All About Traceables For Canvas Painting

All you need to know about Traceables

On this page you will find information about traceables, how to trace designs onto a canvas, what products you may be able to use to transfer, etc.

Throughout my website, you may come across a tutorial that requires a traceable. Of course you can always draw your own design but often times it’s just easier to trace it onto the canvas! 

Example of barn traceable with a sheet of graphite paper underneath.


Common Questions about Traceables:

What size paper should I print traceables on?

Unless otherwise specified, all my traceables can be printed on a standard size 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of computer paper. Most of these traceables are optimized for 11″ x 14″ canvases.

If you are working larger, you may need to find out how to enlarge a PDF. See my tutorial about that here. You can also go to any print show and have them enlarge the traceable there.

There are a few tutorials on my website that do suggest you enlarge the traceable. 


How do I get the design onto the canvas?

To transfer the traceable to canvas, simply use graphite paper between the image and the canvas.

Make sure the shiny side of the graphite paper is facing down. You may opt to tape the graphite paper and the traceable to the canvas in order to hold it steady, however, I do not usually do this.

It’s also extremely helpful to trace with the canvas flat on the table versus on an easel. 

Simply hold the traceable firmly and use a pencil to trace onto the design. It will transfer to the canvas.

I find it more effective to use a dull pencil and press firmly. If you use a pen or something too sharp, you may get too thin of a line to see the drawing. They do sell special styluses for this, but I have not personally used them.     


How do I enlarge or shrink the size of the traceable?

If you need help enlarging or scaling down the image see my post here. Essentially you need to use Adobe Photoshop print settings and adjust the “Poster %” area to a larger or smaller number. It will show you a preview in the print settings of how large or small the printable will print. 


Where do I get graphite paper? 

From Amazon! I have not personally seen these at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby, although some have said they’ve seen them in these stores. Graphite paper is a really small investment because the paper can be used many times for multiple paintings. You really only need one sheet! 

White Graphite Paper (Used for tracing on dark backgrounds)

Is there an alternative to graphite paper?

Yes! You can apply your own graphite to the back of the traceable simply by rubbing your pencil (aka scribbling) on the back of the design.

Then place it on the canvas and trace on the front side. This also works with chalk, white charcoal, color pencil or pretty much any medium. You can also use a light table if you’re using a stretched canvas or canvas paper. 

For this bear traceable, I rubbed white charcoal on the back of it and traced on the front.


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