Instructions for Transferring Images

Just in case your weekend was so good you forgot how to transfer your chosen still life image to your panel, here is a step-by-step refresher.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need:
    —your primed panel
    —the scaled color photocopy of your chosen still life (your master image)
    —a piece of newsprint at least as large as your panel
    —a small piece of vine charcoal
    —a piece of tracing paper at least as large as your panel
    —a mechanical pencil or ballpoint pen
    —tape (preferably something easy to remove like painter’s tape)
    —x-acto knife, ruler and cutting mat (optional)

  2. image02_charcoal_paperMake a sheet of transfer paper by rubbing vine charcoal over the surface of a piece of newsprint. Start at one corner and work outward until you have covered a space at least as large as your panel. Make sure to mark the paper thoroughly, since leaving gaps or coloring too faintly will cause your drawing to transfer incompletely. Wondering why we use charcoal instead of graphite for this process? Counterintuitive though it may seem given charcoal’s tendency to magically deposit itself wherever you least want it (like the side of your nose or the seat of your new white pants), it is less likely to cause problems with our painting later. Graphite can bleed through paint films over time.

  3. image06_place_masterPlace the image you want to transfer—in this case your master image—face up on the primed panel. Each panel is 11 inches by X inches, with X representing the second dimension of your chosen still life. Because the printer in Contini 213 cannot print all the way to the edge of an 11″ page, everyone’s image is cut off slightly on either side of the 11″ width, leaving two thin white strips. When placing the image, line up these white edges with the top and bottom of the panel for horizontal paintings or left and right for vertical paintings. Finally, center the image in the other direction.image05_cut_edges_master Although you should not remove the white strips on either side of the 11″ width, you can cut off one or both of the larger white edges on the X width before placing the image. This will allow you to more accurately position.

  4. Use two pieces of tape to attach the master image to the primed panel in the correct position. Place the tape on either side of one edge, adhered securely to both the image and the board. This will create a hinge system that allows you to lift your master image to view your transfer while still keeping everything aligned.
    image07_hinge_tape_master image08_hinge_tape_master


  5. image09_place_charcoal_paperWith the master image hinged open, place your charcoal transfer paper face down on the surface of the primed panel.  Make sure the transfer paper covers the entirety of the panel. If you wish, you can cut the charcoal paper down so that it’s just slightly larger than your panel. This will make it easier to ensure complete coverage.

  6. image10_place_tracing_paper

    Lower the master image back in place over the panel and charcoal transfer paper. Put tracing paper over the entire system and hinge in the same manner as your master image.

  7. Begin tracing your master image using a mechanical pencil or ball point pen, both of which create solid pressure. Press firmly, but there is no need to strain, because charcoal transfer paper is fairly sensitive. In fact, it will create a mark for any pressure put on it, so try to avoid leaning on your panel.
    image11_trace_imageIn terms of the drawing itself You can be as general or as detailed as you wish. Typically, however, it’s best to concentrate on the main shapes. You do not need to trace internal textures, shadows or similar details unless your really want to. Keep in mind that too many lines may end up being confusing.

  8. image12_check_trace_imageCheck your progress as you work by flipping up the hinged top sheets and the transfer paper. Viewing the transfer on the panel allows you to see any incomplete or faulty areas. FYI, you can pull out the transfer paper to add more charcoal if necessary, though this is not commonly required.


  9. image13_trace_detailsIf you have areas that are difficult to see through the tracing paper, such as neighboring shapes that are close in value or fine, complicated lines, you may hinge open the tracing paper and draw directly on your master image. The downsides of this are that you cannot easily see what marks you have made, and you will leave lines on the photocopy surface, thus diminishing its suitability as a reference.

  10. Once you have transferred your entire drawing, hinge open the
    tracing paper and master image (do not remove them yet),
    and clean up the transfer using a kneeded eraserimage14_erase (the stretchy gray kind) or plastic eraser (the square white kind) to remove excess marks. If you make eraser crumbles, blow them away rather than brushing. Avoid the brutal heartbreak of smearing your transfer after all that hard work!

  11. image15_erase_detailsDetailed areas can be refined using a clean eraser on a mechanical pencil. Mechanical pencil erasers are typically made from the same material as plastic art erasers, and so work well for this task.

  12. image16_touch_upIf you find areas that are faded, didn’t transfer correctly or are missing you can either put the charcoal transfer paper back in place, lower the hinged papers and retrace the affected shape(s) OR, if it is a simple spot, just fill in the line directly using your vine charcoal. Make sure to draw as lightly as possible. Dark lines may contaminate your paint layer later.

  13. Once your drawing is fully transferred and cleaned up, compare it to your master image. Does it look more or less correct in terms of shapes and placements? Can you tell what’s what? Does all feel groovy with the world? All righty then; you are ready for class on Tuesday, at least with regards to Project One. Yay! Go you!!! Um… just don’t celebrate so hard you forget there is also homework due.image16_finalBy the way, it doesn’t hurt to leave the hinged master image and tracing paper in place for now. They will help prevent your drawing from smearing in transit. As we already established, smearing your transfer drawing is the kind of fun that’s not. Do make sure to remove the charcoal transfer paper, however, since you don’t want it to smudge your shiny, touched up surface. If you want, you can save the transfer paper for future projects. Roll it up to prevent accidentally dusting yourself.

Questions? Don’t hesitate to post a comment or e-mail me. Remember, this should be ready by the beginning of class on Tuesday, February 9.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s