Skip to Content

How to Store Drawings (Tips, Tricks, and Full Guide)

Portrait in progress by Zack Nicholas

What Is the Best Way to Store Drawings?

Wondering how to store drawings?

Maybe you’ve come across some of your old drawings that are now stained, faded, or moldy or maybe you finally finished the perfect portrait drawing that you want to store properly for years to come.

Storage for drawings should be easy, and it’s actually pretty straightforward once you know the type of medium your drawing is and what factors to avoid that could damage to it down the line. 

The best way to store drawings is to use archival-quality materials, protect them from light, and store them flat in a cool, dry, and dark place.

This post will go over how to store a variety of different types of drawings such as how to store charcoal drawings as well as materials you may need to store your artwork properly and some of our personal tips and tricks to make drawing storage easier and cheaper.

If you’re in a pinch or traveling with your drawings a portfolio may be a good bet, but for long term storage there’s definitely more factors to consider.

Table of Contents

    Tips and Tricks to Storing Drawings

    Picture of a white drawer

    Whether you are an artist or a collector, it is crucial to safely store your works if you want to maintain their quality and value. The following tips and tricks can help you keep your drawings in top condition:

    • Use acid-free materials such as mat board, storage containers, and paper to save it from fading and damage.

    Invest in a paper best for drawing, such as acid-free and archival paper, to help keep your artwork last for a long time.

    • To display and safeguard against light damage, think about framing your drawings with UV-protective glass and acid-free matting.
    • If you can’t frame your drawings, keep them flat in a portfolio to protect them from folding and creasing.
    • Store drawings away from direct sunlight and high humidity. Do keep them in a cool, dry, and dark place.
    • Label and arrange your drawings to help you identify and organize them even in storage.
    • Scan or take a photo of your drawings to make a copy. It is a backup in case of losing or damaging the original work.
    • Regularly inspect your drawings for damages, such as fading, discoloration, or mold development, and take the necessary action to address any problems.

    Common Issues with not Storing Drawings Properly

    Drawings need to be stored properly to preserve their longevity and accessibility. Improper storage may lead to problems including damage, loss, and fading, all of which can have serious consequences.

    Not appropriately stored drawings are vulnerable to tearing, creasing, and other damage over time. This can be due to exposure to moisture, sunlight, or improper handling.

    Another problem is that drawings may easily be lost or misplaced. If they are not properly labeled or organized, it won’t be easy to find them when needed.

    Because of these problems, it may be necessary to recreate or replace them, which can take time and effort and be costly. 

    What Materials Do You Need to Store Your Drawings?

    To keep your drawings properly, you will want a few materials made expressly to protect against damage and degradation over time. These include:

    1. Acid-free mat board and paper
    2. Acid-free container or drawer
    3. Acid-free tissue paper (used to separate your drawings and stop them from sticking to one another.)
    4. Portfolio
    5. Frames (preferably with UV-protective glass or plexiglass)

    How to Handle Paper Properly?

    Hands holding paper

    One factor that can damage your drawings is the improper handling of paper. 

    When you are an artist, your hands are mostly composed of graphite or charcoal dust, paint, oils, dirt, and other residues. So if it is time to store your drawings, wash your hands thoroughly before handling paper.

    Handling paper with care and according to size is also essential. Paper may rip or wrinkle when handled roughly, so try to avoid doing so. 

    Pick up a large piece of paper with both hands at the opposite corners. As for the small ones, support them with your hand at the back, like holding a tray.

    All in all, handling paper by the edges or on the blank side is best.

    How to Store Charcoal-Based Drawings

    A charcoal drawing

    People who use charcoal know the struggle of working with this medium. Charcoal particles are delicate and can easily be smudged. That is why it is essential to take extra care while storing it.

    Safe storing of your charcoal drawings includes applying a fixative spray. This sealant helps hold the charcoal particles in place and prevents smudging. 

    It is best to store your work flat to prevent smudging and smearing and place a sheet of acid-free paper or glassine above the print, which is a better option.

    Store drawings in a cool, dry, and, if possible, acid-free area or container. 

    How to Store Graphite Drawings

    Drawing of a still life with a graphite pencil

    While graphite has high stability, it may still be damaged if not kept correctly.

    Proper matting techniques are just as crucial as other storage practices. Mats not only make the artwork seem better, but they also protect it from damage. A fixative spray would also help, but use just the right amount so you can still rework or add layers to it.

    After that, using the tips and tricks above is also recommended.

    How to Store Color Pencil Drawings

    Storing your colored pencils drawing would be similar to keeping your graphite ones. And, of course, use the best colored pencils for drawing to ensure excellent and long-lasting markings. 

    How to Store Loose Drawings

    A loose paper is a single, standalone sheet not bound to a book, notebook, or any other form of stationery, making it more vulnerable. 

    When storing in a portfolio or folder, keep it tight and consider placing each drawing in its protective cover or acid-free to prevent them from rubbing against each other.

    How to Store Large Drawings?

    When it comes to storing large drawings, it’s essential to consider the size and weight of the artwork to ensure its safety and longevity. 

    You can lay the drawing flat or store it in an archival tube. Use a large, flat surface such as a table or a flat file cabinet for flat storage and place an acid-free barrier between them.

    When storing it in an archival tube, secure a desiccant packet inside that will absorb moisture if it ever occurs.

    How to Store Paintings on Canvas 

    Stacked canvases

    The first thing you need to secure in storing your painting on canvas is a cool and dry location free from moisture, direct sunlight, and extreme temperatures. 

    Paintings should be stored upright, preferably against a wall or solid support like a bookshelf. In this way, it will prevent any warping or bending of the canvas. And if you can buy one, cover them with dust sheets as well. 

    Note: Avoid stacking paintings on top of each other because the other paintings’ weight might harm the canvases underneath.

    Where Do You Store Drawing Papers?

    Storing your drawing papers would still be how we said to keep your other drawings.  

    There are flat file cabinets specifically designed to store your drawings. These cabinets have multiple drawers that one can use to hold different sizes of paper. 

    If you don’t find that kind of customized cabinet, you can lay them flat on a drawer or shelving unit. 

    How Do You Store Drawings so They Don’t Smudge?

    It is essential to take some precautions to protect the paper’s surface while storing drawings to prevent smudging.

    Applying fixative spray to the surface of the drawing can help prevent smudging. 

    Portfolios and protective layers such as acid-free or glassine paper between artworks would be a good place to keep your drawings from smudging.

    If you have enough space, store drawings vertically to help avoid smearing. It helps keep them from contacting one another by allowing air to flow between them.

    How to Frame Pencil Drawings:

    Framing pencil drawings can enhance their appearance and protect them from damage. Here are some steps to frame a pencil drawing:

    1. Choose a frame that perfectly fits your drawing.
    2. Mount the drawing onto an acid-free mat board using acid-free tape or corners. With this, the paper will have a border around it and won’t contact the glass.
    3. After securing the frame onto the mat board, cover the back with acid-free paper or a dust cover to protect the artwork from dust and potential damage.

    How to Preserve Drawings with Fixative?

    How to Preserve Drawings with Fixative?

    How to Preserve Drawings on Paper with Fixative

    To effectively preserve your drawings with fixative spray, ensure it is completely dry and free of loose debris or dirt. 

    Choose an acid-free and archival fixative to prevent yellowing or damage to the paper over time and the appropriate one in the medium you are using. 

    Spray the fixative evenly to the surface and spray it at least 12 inches from the paper. 

    How to Protect pencil Drawings without Fixative 

    If you do not have any fixatives, make sure to use archival or acid-free paper. 

    You can also just store drawings in a portfolio or a protective sleeve made from archival materials. 

    Another option is to frame your pencil drawing behind glass to protect it and use an acid-free mat board. It creates a border around the drawing, preventing it from touching the glass.

    Should You Use Fixatives?

    Fixatives may help protect drawings from smearing and wear and tear over time. But whether or not you should use fixatives to preserve your artwork depends on several factors.

    Charcoal, pastel, and graphite drawings are so easily smudged that they are often coated with a fixative. But if you are working with other media types, such as ink or watercolor, in that case, fixatives may not be needed or might not be as effective.

    How to Keep Your Drawings Safe on the Go

    It might be challenging to transport your drawings in a way that keeps them undamaged and secure on the go. 

    For small papers, you can store them in a portfolio case that is sturdy and made from protective materials such as nylon or canvas.

    If you are transporting large drawings, bring an archival or rigid tube made from cardboard or PVC.

    And if you are packing your drawings in a bag or a suitcase, use padding or other protective materials to keep them secure.

    What to Do if your Drawing is Wet or Stained?

    If your drawing gets wet or stained, don’t worry! You can still do something about it. 

    If your drawing is wet, use a clean, absorbent cloth or paper towel to blot away any excess moisture gently.

    Do not touch or rub the paper roughly; otherwise, you can smudge it.

    After absorbing as much moisture as possible, set the paper aside to air dry or dab a dry cloth.

    For stains, use a soft eraser to try to get rid of them from your drawing, and gently brush off the dirt if you can. If it doesn’t work, you may need to use a specialized stain remover or get help from an expert.

    What to Do if your Drawing Is Moldy?

    If you spot some molds in your drawings, don’t panic! But, of course, take action immediately. 

    Move the artwork as quickly as possible to a dry spot in a moist or humid environment and isolate it to prevent it from spreading.

    Expose your drawing in the sun for a bit. As soon as the mold dries, gently remove the mold from the surface of the paper using a soft brush.

    How to Store Drawings (Tips, Tricks, and Full Guide) – Conclusion

    Storing drawings properly is essential for their longevity and preservation. Many ways to protect your works from damage exist, from using acid-free materials and matting to avoiding direct sunlight and humidity.

    Following the tips and tricks outlined in this art blog ensures that your artwork remains in excellent condition for years.

    If you’re an artist or art collector looking to learn more about storing your drawings, consider scheduling a discovery call with us. We will do our best to help you how to take the best care of your artwork based on its unique characteristics and condition.

    Thanks for reading, and see you at the next one!

    As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases made on our website. If you make a purchase through links from this website, we may get a small share of the sale from Amazon and other similar affiliate programs. You can read our complete legal information for more details.