Monday, December 7, 2009

Transferring aka The Devil

Back in the day I would make a sketch. If I liked it enough I would take photo reference and do a final drawing. Then I would transfer it on to watercolor paper( via light table, graphite transfer, projector). With all the details worked out it could be tricky and not uncommon to completely leave out parts of the drawing. If you've done this you know it sucks and it's still not ready to be painted at this point. Because it's now the worst drawing you've ever seen in your life. It, again, must be redrawn and refined to make look clean, fresh, and natural looking again. Transferring tends to suck the life from a drawing and the artist as well. Ahhhh, now we were ready to paint:)

So over the years. I've learned a few things to speed up the process and keep things fresh. This may not be for everybody. Probably not even my younger self. But I've grown into it and I'm comfortable with it now.

As shown above, I have scanned and enlarged my sketches. I pieced them together with as little overlap as possible to cut down on dark overlappy areas while using the light table (an old window pane and a lamp works fine) or if you're working away from your studio a window during the day works as well.

I basically make sure I'm happy with the composition and basic anatomy of my sketch before enlarging it. I want it refined enough to communicate the idea or concept. However,I don't want to commit too much detail to the drawing at this point. Because I know when I take my reference it's going to give me tons of great info and random goodness (ie folds, drapery, anatomy etc)

Because the sketch is so loose I don't have to worry about losing vital information. Esp if I'm transferring onto heavier 300lb paper where lines become diffused as it's projected through the paper. I then loosely and softly transfer the sketch with a 2b or 3b pencil. It's dark and soft so it's easy to see and easy to erase. (take about 5 minutes tops) So without much detail thus far I've made a sketch and basically transferred my sketch. I don't think the method of transfer will make any difference.

I'm saving time by doing my final drawing directly onto the surface I work on. In my case it's watercolor paper. So it's fresh and I don't have to transfer it again once I have it worked out and all the details are plugged in.

Something to consider. Because I paint so thin I depend on the surface of my paper. I'm very conscious of my drawing and erasing. I do not want to disrupt the surface too much. Not at all if possible. So don't carve in your drawing with your pencil and don't erase with one of those hard ass pen erasers(do they even make those anymore?). This can be scary so if interested you may want to try it on a smaller piece before committing a lot of time and energy on a larger painting.


alex garcia said...

again, awesome info, thanks so much!

andrewlong said...

Yes, very much the awesome. Thank you for posting this!

Michael Prescott said...

I was having just this problem recently, having tried out a technique for painting spaghetti. After satisfying myself that I could draw interesting spaghetti, I then proceeded to produce several larger renditions, all lacking any spontaneity at all. Very frustrating!

Shannon Crissey said...

it always makes me happy to see i'm not the only one taping together computer printout sketches! Still using my tiny box of a lightbox though, haha.

Heidi Alamanda said...

Good to know that I'm not the only one thinking transferring is the devil:) Transferring is more like a handicraft project for me. thanks for sharing

Christopher Soprano said...

Thanks for the advice Eric.

With each project I do I try variations on my transfer method. This will be my next experiment.

Like Michael P. stated; I too loose the spontaneity of the original drawing.

Unknown said...


Phong Nguyen said...

dang I thought I was the only one that used a window as lightbox! Innovative

EricFortune said...

Vietnamese people. Resourceful and CHEAP!!! ;)