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How Does Tracing Paper Work

how does tracing paper work

Tracing paper is a type of paper that is semi-transparent and is used to trace an image or drawing. After tracing the image, you can actually transfer the image to another piece of paper and even canvas. But how does tracing paperwork? This article will tell you the step-by-step process of using tracing paper properly.

What You Will Need:

  • Tracing Paper, Graphite Pencil, Masking Tape

Step 1: Place the Tracing Paper in an Image

The initial step is to properly position the tracing paper into the image you want to transfer. You will need to make sure that the image is covered entirely by the tracing paper. Please be reminded that the simpler the image is, the easier it is to transfer it into another piece of paper.

For the tracing paper to have more stability, use masking tape to keep it in place. You can start fording the edges of the paper where the original image is located and use the masking tape to make it stable and prevent any movement. If you find that the tracing paper is smaller, you can tape the corners at the front of the paper containing the image.

Step 2: Tracing the Original Image

Once the original paper containing the image is already in place, and the tracing paper is also stable, you can now start tracing the image. You can use a graphite pencil when tracing as it tends to work better on smooth papers, just like the tracing paper. Avoid using colored pencils, markers, or a pen, as it limits your ability to transfer traced images into another sheet of paper.

When you are tracing, it is a must for you to do it carefully and slowly. Follow the lines found on the original image using the pencil. Focus on the lines found on the image and not on the shades. If the unthinkable happens that the tracing paper slips out, you can quickly line it back following the lines you have traced already.

Step 3: Removing the Tracing Paper

After completely tracing the image, you can start removing it to proceed in transferring the image to a new paper. But you must first remove the tracing paper by carefully removing the masking tape that holds the two papers.

After the removal, I advised you to put the tracing paper and the original image side by side to allow you to check the result. It should be identical, but if you feel that you have missed some lines on the image, do not be afraid to repeat the procedure all over again.

Step 4: Preparing the Paper Where the Image Will be Transferred

After tracing the image, the next step is to prepare the paper where you want to transfer the original image. There are a few options that you can choose in the type of paper you will be using for the transfer. One is watercolor paper, sketchbook paper, or canvas.

You can also use other mediums as long as the pencil will show up once you transfer the image. You will also need to make sure that the paper that the image will be transferred to is on the lighter side for you to have the trace of the pencil show up.

Step 5: Taping the Traced Drawing

Once you have identified the type of paper you will be using; you can proceed with taping the traced drawing face down to the new paper. Make sure to place the tracing paper so that the traced drawing is positioned into the place where you want to transfer the image. On the other hand, the side of the tracing paper you drew should be facing down.

Step 6: Transferring the Image

After putting the traced image and the new paper in place, the next step is the proper transferring of the image. This procedure can be done by rubbing the back portion of the traced drawing to transfer the image to the destination paper.

You will need to apply pressure when rubbing all the lines found on your traced drawing. Applying the pressure will make the graphite found on the other side of the tracing paper transfer into the new medium. The key to achieving an excellent result is the quality of the pressure you applied while rubbing the tracing paper.

Step 7: Tracing Paper Removal and Finishing Touches

Once the transfer is done, start removing the tracing paper by removing the masking tape you use in keeping the papers in place. After removing the tape, you should notice a faded copy of the drawing transferred on the new paper. Now, if you see some parts which are not transferred, you can fill it on your own using a pencil.

As your finishing touches, you can go over the lines using a pencil so that they will be more defined. You can also have the option to enhance your drawing using a colored pencil, ink, or even paint, depending on your preference.


Learning how does tracing paper works is an excellent skill to have to be used in the reconstruction of an image or any design that you like. Once you know how to do it, you can start working on any pattern that you want, and the result will be fantastic. Just select the proper surface and medium to use during the transfer of the image.

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