Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Drawing Transfer Methods

The part of a painting I love the least: transferring the drawing. After the labor and time to get the drawing juuuuuust right, I have to copy it onto a new surface in order to paint it. Here are the different methods of doing this and their pros and cons.

Just draw directly on the painting surface:
Pros: This method ensures the freshest drawing - it IS your original you paint on top of! You can do it anywhere, on any surface, at any size.
Cons: if you are using washes (thin acrylic, ink, watercolor), erasing can abrade the paper, and pressing too hard with the pencil can create grooves - both will change how the paper reacts to your paint or ink.

Luciograph/ Opaque Projector: Old 'Lucy'. Both of these machines take your drawing and project it onto a flat surface. You turn off all the lights and trace the projected lines onto your painting surface. I used a luciograph all through school. When I went to the Illustration Academy at Ringling, Lucy was in an outdoor closet. Now imagine yourself locked inside a completely dark closet, in Florida, in the summer. The heat is sweltering, but you've got a thick sweatshirt on with the hoodie up and drawn tight around your face because otherwise the mosquitoes that live in the outdoor closet will eat you alive! One time the back, metal lid of the Lucy fell open into my face, neatly skinning my nose. See why I don't like transferring drawings?

Opaque Projector

Pros: Aside from my personal fights with Lucy, a projector method is great for quickly resizing. You can also use any thickness of paper.
Cons: You can run into problems with the projector slipping just a little over the time it takes to copy your drawing, so that parts of the image are just off from each other. So, copy the most important parts first, and make sure you check your image by turning the lights back on again periodically. The other problem with this method is you need access to this piece of equipment, which is not an option for a lot of people once they are out of school.

Lightbox: You sandwich your drawing behind your paint surface, use a well lit window or a lightbox to project the drawing up through the paper.

Drawing over a lightbox.
Pros: Windows are everywhere, and you can see your new drawing pretty clearly as you work.
Cons: Must have thin enough paper to see through.

Graphite Transfer: This is the method I use now. You use a piece of paper that has been prepared with powdered graphite. You sandwich your drawing on top, the graphite paper (face down) in the middle, and your painting surface on the bottom. Be sure to tape the top of your sandwich to the bottom (drawing to the painting surface), and let the transfer paper float in between. You then redraw your lines on the drawing, and the graphite powder will reproduce the drawing where you press down. Since I don't like ruining my original drawing, I scan it and then reprint it at the size I want. This also lets me size up or down from the original. I use a blue ball point to draw over my lines, so that way I can see where I have already drawn.

Pros: It's easy to make your own transfer paper, cheap, and can do it anywhere, at any time. You can also use thick boards and canvases with this method.
Cons: You end up re-drawing a lot, since the trace is clumsy.

Printing: If you have a thin enough paper, you can run it through your printer. I tried this method for my last piece and it worked pretty well, although I missed using my thick illustration board.

Pros: This is great because it reproduces your exact drawing, quickly.
Cons: you are limited by the size of paper your printer takes, and the thinness of the paper.

Collage: You take the original drawing or a print of it and use matte medium to paste it onto a thicker painting surface.

Pros: This captures your original drawing, and is very quick. It can work well for acrylics or oil.
Cons: You have to work on the surface that the drawing paper & matte medium creates.

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