How to Transfer Art to Dark Surface

Have you ever wondered how to transfer art onto a dark surface?  Of course, there is more than one way to do it but today we’ll look at one.  When I started to transfer my sunflower drawing onto the canvas I had painted dark green I realized I didn’t have any white transfer paper.  That would have been the easiest way to transfer it but since I don’t live in the city going to the store wasn’t on my shortlist.

When Graphite Paper Just Won’t Work


In case you didn’t know, transfer paper is an easy way to place a drawing or lettering onto a surface.  I don’t always use transfer paper because sometimes it leaves a little smudgy mess behind but it’s one way to do it.  On this day, I had Graphite Paper in dark grey but none in white.

transfer paper


Chalk to the Rescue


Chalk is a great tool to have on hand.  I actually use it quite a bit.  In addition to plain white chalk, I also have tailor chalk.  It comes in several different colors.  If you’re working on a white background white chalk won’t work but tailor chalk or plain yellow chalk works great.  I also use chalk when I’m working on mixed media and want to roughly plan things out.  It just wipes right off when it’s no longer needed.

Apply Chalk Liberally


To use chalk to transfer your drawing simply turn the drawing over and apply chalk liberally over the entire area that’s to be transferred.

transfer using chalk


Place and Trace


Now turn it over with the chalked surface placed onto the canvas.  Use a medium point ballpoint pen or a dull pencil to trace over the drawing.  You can lift the corners periodically to be sure you’re pressing hard enough.  I don’t worry about putting down the details I’m just looking for the big picture.

Pay No Attention to the Grid Pattern


You may wonder what the grid has to do with anything.  In this case, nothing.  So pay no attention to the grid right now.  Using the grid is one way to enlarge a reference image.   For example, my original drawing was an 8″ x 10″ but I wanted to paint it on a 16″ x 20″ canvas so I copied the original image and drew a grid over it in 1″ squares.  Then I drew a grid on the tracing paper with 2″ squares.  This makes it easy to enlarge the image.  If there is an area with a lot of detail you can use a smaller grid pattern on the original, let’s say 1/4″ or 1/2″ squares, then double the size of the squares on the enlargement.  I’ll do another post that goes into greater detail about how to enlarge an image in a future post.

This Finished Painting


Here is the finished painting on a 16″ x 20″ canvas that hangs in my office.  Surrounding myself with finished projects keeps me motivated.

sunflower painting


Receive news and updates!

Canvas Chronicles

Be the first to know about new content, inside scoop & all insider perks sent directly to your inbox.
We promise to respect your time.
No Spam ever!