Just bought a Charcoal Drawing? Or want to have one? Here is a guide to solving all doubts about how to preserve charcoal drawings for eternity with you. Let’s get started!

Charcoal Drawings have been preferred by artists throughout history because of its unique dark black stroke. This material was widely used in the Renaissance for the creation of preparatory drawings. Throughout western art history, artists well known for other mediums have used charcoal for sketching or preliminary studies for final paintings.

Today charcoal is said to be one of the best dry drawing media that an artist will use for creating a charcoal drawing. There are a few types of charcoal used by artists to create a drawing.  These types of charcoal include “vine” and “compressed”. Vine charcoal usually consists of burnt willow wood. Vine charcoal is very delicate and easily spreads on a surface and is very easy to erase.  As a consequence, it generally makes a lighter mark when you draw than compressed charcoal and easily smudges.

Handmade Charcoal Drawing (Preserve Charcoal Drawings)

Handmade Charcoal Drawing


Compressed charcoal is held together by a gum binder and is darker than vine charcoal.  As a result, it is harder to erase, harder to smudge, but makes a darker mark.  Compressed charcoal may come as a round stick, a square stick, or in a pencil. When this beautiful sketch is done the most obvious question that comes up is how to preserve charcoal drawings? There are several measures you can take to keep your charcoal sketch intact. Here are a few measures to preserve charcoal drawings.

1. Use Fixative Spray


Fixative spray (Preserve Charcoal Drawings)

Fixative spray


The Fixatives are available in the form of gloss and matte finishes. To stop charcoal sketches from smearing, one must use fixative spray. Use many light coats to avoid dust from the sketch. Instead of applying one heavy coat of fixative, it is best to apply multiple lighter coats.

You need to hold the fixative about 2 feet away from the paper while you spray. Moreover, fixatives need to be sprayed in a well-ventilated room or outdoors and it should be sprayed in a continuous motion. After spraying, wait for at least 30 minutes and do not touch the sketch until the charcoal sketch looks dry.

2. Substitute of Fixative


Also, when a fixative spray is not available, hairspray can also be used as a substitute. However, it has been said by experts that hairsprays are not much effective and hence not recommended for some reasons. According to reports, the chemical makeup of hairspray could cause yellowing of the paper over a certain period of time.

Also, if hairspray is used too much, the paper is likely to become sticky. I, personally would suggest not to use Hairspray as an alternative to Fixative. BookMyPainting uses only premium class fixative on all sketches, hence there is no need for you to apply any more fixative on our Handmade Charcoal Portraits.

3. Avoid Touching / Rubbing the Art


Avoid Touching / Rubbing the Art

Avoid Touching / Rubbing the Art


While sketching or drawing keep in mind not to put fingers on the parts you have already drawn to save it from smudging. Use tracing paper as a barrier under your hand while drawing the sketch. Proper care should be taken if you want to preserve charcoal drawings for a longer time. These sketches can last for years if they are kept properly.

4. Avoid Direct Sunlight


Charcoal Portrait Drawing

Charcoal Portrait Drawing


Charcoal sketches should not be exposed in the sun, though charcoal is not as prone to fading under the sun than other mediums. It is best to hang or keep away your finished charcoal sketch work from being exposed to direct sunlight. Sunlight  directly harms the color contrast and the newness of the sketch is lost in pale tone

5. Get The Artwork Framed


Framed Charcoal sketch

A Framed Charcoal Sketch


A frame can protect a charcoal sketch from dust, water, and other substances that can damage it. Framing the charcoal sketch in a good double glass or acrylic is the best and it will protect from any damages. Usage of a double or triple mat is best to prevent the charcoal from touching the glass in which the sketch is being framed. you can read more about framing in our blog “How to Frame A Painting“.

6. Use Eraser While Drawing (For Artists)


Use of Kneaded Eraser

Use of Kneaded Eraser


In order to protect your charcoal sketch from getting smudged, you have to be careful while placing your hand onto the paper or canvas u are drawing. You can also use a white plastic eraser if you’re working on fine details. Also, a kneaded eraser recommended for erasing or making changes in a charcoal sketch.

Electric eraser is also useful for making changes in a charcoal sketch or you can also get ‘cleaning powder’ for the same. Using a brush to remove eraser or graphite crumbs is necessary to avoid smearing in a charcoal sketch.

7. Take Care of The Drawing Sheet


After all the necessary preventions to preserve charcoal drawings, we need to preserve the textured sheet on which the sketch is drawn. We should keep it safe and secure. It is advised not to play hard with it, mash it or try crumbling it. This will harm the sheet and will directly affect the sketch. This can cause deformity and defacement. It is much advised to keep it away from the direct reach of children as they can try tearing the sheet up.


So, these were a few of the necessary measures to be taken to preserve charcoal drawings. Charcoal is the raw form of art and keeps every detail of a moment in black and white for eternity. Once a charcoal sketch is made it will last centuries and will be kept by your generations in your memory and honor.

You can even revamp your grandparents’ pictures who are already in black and white to a custom charcoal sketch. If you want to know more about the preservation of Charcoal Sketches or buy a charcoal sketch, you can contact us through our website.

Details on similar topics such as – How to Choose The Best Portrait Painting Size? or Why Do Oil Paintings Cost So high? or What to do with an Ugly Painting? are also given in our blog. Let me know if you have any other art style and you wanna know about methods to preserve it in the comment section or if there is any specific topic you want me to write about!

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