Tracing Art

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Here’s an easy and fun way to recreate and alter great works of art with your own color palette or signature style! This tracing art project can be done as simply or with as much complexity as you desire, making it adaptable for everyone from young children (as early as you’re willing to let them use permanent marker) to adults.

For this activity, you’ll need a gallon zip top bag, some permanent markers in multiple colors, and something you’d like to trace. You could print a copy of one of your favorite works of art, tuck a picture book into the bag and trace the cover art, or print and trace a photo you’ve taken yourself. If you choose something that’s slightly bulky, like a picture book, you’ll want to use binder clips to hold the zip top bag securely in place as you’re tracing.

photo of image to be used for tracing project

Insert whatever it is you want to trace into the zip top bag. It doesn’t matter if you print your artwork in color or black and white, as you’ll be re-coloring to your own taste anyway.

photo of outline of tracing project

Trace the main elements of the artwork. Remove the item you’ve traced from the bag to see what your outlines look like. If you’re not satisfied, you can always put the original back in the bag and trace more details. This is also the stage where you can make changes to the original, perhaps adding or leaving out elements wherever you’d like.

photo of tracing project colored in

Use the colored markers to fill in what you’ve traced. Be a little careful, as the markers may smudge while they’re still wet. And that’s it! You could cut the out of the zip top bag and tape it to a window for a stained glass look, put it in a floating frame, or put it anywhere you can think of!

photo of child doing tracing project

Kids can do this too! In this example you can see how the clips can be used to hold a book in place. Tracing has been proven to provide early literacy benefits, including developing hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness.

photo of child's completed tracing project

Kids can get a kick out of creating their own versions of some of their favorite picture book covers!

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