Whether we have downloaded a template, created a beautiful sketch, or want to paint an image from a photograph, we will need to transfer the drawing to our watercolor paper before starting to paint.
We will need the following materials to transfer a drawing or stencil to watercolor paper:
- Drawing or template on a standard paper (e.g. 80gr printer paper).
- A hard pencil (HB, 2H, or 3H)
- Washi Tape or masking tape
- Watercolor paper (the thickness and type of finish you prefer)
1. Against a backlit window
For this method, we only need to print our drawing or to draw our image on standard paper with a well-defined black line, a hard pencil, masking tape and, of course, our watercolor paper.
We will place the drawing that we want to trace behind the watercolor paper and fix it with some masking tape.
Next, we will lean the drawing against a window, up against the light, and we will trace the design with a hard pencil or watercolor pencil on our watercolor paper.
Finish by gently removing the original drawing and erasing unnecessary lines on the traceddrawing or softening the intensity of the line with a kneaded eraser.
2. With a tracing light pad or a glass table with a lamp
If we know that we are going to devote ourselves to watercolor painting long-term in the future, a tracing light pad is a good tool that facilitates and speeds up the work when transferring a design to our watercolor paper.
They are not expensive and it is easy to make them at home. This method also provides a similar result if we use a glass table at home and put a lamp underneath it.
For this method, we will need the tracing light pad, the drawing or design on standard paper, our watercolor paper, masking tape and a hard pencil.
Like the first approach, we will place the drawing behind the watercolor paper, fix it with masking tape and proceed to trace it with care on the light table, ensuring that we don't scratch the paper with the pencil.
For this method, we also have the option to transfer the design using watercolor pencils instead of graphite pencils.
This will depend on whether we want the line to disappear completely when we paint the first layer of watercolor. If you use watercolor pencils, either in this or the first method, be careful to use a color that you won't mind mixing with the watercolor, because as you begin to paint, the paint in the pencil will be activated and the colors will melt.
Once the tracing is complete, remove the original drawing and voilà! We have our design ready to start painting.
3. With tracing paper or butter paper
While it may be a little more time consuming to trace with tracing paper or butter paper because we must trace the drawing 2 or even 3 times, this method makes more sense when we work with blocks of watercolor paper glued on all 4 sides and want to paint directly on the block because this keeps the sheet firmly in place without damaging it when painting with a lot of water.
For this method, you will need: tracing paper, an HB pencil, masking tape, the drawing or design to transfer, an eraser, a kneaded eraser and your favorite watercolor paper.
When the design to be traced is a printed template, we recommend printing it in a mirrored direction to trace the motif 2 times and not 3.
If we place the tracing paper over the drawing without mirroring it, we will trace it once on the tracing paper, we will then have to take another piece of paper and trace the drawing inverted, and finally, turn the tracing paper over so that we can trace the drawing in the correct direction on the watercolor paper.
If the artwork you want to transfer is a handmade drawing and you have access to a scanner, it is a good idea to scan it, mirror it on the computer, and have it printed mirrored, so you will only have to trace it 2 times.
When tracing with tracing paper there is a risk of getting your hand dirty and staining the watercolor paper by pressing on the tracing paper that has already been traced with graphite on the lower side.
This is why we recommend (if you are right-handed) to transfer your design starting from the upper left corner and going down towards the lower right corner to avoid having to pass the palm of your hand over previously traced lines and staining your hand with graphite.
Another good tip is to always keep a clean piece of paper between your hand and the drawing you are working on to avoid smudging your hand and the drawing.
4.Using the grid method
A different method to transfer a design to watercolor paper involves using the grid technique.
This method requires:
- a ruler
- a pencil
- an eraser
- the image to be replicated and
- watercolor paper.
One advantage of using this method is that we can duplicate the image at a different ratio from the original.
If we want to copy the image in a larger size, we will need a larger watercolor paper and we will draw a proportionally larger grid.
On the contrary, if we want to reduce the proportion of the image to be reproduced, we can do it on a paper of the same size or smaller.
Start by drawing vertical and horizontal lines at equal intervals on the original image or template until you form a grid.
Then, we will draw the same grid on the watercolor paper but with a hard pencil by drawing smooth lines so that they are easy to erase later, being very careful not to damage the paper.
You can number each square in both grids to make it easier to guide you in copying the drawing.
When you are ready to copy the image, reproduce what you see in each square of the original image on the same numbered square on your watercolor paper.
Once you have finished reproducing the entire image, carefully erase the grid from the watercolor paper and you are ready to start painting.
Our duty at Iperartika is to give you the help you need to feel happy making art and that's why we designed these templates to start painting right now.
By the time you read this, we will likely be in some corner of the world enjoying fruit tea and creating more designs to paint together.
Have a wonderful creative day!
*The designs featured in the images are from the Forest Spirits poster collection.
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