Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Tracing Shortcuts

Today I've been investigating way to transfer drawings more quickly. For my small scale studies I typically scan the sketch into the computer, then divide it into A4 sheets and print them on tracing paper, at that point trace as normal. This has the advantage of allowing me to use different surfaces and the result looks like the final actual drawing, but it is laborious, and so I began to consider ways to speed up the process.

First I thought of printing the mirror image onto tracing paper and putting acrylic medium on the surface. When sticky, I'd place the tracing paper face down to transfer the printer ink onto the surface. This didn't work. Tracing paper is very sensitive to moisture so wrinkles badly. I suspected though that even acetate or cellophane would be problematic because the printer ink is sometimes left on the paper, and getting the acrylic medium tacky enough to accept a print but not too wet (no transfer) or too dry (glue!) is difficult.

Then I printed onto paper and tried applying gesso over it. To my surprise I could apply quite a lot without hiding the lines. The paper wrinkled though. I tried card, the results were better but still wrinkly.

I then thought about printing onto a non-absorbent surface to avoid wrinkling. I have some acetate, but it's expensive. I located my textile samples and looked up the prices of nylon and PVC, cheap plastics that would be non-absorbent. The PVC is generally slick and untextured but that's not a problem. I've painted on it before and has enough tooth once gessoed. I also found some thin nylon that would probably work in my printer when cut into sheets. I wondered if it would make a good painting surface all round because of the texture. It would need to be adhered to a solid support though, this stuff is too thin for stretching. It feels absorbent, like it would need a lot of priming. I noted the nylon in my "to buy" list.

The PVC looked easier to prime, and it's transparent like a window. I thought that I could stick it temporarily over the top of a drawing or photograph, prime it then paint on it. It would eliminate the need to have the drawing on the painting surface, a simple alternative to a projector.

In the end I simply glued sheets of card onto a canvas board with PVA glue. It wrinkled but that can't be helped at the moment. I stuck it over the canvas board while it was still shrink-wrapped. When I'm finished with the study I can unwrap the board and it'll be as good as new!


Kathy said...

Wow... you've gone to great efforts to figure this out. Thanks for posting the trial-and-error stage. It's very instructional. Lots of times I just use a projector to transfer designs, that is, if the painting is large enough. Thanks for the info!

Roy The Artist said...

Hi interesting process. Have you seen my little invention, the SimmTrace, you can easily make your own, software free. It's a sort of modern camera lucida http://www.simmtrace.com/

Mark Sheeky said...

Thanks the the comment Kathy. I've never traced or projected a thing, I use tracing paper merely to transfer my drawings to my painting surface so Roy's device will be of no use to me. Interesting that there is software to go with it. I developed a simple game to be used a drawing practise once! In the end it was not as good as real life practise though.