How to Transfer a Drawing

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Duration: 6:19

Transferring a drawing to new paper or canvas is a key technique that allows you to make an initial drawing on a less expensive paper and explore your subject before moving on to a final substrate. Artist Savannah Tate Cuff demonstrates her favorite methods for accurately transferring essential information from an initial drawing. First, you’ll want to make a photocopy of your drawing — this helps you avoid damaging your original drawing, and you can enlarge the drawing as needed to fit your planned final work.

To transfer to new paper, Savannah begins by sprinkling graphite powder on the back of the photocopy. She then uses a paper towel to spread the graphite powder all across the back of the photocopy in an even layer. After discarding excess powder, she places the photocopy graphite side down on the new paper and tapes to secure. Next, Savannah uses an archival Micron pen with a mahl stick to steady her hand and traces the lines of the drawing, checking to be sure that the lines are coming through clearly.

To transfer a drawing to canvas — a technique Savannah uses because she likes to map out her composition first rather than drawing directly onto the canvas — you’ll again use a photocopy but with a different method. Savannah demonstrates how she tapes the photocopy with the wrong side against the canvas. Next, she mixes about 80 percent oil paint in a dark neutral hue with 20 percent turpenoid. Savannah applies the mixture directly to the back of the photocopy, airs it out for a few seconds, and then lays the photocopy back down onto the canvas. Now you’re ready to use a Micron pen and trace the lines just as for paper. Use a kneaded eraser to remove any excess paint from the canvas.