How to Avoid Smearing Lead When You Draw

Sketching or drawing with lead pencils creates a certain kind of depth, value and detail in artwork but it can also cause smearing if you are not well equipped with the basic techniques. Most of the time, the sides of the hands and your sleeves can spread graphite and make your drawing an awful mess.

However, you can overcome this problem by keeping a couple of simple but effective techniques in mind. Remember, it is all about moving your hand in the proper way and to take special care of its position as you draw.


  • 1

    Be watchful:

    Though, it is something that you hear from everyone but trust me it is the most important thing to avoid smearing lead. Stay alert while sketching and plan your drawing. It is better to draw from up to down as it will reduce the chances of mess.

  • 2

    Keep your hands dry:

    You must keep your hands dry while drawing as sweaty hands can transform the lead/graphite into mud. It is better to keep a paper handkerchief to keep your hands clean. You can also use tissue paper to keep your hands off the parts that are complete.

  • 3

    Use A grade paper:

    The quality of the paper also plays a vital role in neatness of the drawing. Do not use thin paper as they will affect the overall impact of your piece of art. Using A grade papers will not only enhance the quality of your sketch but it also minimise the danger of smearing.

  • 4

    Use drawing board:

    You must work on an even surface otherwise your pencil will leave marks on the paper. Drawing or illustration boards are designed especially for this purpose so you should use these things to avoid smearing.

  • 5

    Choose your pencils wisely:

    Though, there are many cheap brands in the market but you should not compromise the quality. Use hard lead as the softness of lead means more smudges on the paper. Similarly, the way you use sharpener is very important as the perfect shape of lead will help you in bringing neatness in your work.

  • 6

    Be careful while erasing:

    If you could not avoid smearing then be careful while erasing the marks as any blunder can lead you to further trouble. Use thin-edged erasers to avoid ruining fine details of your art work. You should use a brush to remove lead crumbs from drawing paper as using hands can cause smudges.

  • 7

    Spray workable fixative:

    Once you are done with sketching, you should spray workable fixative to keep layers of graphite in place.

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