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It’s a hot topic amongst modern artists and the traditionalists. How to transfer an original image whilst still maintain artistic integrity. Some might say that ‘you’re not a real artist if you use a touch of technology to copy your master image. Whilst others might argue that it’s okay to use technologic advancements to our benefit. If we get a great result; who cares?

Creating art goes so much further than how we get our base image to the canvas, we need to understand colour, tone, perception, content, shadows and highlights and all that lies in between to create a piece of art that speaks to its viewers. Trust me, if you’re using a little of technological help to transfer a reference image, you will not be the only one. It’s like all the ‘vegetarians’ out there who say they don’t eat meat, except on Fridays. So give your self a break, use these simple shortcuts to get you closer to creating your dream portrait. TRANSFER PAPER Transfer paper has come in leaps and bounds in recent years. You used to only be able to buy it in the carbon copy version. Which is a great cheap start to learning how to transfer your master copy on to the canvas, however is has one major draw back. The carbon paper ink that creates the image on the canvas is usually blue and does not rub out well. Kinda annoying if you, like me, mainly work with graphite pencils.

However, they now have transfer paper which uses graphite on the alternate page and they also come in various forms. You can purchase it in roll form, or in sheets. This can be handy if you want to print your master copy straight onto the carbon paper. Otherwise it’s a simple process of placing your master copy onto the canvas, then put your transfer paper over the top and using a stylus or ball point pen, trace over your image, making sure to use enough pressure to allow the graphite to transfer over. This is great for transferring over detailed work.

CHARCOAL, CHALK, GRAPHITE PENCIL You can colour in the back of your master copy with charcoal, chalk, or a graphite pencil, then flip the image over and again, using a stylus or ballpoint pen, trance over your image. Chalk and charcoal are great options because they will rub out easily. The downside of this option is that some of the medium may rub off on to your page where you may not have pressed down. A light hand is required for this.

PROJECTOR This method has been used since the dawn of projectors. My dad, who was a signwriter used a projector throughout his entire career and still, to this day has the original projector. It’s lasted decades and still works! He says that ‘all professionals do it, it’s the best way to get perfection’.

GRAPHING I used graphing when I first started drawing. I wanted to train my eyes how to see the lines and shapes required to achieve the picture, not what I thought I wanted to draw. Place a series of equally spaced horizontal and vertical lines across your artwork and across the blank canvas. You should have a series of squares. Now, look at each square and draw what you see in each square. I find it best to use tracing paper to put my graph on, so I don’t have to rub out a zillion squares. So go on, have a crack!

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