Parchment Craft Basics – Tracing

Tracing and Parchment craft 

Welcome to a new series of basic techniques and tips aimed at beginners starting parchment craft.

Tracing is usually the first skill you learn for traditional parchment craft.

Parchment paper is translucent and so it is easy to trace, from a line drawing or picture, on to the parchment.

Depending on the finished effect you want, you can use tracing to highlight your design or just use it for guidelines, which are erased in the end.

Here is a link to a video showing you how to trace.

Methods of Tracing on to Parchment Paper

The simplest method is to lay the parchment onto the paper pattern and fix together with low tack tape. Working on a hard surface like card or design board, then use a pencil or pen to follow the pattern.

This can be done with sharp white pencil, or an ordinary pencil,  white or coloured inks a mapping pen and/ or a coloured fineline pen like a white gel pen, or coloured Pigma Micron pens.

Trace with white pencil or pens?

White pencil – use either a mechanical pencil with white leads or a Pergamano White Pencil in the above design the head of the lady has been traced, then the parchment turned and the lines embossed on the back – the pencil on the front is then erased.

Ordinary graphite pencil can be used if you find the white pencil is difficult to see. It is of course, erased afterwards.

The above flower is traced in white ink, this can be done with a white gel pen or mapping pen and white Tinta ink- this gives a different look to the parchment. The line should be really fine for the best effect.

One of my favourite designs from Christine Coleman

Trace with coloured Tinta ink- black for example can give a design , impact.

What do you need

So, to get started tracing you need parchment paper of 150 / 160 gsm and a white pencil/pen or mapping pen and ink and a pattern or picture, a piece of card or a design board to work on. Also you might need, low tack removable tape, a piece of black paper (see tips), a pencil sharpener, an eraser pencil or battery eraser, coloured fineline pens, a pad of kitchen roll to rest your hand on.

Tips for tracing

  • If using a white pencil always keep the point very sharp.
  • Keep a small piece of black card handy to place underneath the parchment to reveal where you have traced and where you have missed a line.
  • Use pencil /pen lightly, don’t press to hard
  • To prevent ‘shaky hand’ – brace the side of your hand on the table and practise drawing an arc smoothly.
  • Keep turning the parchment so your hand is always in a comfortable position.
  • Use the pencil/ pen as vertically as possible.

No tracing 

If you are going to colour the centre flowers with polychromos pencils for example, there maybe no need to trace as you can fix the parchment to the pattern and colour the parchment directly over the line drawing.