5 DIY Tools for Blending Graphite Pencil and Charcoal
I’m going to run through five different tools that you can use to blend your charcoal and graphite pencils to get really soft, smooth shading. Even better, you probably already have them lying around in your house! For real-time drawing and painting tutorials click here.
Tool 1; tissue. Try to get tissue that is soft and smooth, without any pattern indents. Wrap it around your finger so you have control over it and then blend gently in circular motions. This is a great technique for blending skin and softening everything out. It gets rid of all the pencil strokes so you can’t see any white grain anymore.
Tool 2; cotton bud. Again, I like to use circular motions but this time cotton buds are great for smaller areas, such as shading on the eyes. It gives you more control than the tissue but is just as effective. One thing you may notice is that the tissue lifts more graphite than the cotton bud and lightens an area, so the tissue can be used to create subtle highlights.
Tool 3; paper. Use a little square and fold it to make a point that you wrap around your finger again. You want a flat surface on the pad of your finger. It is not as effective as the previous two, and you do need to press harder, but it is another cheap, easy method to get remove graininess from your drawing. Blending stumps are more effective and still quite cheap (they are paper compressed into a stump). I would recommend investing in a pack of blending stumps for your pencil drawings.
Tool 4; cloth. You can use any bit of scrap cloth for this, just wrap it around your finger and blend in gentle circular motions. The cloth you get in glasses cases works great for blending and cloth is reusable, which saves on waste.
Tool 5; your finger. The most convenient tool to use for blending is your fingers. This is not as archival, which is why I would recommend this method as a last resort. The problem is your hands can be quite oily and transfer those oils onto your drawing paper. This can make your blending blotchy and uneven. If you do want to blend with your fingers make sure you wash and dry your hands before you blend, which will minimize the oil transfer to the paper.
If you would like to boost your drawing skills further, check out my online courses.
To see these blending tools in action, watch the video below: