How to Prevent Drawings from Smudging in Sketchbooks

How to Prevent Drawings from Smudging in Sketchbooks
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After sitting down and spending an hour or more sketching some drawings into your sketchbook, you can be disappointed to find that the way your hand rested on the page caused smudges. This is a very common occurrence for artists when they are working on their art. So what do you do?

You should learn how to prevent drawings from smudging in sketchbooks so that you don’t have to feel that disappointment. While it’s not a big deal if you smudge something that’s just a sketch in the long run, it can still be very disheartening, and you always want your art to look its best once you’re finished working on it.

Today, we’ll discuss the various ways that you can prevent these smudges while practicing, and what you can do in the future to fix up smudges when they do happen.

Preventing Drawings from Smudging in Sketchbooks

#1: Use Wax Paper

If you’ve just finished a drawing that you love, and you want to make sure that it doesn’t smudge after you finish it, you will want to use wax paper to make sure that it is protected.

This is very simple to do just follow these steps:

  1. Cut a matching-sized piece of paper for the drawing
  2. Using masking tape, affix the wax paper to be over the top of the drawing so that it doesn’t smudge when it is rubbed against other pages in the notebook

Using this very simple technique will both protect the drawing and keep the pages that rest against the drawing fresh and clean. Thus, you won’t be ruining more than one drawing.

If you don’t have wax paper but you want to find a way to protect the drawings, you can also use plastic wrap. This is a bit harder to work with as it tends to stick to itself more than it sticks to the paper. Nonetheless, you can find a way to make it work if you are in a pinch.

Generally, though, we recommend using wax paper more than we recommend using plastic wrap to help prevent smudging.

#2 Choose the Right Pencils

If you mostly work with pencils and do graphite drawings in your sketchbook, this could be a big part of why the work is smudging. The type of pencils you use will have a significant effect on whether or not smudging happens.

For those who don’t have particular preferences when drawing, try sticking to pencils that are in the 4H range. These pencils don’t budge and aren’t likely to smudge, but they will also be more challenging to use for blending. Pencils such as those in the B range, on the other hand, are going to smudge a lot!

Drawing pencils have a lot of different characteristics that you should be aware of. When you have these things in mind, you’ll be able to see whether or not you need to take extra precautions to prevent smudging based on the pencil type.

To learn more about types of pencils, check out this great information!

#3 The Rubber Band Trick

When you have a drawing that you really want to preserve, but you don’t have much that you can use to maintain the drawing itself, you can simply use a rubber band.

That’s right! A pack of rubber bands is more than enough to help you to learn how to prevent drawings from smudging in sketchbooks.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Once you finish the drawing, find a rubber band
  2. Stretch the rubber band around the entire notebook, holding the page in place
  3. Close the notebook

You’ll notice when you close the notebook that the page above the rubber band page will no longer be touching the drawing; thus, the drawing will be less likely to smudge.

This is really only good as a temporary fix since it will be impossible to draw on the next pages while you have the rubber band in place. If you layer the rubber bands, you will have to remove many of them in order to get to the drawing that you want to look at.

For that reason, we really only recommend this to keep your work between drawing sessions and not as a long-term fix.

#4 Use a Fixative

Smudging drawings has been a problem for artists for as long as art sketchbooks have existed! And for that reason, some more permanent solutions have been invented.

A fixative is a liquid that can be sprayed over the top of your art so that you can preserve it without any fear of smudging. The liquid interacts with the paper and media in a way that locks it into place and prevents most types of smudging.

Using a fixative can be one of the easiest ways to ensure that you don’t have to deal with smudging, but you will also need to find the right fixative for the type of paper and mediums that you are making art with.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you are using fixative on charcoal, pastels, pencil, or other dry mediums:

  • Don’t wait to spray at the end. Spray when you’re finished blending various steps of a drawing. If you use fixative throughout the making of the drawing, the result will hold more completely.
  • Try different types of fixative out to see what you like best.
    Workable fixative is less permanent as you can keep working after using it, while final fixatives will more permanently set everything. Use them both at appropriate times.
  • For a quick and easy solution, hairspray can be used as a fixative for sketchbooks, but only if you won’t be upset about yellowing happening over time.

You Can Preserve Your Work

For most people, sketchbooks are just a place to try out different things and to grow as an artist so it might not seem like a big deal if it smudges a bit. That being said, learning how to prevent drawings from smudging in sketchbooks will ensure that you can keep coming back to the drawings later to clearly see what you were doing at that time.

Protecting your work from smudges isn’t difficult, so take a little bit of time to experiment with these techniques to ensure that your sketches can live on!

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