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Ok, picking up where we left off, I've printed out an at-size copy of the original drawing. I tile it together and, using guide lines drawn on the front of my watercolor paper, attach it to the back. I then use an 8"x10" ceelite [link]
to trace the drawing onto the watercolor paper piece by piece.
Here's where it gets tricky... The original drawing is 11"x17". The final painting is 40"x26". Two things happen when you take a small drawing and blow it up to be used for a large painting. First, you just can't fit that much detail on a small drawing (your pencil lead has a certain diameter that you just can't get beyond). Second, the fine detail you do have is partially lost or no longer relevant due to the blowing up of the line work. This is especially a problem in areas such as the face, hands and feet. To compensate for this and the fact that I am tracing through a sheet of 260lbs watercolor paper I re-draw the entire image by looking directly at the reference and using the tiled drawing underneath only as a skeleton. A side by side comparison of the detail above and the drawing I posted here: [link]
will give you an idea of what I mean.
Inevitably things change. I see details I hadn't seen before, edit ones I made earlier, re-work portions of the image to suit the scale of the final painting; anything that needs to be addressed before I start applying paint.
Once I'm happy with the drawing and I've given it it's last looks, I stretch the paper. There are a few different ways to stretch watercolor paper and my way is different from the text book version but it works for me. (I tape down the dry sheet with artist tape only, then wet the paper, brushing off the sizing with a coarse 4" house painting brush.)
Next step: the under-painting.