Carbon Drawings


Carbon copy paper offers something special to the art of painted paper collage, adding line work in mirror and duplicate form. It is a great way to explore and expand ideas for layering.


Today you'll be doing two mini-projects. Both are drawing projects, one for your sketchbook and the other in preparation for this module’s art assignment. Carbon copy sheets are very useful for making marks and drawings on the deli papers. The carbon lines do not smudge in the same way pencil lines will when collaged. Carbon copy paper is also ideal for creating textures and marks on the deli papers with non traditional materials.


Flower drawings

The first project is a number drawing, similar to the butterfly drawing project. You'll again be using numbers to create simple flower drawings in your sketchbook. These will be used in both this module and the next one. See video for details.

Carbon drawings and marks

Use the sketchbook butterfly wing drawings made with numbers as reference for a larger butterfly drawing on the deli paper. The method used is to fold the carbon paper in half with the carbon side on the outside then fold the deli paper so that the outside (the rougher side) sits against the carbon.

Place these inside another deli paper to be drawn on - you do not want pencil lines on the same paper you are transferring the carbon marks on.

Once these are in place start your drawing with a sharp HB pencil (don't use a soft graphite pencil). Draw on the back of your paper pad, similar cardboard or hard surface. Apply even pressure, keep the lines even and press down quite hard to transfer clear black lines. You can add extra lines and marks to create a butterfly, all the marks you make will become duplicated.

Once completed, draw another. Use the existing butterfly pencil drawing as template for the next drawing - it is important to get the outlines to match and you can alter the lines and marks on the inside to create different details.

Use this template again for subsequent butterflies drawings if you like.

The most important aspect of this mini-project is to see how marks get transferred and duplicated, which (as it happens) is very useful for this butterfly 'wings' project. Have a look at the video to see the process.

As just mentioned carbon copy paper allows the transferring of marks and textures from drawing instruments and other objects in immediate ways, and using it folded as demonstrated you're able to create mirrored duplicates.

Explore with materials such as the back of paintbrushes and pens, teaspoons, forks and pebbles to see what you can create. Make wave patterns, lines, circles and curves on four or five sheets but allow at least one sheet per texture.


Carbon copy paper is a brilliant tool to use for layered paper collage, and in today’s project you will develop components to be used for this module’s artwork project. The simple imaginary flower drawings created from numbers will also be useful for different applications in this course. Incorporating spontaneous carbon copy marks and textures to cut paper collage is one of the outcomes of this mini-project.

© 2020 Esté MacLeod

© 2020 Explore Colour