Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Now on to the tracing process

With my general artwork I tend not to draw and then trace the subject onto the watercolour paper, I seem to take the plunge !  There are times when tracing the subject / design is of great help, especially when you are dealing with a complex composition.

The latter is definitely the approach I wanted to take with the commission that I have been working on.  Before I even started the draft stage I knew about its complexity, so I planned carefully.  Once I got to the draft stage and the client was happy with the design, the tracing process can begin.

A Daubenton's bat had now appeared.  This is portrayed between the ancient woodland and the open water habitats.
These bats roost in veteran trees in the ancient woodland and then come out to feed over open water, flying low to the water's surface and scooping up insects.

After a few tweeks to the design, I decided that I was going to have a go at using 'Tracedown' paper for transferring the design onto the watercolour paper.  If any of you have not heard of this before it is like the carbon paper that you used to use in typewriters, but this has a graphite base to it.

I started very cautiously and soon discovered that I was not happy with the results.  I used a 3H pencil to trace the design through and even with a fine point the lines created from the 'Tracedown' onto the paper were not sharp or precise enough and had a fuzziness to them. Thinking cap on !

Out came the good old normal tracing paper, a fine liner and my light-box.

A 'flotilla' of wildfowl added, along with a Heron.  The Pyramidal orchid has now been replaced with an Adders tongue fern
I used the fine liner pen to draw the design onto the tracing paper and then I will lay this on my light-box with the 140lb watercolour paper on top.  This weight of paper is thin enough for using on a light-box, and as the design is on tracing paper the light will shine through more efficiently.

Using previous paintings and sketches for reference.

Today's work so far and the next step is to finalise the layered scrub and plantation woodland habitats, with their relevant species.


  1. This is going to be a stunner, Sarah!! Well done! I don't really like the Tracedown myself... it can be very messy. The darker your room is, the better your lightbox works. You can actually use it with very heavy paper if the room is dark enough. Anyway I can't wait to see this finished! :)

  2. Wow,Sarah, this is complex but looks amazing so far. Great work. Xx

  3. An extremely interesting process with lovely added snippets of information ( the little bat's feeding habits). Thanks so much for sharing Sarah. It's going to be beautiful when finished. :)

  4. Wow--what a complex (but beautiful) composition! I look forward to seeing your progress.

  5. Thank you Shevaun, Claire, Hedera and Janene, it's great to have your support during this project, the most complex illustration I have ever done !

  6. What a delightful start to my day, I love this piece already and it's so good to see the process in action. x


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