find it always mixes with my OPs and makes them dirty. I use white pastel for dark papers and a medium tone pastel for light papers.


08-26-2007, 01:04 PM
I use colored pencils, rarely graphite, never charcoal with OPs since at least in my experience it makes the most mess. So many options!

08-26-2007, 04:00 PM
When I use the dark graphite transfer paper, I don't press as hard when tracing, and I use a kneaded eraser to pick up any excess before applying my OPs. Jane

08-27-2007, 02:09 PM
I have used the graphite Saral paper, and I find the lines produced by it aren't as smeary as regular graphite from a pencil often is. It's still difficult to erase, although that may depend on the type of surface it's placed on.