Transferring a pencil drawing to canvas

Besides using a grid, what do you use when painting with acrylic paint? I have a pencil drawing in a sketchbook that I would like to transfer and not have in reverse, nor do I want to use vine charcoal. Any suggestions are so very welcome!! Thanks.

Hello! I paint with a brush from the general to the particular. But since I’m not a draughtsman, it’s easier for me to work with oil. Acrylic is more decorative, but I use it only for touch-up. I think you can also paint with acrylic at the bottom of the picture, only more liquid. And it may be interesting, because the shade of color can be left.

If you don’t want to re-draw it freehand or grid it, then the obvious thing to do would be to trace it, using tracing paper, then transfer it to the canvas using carbon paper - or by drawing over the reverse of the tracing in charcoal or similar, then applying that to the surface of the canvas and rub over it to transfer it.

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Thank you Olga. I will try that.

Hi Karen, Thanks for the suggestion.

I would suggest to make a copy of your sketch(scan or photo), then print it and trace

Thanks. I’m probably going to try that, too.

Thanks everyone. I finally decided to go with vine charcoal all over the back of my printers copy of the drawing, affixed it to the canvas, and traced what I wanted with a red pen onto the face of the canvas. It came out beautifully. Now I’ll see how the actual painting turns out!!
Thanks for all the suggestions.


I use graphite to transfer a sketch for my acrylic paintings. First I scan my sketch, then print it out. Then get a graphite stick and go all over the back of my printed sketch. For tracing, I use colored pencil to delineate it. I keep the printed out sketches, and if I want to do a different version of them, or if I need to redo the same painting, I go over it with a different color.

Sounds good to me! What is a graphite stick? Less messy than vine charcoal?
Thanks Theresa!

You might wish to buy a piece of graphite paper, and save all that mess. It’s large, and can be used many times. A stylus is nice for impressing on it. Ask at the art store as to what instrument would work best; otherwise, an empty ball point pen will work.

I paint in oil, but I first draw it the size I want onto newsprint, then use graphite transfer paper and a ballpoint pen to get it onto the canvas. Then I spray that with a fixative before painting (only if using an acrylic gessoed canvas). Like someone else said, the graphite paper can be used several times.

The easiest way and also fastest way would be to use a projector!

I feel as if you’re asking two questions here–how to get proportions correct, and how to transfer a drawing. For the transfer, you can use transfer paper to move the drawing over, or you can use a stylus with a pencil to lightly indent the canvas. You can also use a lightbox or a projector. Also, you can draw on the canvas with a pencil–unless you poke holes in the canvas, the pencil marks won’t show up. :slight_smile: For the proportions question, I can’t use grids, so I draw by eye, using negative space as a guide. I hope this helps!

You can trace the drawing with tracing paper or with parchment. If the drawing isn’t visible enough, place it on a light table or on a window. Then use a graphite transfer sheet and trace the copied image onto the canvas with a stylus.

Thank you very much!

My pleasure. Let me know how it goes.