How to Transfer a Design with a Pencil

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link!*
Share This Post

Have you ever wondered how people make those perfectly painted signs? Well, there are many different ways to achieve the same look, but this is one I learned in an art class back in school. I’ll show you how I transfer a printed design with a pencil as a guide to paint.

This method works great on things like wood, paper, cardboard, etc.

Transfer a Design onto Wood

Learn How to Transfer a Design onto Wood

Pick a design that you would like to trace. For this example, I am using this design you can download for free. But you can transfer anything you can print out on a piece of paper.

1 | Print the Design

Print out your design the size you would like your end design to be. For this project, I am using a 3-inch diameter wood slice. If you haven’t read my tutorial on how to make DIY Wood Slices yourself for free, you can read about it here.

2 | Shade the back with a Pencil

Next, flip the design over and color over the back of the paper with a pencil.

It is important to make sure it is a graphite pencil (a regular writing pencil) and not a colored pencil. The colored pencils contain wax and will not transfer as a regular writing pencil will. A darker drawing pencil is a great option as well and will help your design stand out more against the wood grain.

Make sure to shade the entire back of the design.

3 | Trace onto the Wood

Tape your design into place and trace over your design. I prefer to use masking tape, but paint tape will work too.

Transfer a Design onto Wood

You will want to use a bit of pressure while tracing your design.

4 | Finish with your Preferred Method

Now that you’ve learned how to transfer a design with a pencil, you’ll want to pick how you would like to finish your design. These are just a couple of examples of the many ways to finish your designs!


For this wood slice, I painted over the traced on design. You can also use a paint pen and, with some wood, you can use a Sharpie. If you decide to use a Sharpie, make sure to test it on the back first, because it can feather and bleed on some types of wood. The Christmas Tree design can be downloaded for free here.

Transfer a Design onto Wood

I personally didn’t care if my design turned out perfect, so I took a little liberty when painting the inner part of the tree.

Transfer a Design onto Wood | painted christmas tree
Pyrography (Wood Burning)

For this wood slice, I burned the flower design into the wood with a wood-burning tool. I’m relatively new to pyrography, so it isn’t perfect. (For this design, I used this free design from Craft House SVG)

pyrography rose

As always, I’m happy to help with any comments, questions, or concerns! I would LOVE to see the creative projects you come up with! Add pics of your projects to the comments below! Happy crafting!!!

You can find more fun DIY Projects here.

Share This Post

Leave a Reply