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How to trace any design to paper and rocks

You have a cool sketch or you downloaded and printed a colouring in sheet... now, what do you do? Read this quick step by step to learn how to do it the easy way!

There are two different methods, and they basically depend on whether or not you can see through your material.

How to transfer to rocks, fabric, wood, ceramic and other opaque materials

You can use this method to transfer to anything that's not see-through: rocks, ceramic, wood, fabric (and even paper if you find it easier!)

The fancy way: get carbon paper from the craft store. They come in different colours, and all you'll need to do is place the carbon paper between your desired surface and the drawing you want to copy.

The DIY way

For carbon paper on a pinch, grab a regular graphite pencil, sharpen it into a long point, turn the lineart around an cover the back side of the paper with graphite.


After you covered the back of the paper with graphite, choose the placement of your design and secure it with two pieces of tape. If you are transferring the design to a rock, you'll want to prime your rock first to yield the best results, go ahead and read what we recommend over here.

Go over the lines with a pencil or ballpoint pen (they help you keep the line even without needing to press too hard).

Once you've finished, go over the lines with your pencil in case some of them are incomplete.

Depending on the rock, you'll need to trace the lines on waterproof ink just so you can see them after you start painting. This is a technique often used on acrylic paintings too! The paint being opaque makes it harder to see where you drew your lines after you start painting. Don't worry if it looks messy at this stage, you'll do the final decorative line art again at the end of the process!

How to trace on paper

For tracing designs onto paper you can use the previous method, but we have another quick tip for you here:

Artists that know they'll be tracing over sketches very often, generally invest in a tool called "light box". It's a portable flat light source to place under your paper and design. If you don't have a light box, don't worry, using your window (or a glass table with a lamp underneath) is MUCH FANCIER!

Grab your sketch or the printable colouring in sheet that you printed on cheap printer paper and fetch the nice paper you'll be using. It can be mixed media or watercolour paper, depending on your style.

Secure the design with two pieces of tape to the window, table or lightbox and then place your nice paper on top. Find the perfect placement for alignment and then also secure it with two pieces of tape. This will help you avoid movement and your tracing will be easier.

Grab a light pencil and start going over the lines. Make corrections if needed as you trace, or add your own twist!

Depending on your style, you may want to ink the lines using waterproof ink.

Australia Day Giveaway Competition

Download the printables here, these designs were illustrated by Laura Moraiti for Life of Colour. You may print, trace and paint these any way you like for the giveaway or otherwise, but we ask that you do not sell rocks, prints or artwork created based off this design.

In the file you'll find the entire design of the map of Australia with all the animals, and also three alternative versions at a smaller size, more suitable for rocks that hold the Australia map and smaller groups of fauna:

  • kangaroo mom and joey,
  • koala & wombat,
  • kookaburra, emu, frilled lizard, echidna and glider

Download the sheet here

1 Response

Doris Cauchi

Doris Cauchi

January 18, 2020

Great ideas, and thank you for pics…

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