Mylar Drawing Techniques

By John Yargo ; Updated September 15, 2017

Mylar is a trade name for bopet (biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate) polyester film. Also known as Melinex or Hostaphan, this transparent, durable material is used in food storage, insulation and sailing, but it is perhaps best known for its applications in the graphic arts. A few customary drawing techniques enhance its positive attributes.

Copying Over

This technique allows the artist to draw very approximate copies of other works. The blank piece of Mylar is placed over the piece of art. With an ink pen, conte crayon or grease pencil, the artist draws with the previous image as a close guide. Felt marker pens or ordinary pencils will not work. At the end of this exercise, the artist has a transparency of the image, or has a copy for some other purpose.

Engineering

Architects and engineers use Mylar in designing their work. The schematics are drawn up, usually by a computer program such as AutoCAD, and then printed. Schematics on Mylar reflect the depth and dimension of the finished project more easily than blueprints. Once the Mylar is drawn up, these illustrations become part of the legally binding agreement between contractors, the employer and the design firm.

Illustrating Depth

Mylar is often used to demonstrate frames at different depths, such as in showing the levels of the human body in medical textbooks. As you peel away a page, you see the circulatory system and then the skeletal structure. Artists achieve this effect by deploying a variety of airbrush, pastel and pencil work. They take a piece of two-sided Mylar and, beginning with the last frame, add frames until they have finished. Subtle shifts in color prove to be important in illustrating dimensions and depth. The depth then is depicted in a book-style sequence.

Maintenance

Though Mylar is exceptionally durable and useful, it also requires some maintenance. The drawing film should be protected from oil on your hands. Also, you should not excessively erase the surface, which will destroy it.

About the Author

John Yargo is a sports writer, living in Orlando, Fla. His work regularly appears in the "Jackson Free Press," and he has published articles on theater, fiction and art history. He has also received a master's degree in English.