We detailed a facile detection technique to optically characterize graphene growth and domains directly on growth substrates through a simple thermal annealing process. It was found that thermal annealing transformed the naked Cu to Cu oxides while keeping graphene and graphene-covered Cu intact. This increases the interference color contrast between Cu oxides and Cu, thus making graphene easily visible under an optical microscope. By using this simple method, we studied the factors that affect graphene nucleation and growth and achieved graphene domains with the domain size as large as ~100 μm. The concept of chemically making graphene visible is universal, as demonstrated by the fact that a solution process based on selective H(2)O(2) oxidation has been developed to achieve the similar results in a shorter time. These techniques should be valuable for studies towards elucidating the parameters that control the grains, boundaries, structures and properties of graphene.