Thursday, January 31, 2008

From now on, I'll have to hand-transfer my drawings

Here I am in my studio, using my window as a makeshift light table. Normally, I take my sketches to a blueprint shop downtown and have them transferred to Canson paper. But for Ron, my current picture book, I've been using watercolor paper.

Recently, when I went to the blueprint shop to have my sketches transferred, the young woman who works there informed me that she could no longer transfer my sketches. She said that 140-pound watercolor paper was too thick for their machine. She said I'd have to use a lighter weight paper, like 90-pound. Who, except for maybe a high school student, would use 90-pound watercolor paper? It's like trying to paint on tissue. The paint puddles and the paper warps.

I was furious. They'd already transferred 6 of my images, and 140-pound paper had worked just fine in their machine. At that point, my choices were to illustrate the book with two weights of paper, or to start completely over using that 90-pound crap. I decided to wait a couple weeks and return to the shop. I planned to go at a different time of day and, maybe, there'd be a different person working.

So yesterday, I moseyed myself back into the blue print shop and, thankfully, the young woman wasn't there. Instead, a new kid — gangly, hungry-looking, appearing to be thankful to have a job — was working there. I figured if he gave me any problems, I'd act crazy and make a lot of noise and, you know, the customer's always right. He'd be afraid to lose his new job, so he'd go ahead print my sketches.

Well, that's exactly what happened. But no sooner than I whipped out my crazy-man attitude, the young woman from before stepped into the room. She looked at me giving the new guy a hard time and asked, "Is that 90-pound watercolor paper you're trying to run through our machine?"

Both the young woman and the hungry-looking new kid — and everyone in the shop — was staring at me, waiting for an answer. At first I started to lie and say "yes," just to prove that 140-pound watercolor paper would indeed work in their machine. But I figured if it didn't, and if it crumpled up, they might hold me responsible. So I said, "No, it's not. I can't paint half my book on 140-pound watercolor paper, and the other half toilet paper. You guys already printed part of my book, and the paper worked fine."

The young woman and I continued our exchange. I lost the argument, but only after scaring the hungry-looking new guy enough that he was willing to at least try to print my sketches. But the young woman wasn't having it. I gave her the dirtiest look I could muster up. If looks could kill, the young woman wouldn't have been dead, but she would have been missing a few fingers.

So once again, here I am in my studio, hand-transferring my drawings. Some artists use a carbon paper technique. Others simply redraw their sketches directly onto their canvas or paper. I really dislike transferring artwork. I dislike it so much, I once paid a friend to transfer my sketches for me. My light table is much too small for these double-page drawings, so for the remainder of this book, I'll be standing here in my studio window, transferring images and waving at my neighbors as they walk by.


Dee said...

ugh...I HATE transferring...I use carbon paper, but don't like it. Good luck with the chore.

indigene said...

Not now, but maybe later you can research some other shops to see if they will do it. It's worth a try. But ugh! It's a horrid chore, only the outcome keeps you going!

rindawriter said...

I sympathize. The quiltie type people use light tables, and you may find a much larger one to use if you investigate quilt stores, quilting supply stores, etc.

They also have transfer sheets. I am not sure what those are called or how/what the material is, but it comes in large sizes/sheets. Quilters must transfer large things generally.

There is also the old table with extra boards method. Get the glass large enough for your paper, spread the table, put in the glass and get a light bulb underneath. You ought to be able to get the size large enough for your needs. Beats standing up and squinting at the sunlight, anyway, hope it all helps.