How to: Transfer Your Line Drawing onto Watercolor Paper with Just Pencil
Updated: Mar 10, 2021
I am often asked "how should I transfer my line drawing to my watercolor paper so that I can paint"?
If you've been painting watercolor for a while, you are probably familiar with the concept of "draw in sketchbook first, transfer to watercolor paper later". This is due in large to the fact that excessive erasing on watercolor paper will disturb the fiber in the paper and cause unwanted result during the painting phase.
So how exactly do you transfer your drawing to your watercolor paper? Of course, if you have other tools such as a light table, transfer paper, or an old-fashioned projector, you are in luck! But what if you don't have any of those fancy tools? Here is a quick tutorial on how to transfer your drawings with just a pencil (tape recommended, but optional).
1. Have your drawing and watercolor paper ready. You will need to have some graphite pencils; the darker the lead, the better the result. Another item I would recommend (but optional) is drafting tape. Make sure your drafting tape can be easily peeled off the watercolor paper.
2. Flip your drawing face down and use your pencil at an angle to cover the back with graphite. Make sure there is graphite covering the back side of any lines you wish to transfer to your watercolor paper.
3. Now flip back to the front side and position it on the watercolor paper where you would like the image to be. Tape down the edges using the drafting tape so it won't move. Use the pencil to trace the lines of the image.
4. Make sure to use fair amount of pressure when you trace as the pressure of your tracing is what releases the graphite from the back of the drawing onto the watercolor paper.
5. Periodically flip the drawing page to inspect if enough graphite is released onto the watercolor paper. If you can't see the graphite on the watercolor clearly, you can add more graphite to the back of the drawing paper and trace again. This is why I recommend to tape down your drawing so that it won't move. Do not remove the tape until you are satisfied with the clarity of the transferred image.
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Until next time... happy creating!
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