View Full Version : Protecting sketches from fade/smudge

05 May 2005, 02:19 AM
What is the best way to protect sketchbook pages from smudging or fading? I've used that adhesive/hairspray in the past, is that the only option? What do you commonly use?

05 May 2005, 02:37 AM
1) I would say don't use any fixative, its just too risky - if an image on paper is worth saving, put it behind glass.
2) if in storage, make sure the drawings are flat, and have a sheet of acid free tissue between each drawing.


Ralph Mayer in his definitive work on artists materials "The Artists Handbook of Materials and Techniques"
states the following:

"Pastel Pictures should be likely fixed so as to reduce their fragility and prevent their dusting off of their own accord. Framing under glass is their chief protection.

Spaying any fixative heavily enough to protect the work against damage in handling will cause the whites to disappear, because of the chalks low refractive index…"


05 May 2005, 02:44 AM
1) I would say don't use any fixative, its just too risky - if an image on paper is worth saving, put it behind glass.

I guess I'm referring more to day-to-day sketches. My sketch book that I use every day is starting to get faded towards the front of the book from constant use...

05 May 2005, 03:12 AM
Oops - I noticed that after the fact *sleepy*

Apparently, the fixatives which are better are the ones that have an alcohol base - 2% active ingredient to 98% parts solvent. (that according to Mayer)


05 May 2005, 04:25 AM
1) I would say don't use any fixative, its just too risky - if an image on paper is worth saving, put it behind glass.

When you say "behind glass", do you mean framing it? Just so you know, if you're trying to preserve artwork by framing, always, always, always lift the glass up off the art with either a glass spacer or rag mat. Practically nothing is worse for the preservation of any art than putting it in direct contact with glass over time, because condensation forms between the glass and art, which causes decay. Also, with any print or photo that has a glossy finish, sometimes the art will actually fuse to the surface of the glass. Sorry for the tangent...

As for the sketch book...if you're interested in preserving individual drawings, take them out of the book, sandwich them between pieces of rag mat and lay them flat in a clean, dry place. If you don't want to take them out of the book and don't want to apply fixative, all I can think of is not handling them very much. I've heard of some instances where fixative can actually alter the color of the medium either immediately or over time.

05 May 2005, 04:48 AM
Wildsheepchase - Yes you are absolutely right about inserting spacing - nothing worse than moisture/mould to destroy a good drawing.


05 May 2005, 01:54 PM
erilaz - When I used to commute to work by train I'd have a hardbound sketch book that I'd stow away in a backpack. The page edges would get dog eared and dirty and the pencil sketches would smudge across the page. I assume that's what you mean?

Aside from using any kind of spray coating like a fixative, here are some tips:
- If you're traveling with your sketch book, the hardcover sketch books will withstand more wear and tear than a paper covered book.

- Put a sheet of glassine or wax paper between sketch pages. Most smudging occurs from two (rough) pages rubbing together and the smooth glassine is a nice buffer between them. I saw that pastel pads are now being sold with glassine sheets bound between the pastel sheets.

- Ink over pencil sketches with permanent ink. Either that or sketch only in pen. Learning to shade only with lines (like crosshatching) will be an interesting new challenge if you haven't tried it before.

- If you'd rather use only pencil, avoid using lead softer than HB. The softer the lead, the more apt it will be to smudge. Colored pencil (black, sepia or Indigo blue) avoids smudging to a point. You can also search for filmograph leads -- they're graphite mixed with plastic.

Hope this helps. Keep sketching! :thumbsup:

05 May 2005, 01:22 AM
Thanks ilikesoup! Really helpful, and yes, that's what I'm doing. I draw people every day to and from work on the tram to improve my observation skills. I'll have a go at your suggestions. My current sketch book is a hard-plastic coverd spiral sketchbook. Pretty sturdy and small enough not to get bent by all the other crap in my bag.

CGTalk Moderation
05 May 2005, 01:22 AM
This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.