How to Protect Your Pencil Drawings From Smudging- The Best Practices

How many times have you put your heart and soul into a beautiful pencil drawing, only to find it smudged moments later? Frustrating, isn’t it? 😫 Well, you’re not alone. Smudging is a common nemesis for all pencil artists out there, but fear not, we have the solutions you need! 🦸‍♀️🦸‍♂️

In this post, we’re going to tackle all the tips and tricks on how to protect your pencil drawings from the dreaded smudge. From tried-and-true techniques to game-changing products, we’ve got it all covered. 👌🛡️

So, grab a cup of coffee, and your favorite sketchbook, and get ready to banish smudges once and for all! ☕📒 Together, let’s make sure your stunning creations remain as beautiful as the moment you completed them. 🌟🎨

Let’s dive into the world of smudge-proof art, shall we? 🏊‍♂️🏊‍♀️

One of my Pencil Drawings…

“I dream my painting and I paint my dream.”

One of my pencil Drawings

How can I avoid smudging my pencil drawings?

Using an additional sheet of paper is one of the most frequent ways to prevent this issue.

When you’re drawing, put the paper beneath your sketching hand and on top of the section of the drawing you’re not currently working on.

Use masking tape to secure it to your desk if required if you don’t want to move it about.

Tracing paper allows you to see where you’re going through the sheet, rather than obscuring the whole piece.

Your hand control might also begin to improve. Smudging occurs when your sketching hand touches the paper all the way.

This is normal on a horizontal workstation, but it leads to smearing.

If you’re used to resting your palm on its whole side, consider utilizing one of your pinky knuckles as the sole point of contact with the page.

This will lessen the risk of smearing by minimizing contact with the paper.

You may use a different sketching grip if you’re using an angled desk or easel. You should keep your hand entirely off the paper while using the underhand grip.

Otherwise, I’d advise keeping an eye on your fingers.

Your free hand should not be clutching the page while you are drawing, and your drawing hand should not be touching the paper where you have previously drawn.

Change the angle of your paper or your hand to accomplish this.

The B series of pencils is softer and more prone to smudging, so be extra cautious while using them. Even while 4H and above should have little to no smearing, they also offer you considerably lighter values.

Using Fixative sprays to
seal your pencil Art

Spraying Fixatives on your Pencil Drawings

Graphite and charcoal are made to survive for a long time, but not indefinitely, thanks to the fixative. Fixative is a must-have for every arts and crafts shop.

For Pencil, Pastel, and Chalk drawings, Fixative Aerosol Spray provides long-lasting protection, yet may be erased to rework your artwork.

They are Acid-free. Archival-safe. ‘ smudges are prevented by this. Protects against wrinkles. it’s quite simple to redo

Take Care while Using Fixatives

Using fixatives may be harmful! Almost all of them are toxic and should not be utilized in a Group creative setting.

The spray should never be inhaled; instead, it should be used outside as far away from people as possible.

By the way, all Natural Spectra Fix  Fixative is completely non-toxic.

The pages of your drawing book might rub against one other while they are being moved, therefore it is best to acquire a drawing book that is sewed rather than a spiral bound and secure it with rubber bands when it is not in use. Ideally, the pages should not come into contact with one another.

However, Sketch Book Mixed media and   Strathmore Drawing Book    are my Faves.

As long as you’re drawing with a 2B pencil, you should have no issues. Tracing paper is placed in the drawing book when I’ve gone too dark on a drawing or when I want to keep an eye on it.

Besides the fixative, what else can I use?

Hair spray’s fixative effects for pastels and charcoal on paper are examined.

Hairspray is an affordable alternative to other available art fixatives for artists who work with powdery or friable media, such as chalk, pastel, and charcoal.

The properties of hair spray as a fixative for pastel and charcoal on paper.

Many artists who create drawings with friable or powdery media, such as chalk, pastel, and charcoal, choose to use hairspray as an inexpensive alternative to other available art fixatives in the market

How can you produce Homemade fixative?

Make homemade fixate in a paper cup with four ounces of isopropyl alcohol and one tablespoon of white shellac (which is really transparent).

Pour the mixture into a plastic spray bottle and swirl it with anything you want.

Charcoal & pencil drawings must be fixed using fixer solutions at all times.

If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.”

Protecting Art without Fixatives

Many artists want to avoid Fixatives because of the negative color changes, particularly to pastels and colored papers.

There are many ways to protect your pencil art without using Fixatives – like for instance framing the artwork behind glass or storing them on a flat file and so on …

1. Use sheets of glassine interleaving paper

You may save your drawings without a fixative by placing them between two sheets of glassine interleaving paper.

Interleaving paper made of acid-free glassine is great for preserving and maintaining sensitive artwork such as graphite, charcoal, colored pencils, and pastel pencil drawings because of its transparent nature.

It’s not only for the salon that hairspray comes in handy. If you’re short on time, hairspray may be used to prevent your pencil drawings from erasing and smudging.

2. Put paper under your hand while Drawing

Smudging may be avoided by placing a piece of CLEAN paper beneath your hand while you work.

It’s best to stay away from wrinkled or overly textured paper.

Tracing paper enables me to see the light drawing underlying, which is why I love it.

If you’re working on an important project or anything crucial like a  commission work or a project for a Client, this advice should be utilized often.

As a result of this piece of paper protecting both your painting and your hand from smearing, your artwork will not only age more quickly, but it will also become yellow over time.

The paper guard must remain motionless for this procedure to work out well.

As a last resort, you may want to secure the edges using low-tack acid-free masking tape.

When you’re drawing, put the paper beneath your sketching hand and on top of the section of the drawing you’re not currently working on.

You may use masking tape to keep it in place on your desk if you need to.

Tracing paper allows you to see where you’re going through the sheet, rather than obscuring the whole piece.

3. Store your pencil Art in a Flat file

Ideally, your drawings would be stored in a flat file drawer. Large enough to lie flat; each drawing may be overlaid with glassine between them.

There is no need for plastic leaves or document protectors when it comes to keeping art. Portfolios, on the other hand, aren’t ideal for long-term storage.

Using masonite, museum board, and bulldog clips, one may create an appropriate storage portfolio.

Like flat files, glassine should be stacked between each drawing.

There must be enough room on the masonite for the complete drawing, and it must be sandwiched between two pieces of the museum board and the drawings so that they don’t move about.

This invention is safe for long-term use. Just remember that your drawings should not come into touch with each other or the masonite coatings.

4. Keep your pencil Artwork in a Cool & Dry Place

This is kind of common sense, I still want to include this tip. Keep out of direct sunlight and in a cool, dark area. High amounts of moisture make a basement an unsuitable location for several projects.

5. Frame It!

Yes! As easy as it sounds! Make sure it’s framed with acid-free paper and mats and stored beneath a layer of glass.

It could be a good idea to keep it out of the sun. This depends on how well the paper was drawn on, although the acid-free mounting will aid in its preservation.

How to Frame your Pencil Drawings

A pencil drawing should be framed with a frame, mat, and glass.

When framing pencil drawings, it is best to keep things simple and avoid anything overly ornate.

There should always be a layer of glass between the mat and the photo (to protect the fragile drawing from being smudged).

6. Air Seal your Pencil Artwork

If you have the extra funds, sealing your work off from the air will help prolong the drawing but it is effectively more costly to do that. I have not used this method yet but looks like it is worth trying.

7. Use Mahl Stick

Using a Mahl Stick could be helpful if you’re having trouble sketching vertically. You only need to be methodical if you’re sketching on a drafting or flat table. So, if you’re a right-handed person, you’d draw from left to right.

Mahl Stick: Painters use mahlsticks, which are sticks with cushioned heads, to keep their paintbrushes steady as they work. Mahlstick is derived from the Dutch word ‘maalstok’, which means “paintings stick” or “painter’s stick.”

As a result of its stability and support, this tool is ideal for sculpting regions of fine detail that demand accuracy and control. The mahlstick comes in handy a lot when you’re performing a lot of fine-tuning work.

 How to use Mahl Stck?

Using the Mahl-stick to protect your Drawings may not be complicated but it could be  a bit challenging. However,  with experience, it can be an effective instrument.

Make sure the painting is completely dry before applying the mahl stick’s soft (ball) end to the edge of the canvas (some artists even have a ledge for their Mahl stick to slide along).

Then, while painting, keep your dominant hand’s wrist steady by holding the stick’s loose end in your non-dominant hand. When not in use, hang or remove the canvas from the wall.

8. Use Wax Paper

A temporary remedy is wax paper.

Instead of pressing too hard on the table, place a sheet of paper below your hand and sketch with it.

Using an additional sheet of wax paper is one of the most common and easy ways to prevent the smudging problem.

9. Use Artist’s bridge

You can use an artist’s bridge. What is Artist’s Bridge you ask?

Well, It’s basically a long metal ruler with either rubber feet at either end or a thin foam on the bottom. You can easily make your own out of a sturdy ruler as well.

10. Few Other ways to avoid pencil Drawing Smudging!

Smudging happens due to natural oil on our hands. To combat this, handle paper with thin cotton gloves.

A few years back, you could get them at photo supply shops. Make a sketching hand by slicing off everything except the pinky finger.

In the end, it’s all about how much you value the paper’s white color. In the eyes of illustrators, this is a monumental development.

Additionally, you can use frisket film to protect the areas you wish to preserve their whiteness. When applied to charcoal, this has a significant impact.

An almost miraculous effect is achieved by contrasting precise, spotless whites with loose charcoal paintings and drawings.

Here are some of the things you can do to prevent Pencil Drawings from Smudging.

  • Place wax paper under your hand as you draw
  • Use a fixative spray o even your regular Hairspray works as well. When a part of your drawing is complete, spray over it to preserve it
  • If you made q smudge on your pencil Drawing already, Use a kneaded eraser to erase the smudges
  • Using Eraser to clean up the Smudge: You should learn to use an eraser efficiently while sketching. You can use kneaded & pencil erasers. Kneaded can be used to smudge the graphite and the second one for erasing the shade in small areas as that will be in the shape of a pencil
  • Get a small brush to clean the drawing when you erase rather than using your hands
  • Preserving your Artwork : After completing the sketch you need to preserve it or else it will be of no use so here are some tips
    1. Fixative Spray: Spray it over the sketch to prevent it
    2. Framework: You can laminate it or first take a tape and place it along its edge now press it on both sides of the paper and do it on all sides of the sketching it helps in preventing it from damage to the edges and tearing sketching…


Check out the Comprehensive List  of  Digital Resources needed to Start your Digital Art & Digital Sculpt Journey:

Drawing is vision on paper.”

Summing up

Well, fellow artists, that’s a wrap on our smudge-proof journey! 🎉✏️ We’ve explored all the handy tips and tricks, from using fixatives and protective sheets to mastering the art of handling your sketches. 🎨💡

Remember, protecting your artwork from smudging is just as crucial as creating it. After all, your creations are a reflection of your creativity and hard work, and they deserve to be preserved in all their glory! 🌟💖

So, let’s wave goodbye to the dreaded smudge monster, and hello to crisp, clean, and stunning pencil drawings. 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♂️💫 With these tips in your artist’s arsenal, you’re all set to create and conserve your masterpieces.

Keep sketching, keep creating, and most importantly, keep enjoying the beautiful art of drawing. 🖼️✨ Happy doodling, friends! 🖌️😊

About the Author:

Manny Acharya is the co-founder of Artmellows. Your go-to place for Design, Digital Art, Digital sculpting, Photography, Design Tools and gears Info, and Product Reviews. Manny is a Digital Artist, 3D Sculpt Designer, Ardent Photography, Drone flying Enthusiast, and tech Lover. He supercharges Digital Art and design by crafting memorable 3D sculptures & 2D Design and art. Learn more About Manny:

PS: Manny has created a Beginner Friedly ebook to Learn the Nomad 3D Sculpt App. Know More about the eBook. Know more about Manny

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