Friday, August 26, 2011


After reading my explanation of the steps I went through to create the art for the pin-on button, several of you asked, "How did you transfer the sketch to the watercolor paper?"   There are actually quite a few ways this transfer can be made, from completely mechanized methods all the way down to totally manual processes (after all, artists have always had to transfer sketches to working surfaces, long before our modern technological age).  I will demonstrate here the method I almost always use these days. This was the final sketch for the button, combining the little figure and the necessary text:
My next step was to scan this sketch into my computer, and print it out on transparent film:
I then set up my light box:
A light box (or light table) is just what it sounds: a box with a top of either transparent glass or acrylic; or frosted glass or acrylic.  Inside the box, beneath the glass/acrylic surface, are fluorescent light bulbs. 
When the light box is turned on,it generates an intense bright light through its transparent surface.  The brightness is demonstrated in this photo---although I took the photo in broad daylight, and the light box is situated exactly where it was in the previous photo, the camera has to turn the surroundings nearly black to demonstrate the difference of degree in lightness.  (Or at least, that's how I've had to do it---I'm not yet facile with my digital cameras!)
I lay the piece of printed film on the surface of the light box, and then lay a piece of 90 pound watercolor paper over the film.  90 pound paper is a moderately lightweight paper.  This enables the printed sketch to show through it well enough that I can trace it lightly onto the paper with a soft pencil.  In this photo, the printed sketch does not appear as distinctly as it does in real life.  In any case, I do not need to make a perfect, identical copy of the sketch.  I have learned from experience that it is very important that I be, in a sense, creating the finished art for the first time.  If I am slavishly "copying" the sketch, the finished art will be lifeless.  
And so, once again---finished art for a pin-on button!


  1. maybe i need a lightbox to drape myself across in the short dark days of winter.

  2. Thanks so much for the explanation, Wendy. Love seeing this.