Tracing on the screen of an Ipad – With tracing Paper

Tracing from an ipad.                  ©

Ok first, I am writing this so I remember how to do this. If you are going to do it you need to follow along with the ipad in your hand. If you can write better than I do I would appreciate any suggested edits once you have gone through it

If you want or need a “master drawing” from which to do multiple paintings from consider drawing your master on tracing paper. Yes there are many classic low-tech techniques you can use to draw the image, such as using the grid method or many others. Today, you can us a projector, tracing over a photo, trace on your computer monitor or this way, to use an ipad. Once the drawing/tracing/master is made you can use it over again quickly! The issue is the image must be 1:1 for the drawing to be the size of the painting. Images on a monitor don’t move when you touch them but they do on the touch screen of an ipad.

To freeze the screen on your Ipad (or iphone) so you can trace an image, you need to activate the feature called Guided Access. You can do a search on Guided Access for lots of YouTubes videos for more info.

On an Ipad or Iphone.

  1. Click – Settings, then Click > General > Accessibility, then scroll down and turn on – Guided Access.
  2. Set a pass code (make it very simple, like 1111). This does not need to be the same as your main security code.
  3. To activate the Guided Access feature hit the round button on the face of the ipad 3 times quickly to turn the lock on, then 3 times quickly to unlock. (Not the power button on top)
  4. You need to set up a few options. (Note: this feature it is designed to keep your kids from buying furniture from your phone when you only wanted them to play a game!!).

Camera-Lucida application: Available from the Apple app store.
Using Camera-Lucida to trace a photo onto tracing paper or equal.

  1. Open a photo, > book symbol in lower left.
  2. Move it around, resize it, pinch, etc. The screen of an ipad is a very close ratio to an 11×14”or 15”. So right now size it like you want to paint it!
  3. Got it? Click the “computer disk” save button. This saves a resized COPY of the original image.
  4. Touch the middle “drawing hand” button. Move the slider to far right to make the picture clear. Touch the “Tool Box”. (You can change the image as you like with this app. I often use Posterize to see values. Try lots and save lots of changes. You can delete the ones you don’t want later.)
  5. To make a tracing drawing select “Add Large Grid” > Save. This will put a 12 box grid (three wide by 4 long) on the NEW sized image you just made and it will be another COPY!

To trace a large image:
You can not see through or trace directly on to 140# Watercolor (WC) paper with the ipad. You must draw first on tracing paper (or equal) then trace on one of my easels, a window, or a lightbox.

  1. Lay a piece of tracing paper onto the sheet of WC paper. Align the top left corners. Draw the outer edges of the WC paper on the tracing paper so you have a reference.
  2. The first important steps of this drawing process is to make the first two marks on the tracing paper at the right size and location (see the 2.a below) so your tracing will be in the right scale. Again you have a drawing on your ipad with 12 boxes. To get the first two reference/alignment marks on the paper we need to determine and mark where the lower right corners of the upper left box and lower right corner of the middle left boxes (register locations) will be. These corners are located at and marked on your paper:
    1. Measure for 11×14”. Long side, measure in 3 ¾” (7 ½” & 11”) Then divide the length by fourths. For 14” length measure down 3 ½” & 7″, (10 ½, 14”).
    2. For an 8×10” measure in from long side 2 5/8” and down from the short edge
      2 ½”& 5”.
  3. Mark these two reference crosses at those intersections. These marks may change…
  4. To trace a one to one image on to the tracing paper you must now enlarge the image on the ipad. Go back to the image in Camera-Lucida you just created with the grid.
  5. This gets in the weeds so be patient.
    1. Pinch the image to make the size of the height of the grid square on the left side 3 ¾” tall (or very close). (for the 11×14” example) That makes the size of the image on the ipad fit your desired scale on the paper. Tip: You can mark 3 ¾” on a scrap of paper to use as a ruler.
    2. With one finger move the image to see all of the upper left corner square on the screen. (Don’t accidentally resize the image, or go back to 5a.) You should see two corner intersections.
    3. Tap the ipad screen button 3 times. That starts the Guided Access feature. The screen should be frozen in that position and touching the screen won’t move it.
    4. Line up the two registration marks on the tracing paper with the screen and use balls of Blu-Tack or kneaded eraser to hold your paper to the ipad. If the registration marks are off a tiny bit, remark the points exactly where they are on the screen. You will use these marks to line up the rest of the register marks.
    5. Begin tracing with a DARK pencil. You have to see these lines when you transfer it to the WC paper. Remember you are an artist. You don’t need every detail on this paper. You will refine the final drawing when you have it traced on your WC paper!!
    6. When you are done with that section, press the ipad button three times, enter your code, press “End” on the app in the upper left corner. This shuts off the Guided Access. Again WITH ONLY ONE FINGER reposition the image. Include the original two register marks in the image plus one or more corner. Press the ipad button three times and it is frozen again as in 5c
    7. As done previously, secured in place, accurately mark the additional new visible register mark(s). Then trace that section.
    8. You always need at least two register marks for alignment.
    9. When you are done you will have enough lines to transfer onto the WC paper.
  6. There are many ways to transfer this to the WC paper. You can Tape it on the back and trace on a window, or use some transfer paper (not carbon paper) and trace over the paper, etc. Please read my article “Before you Paint, Reference Photos and Pencil Lines”. It emphasis that if your lines will be seen in the painting, they need to be interesting!!!

Good luck, Bill
Created 25 Aug 19.