Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Studying Scripure: Transfer & Tracing Techniques

In response to comments and questions on some of my Instagram posts of my Bible margin doodles, today I want to share with you a few tips and tricks for transferring designs, lettering, etc. into my Bible (or journal, etc.) because I am NOT freehanding my work from scratch.  What you see in my photos of my Bible or my Sunday Readings Scripture Doodles is often the fruit of a sketch, a rough draft, transferring, and then inking, etc.  It takes a little longer, but I am much happier with the results especially when working in something as important as my Bible.

(FYI- the links below are Amazon Affiliate links. That means that if you click through and purchase something, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.)

I've been spending lots of time in my new Catholic Journaling Bible- reading and studying and being creative.  Check out the bottom of the post for links about how I use my current (non journaling) study Bible and how my favorite pens and art supplies hold up in the Catholic Journaling Bible.

For this post, I'd like to share a few techniques with you for taking an idea and transferring it into your Bible.  The same tips would work in a journal, etc.  First, you need to decide on the design you'd like to add to your Bible.  A few ideas:
-Create your own sketch of the verse/image.  I highly recommend graph paper- it makes it so easy to keep things straight/balanced/centered.  No matter the kind of paper, I always mark off the final size I am going for first (size of the Bible margin or journaling page) and then sketch.
-You also can find a font that you love and type the verse you want to journal.  Play with sizes, placement and even mix up two or more fonts.  Then print to your needed size!
-There are some Bible journaling templates out there that you can download and print yourself, already designed and ready to go. (Search on Pinterest for Bible Margin Templates- and I also offer them in my Etsy Shop!)
...Now, to get that design in your Bible or journal.

First here are some general supplies I love for working in my Bible:
-These colored pencils
-This pencil sharpener (sharpens both large and small colored pencils)
-These pencils (the only kind worth having!)
-These pens
-This amazing light board
-Graph paper like this
-Watercolors like this
-Gesso like this
-This little ruler
-This eraser
-Washi Tape like this
-Vellum like this or this or this

Once you have a design you love, you have a few options for transferring to your Bible page where you can then ink, color, paint, etc.

Carbon Transfer
-You can transfer your design using erasable carbon paper by layering pattern, carbon paper, and then your Bible/journal.  I would recommend using washi tape to hold it down while you are tracing.
-If you don't want to spring for carbon paper, shade in the back of your design with a layer of pencil (shown in photo below) and it will work just as well.
-Once it is positioned, trace over the lettering or design using a pencil or pen (using color helps you know what you have already traced!)
-It's a good idea to carefully check if you are applying enough pressure by lifting up and edge near where you have traced to make sure you see the outline.
-When finished, peel off the pattern and you have a faint pencil outline that you can ink, erase lines, and decorate!

Pencil on the back:

Ready to trace:

Very light pencil lines:

Traced over with ink:

-Another option is to trace your design by laying it under the page you'd like it on.  This works if the Bible or journal page is very thin (possible with the BIS Bible) and if your design is bold and dark.
-Lay your pattern under the page you want to trace it on.
-I still recommend using washi tape to hold it in place.
-Carefully trace, either in pencil first or directly in ink.
-Remove pattern, erase if needed, and decorate!

You can faintly see the pattern through the paper here:

Traced in ink:

Added some decorations:

Light Board
-You can up your tracing game with a light board.  I just got one for Christmas and I do not know how I've gotten through a whole life of drawing and crafting without it.  Seriously, if you ask what my favorite tool is for Bible Journaling, this is it.  

-The light board that I'm using is 9x12" and only about 1/4" thick, making it easy to lay flat on the table and work on and also simple to slide inbetween pages of a Bible or journal.  This one has a USB cord that can be plugged into a wall or into a computer for power, which is super helpful.  It also can be dimmed and brightened depending on the thickness of what you are working with.
-I usually will tape the pattern to the back of the Bible page, but won't also tape it to the light board.  That way if the light board moves (which it will) it won't rip your Bible page.

-Usually, I just place the light board in between the pages and get to work, but sometimes if the page I'm tracing on is near the front or the back of the Bible, I have propped up the other side of the light board with a book of similar height.  This make tracing easier as the board stays level and doesn't slide, and also makes it less likely to tear those delicate pages.
-I love that I can work with the light board to trace even the most detailed patterns and don't have pencil lines to erase afterwards, which is both messy and can cause you to damage the page or smear the ink, which is a tragedy.

There you have it!  A few tried and true transferring techniques.  Now off to make or find some awesome patterns and designs to use!

You can visit my Etsy shop to get both digital files to download and print yourself, ready to trace using any of these techniques.

Or, if you want something a little quicker, I also offer Bible margin doodles as preprinted stickers on matte white paper, ready to decorate and then just stick straight into your Bible.

I have ten sets of Bible Margin Doodles in the shop right now (50 different stickers).  And there are specific sets just for Lent and Easter, so if you are working on a goal to spend more time in Scripture during Lent, they'd be perfect!

And as a special thank you to my blog readers, for the rest of Lent, I'll send you a free Catholic Colorable Sticker set with any order.  Just mention in your order notes that you are a blog reader and which set you'd like! (Pictured are sets 1, 2 and 3 from left to right).

You might like these other posts:
Color & Creativity in the Catholic Journaling Bible
Pens for the Catholic Journaling Bible
Tips, Tools, and Ideas for Personal Bible Study
Adding Art to a Non-Journaling Bible
Sunday Readings Scripture Doodles 2015-2016
Sunday Readings Scripture Doodles 2016-2017
Why Your Handwriting Matters


  1. Hi Katie! Do you mind sharing a link for the light board?

    1. Hi Sarah! Here you go: Light Board
      Sorry, it was linked in the list at the top of the post, but I called it a light box. And it makes more sense to have it with the description, so I edited the post to include it. I seriously love it so much and use it all the time. Thanks!