Making your own transfer paper
For my process, the most important part of a dry media piece of art is a good line drawing. It is often the most time consuming part of drawing for me. However, I do not typically sketch directly on the paper on which I will complete the drawing. Instead, I sketch my drawing on newsprint or other thin paper and transfer the line drawing onto the final surface when I have the composition and form how I want it. To transfer an image I sandwich a sheet of graphite paper between my sketch and final surface, and trace the lines I want to show through.
There are many commercial transferring papers on the market, but I find that they all suffer the same defect: they are far too dark and transfer too heavily. To get around this problem I make my own graphite paper. It only takes a few minutes and you can use the same sheet many times over.
On tracing paper I take a stick of relatively soft graphite and scribble it all over the paper in several directions. I want a heavy saturation so I don’t lay the stick on its side, but use the end corner and get as much graphite laid down as I can. It usually takes about four directions of coverage to get enough graphite on the paper. You could use a pencil but I don’t want to have to sharpen if I don’t have to.
Once there is enough graphite down I take a napkin, tissue, or paper towel and gently rub the whole surface until it is a uniform soft gray. This step helps allow only the graphite you want to come off while transferring.
The transfer paper is now ready to use. Every few uses I lay a bit more graphite down, rub it with a tissue and re-use. I have never worn out a transfer paper from too many transfers. Usually I make a new paper every five or so drawings because they sometimes tear or crumple. If I were more organized and kept them more safe they could probably last much longer.