How To Spray Drawings with Fixative

 In art supplies, beginner artists, Drawing, tips

How To Spray Your Drawing with Fixative Correctly

Have a few drawings made with charcoal or pastels? If you haven’t sprayed them with fixative yet, you’re probably worried about smudging them. Instead of working around your drawings, spray them and put them away without the fear of ruining them. Fixative spray can be used for pencil, charcoal, pastel, or mixed media pieces that use the aforementioned materials. In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to use fixative spray correctly so you can preserve your smudgeable drawings.  


What You’ll Need:

  • A finished drawing
  • Workable Fixative Spray (not permanent or final)
  • Disposable gloves
  • Well-ventilated area
  • A clipboard (if your drawing is on looseleaf paper) – optional



Step 1: Gather your materials

You’ll want to make sure you have the right materials before spraying. Buy Workable Fixative spray, as this spray lets you continue working on top of your drawing if you chose to. Permanent or final spray will not let you have that luxury. Be sure to buy disposable gloves, as you don’t want the fixative spray getting on your skin, as it is toxic! If your drawing is on looseleaf paper, I recommend getting a clipboard so you can spray it vertically.


Step 2a: Preparing to spray

Go outside, or to a well ventilated area, because just as you don’t want the spray on your skin, you also don’t want to inhale the fumes. If you spray outside, make sure to do it when it isn’t windy; we’ve found that the morning is the best time to spray drawings. If it is windy, it’ll blow most of the spray into the wind instead of your drawing, which is just a waste.

Shake your fixative spray vigorously for 2 minutes. The instructions are on the can, and we can’t emphasize how important this step is. If you don’t mix the chemicals up, you gamble ruining your drawing. Unmixed fixative spray leaves a white, hazy layer that you can’t take off.


Step 2b: Testing the fixative

Once you’ve finished shaking the can, test the fixative before spraying your drawing. To do this, put your gloves on and uncap the fixative. Away from your drawing, hold the button down for just a second – to get rid of any residue that may be on the cap and to make sure it’s spraying right.


Step 3: Spraying your drawing

Spraying drawings with fixative

how to spray drawings

Set your drawing vertically. If you spray your drawing on the ground, you risk dripping on your drawing and those spots will not come out.

Hold the can about 6 inches away from your drawing and start spraying horizontally, beginning from outside the edges of the drawing, making sure to end past the edge of your drawing.

Once you’ve gone from top to bottom, flip your drawing 90 degrees and spray again. This is to lock in the spray and guaranteeing all spots are covered. Let your drawing sit for about 5 minutes before doing another round of spray, if necessary.


Step 4: Test the smudge level

testing drawing for smudges

Check to see if you need another coat of spray. Use your finger (with your gloves still on) and touch your drawing to see if charcoal comes off. If it does, you’ll need to do another round of spraying (horizontally and vertically). If not, you’re good to go! Just a heads up, your drawing will probably still have charcoal that comes off, however a few layers of spray will protect it enough from being noticeably smudged.


Remember to always read the instructions on the can and use caution when using spray, as it is flammable and toxic. However, your knowledge of what not to do will protect you from the dangers of potentially hazardous materials.

And there you have it! Happy drawing!

Also if you are interested in learning how to draw what you see be sure to check out our intro to drawing class


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A still life drawing.