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! 

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

Active Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

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



  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 the traceables?

On my website, most of my traceables can be printed on standard size computer paper (8.5” x 11”). I do a lot of paintings on 11 x 14 size canvases because I teach beginners how to paint from home and this size is just an easy to manage size to work with at home! 

If you are working larger, you may need to find out how to enlarge a PDF. There’s a few ways to do this and you can see one method in my tutorial here.

You can also go to any print shop (FedEx) and have them enlarge the traceable there. 

There are a few tutorials on my website that do suggest you enlarge the traceable but for the most part I usually do the enlarging for you in the PDF size for all my newer tutorials. 

My bicycle Traceable, for example, is printed on two papers and taped together. 

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! You can apply your own graphite to the back of the traceable simply by 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. 

Where can I print your traceables?

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