How to Create, Trace and Transfer Your Line Art

Apr 05, 2024
How to Create, Trace and Transfer Your Line Art

I’m frequently being asked how I create my line arts or what the best way to transfer a line art onto a surface is, which is why I wanted to share a couple of different techniques so that you can save time in the preparation stage and spend more time drawing!


How to Create a Line Art in Photoshop:


First of all, I create a new layer, go to my tool panel, choose the pencil tool, and change my colour to a bright colour. I usually use red or blue. Then I go to my system preferences, choose Sidecar and connect to my iPad, which is right next to me. The two connect and then I take the image on the screen and I just literally get a hold of the Photoshop window and drag it across and bring it onto my iPad. So once your new window is on your iPad screen, you can grab your Apple pencil and start to literally just draw around the shape. I can use my iPad keyboard or I can use my Mac keyboard, I can enlarge the picture, you can do anything that you would do on Photoshop, and then you just come in and draw on the screen with your pencil. It's much easier to draw with a pencil than drawing with your mouse. I've tried to create the line drawing within Photoshop itself with the tools that they've got but I find that the best way to create just a really simple line drawing is on my iPad with my Apple pencil. You can create your own by drawing freehand, you don't have to create a line art like this, but, for me, this is the quickest most efficient way of creating a line drawing for one of my tutorials. Because it is a separate layer to my photo, I can then just save the line drawing as a separate JPEG and when you’re finished you just come back to system preferences, click on Sidecar, click on disconnect and your image will appear back on your desktop in Photoshop. I then choose to swap the line drawing from the bright colour back to black, so what you’re going to do is hover over the top of the layer, hold down the command key and click, and you'll see that it selects the coloured line so all you need to do is fill that coloured line with black instead and you’re done!

If you want to see a video of me showing you exactly how to do this, click on the video at the top of this page.


Transferring Your Line Art to Your Surface:


One of the easiest methods is to take a printout of your line art and flip it over so the image is facing down. You should be able to see your line art faintly through the page and you’re just going to cover the back of the line art with graphite, making sure you’ve covered all the lines.

Then all you need to do is flip it back over and place it, graphite facing down, in the desired location on your surface. It’s important to then secure the paper with either tape or magnets, just something to stop it from moving, and you’re going to get a sharpish pencil and trace over the outline. It's key not to press too hard as it will indent your surface but you also want to apply enough pressure that the graphite transfers onto the surface below. Then what should happen is, when you take the piece of paper off, there should be a lovely faint outline of your subject on the surface ready for you to start drawing.

If you want to see me show you how to do this, click on the video at the top of this page and jump to 4 minutes 20.


Tracing With a Projector:


I love using a projector as it’s a really quick and easy way to get your line drawing onto your surface and if you don’t like how the previous technique can be a bit messy, then this technique might be the one for you.

You basically use a projector to project your reference photo onto your surface and then you can create a line drawing directly on the surface. Once the image is the size and in the correct placement you can use a pencil of your choice to gently trace around some of the details to create your line art and then you’re ready to get drawing!

The process for how to do this will vary slightly depending on what projector you have but I highly recommend the Pico Genie and if you want to see how it works and an example of this technique, make sure to watch the video above.

If you’re interested in getting your own projector, you can find the Pico Genie, and a discount code, linked in my free Materials Guide.


Give them a go and see which technique works best for you, and start drawing more! Because that's what it's all about!

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