Creative to the Core: Tracing & Drawing with Carbon Paper

I learned some wonderful art techniques this summer at the Getty Center's Creative to the Core professional development workshop for educators. Here's one of many incredible ideas I took away from the class, on using carbon paper to recreate famous works of art. 

Directions:
Bottom Layer: Blank drawing paper (This will be the paper your final image is drawn on.)
Middle Layer: Carbon paper (Make sure the dark side of the paper facing down.)
Top Layer: The photograph or image you are transferring (Note that students will be tracing over this image with a ball point pen or pencil, so don't use originals that you want to keep perfect.)

You may want to consider stapling the three sheets together with several staples at the top, allowing students to flip the top two sheets as they monitor their progress, while preventing the papers from slipping or shifting (which would distort the final image).  

I practiced this myself using a color copy of a Franco de Sarto sketch (which is currently on exhibit at the Getty Center in Los Angeles).  I noticed that this brand of carbon paper is sensitive enough to distinguish varying levels of pencil pressure as I traced, allowing me to shade lightly in some areas, and darker in others as I followed the original artist's contours. 


The image on the left is a color copy of de Sarto's sketch that I used.  You can see where I drew over it with a black colored pencil. The image on the right is the result of the carbon paper imprints.

Students can then either sign their drawings and let them stand alone as their final product, or they can color their drawings with crayon, colored pencil, or watercolors to finish. 

I'm looking forward to trying this with my current class. (Just as soon as Amazon brings me the carbon paper I've ordered!)  And while I'm normally a fan of having students use color for everything, from art projects to math journals, in this case I'm planning on having students stop when they've finished drawing and shading with their pencils. Sometimes less really is more.