When creating art, one of the most frustrating things can be achieving clean lines and proportionate shapes. For example, you may start painting a dog, only to realize you’ve made the head too big and the body too little.
It can be helpful to sketch what you want to paint, then transfer your sketch to the canvas. Rather than sketching on paper, then trying to recreate the sketch by hand on the canvas, you can use carbon transfer paper.
Carbon transfer paper works by acting as a layer in between your picture and the surface you want to transfer to. Not only does it work for paper and canvas, but it generally works on wood, metal, glass, ceramic, and more.
So, what is the best carbon paper for tracing? The best carbon paper for tracing is actually made using graphite. You’ll want to find graphite paper that creates clean lines on your paper, can be used more than once, and can work on multiple surfaces.
If you’re looking into purchasing carbon paper for tracing in your next art project, keep reading. We’ll provide you with everything you need to know about carbon paper, as well as a selection of our top 9 recommended products.
How To Use Carbon Paper For Tracing
Before it was made with graphite, carbon tracing paper was truly made using carbon. It’s the type of paper that you see when you sign legal papers at the bank to make multiple copies with one set of writing.
Previously made with a set of white, yellow, and pink papers, carbon paper is now generally either black or blue. You can find red carbon paper for tracing if you want, but black and blue tend to work best.
Using carbon paper for tracing is incredibly simple! All you need to do is grab the surface you want the picture transferred to, then lay the carbon paper graphite-side-down on that surface.
Place the picture you want to trace on top of the graphite paper. This could be your own drawing or an outline you printed from online. When you’re creating your own arts and crafts, you can draw inspiration from anywhere.
Once your picture, carbon paper, and desired surface are all lined up, use a stylus or sharp pen or pencil to trace the outline. It needs to be sharp so you can press down enough to transfer the graphite.
When you’re done tracing, remove the picture and carbon paper, and voila! Your picture should be transferred onto your canvas, wood, glass, ceramic, or whatever surface you chose.
Buying Carbon Paper For Tracing
Carbon paper for tracing has been a huge help with arts and crafts for many years. It assists artists in creating the vision they have for their art in a cleaner, more accurate way.
The key is finding good quality carbon paper, though. You want to make sure your carbon paper does its job properly the first time without ruining your project.
Check out our recommended top qualities to look for in carbon paper for tracing below.
1. Clean Lines
The whole point of carbon paper for tracing is to achieve clean lines on your art or craft surface. Whether it’s canvas, wood, or something else, you want to create a smooth, clean image.
The best graphite paper will give you those clean lines. It should also transfer only the lines that you’ve traced and nothing else.
Some of the lower quality graphite paper packs out there will leave smudges in places that you didn’t trace. This can ruin your final product, especially if the smudges don’t erase.
Graphite paper that does its job well will give you dark, clean lines where you traced while leaving the rest of your surface blank.
2. More Than One Use
Carbon paper for tracing shouldn’t be a one-and-done product. Like sandpaper, you should be able to use it for more than one project.
Think of how large the piece of graphite paper is, and how the entire thing is covered in graphite. Tracing one picture of a flower won’t use up all the graphite!
The best carbon paper will be reusable for many projects. You may have to reposition or trace in different areas after you’ve used the same area a few times, but it definitely has continual usability.
If you use your graphite paper and find that it doesn’t work for your second project, it may be a sign that you purchased low quality paper and should look for another brand.
Most brands of graphite or carbon paper will tell you all the surfaces it will work on. Generally, all carbon paper will work on paper, canvas, and wood.
Some brands will also work on glass, metal, ceramic, and even fabric. There are other types of transfer papers to use on fabric, so if your carbon paper says it’s not suited for fabric, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad product.
If you’re looking for carbon paper that can work on paper, canvas, wood, and fabric, be sure to check the product listing and see if it specifies that. Most that don’t work on fabric will have a warning that says it doesn’t work on fabric.
The 9 Best Carbon Papers For Tracing
Keeping in mind that the best carbon paper for tracing makes clean lines, can be used multiple times, and can work on a variety of surfaces, we’ve chosen 9 products that we recommend.
These brands each offer a carbon paper that stands out as being better quality for a reasonable price. Review each product and see which one is the right choice for your arts and crafts.
|Offeara Carbon Paper
|100 sheets, 9 x 13"
|Outus Carbon Transfer Paper
|30 sheets, 9 x 13"
|Raimarket Carbon Paper
|Winfield Carbon Transfer Paper
|4 sheets, 2 x 4 ft
|Richeson Transfer Paper Roll
|2 x 24 ft roll
|CRE Carbon Transfer Paper
|5 sheets, 26 x 42"
|MyArtscape Graphite Transfer Paper
|5 sheets, 20 x 36"
|Wangday Carbon Paper
|200 sheets, 9 x 13"
|Cridoz Carbon Paper
|50 sheets, 8.5 x 11"
1. Offeara Carbon Paper
This pack by Offeara includes 100 sheets of carbon paper, plus 80 sheets of tracing paper and a set of 5 styluses to trace your work.
Each sheet of carbon paper is 9 x 13 inches to cover more surface area than a standard copy paper size of 8.5 x 11 inches.
The carbon paper is high quality, leaving clean lines and no smudges. You’ll be able to use each sheet multiple times. With a pack of 100 sheets, you’ll be tracing for a long time!
It works well on canvas, paper, wood, metal, and ceramic. Note that fabric is not included on the list, so if you need to trace on fabric, this is not the right product for you.
We love that Offeara doesn’t just supply the carbon paper, but the styluses to go with it. You won’t have to purchase styluses separately or continually sharpen a pencil as you work.
Plus, with the added bonus of 80 sheets of tracing paper, you can expand your arts and crafts to not just transfer pictures using carbon paper, but trace any image you can find!
2. Outus Carbon Transfer Paper
Outus is another brand that offers smaller packs, only 30 sheets each, but could be great if you only need enough carbon paper for one or two group projects.
You can purchase Outus in both 8.5 x 11 inches and 9 x 13 inches. Each size tends to run around the same price, so grab whichever one works best for you.
It works great to transfer cleanly on wood, canvas, paper, and ceramics, but doesn’t work as well with fabric. It can work on rocks, though, so if you have a rock painting project, be sure to give this carbon paper a try!
Customers rave that this paper delivers clean, dark, smooth lines on a variety of surfaces. Whether you’re working on rocks, canvas, wood, or paper, every appropriate surface seems to have stellar results.
3. Raimarket Carbon Paper
The Raimarket carbon paper pack has the greatest number of accessories yet. This pack comes with 100 sheets of black carbon paper, 5 sheets of tracing paper, 5 styluses in a variety of head sizes, plus a mechanical pencil and lead box.
Raimarket tries to set you up for tracing success by providing everything you could possibly need for your arts and crafts.
They also have the option to buy their carbon paper in blue instead of black.
Whether you choose blue or black, their carbon paper is the most versatile yet. It works on canvas, wood, paper, glass, metal, ceramic, plus cardboard and light fabrics.
This carbon paper traces dark lines onto your desired surface and can be reused for multiple projects.
If you’re looking for an all-encompassing pack with everything you need for any project you can imagine, this is the pack for you.
4. Winfield Carbon Transfer Paper
This carbon transfer paper from Winfield only comes with 4 sheets, but that’s because each sheet is 2 x 4 feet in size.
These sheets are ideal for those looking to work on larger projects – either big pieces of wood or much larger than the standard canvas.
The Winfield carbon paper is extremely high quality. It creates clean, dark lines that won’t smudge, but will disappear underneath your layer of paint.
Many customers have used these carbon paper sheets on large wood projects and had great success.
5. Richeson Transfer Paper Roll
Richeson creates the largest size of carbon paper that we recommend. This transfer paper comes in a roll of 2 x 24 feet.
If you’re looking to create an extra-long project, this roll is perfect for you. Simply roll it out if you need and cut along the roll as you would with wrapping paper.
Because this roll is so long, you’ll have enough carbon paper to last you a long time. Especially considering it’s reusable!
This carbon paper is perfect for tracing giant projects with clear, smudge-free lines.
6. CRE Carbon Transfer Paper
The carbon paper offered by CRE is another extra-large brand, with 5 sheets at 26 x 42 inches in size. This is enough to cover a full sheet of plywood!
These sheets of carbon paper are specifically designed for woodworking, so they’d work best on large wood projects.
You could probably also use them on most of the other surfaces that work for carbon paper, like canvas or wood.
If you’re looking for carbon paper to use on plywood or large wood projects, this is a great option to buy!
7. MyArtscape Graphite Transfer Paper
MyArtscape creates graphite paper at a size of 20 x 36 inches. You’ll have plenty of space to create larger projects without getting paper that’s so big, it overwhelms your project area!
This carbon paper works on paper, wood, canvas, metal, and glass. You could even try it on ceramics! It’s not intended for fabric, so if you’re looking for a carbon paper for fabric, this one may not be right for you.
With only 5 sheets, you’ll have just the right amount for what you need without excess. Plus, with the ability to reuse each sheet, these will last for many projects!
8. Wangday Carbon Paper
Wangday offers a set of 200 sheets of carbon paper and 5 glittery styluses. You’ll be able to trace in style with these styluses! They come in a range of different head sizes to trace thick or thin lines, depending on your project.
The carbon paper works great to create nice, dark lines on your desired surface. Simply lay it graphite side down, put your picture on top, and start tracing.
Like the previous product, these sheets are 9 x 13 inches in size to give you a larger working area.
The product listing only includes canvas, paper, wood, metal, ceramic, and glass as the appropriate surfaces to use this carbon paper on.
However, customers have noted that they used this carbon paper for tracing onto fabric for sewing or embroidery and it’s worked great. So although it’s not specifically listed, customer experience indicates this could be a good option for fabric too.
9. Cridoz Carbon Paper
Although this pack only comes with 50 sheets of carbon paper, this could be exactly what you need if you still have some at home and are just looking for a small refill of your stash.
These sheets are standard 8.5 x 11 inches in size, perfect for covering the space of a sheet of copy paper, notebook paper, or a smaller canvas or wood project.
The Cridoz carbon paper works great to give you dark, visible lines without leaving any errant smudges. It can be used multiple times, so all you’ll need is one sheet for your first few projects.
Ideal surfaces for this graphite transfer paper are canvas, clay, ceramic, wood, and paper.
This is another product that doesn’t specifically list fabric as a surface, but has customer reviews saying it works well on light fabrics. It creates clear lines that don’t rub off while you’re working, but still wash out when the project is done.