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.

If you are new to acrylic painting you may see a lot of tutorials online, including the ones on this site, that include a traceable!

Of course you can always draw your own design onto the canvas with a good-oh-fashion pencil drawing but often times it’s just easier to trace it onto the canvas!

I often use my traceable drawings to transfer to my own paintings because it helps to get the composition right the first time around without having to erase and re-draw.

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


How To Transfer A Traceable To A Canvas

How To Transfer A Traceable To A Canvas

Learn the simple method of using graphite transfer paper to transfer a design onto a canvas for acrylic paintings.

Active Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes



  1. Lay a sheet of graphite paper shiny side down onto the canvas.
  2. Place your traceable print out on top of the graphite paper with the traceable facing up.
  3. Optional: tape the traceable and graphite paper to the canvas to hold it steady.
  4. Use a pencil, pen or stylus to trace the lines of the traceable.
  5. Gently lift the traceable and graphite paper off the canvas to reveal the drawing.


Tip: trace on a flat surface rather a canvas for better control of the transfer.


Common Questions about Traceables:

How do I print & enlarge the traceables to my canvas size?

I optimize my traceables to be printed on a standard 8.5” x 11” computer paper. Sometimes that means printing two – four sheets and taping them together so they fit on the canvas size I used. 

If you would like to use a different canvas size than what the tutorial calls for, you will need to find out how to enlarge the traceable.

There’s a few ways to do this. One method in my tutorial here, is how to do this if you have an HP lap-top and HP printer.  

The BEST method, in my opinion, is to use the Rapid Resizer software tool (affiliate link) which allows you to resize a traceable to any canvas size. This software is AMAZING and has been a serious game changer for me with designing canvas paintings! You can resize any traceable to any size canvas you are using. You can also use this for creating traceables for a painting!


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.

Graphite paper (or carbon paper) is a grey sheet of paper that has a shiny side to it. When you put pressure on it with a pencil, pen or stylus, the drawing will be “imprinted” on the surface you are applying it to. 

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.


You can see a video of that process here:     



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. It looks like Michaels has it online only.

Graphite paper is a really small investment because the paper can be used many times for multiple paintings. You really only need one sheet! 

They even make white graphite paper if you are transferring onto a dark background! 

White Graphite Paper (Used for tracing on dark backgrounds)

Is there an alternative to graphite paper?

Yes! If you do not have graphite transfer paper, you can apply your own “graphite” to the back of the traceable by simply rubbing your pencil (aka coloring) 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. 


Can I trace over a painted surface?

Yes! A lot of times I prefer to paint the background of a painting first and then transfer my traceable drawing. 


Can I outline the drawing with a sharpie?

Yes! Outlining the traceable drawing with a sharpie is helpful so you can see the drawing/ painting design better! This is also helpful if you are painting with a large group of painters. Sharpie will show through the first few layers of paint. That means that you can paint the background over the drawing and still see the designs. 


How do you make your traceables?

They are hand drawn by me with a good old fashioned pencil and paper! Then I outline the drawing with a sharpie or black paint pen and upload them digitally. I use a software called Rapid Resizer (affiliate link) to “vectorize” my drawings and turn them into printable traceables. This is an AMAZING software that I highly recommend using if you are interested in creating your own templates/designs for your paintings! 


Where can I print your traceables?

My traceables are available for free in my traceable library! You can find them here. Enjoy! 


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