How to Transfer A Drawing

Do you want to transfer a drawing from your paper onto canvas or even just a clean piece of paper?

There are two different methods for copying a drawing to a new surface that are fairly easy.


Transferring using graphite (carbon paper) is the easiest method. If you don't have graphite paper, the second method shown below is a good alternative.

Graphite Paper . . .

Graphite paper is a valuable resource for artists to have and it goes a long way, each piece can be used over and over. I would never be without it.

Trace over the lines . . .

  1. Lay your paper down on the surface that you want to transfer your drawing to.
  2. Place graphite paper on top of that surface.
  3. Place your drawing on top of the graphite paper.
  4. Stick tape in an area that holds everything in place (use as many pieces as your drawing requires).
  5. Trace over the lines of your drawing, making sure you go over all of the lines.

TIP: Using a different color of pencil or pen will help you to see what lines you have already gone over. 

Your drawing will be under the graphite paper . . .

transferring a drawing

Your drawing will transfer to the surface underneath.

Graphite can be erased in case you make a mistake or smudge too much on the surface of your paper.


This method is more complicated, however if you don't have graphite paper at hand, it's a life saver!

Trace your drawing using tracing paper . . .

Place tracing paper (or drawing paper that's see-through) over your drawing and trace it.

Trace your lines onto the back of your drawing . . .

Flip the tracing paper over.

Go over the lines of the drawing with a soft pencil on the back of the tracing paper (be sure and make the lines heavy).

TIP: If you don't go over the lines on the BACK of the paper, you'll get a reverse image of the drawing when you do the next step.

Draw over your lines to transfer them onto your new surface . . . 

Flip your tracing paper back over again and place onto the final surface you want to transfer onto.

Draw over the lines on the FRONT side of your paper with medium pressure to transfer the lines to the surface underneath.

Your image will be underneath . . .

how to transfer a drawing

Lift your paper up and there's your drawing!

It will be much lighter than the graphite method . . . but it works!

Sometimes you need both methods to transfer a drawing . . .

transfer a drawing from a painting back onto paper or canvas

I had a "fatel flaw" occur at the end of this painting (I got the bow & arrow placed incorrectly...ugh). I was not ready to give up on it so this is what I did . . .

  • I placed tracing paper over the painting.
  • Then I traced over the main lines to get my original drawing back.
  • Next, I placed graphite paper under my new drawing.
  • Lastly, I went over the lines to transfer my drawing onto a new surface.

I was able to start over from a failed painting by using both of these transfer methods together!

Creating art and crafts builds new neural pathways in your brain and is a great way to keep your noggin healthy. Keep creating for optimal brain health!


~~~Samantha Mariah

you may need to transfer a drawing when learning how to draw a butterfly

Have you seen my how to draw a butterfly tutorial?

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