How to Print with Carbon Paper

By The Arty Teacher - December 5, 2020

This blog post outlines how to print with carbon paper and shows a couple of different ways to work into the prints. I was recently reminded by a colleague about the potential of printing with carbon paper and it made me want to have a go.  If you are having to avoid using wet materials as you are working in a non-art room, it is a great alternative to monoprinting.  Watch the video below and see the helpful tips below.

What is carbon paper? Carbon paper is a thin paper coated with carbon used to make copies of documents.  Originally, typists would put a layer between two sheets of paper and then place the sheets in a manual typewriter, so that when they typed they would create two copies. It is different from graphite paper as carbon paper is permanent and the line is dark blue.  You can get it on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk #ad

The carbon paper can be used to create a drawing following these steps:

  • Tape your image to some drawing paper using masking tape so that it doesn’t move.
  • Slip the carbon paper between the layers, shiny side down.
  • Draw, using a sharp pencil, over the image.  The pressure of the pencil will push lines of carbon onto the paper below.  You can press hard for dark lines or more lightly for lighter lines.  The rich blue of the carbon paper creates a line that looks like a print.
  • You can create a detailed carbon print and leave it as it is, or choose to work into it with other media afterwards.  Below is a detailed carbon print of some pliers.

How to Print with Carbon Paper

You could go on to add watercolour like the image below.

carbon print with watercolour

Here is another example of a carbon print.  This time it’s a natural form.

How to Print with Carbon Paper

It has then had coloured pencil added to describe the tones.

Try adding coloure pencil

I’m sure any art teacher would be happy to see these carbon prints in a students sketchbook.

You can get Carbon Paper on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk #ad

If you have tried printing with carbon paper and have any tips or ideas to share, please comment below.register on the arty teacher sarah crowther

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The Arty Teacher

Sarah Crowther is The Arty Teacher. She is a high school art teacher in the North West of England. She strives to share her enthusiasm for art by providing art teachers around the globe with high-quality resources and by sharing her expertise through this blog.

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2 responses to “How to Print with Carbon Paper”

  1. Max Jones says:

    I didn’t know that carbon paper was originally used with a typewriter and also when working with documents and making copies. My sister is thinking of getting an art book printed, and she is evaluating different materials for the book. I’ll tell her about carbon paper and how it might be a good option for her art book.

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