If like me you do a lot of erasing before you can be happy with a drawing, then drawing straight on watercolour paper is not really an option. Because botanical painting is cut to white, any trace of erasing, smudging, or marking on the paper will stand out and completely ruin the feeling of freshness that is so desirable when you paint flowers.
An easy way to solve this is to draw first in a sketchbook, trace the drawing and then transfer it to watercolour paper. This gives you some gorgeous sketchbooks to peruse through for years to come, a beautiful record of your work, the comfort to know that there is no pressure and you can erase to your heart’s content, and a clean, smudge-free drawing on your precious watercolour paper. It also gives you a master copy of the drawing, should you mess up the painting and have to start again (it happens…)
What you need:
- Cartridge paper or sketchbook
- Tracing paper
- Tracedown transfer paper (it looks like the old fashioned carbon paper, minus the grease and the wax)
- Watercolour paper
- A normal pencil and a coloured one
- Soft putty rubber (I like the Maped grey putty rubber)
How it works:
- First you draw your subject, either on cartridge paper or in a sketchbook.
- Trace the drawing with a normal graphite pencil on tracing paper (the lower quality the better: if it is too thick, the line won’t go through at the next stage)
- Position your tracing on the watercolour paper and use little bits of soft putty rubber to hold it in place
- Slide the Tracedown transfer paper between the tracing paper and the watercolour paper, dark side down
- Using a coloured pencil, go over the drawing
- Remove the tracing and transfer paper: Tadaaa! You have a clean drawing on the watercolour paper
Here is a video I posted on my YouTube channel Flora’s Patch, which shows the whole process:
I often get questions that start with “This is a stupid question but…” or “This may sound stupid…”
Stupid questions are the essential ones; the questions people are worried about asking because they think everyone else knows the answer. But they don’t! And they really wish they did, so don’t be afraid to ask…
Our second question – asked by Bing Aling on my YouTube channel- is about erasing, an all important part of drawing:
Which is the best rubber to use?
A collective pile of erasers from my holidays in Ardèche
I have several rubbers for different purposes, but the one thing they have in common is that none of them are made of rubber. A rubber rubber can smudge a lot and make the paper irretrievably dirty. A plastic rubber on the other hand, erases smudges well and leaves the paper clean. However, if used too much or too hard, it can damage the paper. This is where the putty comes in. A putty rubber is much softer than a normal one, but doesn’t erase strong marks.
Here is my platoon of erasers:
- Plastic rubber (PVC and phthalates free): for larger areas and stronger marks. Be gentle with it to avoid damaging the paper
- Tombow Mono Zero: still a plastic rubber, and still PVC free, this allows for tiny marks, such as lifting highlights or even some veins
- Putty rubber: a lot softer than the others, this is good for large areas of soft marks, including brushing lightly on top of a painting to erase pencil lines, as demonstrated at the beginning of this video on my Flora’s Patch YouTube channel:
There are several types of putty rubbers, with different degrees of softness. I like the Maped grey, very soft and gentle. It does get messy on a hot summer day so keep the plastic wrapper to avoid melting squidgy mess under the fingernails.
Keep the questions coming; I will answer them, whether directly or with a blog post or video.