Friday, September 14, 2012

Easy Watercolor Portrait Tutorial

I'm still working on decor for the bare walls of my home.  I have lots of family photos to hang, but I wanted something with more color..... so I opted to created some bright watercolors of my son and created a tutorial to share!

Now you may be thinking that this is way too hard, but it is WAY easier than it looks.  If you can trace an outline and color it in, you can do this!  


watercolor portraits

This tutorial is property of Elise Engh: Grow Creative (http://growcreative.blogspot.com/2012/09/easy-watercolor-portrait-tutorial.html) Please do not reproduce without permission!  This is copyrighted material.

Materials:
computer
digital photo of a person
printer
printer paper
pencil
watercolor paper
watercolor paints
paintbrushes

Step 1:  Find a nice digital photo of your subject with an even amount of light and shadow on the face.  This can be kinda tricky.  If there's too much light or shadow on the face, you won't have enough definition to make this work.  So you may have to try this with several photos to see what works best.  Finding the right photo is key!

Step 2:  Open the photo in PicMonkey, a free online photo editor.  You can use another editor if you like, but I'll explain the next steps in terms of the picmonkey editor.

Step 3:  In PicMonkey, select the Effects option on the left sidebar.  It's the second symbol down from the top.   In Effects, select the Posterize option towards the bottom of the sidebar ( I've circled that one below also).

posterize a photo

Step 4:  In Posterize, slide the number of colors bar down to 2.  It's important to have only two colors here.  This project won't work with any more colors or any less.  Keep the detail at 80% and the fade at 0%.  Then hit apply.


Your photo should look like this now.  Only one light shade and one dark shade.

posterize a photo


Step 5:  Decide on the size of painting you want to make and print out the digital photo in black and white in the size that you desire.  I printed mine to fill a whole 8 1/2 x 11 piece of copy paper and it worked well to make an 8 x 10 painting.

Step 6:  Once you have your printed photo, flip it over and color over the entire backside with a regular pencil.

You may be wondering why you are doing this, but trust me.... there is a reason.  The pencil graphite will help you transfer your image onto the watercolor paper.  So fill it in the best you can!

pencil transfer technique

Step 7:  Flip your paper over so the photo side is up and place it directly on top of the watercolor paper.  You need to make sure the paper doesn't shift or move during the next steps so it may be a good idea to tape it down.  

Step 8:  With a sharpened pencil, press firmly to  trace the outlines of the face. I've outlined in red in the photo below some of the areas I traced to give you an idea.

I traced all the black outlines of the face and then moved down to trace the outlines of the neck and shoulders.  Depending on your particular photo, you may want to leave the background out.  For this one, it worked best to leave it out.

pencil transfer technique

Step 9:  Once you have the whole image traced, take the printed copy off to see the image transferred onto the watercolor paper.

pencil transfer technique

Step 10:  Now it's time to add some watercolor! Select a color and carefully start painting inside the lines you traced.  Keep your printed copy handy to make sure you are painting in the right spots.

watercolor portraits
Tip:  To give the portrait a more varied look, try adding just a hint of another color on certain areas. I added a touch more red in some areas and left others more orange-y. 

watercolor portraits

Step 11:  Fill in the entire portrait and let the paint dry and finally... You Are Done!


This tutorial is property of Elise Engh: Grow Creative (http://growcreative.blogspot.com/2012/09/easy-watercolor-portrait-tutorial.html) Please do not reproduce without permission!  This is copyrighted material.
watercolor portraits
watercolor portraits




121 comments :

  1. Fabulous idea! Love the results. So cute!!

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  2. Very cool! I think I'll give this one a try!

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  3. I LOVE THIS! So simple and there's a lot of personalization you could do!

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  4. i'm obsessed with watercolor paintings lately. this is such a wonderful idea! love it.

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  5. This is so remarkable! How did you ever think to do this? They are fabulous! I'm going to give it a try. If I a can be as successful as you, I'm thinking Christmas Presents! Thanks for showing us this!

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  6. LOVE these! I wish I had seen those while I was at your place. Maybe I'll try it. That's pretty scary for me though. :)

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  7. This is a great Idea! I was thinking Christmas gifts as well! But I'm not sure I have faith that mine would turn out as pretty as yurs!

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  8. Great! I want to do this with photos of my cats. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. Wow that's so cool! I love it! Found you at SSS link party. Hope you will stop by and say hi!
    -Mackenzie @ FridayNightDateNight

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  10. I did one of my nephew but instead of tracing I just used an art masking liquid. It's pretty quick too! Love it!

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  11. This is such a great idea. Thanks for spelling it out for us, Elise. Pinning this so I can try it later!

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  12. Now this is such a precious idea...so clever! Love this...copy and pinning !Thanks!

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  13. This is really cool! Great tutorial, too! Found you on Someday Crafts :)

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  14. Linking over from Someday Crafts. And wow. This is awesome, I loooove me some watercolor! :)

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  15. Such a cool thing to learn. I would love to do this for my kids! I am featuring this at somedaycrafts.blogspot.com

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  16. What a fabulous idea. You have a very inspiring blog. I have just become a new follower. I would love it if you came and visited my blog - http://lpcrafts.blogspot.com.au and if you like it become a follower of my art and craft activities with my kids.

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  17. Beautiful! I love the watercolor effect. I'm DEFINITELY going to try this! Thanks for the great tutorial.

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  18. Wow! These are gorgeous ~ you are so talented! Thank you for the step by step! I painted my blog header with watercolours and may just have to give this a try!
    xo
    Heather

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  19. Oh they are beautiful, a great gift for the grandparents

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  20. So cool! Love fresh ideas! I saw this in the linky party and it caught my eye right away. Pinning...

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  21. Wow. You make it look so easy! I've pinned this project to reference later. Thank you so much for the clear tutorial! I'm happy to say that I'm your newest follower.

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  22. I've found my photos, postureized them, printed them, and am doing this tomorrow! Hopefully mine looks as good as yours!

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  23. This is just amazing! You make it look so easy that I may actually give it a try. Wish me luck!

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  24. what a fantastic idea, i love it thank you so much for sharing i will definitely have a go. I'd never heard of picmonkey either so a double whammy.

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  25. Wow! I SO love the effect! Thanx a lot for sharing the tutorial.

    Greetings from Germany

    Daniela

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  26. I love this idea ! Thanks!
    Greetings from Switzerland

    Carmen

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  27. I am lame when I do my linky party- I always rush and never comment, but I HAVE to tell you... this is not only being featured and pinned, but it may be my all-time favorite link up out of thousands of projects over the years. Just FYI. :) xo

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  28. Wow! These are beautiful! I hope I can make these too!!!

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  29. Oooooo... I love this! Let's hope mine turn out as amazing as yours! :)

    ~Dori
    http://belljarvintage.blogspot.com/

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  30. This is a wonderful idea! I might have to try this with a wedding photo.

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  31. This is too cool! I want to do one for each of my four children now!

    Thanks for the great tutorial.

    Bonny @ thedomesticatedprincess.com

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  32. This is SO AWESOME! Wonderful tutorial too. I can't wait to try this. Thanks so much for linking up to Creative Thursday each week. I always look forward to seeing what you share. Have a great weekend.
    Michelle

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  33. These are so lovely!

    www.jbseatsandtreats.blogspot.co.uk

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  34. This is way cool! I'm going to try it if I can figure out the right picture, that seems tricky like you said.

    Thanks for sharing on Flaunt it Friday! :)

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  35. By now you know how great an idea this is...but let me just add my two cents. This is such a dang cute idea. It is different and fun! Something I could totally see sitting on the mantel in my living room.

    Happy Friday!

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  36. What a great idea and an easy to follow tutorial!! Thank you so much for sharing how to do this, I would never have thought of this on my own. I am following your blog now and can't wait to see what else you come up with!

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  37. Oh my goodness! Thanks so much for sharing this! I LOVE this idea!

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  38. Wow - this is a great tutorial and the results are awesome. Look forward to trying this, thanks for sharing!

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  39. Wow, fantastic explanation. I loved it!

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  40. Love this and can't wait to try. Thanks for sharing!

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  41. I just tried this, and I LOVE it, absolutely love it!! What a brilliant idea--thank you so much. Also, I am now addicted to picmonkey. =)

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  42. This tutorial is exactly what I needed to help me put my watercolor brush in my hand! LOL Thank you for posting such a wonderful tutorial. I'm thinking presents, BIG TIME.

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  43. How fabulous and creative - thanks for sharing your amazing tutorial!!

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  44. Wow what an amazing tutorial and project. I love pic monkey too. I realllly appreciate u taking the time to take pics of each step. Thanks !

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  45. Great idea. Picmonkey is new to me. I have already followed your instructions and gotten a perfect digital to use as a guide thanks again. This is fab.

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  46. Thanks for the lovely tutorial. This was my weekend project. :) I loved how they turned out, though. Thought you'd like to see! http://blog.drawingsarah.com/post/39927868891/something-i-worked-on-over-the-weekend

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  47. love it - thanks for sharing the how to!

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  48. This is amazing! I just e-mailed myself the link so I could come back and do this! Thanks so much for this idea, it's so original :)

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  49. I'm definitely going to try this!

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  50. These are beautiful! There is no WAY mine would come out that good. Yours is shaded so perfectly. Lovely.

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  51. wow great! Tried my best to do it myself: https://fbcdn-sphotos-b-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/76103_10151178350306152_106753219_n.jpg

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  52. Just found your blog through Sugar Bee Crafts, and I'm planning on spending some time here. I love this portrait idea!

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  53. Can't wait to try this!!! Fabulous idea and tutorial. Now I just hope it's as easy as it looks!!

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  54. Thank you for this tutorial. I painted portraits of my niece and nephew as a thank you for my sister and she loves them - so do my niece and nephew they think the pictures are very cool :-)

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  55. AWESOME! Can't describe how happy i am with the result! i'm making a gift for my bestie,and it turned out amazing! thanks a lot!
    Magda

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  56. Love your project! Thanks so much for the detailed instructions on how to convert the photo.

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  57. Three words: fa-bu-lous! ;o) Pinning right now!

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  58. This watercolor art technique is so cool! Especially for those of us who can hardly draw portraits, for a non-artist to make something look really, really good!
    Thank you for sharing this tutorial.
    Teresa in California
    http://amagicalwhimsy.blogspot.com/

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  59. This is SO on my to do list! Fab results Dxx

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  60. I love this idea. My grandmother worked in the Houston police dept in the 20's she would come home and do this with oils over pictures...she got hooked I think working with police photos spread her passion to me :) love this.
    susan s

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  61. What a fun idea! I'm def trying this!

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  62. Thank you so much for sharing this...I've played in it and love it...prefect for my watercolor paintings...I can visualize what I'm painting....so thank you again....love it...

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  63. just read your tutorial now...Love it! Very cool paintings!

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  64. Thank you so much for this awesome tutorial!! love it.

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  65. This is awesome!! I love crafty artsy projects and usually can't find the time or money to do the ones that catch my eye, but THIS. Oh yes, this I can do! Thanks for a wonderful idea. Tweeting.

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  66. Wonderful tutorial! I have ZERO artistic talent, but this is so cool, I will have to give it a try anyway!

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  67. So pretty! Thank you for sharing!

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  68. Thank you so much for this tutorial! I had a blast with this! Here is a link to my blog so you can see mine!

    http://raisingnewbies.blogspot.com/2013/06/watercolors.html

    Thanks again!!

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  69. Thank you, wath a great tutorial!

    groetjes Coby

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  70. So creative and really cool! Thank You so much for this tutorial. Ive been doing pop art on canvases and I really love this one too. Very unique. Thanks again....

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  71. This is AH-mazing and I am pinning so that I will remember to try this soon!

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  72. Thanks for posting! that was fun. You really do have to pick the right photo... but even so I'm pretty happy with how mine turned out. By the way, I tried one with THREE colors (I like to break the rules, ha!) and used one more color (it's mainly white/orange/peach) on the portrait.

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  73. Just wondering if the tracing marks can be erased after the picture dries. Thanks:)

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  74. Judy, any pencil marks that are painted over with watercolor paint won't be able to be erased. But if you pencil marks that are not painted over, you should be able to erase them- as long as they aren't too dark.

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  75. Did this yesterday - love it
    Thanks for the tutorial :)

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  76. As far as pencil marks go, if you know what color you're going to paint with, try using a colored pencil in a similar shade to trace instead of regular pencil. That may reduce the amount of visible lines if you can't erase them all.

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  77. Just found this page.......thanks so much for sharing......I'm definitely trying this right away!

    Kay

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  78. tried it out yesterday and LOVE IT! thanks for the great instructions... definitely will be doing this for Christmas gifts.

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  79. This is a great idea! Will be making these for Christmas. Here's some info too... You can save time by using a black piece of charcoal or a pastel instead of pencil to cover the back of your picture. It may leave some stray marks, but they can easily be erased, just be sure to not put extra pressure on your picture when tracing so extra marks will be minimal. And here's some cool back history... I just learned this technique in my 2-D Design class and my professor informed us that this is a VERY old technique, and believe it or not, was the process used to paint the Sistine Chapel!

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  80. This was so easy for a non artist like me! I used my sons watercolors and it turned out great!

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  81. OMG it worked!!! I was floored by how good these looked. My friend and I had both not used watercolors since we were kids, so it's not like we knew what we were doing or anything, and it still worked!!! THANKS!

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  82. I just found this and am in LOVE! This is ingenious!! I'm already seeing all four family members hanging in our living room! Thanks for a great tutorial!

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  83. Such a lovely blog and lovely Ideas.I have many things(from your blog) to try my hands on.
    Good Luck.

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  84. I brought my 2-color gif into Illustrator and converted to vector (Live Trace). Gave it no fill and a very thin, light grey, dotted outline, and printed directly onto the paper I was going to paint. My fifth grade daughter painted one, I painted one... it was fun, fast, and fantastic results. Thanks so much for this wonderful project! I am going to prepare outlined "paint by number" pages for my sisters, with pics of their kiddies.

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  85. You make it look so simple, I know one needs to have a flare with this kind of art talent. You got it! My mother was the artist in the family. However, I will try your wonderful technic- always up for a challenge. Thank you for sharing

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  86. Posterize option on picMonkey is no longer available. would love it if you could suggest any other way to posterize a photograph.

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    1. Roopa, I just checked and the Posterize option is still available on picmonkey. It's under the effects option as I described in my instructions. If that doesn't work for you, most online photo editors and software have the posterize effect. You can check out some others and see what they have. Good luck!

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  87. It's great! I'm not that good at painting, I made a beautiful portrait of my daughter! Thx! ♥

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  88. Thanks!
    I'm gonna try it as soon as possible! ♥

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  89. Thanks, this is a good of the tutorial Watercolor Portrait

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  90. I'm trying to do this and when I do the posterize and change the colors to 2, the opposite parts of my photo from yours are dark. The faces are dark and the hair is light. This won't work. Can you tell me what I'm doing wrong? Thanks... so excited to do this

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    1. Sorry you are having trouble. So much of how these turn out depends on the lighting in the photo. If the faces are really dark, then they must be in shadow. And if the hair is light, the hair must be in the light. You'll have to play around with the posterize effect with a few different photos to find one that works out. Best of luck to you!

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  91. This is awesome... Am definitely gonna give this one a shot!

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  92. This is incredible! I tried it and it turned out to be fantastic. Loved it, thanks so much for sharing!

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    1. You're welcome! I'm glad it turned out so well for you!

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  93. thank you for saving my dignity at xmas time. i will do this tonight!!!

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  94. saw this on buzzfeed, its super awesome!! Will try it as a gift

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  95. The hardest part really was finding the right picture, especially since my family LOVES a flash, but I did eventually and it turned out wonderfully! I did use carbon paper instead of coloring in the back of the printout though, because that seemed like a lot of work and I prefer the lazy way. ;p

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    Replies
    1. Carbon paper is brilliant! I hadn't even thought of that. Thanks for sharing!

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