How to Protect Pencil Drawings Without Fixative


How to Protect Pencil Drawings Without Fixative

A collection of pencil drawings has been a precious possession in many homes. Indeed, they have not been treated with fixative, as compared to oils and watercolors, which need to be protected from harmful effects by applying the fixation or varnish. Nonetheless, it does not mean that pencil drawings do not need any protection;

rather, it is just because the color pigments are lightweight by nature, hence even under favorable conditions, there can always be unintended fading of the drawing due to natural reasons such as time, light exposure, etc. In this article, I will discuss how to protect pencil drawings without fixative. So let us get started.

Stepwise Guide on How to Protect Pencil Drawings Without Fixative:

If you are looking for a way to protect pencil drawings without a fixative, this article is for you. This step-by-step guide will provide a complete understanding of what factors affect the longevity of your pencil drawings and how to keep your work looking crisp and clean even after years.

Step 1 : Storage: 

The choice of storage is crucial in preserving the longevity (and sheen) of your creations. Before starting, always make sure that the surface you will use has been cleaned properly. Read this article on how to store artwork correctly.

I would not recommend storing unfinished artworks because they get dirty easily when stored with finished pieces.  If you keep the pencil drawings in your bedroom or living room, always keep them flat and not vertically hung on the wall.

Step 2 : Wall Surface:

The type of surface that you are drawing on also plays an important role in preserving your work. Never draw directly on a wall or any other surface which is not meant to be used as a drawing surface.

Always make sure that the walls have been cleaned properly and then finish off by filling in holes, cracks, and uneven patches with colourless filler before starting with pencil drawings.

Step 3 : Drawing boards (or canvases):

Use Hardboard Instead of Paper

Many artists today use hardboard instead of paper to draw their creations. By doing so, they get the luxury of erasing their mistakes without worrying about ruining the paper altogether. However, hardboard is not a good choice for artwork because it warps when exposed to intense heat and moisture. Some people also believe that drawing on a hardboard makes the pencil drawings look ‘cheap’.

Step 4 : High-quality Paper:

You need to make sure that you invest in good-quality paper to make your pencil drawings look crisp and clean. The cheapest papers are generally low-quality, rough, and not transparent enough to interfere with the ink to give a dull sheen.

Step 5 : Good-quality pencils:

If you want your creations to stay bright for a long time, then you need to use only high-quality colored pencils. The colors should be very light-fast, and the lead needs to be strong enough not to break down easily when deposited on the paper.

Many artists nowadays prefer Japanese colored pencils because they do not contain waxes which can hinder the flow of pigments onto the paper surface. Always remember that there is no substitute for investing in good-quality materials.

Step 6 : Tipping your pencils:

You can keep your pencil drawings bright by tipping the lead every once in a while using white and colored pencils of the same value. This process is also known as burnishing. The tip is usually found at the end of the shaft, which is covered by a plastic cover to ensure that it does not break down when sharpened.

Step 7 : Use of erasers:

If you plan to makeover your artwork or erase any mistakes, then never use an eraser with fine grain because they tend to drag along the surface of papers, leaving marks behind them. Instead, always use dull erasers when working on smooth paper or hardboards, which do not leave residue behind them when erased. 


1. Do not press too hard on your pencils when you are drawing, as this can cause pictures to become blunt and even break  (especially if the lead is soft)

2. When you are finished with a drawing, make sure that your pencils do not have any debris like dust or other materials stuck on them. This can cause scratches on the drawing surface (or, in some extreme cases, the entire paper)  when stored inside books or albums

3. Regulate the time between when your drawings are placed in albums/binders and back out again as per the above instructions so that it does not leave marks on your drawings due to friction when opening and closing pages of an album/binder

Make Sure Sunlight Will Hit Directly

4. Make sure not to store your drawings in a place where sunlight will hit them directly for long periods as this can cause discoloration and fading of pictures

5. Don’t be rough with pencils or press too hard when drawing, as the lead may break and leave bits behind, which will scratch the picture surface if rubbed against it

6. Always use a pencil sharpener that has built-in rubber or leather lining (usually red). This prevents the blade from tearing up the wood finish on your pencils (unless you want to give an antique look to your drawings).


I hope this article has provided you all the necessary information on how to protect pencil drawings without fixative. Thank you and have a nice day!

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