How To Make Transfer Paper

Did you know you can make your own transfer paper with stuff you probably already have?

This is the best way to make transfer paper for next to nothing. Avoid buying expensive transfer paper by making it yourself. The best part, besides being almost free and super easy to do, is this transfer paper can be made any size. You’re not limited to the predefined small rolls of transfer paper that they sell at art stores.

Transfer paper is excellent for transferring your artwork from paper to canvas or paper to anything really. Make all of your drawing mistakes on scrap paper first and then successfully transfer your design to your artwork’s final destination. This can be a wall, panel, canvas…anything you can think of.

I start all of my oil paintings by transferring over my composition from drawing paper. After years of experimenting I would not do it any other way. Enjoy this free tutorial and please leave a comment below. Happy transferring!!!

Don’t forget to check out all of my favorite tested and approved art materials at



How To Make Transfer Paper: Transcript

Hi, this is John from, transfer paper is fantastic for transferring a drawing onto a canvas however, store-bought transfer paper tends to be expensive and it’s even sometimes difficult to find.

Today I’m going to show you how you can make your own transfer paper.

To Make our homemade transfer paper we’ll need a sheet of tracing paper, we’ll need a dark pencil, some solvent and something to spread around the solvent.  Paper towels will work, I’ve chosen a cotton ball here.

I’ve tried this with many solvents, my favorite is rubber cement thinner because it seems to evaporate a lot quicker than the other solvents.

So the first thing we’re going to do here is lay down a whole bunch of graphite pencil.  I’m using an 8B pencil.

Now I just have to spread around the graphite evenly with my rubber cement thinner.  You might want to do this outside or in a garage, there’s quite a bit of fumes given off right now…

I think that’s okay for now.  That’s it! My transfer paper is all done.  I can use this now to transfer a drawing onto one of my canvases.

What I like about making my own transfer paper is I can make it any size I want.  Don’t forget to check out my website, where I reveal all my favorite tools and materials that I use in my artwork.  Thanks for watching.



  1. What do you do when you want to put a drawaing on a t shirt?

    1. John Morfis says:

      I have never worked on t-shirts, sorry.

  2. Hi! What other solvent can I use apart from the one you used, cause I can’t find one where I live

    1. John Morfis says:

      I tried a bunch eons ago and the more dangerous and the more toxic it seems the better the results. There’s acetone, lacquer thinner, etc… Honestly, why not just buy a roll of transfer paper? It’s a good investment and very reusable.

  3. Laura Moyer says:

    Is there anyway to make the transfer paper to make permanent markings? I’m tracing my sewing patterns for clothes onto tissue paper and need the transfer paper to make permanent markings onto the tissue paper for me.

    1. John Morfis says:

      This is a drawing and painting website. I have no clue about sewing.

    2. For sewing, it is better to buy branded carbon paper, because the paper has been waxed so the results are permanent. And carbon paper is cheap.

      For artists, we cannot use branded or factory-made ones, because the result not erasable and can interfere with the color of the painting. That’s the reason artists makes their own carbon paper, to make it can be erased.

  4. Margaret Haro says:

    I have some old “Famous Artists Course” books and they used lighter fluid. Which I did and it works very well.

  5. Could I do it with a regular peoce of paper or wax paper maybe and a number 2 pencil?

    1. John Morfis says:

      Any heavy layer of really dark pencil will sort of work, just not quite as good. Use the softest darkest pencil you have like an 8B or so.

  6. nono nanette says:

    I don’t understand! After you make the transfer paper, how do you get your drawing onto a canvas? Thanks!

    1. Nono,
      Lay your transfer paper, graphite side down, on top of the surface you wish the transfer the image to. Then put the image you wish to transfer on top of that and trace it. Check by rolling back corners and sides as you trace to make sure it is working well and that all areas are good before lifting up the whole image. You will never get it laid back in the exact same spot if you pick the whole thing up.

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