5 Easy Art Drawing Hacks – To Save Money and Time

The two things we sometimes find ourselves short of in life is time and money. One of my favorite expressions in the world is “day late and a dollar short”. And that certainly applies to me at times!

But I think it’s safe to say that we all love to stretch our supplies to save money, or do something in an easier way to save time, even when it comes to drawing.

This article will give you 5 of my easy art drawing hacks that really work nicely, either in a pinch or if you’re just exceptionally frugal. 😉

Also, if you’re really into other hacks for life, click here for this article from dyis.com.

1. Let There be Light! – Window Transfer

Whatever the reasons are for needing to do a transfer of a drawing – and there are many – you may not have the luxury of owning a lightbox. In fact, I only just acquired one a couple years ago. I was too cheap (I prefer to think of myself as frugal, thank you very much!) to purchase one.

This is where a window comes in handy. It will act as your lightbox. 🙂 Keep in mind, it should be during the day with plenty of light coming through the window for it to work.

You first have to have the drawing you wish to transfer on transparent paper (copier or printer paper is fine) – it can’t be on thicker opaque paper because the light has to be able to show through it to see the image.)

In this photo I have my art sheet of paper on top of the image copy, both are against a window. Notice how clearly you can see the image!

So here are the two simple steps to transfer using a window:

1. Just place a plain sheet of your art paper on top of the image you want to transfer (the image has to be facing up), and take both together and place them against the window.

2. Then simply trace over the major lines in the drawing, and your’re good to go. You can take the papers off the window to look at your progress as you’re going along, but take care to hold onto them together and don’t let them slide or it’ll throw off your drawing.

An advantage to the window transfer is that you can trace the lines in the colors you will be using in each area.

2. An Old No. 2 Will Do – Graphite Transfer

Another transfer method that works very well is graphite transfer. Some of you may not be old enough to remember carbon paper; before the days of copiers (boy am I dating myself or what??). Well, if you don’t remember carbon paper, there is such a thing as graphite paper that does the same thing.

I have tried this product and was not impressed. The lines turned out very dark and not very erasable.

So my advice? Save yourself some money and grab a plain old no. 2 pencil (yes the kind required to fill in the little bubbles on exams!). Sharpen it too, please.

Again, you will need to have the image on plain paper (copier or printer paper) to do this.

Five easy steps for the graphite transfer:

1. Turn the image over so the image is face-down.

2. Apply graphite (yes, that’s the no.2 pencil) using the side of your pencil and move it back and forth in a solid dark layer over where the image approximately is. It is not necessary to apply graphite outside of lines you wish to transfer.

Just so we’re clear, you are applying the graphite to the back side of the image.

Hint: If you do it on a window (image side against the window) you can see right where the image is so you can apply graphite

only to that area. In this photo, I have the image side against the window and have applied the graphite to the other side and have covered just where the image is.

3. Then place the paper with the image, graphite side down onto your art paper. Do not allow the image to slide or you will smear the graphite.

4. While holding it down with your free hand, simply trace all the lines you wish to transfer. The pressure from your pencil (and you don’t have to press hard!) will push down on the

graphite underneath and create the lines for you.

You may peek at how it’s working by continuing to hold down on one end and lift up the other end. You can see this clearly in this photo.

5. When you’re done tracing, carefully lift the image off your art paper underneath and like magic, there is your line drawing!


After Transfer

Don’t worry if the lines are faint! They should not be dark. They should be just dark enough to see so you can render the art piece and still be able to erase.

If the lines turned out to be too dark, you could lightly erase the lines to make them light or use a kneaded eraser to lift them to be lighter.

An advantage to this method is the ease with which you can erase the lines as you go along in creating your art.

An important note: I am assuming you are transferring your own drawing or artwork or a drawing or photo you have permission to render artistically. I am not a copyright attorney or anything like that, but please read up on the law if you are thinking of transferring a drawing or photo belonging to another person who owns the copyright. You don’t want to get into legal copyright infringement trouble.

==>Click here for my post on Pencil Drawing Supplies – A Beginner’s Guide for What to Choose<==

3. Get a Grip, Would Ya?!

You know those wonderful pens they make with the soft spongy grip? It feels so nice on your fingers to use such a pen and makes it so much easier to hold without slipping; I often try to grab that one when I need a pen.

For obvious reasons, art pencils (except mechanical pencils) cannot be made like this since they need to be sharpened.

But sometimes if your hands are dry or you just wish you could grip it more securely, you wish for some means for this. Sure, you can buy grippers, they do make them. But wanna know an easy hack to this?

Rubber Bands. Yes, rubber bands. Just wrap a rubber band around the pencil(s) you’re using, and you have an instant gripper! And it really works well, it’s unbelievable!

4. “Are You That Cheap?”

That’s what my husband asked me when he saw me doing this next hack.

You know whenever you use a pencil down to about 3-4 inches in length and that’s when you usually go to the store or online to replace it? This is because you just don’t have the same leverage using one of these “shorties” as you did when it was long, and you could feel the balance in your hand. And it gets more challenging to sharpen it as well.

So you just replace it, but you don’t have the heart to throw out that little shortie that has been with you through thick and thin, having served you so well through all those masterpieces and if you’re like me, you end up with a whole collection of those little shortie friends!

They do make extenders, yes, but buying a bunch of extenders is expensive. My solution?

Glue end-to-end

Here’s where superglue comes

in handy. Yep, you guessed it; you glue the pencils end-to-end. I like the Locktite Super Glue (haven’t had good luck with Gorilla Glue holding up during the use of the glued pencils).

Just put a little glue on each pencil end, and push and hold the ends together for about 15 seconds. Then set it down and finish to let it dry. To reinforce the connection, apply masking tape around it a few times.

And you don’t even have to use the same colors to do this. So what if you have indigo blue on one end and apple green on the other. You can continue to use those shorties made into a decent length pencil again! Money saved and time going to the store, what could be better?

So I just smile at my husband, and say, “Yup, I guess I am that cheap!” lol

==>Go here to check out my article on “5 Best Drawing Tools – Must Haves to Draw Your Best”<==

5. Kneaded Eraser – Don’t Worry If You Don’t Have One

Kneaded erasers are great, aren’t they? I love having them around because there are times that you just need to literally lift color or graphite without risking smearing with back-and-forth movement of a traditional eraser.

But, inevitably it happens: You’re in your “art zone”, happily creating your piece and you need to “lift” a spot. “Now where did I put that kneaded eraser?”, you ask yourself. Can’t find it? No time (or extra cash) to run to the art store? No problem.

Most people have masking tape hanging around somewhere. Yes, it works to lift, just like a kneaded eraser! Just gently push down and pull up, just like you were using a kneaded eraser. Fold the tape over or use a clean side to lift more.

Just word of caution: do not press hard and rub on it before lifting, or it could rip your paper when you pull it off and you’ll be cursing me out for sure! Haha. Here are before and after photos that show how well tape lifts:

And guess what? if you are a mom or dad, you may even try silly putty (if your child has it) or sticky tack that you helped them make their school poster project with – these will work, too!

Do These Hacks Today!

I certainly hope these art hacks may help you save time or money. They really do work and are easy to do with simple items we have hanging around the house. After all, why not re-purpose some of those items? It stretches the dollar(s) we spent on them, too!

But I would like you to do one thing for me :

Please type in the comment box below a hack that has worked for you or how you save money and time for art.

Remember: your email address will never be shared.

Have a colorful day!


6 thoughts on “5 Easy Art Drawing Hacks – To Save Money and Time”

  1. #5! I’ve been looking for a way to create more realistic rays of light as it moves through a window into a dark room. I couldn’t get the contrast right. After reading -#5 I bunny hopped all over the house until I found some masking tape,and used it to lift the highlights for the sun rays. Worked a charm. Thanks!

    • That is so cool MC! So glad I was able to help. Another hint, erasers work will to create rays, as well. Just hold a regular eraser tight and firm and swipe down and lift off to remove color and create a taper. It can be repeated on the same ray to make it as thick as needed.

      Happy creating!!

  2. I love this. I knew about lightbox and graphite transfer but the grip was WOW. Immediately I read it I did it ,and the short pencil blew my mind because my pencils were getting short. The kneaded eraser was great, my friends and I always just rub normal erasers to get eraser dust and then mold it into a kneaded eraser and that was what I was expecting when I read the title never knew these three. Great work on not just this but the entire website. Keep up the good work.


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