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How to Transfer a Printable Line Drawing to Watercolor Paper

How to Transfer a Printable Line Drawing to Watercolor Paper

For most of my watercolor and drawing tutorials, you have the option of downloading a free PDF with line art that you can print out, trace and then transfer to watercolor paper. Or you can print out directly onto watercolor paper.  In this blog post, I show you a step-by-step tutorial on how to transfer a line drawing.

The bird I have drawn for this tutorial is facing left. However, the printable that you can download is facing right. Let's see how this works.

In the picture underneath I have printed out the PDF with the line drawing of a bird. (It's my playful interpretation of an elegant heron). The bird underneath is facing in the opposite direction, but that's the correct direction. 

My tracing tools are also included: A soft 2B pencil, a sharp HB push-point pencil, and an eraser. Add to this an A4 tracing paper sheet. 

Printout of the drawing we are going to trace.

 Tracing paper fastened with paper clips.

I have fastened the tracing paper with paper clips, one for each corner, four in all. Keeping the tracing paper from sliding is important, otherwise, the paper will move and you can't trace the lines in an exact way. You can also fasten with cello tape. 

Drawing on the tracing paper on top of the original artwork.
Trace the outline with a soft pencil, 2B or softer. 

The traced drawing flipped to the reverse side.

When you have completed tracing the outline, remove the tracing paper and flip with your drawing facing down. 

Tracing paper fastened to watercolor paper. Draw again to transfer the pencil lines to the watercolor paper.

Fasten the tracing paper onto a sheet of watercolor paper with your drawing facing down. Draw the outline again, this time with an HB push-point pencil, or a regular hard pencil as long as it stays sharp. You are now transferring the graphite from your soft pencil drawing onto the watercolor paper.

Looking at the result of the tracing.

The drawing has been transferred to watercolor paper.

The drawing has been transferred successfully.

The transferred drawing is facing the same direction as the original artwork.

Instead of transferring by drawing, you can print with an ordinary laser printer directly onto watercolor paper.

You can also print the PDF line drawing directly onto watercolor paper with a laser printer or inkjet printer with waterproof ink. If your printer has a setting for heavy paper, you can print on standard 300g watercolor paper. Otherwise, use light 190g watercolor paper. 

You can download this line drawing for free in One Tree Art Club. You will find many free drawings there. My best wishes for your creative fun!

 Free download of line art used in the tutorial