Occasionally I get asked how I go about transferring my sketches onto illustration board. This small tutorial will explain the process.
- Illustration Board (or what you’ll be transferring your sketch onto.) - A printed copy of your sketch - Transfer Paper - I use Woodcraft Pattern Transfer Paper - Tape - Red Pen
Why Woodcraft Transfer Paper?
My father, who is a skilled woodworker, first introduced me to this transfer paper years ago and after trying other artist transfer papers since then, I still use this brand. The lines do not smudge or smear even when wet media is applied. They are dark enough to see while painting, and light enough to cover up if needed. The backing of the transfer paper also does not rub off onto the surface below unless pressure from a pen is applied.
1. First, I cut and prep my illustration board. I have to tape off and tea stain it before I can transfer anything. Then, I make a printed copy of my sketch. Once that is taken care of, I gather the rest of my supplies.
2. I tape my sketch to the transfer paper. These transfer sheets can be reused up to 2 - 4 times, depending on how detailed your sketches are.
3. I line up my sketch and transfer paper on top of my illustration board and tape it down. This is to prevent it from moving.
4. Using a red pen (I prefer a fine pointed gel pen), I trace over my printed sketch. This requires some pressure to make sure the line art transfers to the board. Tracing over lines using a colored pen also helps me see what is already done.
5. I do a quick check to make sure everything is traced.
6. Once that is done, I pull off the printed sketch and transfer, and can begin painting!
7. I keep my transfer paper afterwards in case I need to use it again. I also store away my printed sketches used for the transfers. (I like to keep all preparatory work done for my paintings.)
Just to verify: it's board, transfer paper then sketch copy on top for layout right? Just figuring the layers. Also I'm seeing comments on it being at michaels. Are you getting this at a US or Canadian michaels? I know the stores are different sometimes
Yes, you have the layers correct. I also get the transfer paper at Michaels in the USA, but unfortunately at my store they stopped carrying it. :/ I'm not sure if it's a decision among all stores or not. I have seen it available though online for purchase, specifically through Etsy.
This would work so much better for my watercolor works. I have a heavy hand and when I sketch in pencil, I end up leaving all these ruts in the paper. Now I can do my sketches elsewhere, or even digitally, first. This is an absolutely brilliant idea, especially with how expensive watercolor paper is to ruin.
I'm glad it will be of use to you! I had the same problem when I worked directly on paper, especially when I used a lot of colored pencil (left the impressions on paper, colored over, and saw them very easily.) The transfer paper does come out rather dark, almost like the ink of a regular pen, but you can lighten it a little by erasing, or pressing lightly, just in case you don't want the lines to show up too much before you paint over with watercolor
This is so helpful, thanks for sharing!~ <3 I totally had given up on transfer paper because of its dark smudgey lines :/ I have a new hope! I'll have to try that brand out :} Also, very smart of you to use a red pen to see where you have draw... why didn't I ever think of that XD
Good to know! I have been looking for some kind of transfer paper. I typically trace the lines on the back of my drawing, then rub the pencil lines onto my illustration board. But it's a pain in the butt!! Can you erase these lines on your board once they are transferred?
The lines transferred are somewhat difficult to erase, and you can't remove them completely once they are put down. This can also depend on how much pressure you apply when transferring. However, if you have a completed sketch and line everything up properly, very rarely do I need to erase the lines.
Good to know, thank you! ^^ I usually transfer parts of my sketch and do my final refining on the board. I've tried graphite transfer papers... but funny enough, the 'graphite' is almost impossible to erase! Sometimes I just say screw it and sketch directly on the board anyway
You can pick it up in the wood craft section at Michaels. I've also seen a variety of vendors selling it online It's about $7 a pack, but they are large sheets that you cut apart. You can also reuse them, so typically I only need a pack a year.