Types of Tracing Paper

Updated April 17, 2017

Originally crafted from goat skin made transparent with oils and resins, tracing paper isn't only used to copy designs. Available pre-printed with grids for pattern-making, watermarked for proof of authenticity, and in both standard paper text weights and super heavy weights, tracing paper is used by artists, architects, seamstresses, engineers, and draftsmen. Also commonly referred to as "parchment" or "vellum," more than half a dozen major companies produce tracing paper with Clearprint products, considered to be the premium benchmark.


Available in rolls or bound pads, both with and without a grid watermark, Fade-out 16-pound vellum is produced from 100 per cent virgin cotton, made transparent without chemical solvents. Fade-out is archival quality, remarkably strong, and allows no "ghosting" or eraser trace.

Extra Fine

At half the weight of Fade-out, 8-pound Extra Fine has an unparalleled degree of transparency for increased detail in sketch-tracing. This tracing paper is available primarily in rolls and accepts pencil, ink, charcoal, and markers without bleed-through.


Ideal for original sketches and adaptations, 25-pound Textured tracing paper is commonly available in 9-by-12-inch pads of 50-sheets. Unlike other tracing papers that strive for a glasslike surface, the slightly raised texture on this paper is reminiscent of linen resume paper.


Combining the best properties of slick film sheets and the controlled friction of paper, Multimedia tracing paper is made from 51-pound polypropylene. Even stronger than Fade-out, this crystal-clear medium has a matt finish on both sides and accepts pencil, ink, markers, and even laser or laserjet copy. These 25-sheet bound pads are available in 9-by-12-inch, 11-by-14-inch, and 14-by-17-inch.

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About the Author

Bjorck DiMarco has been the Senior Editor at an independent publishing house since 1994. She holds advanced degrees in teaching, English and creative writing, graduating summa cum laude from Tufts University and the University of Massachusetts. DiMarco has also worked in construction, fine woodworking, graphic design and theoretical mathematics.