UPDATED (ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED MAY 4, 2020 8:59 AM)
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Want to transfer your your drawings onto another surface or use a found photograph or printed image in an artwork? Try using graphite transfer paper. Transfer paper is a great tool for speeding up your art-making process. It works the same way as carbon paper to transfer your images, but is made especially for use by artists and designers. While carbon paper leaves lines that stay put, unwaxed graphite transfer paper lays down a line that’s erasable and won’t bleed through paint (though watercolor artists should note that some watercolors can set graphite, making the lines permanent). Simply slip a sheet of graphite paper between your image and the drawing surface with the graphite-covered side facing downward and use a sharp-tipped pencil or pen to trace over the contours of the image. Voilà! The image will appear on your drawing surface, ready for color washes or shading treatments. Graphite paper can leave residue on your hands, so wash them after using to avoid smudging your work. Browse our roundup of the best graphite transfer papers below.
1. Saral Graphite Transfer Paper
The first commercially produced transfer paper, Saral paper was developed in the 1950s by Sara “Sally” Albertis, an artist who was tired of making her own. Available in five colors (graphite, red, blue, white, and yellow), this paper produces marks that won’t smear and that erase easily. Because the paper is wax free, lines can be washed out or sponged off of fabric and a hot iron will not set them. The 12″-wide graphite-colored paper in this handy 12 foot roll can be cut to size and is reusable.
2. Richeson Transfer Paper Roll
Richeson’s graphite transfer paper roll is 24 inches wide and 24 feet long, making it perfect for large-scale projects. It will make clean, clear lines on paper, wood, canvas, and ceramics. Designed to save you time on art and craft projects, this lightweight paper makes it easy to capture fine details in the original image and will not smudge once transferred. Be warned, however, that the line is quite dark and may not fully erase from cold-press and other soft papers.
3. Sally’s Artists’ Graphite Paper
This product, made by Saral and named after the company’s founder, was created with artists and designers in mind. With a lighter-weight coating of graphite than Saral’s regular transfer paper, it is ideal for watercolor artists and graphic designers who want a fainter line to work from. Twelve 18-by-24-inch sheets come rolled in a protective box.
4. Royal Brush White Transfer Paper
Crafters will love this white transfer paper for transferring images onto dark surfaces. Unlike other white options, this one will show up even on porous surfaces like fabric. Note, however, that markings may be harder to remove on those items.
5. MyArtscape Graphite Transfer Paper
Technically a carbon paper rather than a graphite paper, MyArtscape’s transfer paper is waxed, and therefore not suitable porous surfaces or for fabric when an erasable line is needed. But because it is less messy than graphite paper and leaves a more durable mark, it is popular with crafters. The graphite paper’s 8 percent wax content ensures crisp, bold lines that won’t smudge or smear, making it useful for transferring images to plastic, wood, glass, metal, ceramic, and stone. This pack features five sheets of gray waxed carbon paper measuring 20″ by 36″ each. The sheets’ large size enables you to spread a single sheet over a large canvas. And, because of the durability of this paper, each sheet can be used multiple times.