What is Tracing Paper?
Tracing paper is a very thin, low opacity paper used to trace and transfer images. This translucent paper was first mass-produced in the mid-19th century. Tracing paper can be made from treated wood pulp or from cotton rag. Tracing paper is a versatile surface; it is translucent and designed to accept most drawing media. It can be used for transfer tracing, fine line drawing, and overlays. Vellum tracing paper is super thin; it is a higher quality translucent paper that is good for engineer plans and technical drawing.
The History of Tracing Paper
Mechanical paper production caused tracing paper to be made more cheaply and efficiently than previous handmade tracing papers. Like most paper in the 1800s, tracing paper was originally made from cotton rag. Today, it is typically made with wood sulfite pulp and it continues to be perfect for all sorts of professional applications. Widely used by map makers, engineers and architects when it was first manufactured, tracing paper is still used by artists, architects and other professionals today.
Tracing Paper in Engineering
Architects and other civil engineers often use tracing paper rolls for blueprints and other planning documents. These rolls are sometimes referred to as trace, banner paper, drafting paper and architecture paper. Thin yellow vellum tracing rolls are sometime referred to as “bumwad” paper. This paper resembles cheap toilet paper, especially if you crumple it up before tossing it in the trashcan. Bumwad is often laid over a paper plan or AutoCad rendering to make quick sketches of architectural details.
Trace paper like Tara Banner Bond Rolls are not only great for blueprints because of the size and transparency, but also because tracing paper is hot pressed. Hot press paper is very smooth, allowing fountain pens nibs, pencils and styluses to apply ink or graphite easily in smooth, long strokes.
Tracing Paper in Fine Art and Craft
Artist tracing paper will accept most drawing media and can be used for transfer tracing, fine line drawing and overlays. Some artists use tracing paper to experiment with compositions and to transfer images to canvas, wood, drywall or other surfaces. Vellum tracing paper is tougher than standard tracing paper and it is preferred for engineering, architectural and technical drawing use. Oiled tracing paper can be used to produce photographic heliogravure prints.
Tracing paper can be used to copy drawings and create overlays for fine art drawings. Tracing paper is used by tattoo designers for sketching designs and applying designs to their clients’ skin before permanent inking. Scrapbook enthusiasts may use tracing paper for creating interesting spreads with layered papers, and sewers use pattern tracing paper to lay patterns over fabrics before cutting and sewing. Tracing paper is also used by comic book illustrators and animators.