Preserving Quality Drawings: Start to Finish

5 Easy ways for creating higher quality drawings right now! Also: secrets to keeping your drawings safe when your artwork is finished!

Scrap Paper

Sometimes we are our own worst artistic enemy. Don’t let your own hands be the things that ruin your drawings. As a drawing evolves to the point at which you have to place your hand or arm on a developed part of the drawing you need to use a barrier to prevent accidental smudging of your artwork. This is where scrap paper is super handy, but don’t just use any scrap paper.

I save magazines and shopping catalogs for use as scrap paper. Why? They have glossy paper and the glossy/shiny paper is less likely to smudge your drawing. Glossy paper works even better than newsprint which is rougher. I highly recommend using clean glossy pages to shield your sensitive areas of your drawing. Use the scrap paper for one drawing session only and then throw the scrap paper away. I see a quality drawing in your near future!


Draw a Border

Never work on a piece of drawing paper right to the paper’s edge. When you erase or shade against the edge of the paper you will end up bending, curling, or worse, ripping your paper.   Rather, begin each drawing by reserving a small space (border) on the outside of your paper. I usually use a one inch border around the edges of my paper and will sometimes adjust the border smaller if I’m working on small paper, as in a sketchbook.

You’ll be glad you used a border if you accidently rip a corner off your drawing paper! The border is also useful if you ever decide to mat and/or frame your artwork because it’s nice to have some extra paper to work with when matting drawings.

The border also gives the artist a place to handle the drawing without smudging and smearing the pencil or charcoal. Have I convinced you yet? Use a border when drawing; always! The quality of your drawing depends on it! You can always cut off the boder later. Grab that ruler and make that border for your next high quality drawing!


Use an Easel

When most people think of an easel they think of painting, however drawing artists can also benefit from the use of an easel. Besides being a convenient way of looking at your entire artwork the way it will be exhibited on a wall, an easel also has some immediate benefits to an artist working in a drawing medium such as pencil, charcoal, or pastel.

Since an easel is upright, you’ll be less inclined to lean body parts onto your paper or spill anything onto your drawing paper. You mean I can’t create a quality drawing by spilling grape juice all over the place? Nice try! When working on flat surface such as a table, we also tend to lean on our artwork which can smudge or scratch up the paper. An easel eliminates this tendency altogether and makes it very obvious when you are coming into contact with the paper’s surface.

You’ll definitely want to use a drawing board if you choose to draw using an easel. Fortunately you can make your own drawing board for super cheap.


Choose Acid Free Paper

The creation of a quality drawing requires you to use quality materials. Begin by working only on acid-free paper. Acid free paper is paper that is PH neutral and will not deteriorate, become yellow or brittle over time like other cheap, non-professional papers.

How do I know if my paper is acid-free?

Manufacturers of professional grade acid-free paper will gladly boast about their paper’s attributes on the cover of the drawing pad. This is a major selling feature for their quality paper products and as a result paper companies usually make it obvious.



Improper storage of your drawings can have negative consequences. Once completed your, finished drawings should be stored flat and ideally have some protective layers in between. Buy yourself a portfolio bag, large enough to fit your largest drawing paper. Each time you finish a drawing you can add it to the portfolio bag with a sheet of newsprint in between each drawing. Once your drawings are neatly stacked in a portfolio bag, your drawings will not get dusty and destroyed by dust, pets or moisture.

Don’t leave finished drawings inside of your drawing pads. Over time, even a quality drawing will look bad if left in a drawing pad and carried around. The slight rubbing movement of the papers will end up smudging your drawing and ruining all your hard work. You’ll end up with what used to be a quality drawing. Remove those finished drawings and store them flat in a portfolio.

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