Katie Liddiard

Transferring a Photo to Canvas

Katie Liddiard
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Duration:   7  mins

Do you have photos or drawings that you want to paint, but you can’t or don’t want to have to redraw them onto canvas? Artist Katie Liddiard shows you step by step how to get those old photos ready to paint. With two pictures of one of her models in hand, one printed in color and the other printed out in black and white, she rubs charcoal on the back of the black and white one before attaching it to a prepared canvas.

Taping down and marking with charcoal the position of the photograph ensures that she can get it back into place if she needs to. Now with a red pen she simply traces over the entire photograph, faithfully tracing the contours and shadow shapes. Any edges that are soft she marks with lines to inform the painting. The red pen shows exactly where she’s already traced and any areas that she’s missed.

Once everything is traced, she lifts the photograph to reveal the transfer underneath- a contour line drawing of the photo. Keeping the original color photo on hand while she paints will help inform her not only about the colors, about any areas that may be really soft or that maybe couldn’t be transferred as well. There are different ways of transferring a photo to canvas, but Katie finds that using charcoal is the most efficient way because it won’t interfere with the paint and is so easy to apply. So don’t be afraid to grab those old photos that you’ve had on hand for a while and get them onto canvas.

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