If like me you do a lot of erasing before you can be happy with a drawing, then drawing straight on watercolour paper is not really an option. Because botanical painting is cut to white, any trace of erasing, smudging, or marking on the paper will stand out and completely ruin the feeling of freshness that is so desirable when you paint flowers.
An easy way to solve this is to draw first in a sketchbook, trace the drawing and then transfer it to watercolour paper. This gives you some gorgeous sketchbooks to peruse through for years to come, a beautiful record of your work, the comfort to know that there is no pressure and you can erase to your heart’s content, and a clean, smudge-free drawing on your precious watercolour paper. It also gives you a master copy of the drawing, should you mess up the painting and have to start again (it happens…)
What you need:
- Cartridge paper or sketchbook
- Tracing paper
- Tracedown transfer paper (it looks like the old fashioned carbon paper, minus the grease and the wax) (Affiliate Link to buy it on Amazon)
- Watercolour paper
- A normal pencil and a coloured one
- Soft putty rubber (I like the Maped or Faber Castell grey putty rubber) (Link to buy it at Jackson’s Art Supplies)
- First you draw your subject, either on cartridge paper or in a sketchbook.
- Trace the drawing with a normal graphite pencil on tracing paper (the lower quality the better: if it is too thick, the line won’t go through at the next stage)
- Position your tracing on the watercolour paper and use little bits of soft putty rubber to hold it in place
- Slide the Tracedown transfer paper between the tracing paper and the watercolour paper, dark side down
- Using a coloured pencil, go over the drawing
- Remove the tracing and transfer paper: Tadaaa! You have a clean drawing on the watercolour paper
Here is a video I posted on my YouTube channel Flora’s Patch, which shows the whole process:
2 thoughts on “How to transfer a drawing”
Thank you for the video! It was very helpful. It would also help if you would put down the brands of pencils, paper, etc, just a little more detail. As someone new to botanical illustration, I’m having a difficult time, finding the right supplies. Thank you again for your wonderful videos!!!
Hi Yulia, Thanks for the suggestion, I will. In the meanwhile: I use any cartridge paper/sketchbook with the whitest possible paper (I like Seawhite of Brighton), a PVC-free plastic rubber by Steadler, a mechanical pencil with a 0.5mm/B lead, Fabriano Artistico Extra White for the watercolour paper, Pro Arte Prolene Plus series 007 for the brushes and I like Daniel Smith watercolours. I hope this helps!