Originally used for architectural and engineering drawings, tracing paper finds favor with artists for general practice and for drawing, copying, layering, and calligraphy. Lightweight and translucent, tracing paper allows for experimentation with layering of images and tracing of all kinds. This paper is ideal for the fast and accurate tracing of an image. As well as for calligraphy, it’s excellent for designing hand-drawn typography, and perfect for designing wedding invitations, illustrations, and logos.
Tracing paper is a versatile medium, accepting pencil, ink, markers, and pens with ease. Artists can experiment with different shapes and versions of an image before they commit to creating it within a finished drawing, painting, or illustration. The images can be scanned and used digitally or transferred from the paper to a more permanent surface, such as a canvas. Tracing paper is optimal for designing typography and text, allowing for quick copying and hand-drawn variations. “Tracing” is part of its name: trace your favorite photo or learn how to draw your favorite graphic novel character; trace a shape from nature or create a rubbing of a loved one’s gravestone. This paper is often used within silkscreen printing, to create the negative for the screen. It may also be used for detailed illustrations; the paper holds ink well and usually doesn’t bleed. Stronger papers may be used in inkjet printers or copiers.
1. Strathmore 300 Series Tracing Pad
The Strathmore name is associated with precise, fine-line work, and this tracing paper upholds the company’s hundred-year-old reputation. The paper is thick yet transparent, allowing for strength in drawing professional images using mechanical pencils or fine-line pens or markers. It won’t rip or tear while drawing and erasing, and it’s a great choice for scanning and for transferring images onto another surface while going over lines. It is acid free and won’t yellow or crack over time; it will not crinkle. The surface is smooth and receives ink well. Strathmore makes this paper in pads of 50 sheets in a variety of sizes from 9 by 12 to 19 by 24 inches for all your tracing paper needs.
2. Bienfang Parchment 100 Tracing Paper
Bienfang’s 24-pound weight paper is thin and lightweight, but durable enough to stand up to multiple erasures. The paper is available in sizes from 9-by-12-inches to 19-by-24 inches packs, in pads of 100 sheets. Try it for ideal for tracing and overlays, this paper works well with pencils, ink, and markers, but it will buckle and wrinkle with wet ink and paint. The paper surface is very fine, making it well suited for precise line work.
3. Canson Foundation Tracing Paper Pad
Canson Foundation tracing paper makes tracing a breeze, and the paper is strong and exceptionally transparent. This paper boasts extreme strength and smoothness: it won’t rip when marks are erased or tape is taken up, and the smooth surface doesn’t absorb ink, making it ideal for ink drawing and precise, fine-line drawings, illustrations, calligraphy, and architectural plans. Its transparency also allows for the layering of drawings and examples, making it easy to compare the art on each sheet and reposition images as desired. It is acid free and won’t yellow or deteriorate over time. This 25-pound paper comes in a variety of sizes ranging from 9-by-12 to 19-by-24 inches, in pads of 50 sheets.
4. Crayola Tracing Paper
Perfect for use with artists of all ages learning to draw on tracing paper or as a go-to paper for quick drawing or outdoor tracing activities. Crayola’s tracing paper is sturdy and takes pencil, ink, crayons, and markers well, without the paper wrinkling from wet materials or easily ripping, but marker may occasionally bleed through. Younger artists can use it to trace images, and to practice drawing and adding color to line work. The paper is perfect for classroom and workshop use: sturdy and adaptable to artists of all ability levels and projects. This paper can be used with an inkjet printer too. The pad comes with 150 sheets.
5. Canson Vidalon Vellum Paper
This extra-smooth, 55-pound paper is heavier than our other choices. Thicker and less porous than tracing paper, vellum is ideal for use with pens and markers. Ink goes on crisp and clean with no bleed-through, though it may smear before fully dried. Marker drawings can be reworked for some time before the color is absorbed; pencil lines lay down smoothly on the page and are easily erased. Tough and tear-resistant, this paper can also be used for offset and letterpress printing. Non-yellowing and acid free, it ensures the longevity of your work. Each pad contains 50 9-by-12-inch sheets.