Using acetate for drawing

by Apr 20, 2021Art Supplies, News

Acetate is a great medium

Recently Jane has talked us through using different papers for acrylics & oils, watercolours, pastels & chalk. She has looked at canvases too. Now she recommends trying to draw on Acetate.

She said “Acetate is a great medium to use, I’ve used it on many different projects. If you do want to try it, and I recommend you do – it is fun, I’d recommend a fine point marker pen such as a Posca pen or the sort of pens that draw on to shiny surfaces and cd’s. For colouring larger areas you will need a broad nib, again a Posca pen is ideal.”

Acetate can be used in multiple ways

You can photocopy something onto acetate to add a layer / overlay to something you have drawn. Acetate can be drawn on directly. You can also use the acetate as a tracing medium and then do more with the traced image. Jane shows example of all three of these below.

Using acetate as a layer

Here I did an illustration for a children’s book and a good way to use acetate is to photocopy a design (or in this instance text) on to acetate for an overlay.

In this picture the acetate is to the right and ready to be placed on top of the illustration.

When the acetate is layered on top of the illustration it gives the image a finished look.

Block coloured onto acetate

Acetate is also used by commercial and graphic artists. Acetate is strong, transparent or semi-transparent sheet of plastic, available in various thicknesses and used to cover art to protect, in crafting and in printing.

An acetate overlay is easy to do, in the first example we looked at with the use of a photo copy with text on.

This image is block coloured on to acetate using a black marker pen and then to create the fine detail I have used a scalpel to scratch away the ares I want to be see through.

When finished the surface you have scratched on is placed face down when overlaying on to a printed paper, this protects the drawing.

Here I have used different tinted papers for each image.

Tracing and ‘improving’ – a project to try

Here is a quick project to have a go at which starts by tracing an image you want to work on.

First choose an image you want to draw. This is a nice picture of a poppy done in watercolour.

poppy painting to use as start point

Working on the acetate

Now with a black marker pen (I’m using a posca pen) lay your acetate (just the type to draw on) over the area you want to draw and just block in the flower in the black marker.

The posca pens I’m using are all bullet tip PC-5M costing £5.25 each.

Once the ink is dry then using a craft knife start scraping away at the black area, by scratching in lines and cross hatching. I’m using a Swann Morton trimaway knife costing £1.10.

Because I’ve used posca pens I can then add colour to the sketch. All I’ve done is to colour over the top of the scratched away black marker.

The finished acetate

When you are happy with what you have done get a sheet of coloured paper and place the acetate face down on the the paper.

The coloured paper I’m using is designed for pastels costing £1.00 per sheet.

You can use different colours for the background to see what works and also why not add a mount to really finish it off.

The mount size is for a 10×8 frame and the opening is for a picture 8×6 in black costing £2.60

Jane is a member of the Gadsby’s team. She has a wide knowledge of the arts & crafts products and materials sold by Gadsby’s both from the perspective of an advisor in the shop and, for many of the products, from personal use too.

Please note that this is not a service that Gadsbys offer to clients – just an example of the private work done by one of the highly skilled and knowledgable Gadsby’s team shown for your interest.

The prices quoted were correct at the time of publication of this post. 

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