Making your own Transfer Paper

Oct 25, 2022 | Misc | 1 comment

Materials needed to make your own transfer paper:


  • Pad of tracing paper (any good tracing paper will work) I use an 11” x 14” size
  • Graphite Stick – #6B  (Make sure it is graphite, not charcoal)
  • Cotton ball
  • Rubbing alcohol

Follow these steps:

1.  Start from one corner with your graphite and diagonally and fill the paper down to the end.  Being careful not to tear the paper, do the same thing from the other corner, going over your first layer.

Turn the paper upside down and repeat until the paper is covered with the graphite.

It needs to be fully covered with graphite.

2.  Then take the cotton ball.  Soak it with rubbing alcohol.  Lightly wipe over your graphite on the tracing paper, making sure to moisten the whole page.

You are NOT trying to remove the Graphite.  You just want to wet down the surface     dust.

3.  I like to tape the edges of the tracing paper with masking tape, or artist tape.  Do the same on the back.

4.  Place the transfer paper in your tracing pad, so you always know where it is and it does not contaminate anything else.  You can fold it in half.  It is very hearty.  You can make a small one and a large one.   

5.  It is reusable.  Refresh it, by going over it with more graphite from time to time to refresh.

Transferring your Drawing:

1. When you transfer your drawings lay the transfer paper graphite side down on top of the watercolor paper.  Then tape the drawing paper on top so that it will not move as you are tracing the image. Use a ball point pen to trace the image. 

2.  Lift the drawing and transfer paper to see if the lines are dark enough for you to see clearly, but not too dark. Usually there is no need to press very hard.  You don’t want to score the paper.

3.  Additionally, the nice thing about using this method is that the lines are erasable.  If needed, take a kneaded eraser, and blot the extra graphite, lightening the drawing a bit.  Do not rub, but just blot.

4.  When you’ve finished transferring your drawing, go back and refine your drawing.  Often, you will have areas that need clarifying, modifying or a little more detail.


You can buy sheets of graphite transfer paper from an art supply store, but make sure that it says “no wax” or “for watercolor,” because if there is wax in the transfer paper you cannot erase it ever and your lines will show up on your finished painting. 

You can also use the steps above with the commercial type of transfer paper to refresh, including the taping of the edges to make it longer lasting.

materials: rubbing alcohol, cotton balls and 6B graphite stick
Any tracing paper will work
masking tape on edges, top and reverse side … (I like to round the corners)

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