Saral vs Oil transfers

I've been using Saral transfer paper in either graphite color or white to transfer my drawings to the stained canvas.  I haven't noticed any problems.

Recently, I learned about the process of doing an oil transfer by spreading a thin coat of earth toned oil paint on the back of the drawing.  Seem to me to be an extra step but it sounds interesting.  I haven't tried it.

Is there any real advantage of one technique over the other?   


  • I am sorry, I can't help, but will be interested to hear what others say.
    My paintings mostly start with me drawing the image with my brush directly onto the  canvas/linen/board or whatever I have stained.  On the odd occasion, I will ddraw on with a watercolour pencil if I need specific angles or something.
  • Thanks @toujours I draw directly with my brush when doing landscapes, but when I need more precision for portraits, I have to transfer a precise drawing or other image.  I then use Mark's proportional diagonals technique to keep a constant check on my measurements.
  • Gauguin did oil transfers.
    I played around with them years ago.  Brush or roll the oil paint on evenly for the best transfer.
  • @GTO Fascinating!  According to the article Gauguin invented the technique!  His technique was a little different though.  The finished oil transfer drawing ended up on the back side of the original.  The paint was brushed out on a second sheet.  Also fascinating is the he would use more than one color.  Reminds me of a one-shot sort of screen printing.

  • I did an oil transfer for my current painting. I printed out ordinary A3 paper to size (multiple sheets - big painting) and used the cheapest big tube of hobby paint raw umber I would never use normally. I painted the back of each page (not the whole page - just behind the main things I wanted to transfer) and simply transferred using a pen. It should be almost dry and don't put your hand down or you'll leave marks. If multiple sheets you need to place them accurately. I can't compare it to the other technique you mention.
  • mstrick96

    Essentially whether pigmented wax (saral) or thin earth tone it is the same pigment transfer technique. The difference being that you pay a lot more for Saral and the thin earth tone leaves you with a messy bit of stuff to store.

    I have been able to do much the same by coating the back of a drawing with dry pastel or even school chalk. Same is possible with compressed charcoal. All three can be easily wiped off.

    There are YouTube recipes for making your own Saral. 

    Possible also to use a ball point pen over a thin drawing paper to leave a light sgraffito impression on the canvas which could then be made more visible with the side of a pastel stick. No mess, no expense, easy, invisible.

  • Led light boxes are another option. I got one for Christmas (about £20)

    Here's a line drawing on thick cartridge paper beneath a prepared canvas. Photocopy paper is thinner and gives clearer results letting you use colour photos.

    You can draw or paint the outline on the canvas.

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