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by Nicole Jenney on June 26, 2020
"In my opinion, you shouldn't have to fight for the the right to PAAARTY... sip and paint artwork that you're going to want to look at again and again with pride! So, I'm going to share the rub on the artist's cheat sheet." ​

It's the use of transfer paper! Many will consider this cheating or copying. Yep, paint and sip parties are just that... copying an artist for fun - it's not fine art. It's not really even a lesson - though you may very well learn a lot! Like, how to avoid dipping paint into your wine and drinking paint water (I say this tongue in cheek.) So, as long as you aren't taking one paint and sip class, following a guided painting and then try to sell your final piece claiming it as your original artwork, I'm gonna say go a head... copy and play with paint. Fine artists have clearly earned the right to use transfer paper as an "artist's tool" and not call it a cheat, because they have educated themselves and put in the practice, demonstrated their mastering of fine art drawing and painting skills. If you just want to play with paint and party with friends... AND you want your final art to look good enough to display on your wall (in your closet... away from juging eyes) then "here's the rub"...
Are you familiar with carbon paper?
It's where you place the sheet of carbon paper underneath your drawing paper, to transfer a copy to the sheet below. Well, graphite paper works exactly the same way. Okay so, I may be old because I have learned early on the time saving benefits of using transfer paper out of necessity as a graphic designer before the advent of computer-aided-design technology. Before I discovered transfer graphite paper, I used to spend hours re-drawing sketches or images from prints onto my canvas. I occasionally used the grid method and many YouTube  art instructors will start their lesson with that method. Since my classes are about having fun experiences playing with paint and not fine art lessons, I'm not going to put you throught that grid method - plus I personlly hate doing it. (Never did, never will.. just rubs me the wrong way.) I just want to make it simple for you right off the bat!
(Read on to find out how to use transfer paper. )

Pros & Cons using graphite vs carbon transfer paper
I have inherited a box of carbon paper, so that's what I am using in the photo pictued here... BUT there are benefits to graphite paper.
The main reason graphite is a good choice is that you can erase it! You cannot erase carbon imprints and it can also be too dark - showing through your watercolor paintings and light areas of most other paint mediums. I have noticed that graphite paper is easier to find but often more expensive than carbon paper. Carbon paper can be re-used over and over for a very long time. Graphite paper is also re-usable but may not last as long. Graphite paper can be messier especially if you press too hard. When you paint over the graphite it could smudge. Carbon  will not smudge nore budge when painted over. You may prefer it for some purposes like using thicker paints, painting on glass or wood. Experiment with both and see what you prefer. Did you know you can easily make your own graphite transfer paper? (See how to make your own graphite paper at the end of this blog.)
How to transfer an image using graphite paper
  • Print out a copy of your template or reference photo at the same size you want to paint it.
  • Gently tape the transfer paper to the canvas. Make sure that the graphite side of the transfer paper is facing down on your canvas, and the "clean" side is facing up. Use painter's tape to affix the graphite paper to your canvas. This tape is ideal because it removes easily without leaving behind any residue.
  • Place the template on top of the transfer paper. Make sure it is positioned on the canvas exactly as you want it. When it is positioned correctly, tape it to the canvas. Be sure to use artist tape to reduce the risk of tearing your template or image.
  •  It's very important to check that the tape on the transfer paper and the tape on the template or reference photo are secure and on the same side. If the tape is loose, comes undone during the transfer process, it will be really tricky to line up the drawing exactly.
  • You are ready to begin tracing! Using a sharpened hard pencil, be sure to trace all the outlines, as well as all the shadows and highlights. You'll also want to make a mark any time there's a color change, whether it's from one hue to a totally different hue, or a hue that is gradually getting darker or lighter. Laugh A Lot Art Events templates are ready to trace as is, just follow the lines.
  • Since you placed the tape on the same side , you should be able to lift and check to be sure you traced all the lines. If you missed anything lay it back in place and finish tracing. Lift and look again. All done? Gently remove the tape and put the tranfer paper and image away. You are ready to paint!
Tips for using transfer paper
If you're not sure whether you're pressing too hard or too soft, gently and carefully lift up a corner of the reference photo and transfer paper to see what's going on underneath. (Be careful to only lift up a tiny piece, because you don't want to throw everything out of alignment.) You need to use just the right amount of pressure. If you press too lightly, the image won't transfer very well. If you press too hard, the transferred lines may be too dark. Dark lines are not a problem if you are painting, as you can just paint over them, but the excess graphite will smudge when painted over. If you will be creating a drawing, then take care not to press too hard.
When you're finished, slowly release the painter's tape from the canvas, lifting each corner one by one. I recommend inspecting the tracing closely as you lift each corner. Leave one side still taped to the canvas to form a hinge, so that if you see some part that you may have overlooked, you can try to replace the graphite paper and template and redo that area.
Graphite paper can be smudgy, so wash your hands immediately after removing the paper from your canvas. You don't want extra smudgy fingerprints on your canvas.
DIY Graphite Transfer Paper
Did you know you can make your own transfer paper with stuff you probably already have? The best part, besides being almost free and super easy to do, is this transfer paper can be made any size. You're not limited to the predefined small rolls of transfer paper that they sell at art stores. And you don't have to wait for delivery or go shop for it.
You will need a #2 pencil or a stick of graphite (preferable) similar to a pastel or peice of chalk and a peice of computer paper, or any lightweight art paper or tracing paper.
Simply cut the paper the fit over the size of the image or template you want to transfer.
Rub the graphite all over the page - or better yet, print out the template and rub the pencil graphite all over the BACK side of the template making sure you cover all the lines you will be tracing. You can tape the template to a window on a sunny day with image facing your window and see the lines that you want to cover right through the paper.  Saves some time and only cover the areas to be transferred with the graphite.
Now you can either place the graphite covered page down onto the canvas, tape it in place and trace the image as instructed earlier in this article. If you made a full piece of graphite covered paper, you may place that page graphite side down onto your canvas and tape it. Then tape the image/template on top of it. Be sure to tape on one side firmly in place with painter's tape so, you can still lift it from the other side without the pages shifting.
There you have it!
Transfer papers are a great time saving artist tool that helps you create acurate in proportion images to get you started on a fun painting experience!  Remember - learning to draw is essential for fine artists to master their skills. We don't all have to aspire to being fine artists to earn the right to paint. Learning to play and have fun with art materials and expressing your creative side is for everyone and you have the right to a paint PAAAARTY! Click... And now here's what you really want. 

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