Transferring drawings to watercolor paper



  • I thought I heard @Lee-White say in one of his videos that he transferred his sketch to his watercolor paper using his printer. It was a comment he made in passing so I'm not sure I understood it correctly but I'm wondering if he meant it is possible to transfer a line drawing to watercolor using a normal inkjet printer or whether it requires a special printer. I will probably try it myself to see what happens but thought I'd see what other people have done and the pros and cons of that method.



  • @demotlj yes I have heard him say that on a video or podcast but I believe it was a very high level large format printer that can handle very thick paper



  • @demotlj Yes you can do it. If you are using watercolor medium you will likely want waterproof inkjet printer ink. (BTW, it's not TOTALLY waterproof, there will be some bleed)

    The best way is to use an lazer printer as that ink is definitely waterproof.

    The special equipment might come into play if you need a large image printed (you'll be limited by the size paper your printer can handle) or if you want to send a heavy paper through. I know Lee's method and the size printer he has allows 17" wide paper to feed straight through (no wrapping around the roller) so 300 lb rough watercolor doesn't jam up the printer.



  • @demotlj I had same question when I watched as well and posted question - see Lee’s response on the thread here
    http://forum.svslearn.com/topic/5766/question-printing-digital-drawing-onto-watercolour-paper



  • @missmushy @davidhohn Thanks for the help. I may give it a try on my current cheap-o lightweight printer but it sounds like better equipment is needed. I'll have to stick with the light box method until my watercolor skills get good enough that I feel I can justify buying a better printer which, at the rate I'm going, may be many years yet!



  • You might be able to get it printed at a local print shop. That's what Wylie Beckert has done in this article:

    https://www.wyliebeckert.com/?show=process-kingofspades



  • @tessaw The distinct disadvantage of living an hour and a half from anywhere 🙂



  • you can use this method, but overall I found it restrictive in terms of going bigger with the size of the painting. So I invested in a cheap USB projector and now I just project the image onto the watercolor paper and draw it pretty loosely. It takes some practice to figure out how to do this and not stiffen up your original drawing, but it offers another way to go if you don't have a huge printer.



  • And since we are offering alternative solutions there's the ol' transfer your drawing using graphite on the back.

    • I'll take a drawing and if I want it really big I'll break it up and print it on multiple pages.
    • Then tape the pages together.
    • Flip over and scribble graphite (I use a graphite stick not a regular pencil) all over the back.
    • Then lay that over the final substrate (canvas, watercolor, illustration board) and retrace my line drawing.
    • If you suck at tracing like I do then "stiffening up" the transferred drawing is not a problem -- it'll be REAL loose!

    But in any case it's a great way to transfer sketches (if you don't have a light table) to any surface you want to work on.



  • I too use @davidhohn 's low tech method, graphite on the back. Works in a pinch. I tried using Saral wax free transfer paper for a while but it is lousy on cold press water color paper. It works okay on very flat surfaces though.



  • @demotlj Wow, that's pretty far out!



  • Thanks, everyone for the ideas. @Lee-White My church has a projector that I plug my iPad into and I never thought of using it to project onto my watercolor. This would also give me the option of re-sizing a sketch before I trace it. I'm definitely going to try it.



  • @tessaw It's a slight exaggeration. It's only 1/2 hour to a Walmart but it's an hour and a half to a city with a print shop, art store, mall etc. On the other hand, I'm surrounded by forests filled with grouse, woodcock, wild turkey, deer, and an occasional bear. Not a bad trade.



  • @davidhohn This does work and I've used it before., it has some snags. For me they are:

    1. I really hate scribbling on the back of a drawing to get the graphite on there. It gets all over my hands and everywhere. I'm messy enough as it is.

    2. In order to do a large transfer, you have to either have a large printer or you have to tape a bunch of smaller pieces together. At best it's clumsy and awkward. At worst, You can't really get everything to line up well and things start shifting all over the place.

    3. Adds more steps into an already complicated thing. The number of steps to get ready for a painting need to be as reduced as possible for most people. Since we all try to carve these times out of family time and little moments here and there, I want to be painting during that time and not prepping a bunch of stuff to get ready for painting.

    So like David mentioned, this method is great if you are in a pinch and need to do it now and can't go purchase a projector or big printer, then go for it. But if you are going to be doing paintings a lot, I'd invest in the projector. They are cheap on craigslist and allow you to go up to any size paper you want to. And they don't get graphite all over the place.



  • @lee-white Here's my thoughts on your anti-graphite transfer rant:

    1. I really hate scribbling on the back of a drawing to get the graphite on there. It gets all over my hands and everywhere. I'm messy enough as it is.

    What is wrong with you‽
    Tell you what, for christmas I'm gonna get you an "art bib" (aka a smock) and you can go to town! Messy + fun = ART!

    2. In order to do a large transfer, you have to either have a large printer or you have to tape a bunch of smaller pieces together. At best it's clumsy and awkward. At worst, You can't really get everything to line up well and things start shifting all over the place.

    If you have a large enough printer to print the drawing on a single sheet why do the transfer at all? Just print directly on the substrate. But most of us aren't all champagne, cream cheese and giant printers. This method allows illustrators to use the cheap materials they already have.

    3. Adds more steps into an already complicated thing. The number of steps to get ready for a painting need to be as reduced as possible for most people. Since we all try to carve these times out of family time and little moments here and there, I want to be painting during that time and not prepping a bunch of stuff to get ready for painting.

    This method is so simple even a 5 year old could do it -- so you can actually include family in the process.

    But hey, that's just me.



  • @Lee-White @davidhohn you guys are freaking funny.

    I use the projector and graphite methods all the time. The projector I use will run you about $70 on Amazon. Not a usb. Just projects plan old paper on the wall. Works great in a basement or bathroom. If you have a photo it works great because the image size must be smaller than 5x5.

    Graphite (woodless pencil) works great! If I need something transferred 8x10 or smaller it’s not messy! But do the drawing tight because the transfer you will loose some details. Copy it if you don’t want to screw up your original.

    I just did a massive mural that utilized both techniques. Shrunk my sketch. Blew it up on the wall on a huge piece of paper (what you would cover a bulletin board with) with the projector. Then rubbed graphite all over the back. Then took it to the house and traced it on the wall over the bed. Worked great. And nicely together. Just like Lee and David use to work nicely together.

    I know julia denos prints her sketches on water color paper too. I don’t know her personally. Looks awesome, but I don’t know the printer.



  • @davidhohn The point i was making with the size is that you have to TAPE A BUNCH OF LITTLE PIECES OF PAPER TOGETHER to make a bigger transfer. I'm not taping a bunch of little pieces of paper together. I'm not in kindergarten. And if I wanted to spend my day taping little bits of paper together, I'd do conceptual art like Yoko Ono. Because I would have no time to do actual art. You know, cause of all the taping I'd be doing.



  • @davidhohn not to mention the real problem. Which is using the transfer method and tracing a bunch of stuff, only to realize you weren't pressing hard enough and nothing actually transferred. That "maybe it's there and maybe not" method might work for you, but i'm not doing it. And since this is an online forum, I feel the need to possibly insult you since we disagree. So here goes: (say this in a classic British accent please) "You have an uniformed and totally inadequate view on getting a drawing from sketch to paper. Good day to you fine sir!"

    (BTW: for those of you who don't know us, david and I are just kidding! We are like best friends. AND WORST ENEMIES!!!! If you take a class with us, you will see me prove him wrong a LOT!)



  • Personally, I use the Epsom Sure Color 600 to print my sketches on to watercolor paper. I usually sketch on my ipad, send sketch file to PC and print from there.



  • I never imagined my innocent question would generate such a “lively” discussion. And I’ve decided that I am not going to reveal which method I choose to do for fear of getting involved in a rumble 🙂