How to Keep Pencil Sketches From Smudging in a Sketchbook

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Sketchbooks are an excellent tool for artists to hone their skills and techniques, or to realize their concepts and ideas. They are perfect to use while traveling or when you can’t be at your desk.

Perhaps the most frustrating problem artists face with their sketchbooks is smudging, so we’ve compiled a few ways on how to keep pencil sketches from smudging in a sketchbook.

Using Your Sketchbook

Sketchbooks are some of the most revealing and intimate aspects of an artist’s work and practice. They are basically a visual diary of imaginings, renderings, and an artist’s daily thought process.

You do not even need to be an artist, or consider yourself an artist, to form productive and fulfilling sketchbook habits. Many people are under the impression that sketchbooks are only allowed to be filled with pencil sketches and drawings, but that’s is not true.

Many artists use sketchbooks to flex their creative muscles or experiment with and develop new techniques. Most good sketchbooks are inexpensive and can sustain a variety of art media, from watercolors to paint pens to pencils and charcoal.

There really are no rules when it comes to how you fill your sketchbook. They are there to let you explore your creativity or hash out some ideas and concepts you might have.

Good Sketchbook Habits

Developing good sketchbook habits can be quite challenging, as our creativity seems to come and go as it pleases, making it difficult to stay motivated to draw and create art.

There is still hope, however, as there exist a few easy ways to develop and maintain good sketchbook habits.

You always have time to draw

This may seem strange to some, but it is true. The most common excuse artists use to neglect their sketchbooks is that ‘there is not enough time to draw.’

A great way to look at it is to compare how much time you spend distracting yourself, be it scrolling through Instagram or Twitter, watching TV, or sitting doing nothing while on your daily commute, to how much time you spend drawing. If you have time to do those things, you have time to draw.

Perfection is bad

Though this might seem like a bold and unreasonable statement, it is at least somewhat true in the case of sketchbooks. Perfectionism can often seem like the ultimate humble-brag, but truth be told, it is hardly ever a good trait.

It can hold us back, particularly when it comes to being creative. The point of sketchbooks is to allow for creative freedom, and the freedom to make mistakes. If you are trying to be too perfect in your sketchbook, you will never make any progress.

How to Keep Pencil Sketches From Smudging in a Sketchbook

Preventing Smudging

Probably most artists’ worst nightmare is their work becoming damaged or blemished. Sometimes, you can become so focused and absorbed in your sketches and drawings that you do not even realize you are smudging them.

Smudges are pretty unsightly and destroy the integrity of your artwork, even if it was just a sketch. Sketches can be precious for reference and study, and smudged drawings are often hard to decipher.

Luckily there are a few ways you can prevent and lessen smudging in your sketchbook. Choosing the right pencil is a great place to start.

You should always take into consideration the types of pencils you use when drawing and sketching. If you are not fussy about the pencil you use, consider drawing with the 4H variety, as they very rarely smudge.

Most pencils of the B variety are prone to smudging, so if you find that your sketches and drawings are often smudging, consider avoiding these types.

If you notice that your drawings are becoming smudges when you travel with your sketchbook, you could try using the rubber band method. Many artists swear by this method, which has you wrap a rubber band around your sketchbook.

This prevents the pages from moving and rubbing together and thus can prevent smudging. If you prefer a more meticulous approach, you can cut a piece of wax paper to it the size of your sketchbook’s pages, and tape it to the page you drawing is on, preventing smudging.

What to Do When Your Drawing is Smudged

So, the inevitable has happened. You’ve just finished sketching something, only to pull away from your sketchbook and realize that you’ve smudged it.

It can feel quite devastating, but there is still hope. You can always carefully erase the smudge, and go back over any lines to restore detail.

This works well most of the time, and if you’re careful, you won’t lose too much of the piece, if any. If you find that you are prone to smudging your work, you should consider investing in a kneadable eraser.

Kneadable erasers, as the name suggests, can be kneaded to any shape and size you want, making it great for erasing what you want without accidentally erasing what you don’t want.

Final Thoughts

Smudging is not the end of the world and is pretty much a rite of passage for all artists. Of course, it can be prevented, and it is worth taking the time to do so, especially if art is your profession.

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