Is Using Tracing OK? DaVinci Thought So - 7 Trace and Transfer Ideas

By: Barry Waldman

Is Using Tracing OK? DaVinci Thought So - 7 Trace and Transfer Ideas

Leonardo DaVinci traced landscapes: DaVinci went outdoors and placed a sheet of glass across two easels and traced landscapes to study perspective. It wasn't cheating; it was part of his lifelong search for science, truth and accuracy in his art. Here, he was studying perspective.

1. Students ask me if it is proper to trace a photograph: I have a classmate from the art school from which I graduated. He has had a very distinguished painting career all his life. He said: "Anything you do to help you develop a painting is a correct method."

2. Trace: Beginners in learning to paint in oils have trouble relating objects to each other in scale and placement in the picture they are drawing or painting. One solution: trace the photo, magazine or book image you are working from. Is that cheating? I think that is just doing one's job.

3. Transfer the tracing: Artists can trace a photograph, a magazine image or a drawing they have prepared by tracing on a sheet of tracing paper and then transferring their line drawing to a canvas or other drawing or painting surface.

4. Make your own transfer sheet: You can make your own transfer paper by covering a sheet of tracing paper with soft graphite pencil and then wiping the paper with a cotton ball dampened with lighter fluid or isopropyl alcohol (also called rubbing alcohol). The alcohol or lighter fluid dissolves the pencil and makes your tracing paper into a reusable transfer sheet.

a. Tape the tracing to the canvas for an oil painting or other surface you want to transfer the image to and then insert a sheet of transfer paper between your tracing and your canvas.

b. Saral Paper is a commercial transfer sheet available online from Dick Blick or Mister Art or which sometimes can be found at your local art supply store.

c. Draw over the lines on the front of your tracing with a ballpoint pen to transfer the Saral color to the canvas using this tracing-Saral-canvas "sandwich."

5. You could alternatively use powdered graphite like "General's Powdered Graphite" (available from Dick Blick Art Supply online) to cover the transfer sheet. Apply it with chamois, fingers, or cloth or use a brush to apply it as a wash. You may need to rub in more pencil or graphite and/or use the cotton ball again to completely cover the sheet for a second use.

6. Trace and transfer directly: Alternately turn your drawing or photo over and rub the same soft pencil graphite or graphite powder all over the back and use the fluid and cotton ball technique described above in number 4. Make your own transfer sheet to make your drawing or photo directly transferable to the canvas or other draw to make your drawing or photo directly transferable to the canvas or other drawing surface.

7. Pounce Transfer: Muralists and artists have transferred preliminary drawings using "Pounce" to canvases or walls for centuries. First, they prepared a preliminary drawing on paper. They then punctured the lines of the drawing with a "Pounce Wheel" or a sharp point (a needle or the sharp point of a drawing compass) to make tiny holes along each line. Then their punched through drawing is taped in place over the canvas or wall, and a bag of charcoal dust or a "Pounce Pouch" is lightly pounded on the front of the drawing. This pounding pushes charcoal through the holes in the drawing putting tiny dots of charcoal onto the canvas or other drawing or painting surface. These dots replicate the drawing lines as dotted pounce lines on the wall or canvas. You can buy Pounce Wheels, Pounce bags or Charcoal powder from online art stores like Dick Blick or Mister Art or at your local art store.

The bottom line: Like your brushes and oil paints, tracing is a tool that you can use to improve your oil paintings or drawings.

About the Author:
The author has painted and taught for 50 years and has had over 30 art exhibits of his paintings. My USA based online art school has students in 19 countries. I have taught art classes at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and Manhattan, USA, Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut, Famous Artists Schools in Westport, Connecticut, USA. I have also lectured on various art subjects all over the USA and in Holland, Belgium, France, South Africa and Australia.
My online interactive art school is at: http://www.interactiveartschool.com/


How to transfer your drawing or sketch to canvas with artist Tim Gagnon



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