Sketch to Canvas: the process

Sketch to Canvas: the process

IMG_52073This is my most recent canvas/watercolor project: a quote from a Lauren Daigle song for a friend of mine. This was by far the hardest canvas I’ve done so far, but it also turned out the best of all of my canvases. Let me explain the process a little, following the labels on the photo. 🙂

Step 1: sketch it out.

Pencils are important for a reason, people, and that reason is the fact that they erase. Ink pens, much as I wish they would, do not. So for my original ideas for this canvas, a pencil was a very important tool, and I can’t tell you how many times I erased the many, many mistakes that took place in that first sketch. But then, after all of the work, it was ready for something greater.

Step 2: ink the sketch.

I have a Pilot V5 ink pen, one I’ve seen my grandma use for normal writing and decided to try out with lettering. It works fantastically! I’ve been using it nonstop since I bought it, and I really appreciated it for the sketch, with adding in details. I then erased all of the pencil lines, and got ready to scan this original to trace onto canvas.

Step 3: scan the original sketch.

I’ve tried a couple of different methods of getting my lettering onto the computer. One is simply taking a picture of it, and the other is scanning it. One of the downsides to scanning is that the finished image isn’t high-quality when you’re done with it, especially if your scanner is junk challenging like mine. On the other hand, taking a picture of it doesn’t turn out as sharp and free of shadows like a scan does. So while there are pros and cons to both, I’ve had pretty good luck with scanning, especially since I take it into a program similar to Adobe Illustrator (Inkscape) and convert it to a vector after scanning it. Anyway, after a process that would literally take me days to explain, I converted the scan to a pdf file, then printed it out again on normal copy paper to trace for canvas. As you can see, I added an ampersand digitally because I didn’t feel confident drawing one. 🙂

Step 4: prep your canvas.

For this project, all that I needed to do was paint a decent watercolor background. I used two different sizes of brushes: one very small and one medium sized. I don’t have a method for watercolor, but typically I will add a lot of water and let the colors drip into each other. 🙂

Step 5: trace.

So this is what I did for a fairly accurate trace: I flipped the paper over and held it up to a window so I was seeing the letters backwards. Then, I took a pencil and heavily colored in the lines. This puts a layer of pencil lead on the words. I then turned the paper over again and laid it on top of my now-dry canvas, taking the pencil and tracing over the words on that side. The pencil’s pressure on the one side transfers the lead from the other side to the canvas. I find this much more exact than trying to free-hand it. 🙂 You’ll also note that though I added a digital ampersand, I ended up drawing one anyway.

Step 6: ink it.

I then just do what I did with the original sketch – take an ink pen over the pencil lines. I had to let the ink dry for a while before I could erase the pencil lines, as the ink takes longer to dry on canvas than on paper, but other than that minor detail, it turned out very well and I’m really pleased with it!

So there’s a little bit of what I’ve been up to, and a hopefully helpful take on transferring your own lettering/artwork to canvas. 😉