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I have been drawing with graphite for over forty years, and it is still one of my favorite mediums to work with.
I love how you can create photorealistic drawings with soft value changes.
Unlike art with color, greyscale drawings and photographs remind me of a particular time in the past.
However, with all the positives there are with graphite, there is one big problem many artists face. The problems artist face is how to keep drawings clean during the drawing process.
I have learned many tips over the past forty years, and learning how to keep my drawings clean was a valuable lesson learned.
In this post, I am going to share with you how I protect my drawings from smudging while I am drawing.
How To Keep Graphite Drawings Clean
Below are some tips that I have learned along the way.
Some of them are obvious, but sometimes, just hearing it will prevent a disaster.
Keep Your Drawing Area Clean And Organized
Take a few minutes to clean your drawing table before you start your drawing project.
Your last project might have left some graphite on the table, which will get on your drawing surface and hands.
It will be imposable to keep your graphite drawings clean if they become spoiled before your first line.
Just make sure that the table is dry before you put your drawing paper on it.
I can not tell you how many times I had to start a project over because of my Strathmore Bristol Board getting wet and warping.
Another tip is to keep food and drinks away from your drawing table.
If you know me, you know I love coffee. You will always see me with a cup of coffee either in my hands or nearby.
You might see where this is going.
I have ruined more drawings by dripping or dribbling coffee on my drawings.
The only way I learned how to prevent this from happening was by putting my coffee on the other side of the room.
This makes me get up to have a sip of coffee, rather than spilling it on my work. An extra benefit is standing up every now and then is healthy.
Keep Graphite Drawings Clean By Planning Before You Draw
Some artists draw from the lefts side of the paper towards the right side to prevent their hands from smudging their drawings.
If an artist is lefthanded, they will work from right to left.
I can not draw like this.
I tackle every drawing differently.
I identify where the darkest values are, and I work from there.
I also rotate my paper to make it easier to draw different lines.
Everyone has a different drawing technique, and this is what makes our work unique.
The best way to prevent smudging your paper is by planning before you start.
Decide what you will be doing and when you will be doing it so you can prevent any mistakes that might occur.
This brings me to my next tip.
Do Not Rest Your Hand On Your Drawing
There are two reasons why you should never touch your drawing surface.
The first reason is that the oil on your hand will soil the drawing area, which will make it imposable to draw smooth value changes.
It does not matter how many times you wash your hands before you draw; you will still have oils on your hand that will transfer on your paper.
The second reason is that if your hand touches the graphite, some of the graphite will go on your hands. The next time you touch your drawing surface, the graphite on your hand will be transferred to your drawing surface.
To prevent this from happening, always have a piece of paper between your hand and the drawing surface.
You do not need to purchase anything expensive. I use a cheap printer paper.
Be sure to lift the protective paper instead of pushing the protective paper when you are going to work in a different area.
Pushing the paper will spread the graphite, just like a blending stump does.
Another tip is to always start the day with a clean piece of protective paper.
Depending on your drawing styles will determine if you use blending tools or not.
If you like to blend your drawings, never use your fingers to blend.
Like I said earlier, oils and lotion on your hands will destroy your drawing surface.
I use a variety of blending tools, and I will be making a video explaining the different tools I use soon, but until then, below is a list of what I most frequently use.
I hope these tips help you to keep your drawings clean.
You spend a great deal of time on your artwork.
Learning how to keep graphite drawings clean during the drawing stage will reduce stress in your life.
Drawing Supplies I Use For My Drawings
- Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Board Pads 9″ x 12″ Smooth
- Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Board Pads 9″ x 12″ Velum
Shading Pencils Set
- General’s Factis Magic Black Eraser
- Tombow Mono Zero Refillable Eraser
- Prismacolor Kneaded Rubber Erasers
- Alvin Dry Cleaning Pad
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