Illustrated Recipes

Playing with a New Oil Transfer Technique

I love to illustrate recipes. I like cooking, so it is a fun way to compile my favourite recipes. But it’s also a great learning tool. It’s a place to experiment with layouts, hand lettering and new techniques. When I read about Penelope Dullaghan‘s oil transfer technique, I decided it was time for a new illustrated recipe and a little experiment.

Oil Transfer Illustration Technique by Sophie Peanut
A close up of the finish illustration – it gives an interesting line quality and a light background texture

What is this oil transfer?

Oil transfer is simple. It works a like carbon paper. Here’s how to get started:

  • Make a draft drawing on thin paper
  • Paint a sheet of cartage paper with a diluted layer of oil paint
  • Leave it until it’s half dry (you can use a hair dryer to speed the process)
  • Layer your paper as follow from bottom to top:
    • Paper for your final art work
    • Oil painted paper (oil paint side on the drawing paper)
    • Your draft drawing on top
  • Keep everything in place with a few pieces of tape
  • Trace your picture with a pen. I used a Uniball Eye pen as tested on the sheet below

The oil transfer technique gives an interesting line quality (see close up drawing above) and a little background texture. You can finish the illustration with watercolour or pencil when the transfer is dry.

Oil transfer illustration technique experiments
A few experiments with the oil transfer before I moved  onto the ‘real’ illustration. Tracing with a pen, rather than a sharp object, worked best for me as I could clearly see which lines I had drawn already.

But there’s a catch!

I love the lines on the drawings of the sheep and all the food illustrations. But there’s a catch. Oil transfer makes a thick and fuzzy line and the writing can lack clarity. I made two versions of the illustration. One with the lettering in pencil, the other using oil transfer throughout.

I like the second one best as the contrast is stronger.

Would I use oil transfer again? Yes. However I would pick a recipe with less writing or draw the lettering with a fine liner. More experiments!

Cheat's Pizza Oil Transfer Illustrated Recipe by Sophie Peanut
A watercolour and pencil version of the pizza recipe. I got carried away with the colouring and the drawing lacks contrast!
Pizza Illustrated Recipe by Sophie Peanut
The final version of the recipe. I ruined a fine liner going over the oil transfer lettering to make it easier to read. But I am happy with the results!!

You can view the recipe on They Draw and Cook too!

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