Protect your charcoal, chalk, graphite, and pastel drawings, and more, by using a fixative spray. Although even the best will result in some degree of color shift, these sprays are valued for their ability to keep surfaces from smudging, fading, flaking, and discoloring. There are two basic types of fixative, regular and workable. If your piece is not quite finished but you still want some smudge protection, or if you intend to layer individually fixed media, go with a workable fixative. This holds your medium to the paper but allows you to still make small adjustments in shading, erasing, and blurring. Regular fixative, on the other hand, holds your medium firmly in place, preserving your artwork without the need for glass. No matter which fixative you choose, don’t forget to spray in a ventilated area and, even better, wear a mask. Get your fixative fix by browsing our roundup of the best products. below.
1. Krylon Workable Fixatif Spray
Krylon’s workable fixative comes in an 11-ounce aerosol can. A classic product, it goes on clear and will not alter the original color nor add a varnish. Acid free and archival safe, this fixative will protect your work from yellowing, wrinkling, and smudging. The reworkable formula allows flexibility in layering in-progress pieces and correcting nearly completed ones. You can even erase through the coating to revise your artwork to a greater degree. For best results, let the fixative dry for 30 minutes after spraying before resuming your work.
2. Lascaux Fine Art Fixative
Unlike the Krylon fixative above, this spray fixative from Lascaux is permanent. A non-yellowing, non-matte coating, it can be applied to drawings in dry media like graphite, pastel, and charcoal, as well as to photographs, collages, and ceramics. When using with pastels, remember to apply in several light coats rather than in one heavy coat so as not to dissolve the colors. Though whatever it is sprayed over cannot be reworked, this fixative is an excellent ground for further additions once dry. Note, however, that each layer of the fixative will darken your colors, so start with lighter shades at first.
3. SpectraFix Fixative Spray
SpectraFix’s 12-ounce container of fixative spray works on pastel, pencil, charcoal, watercolor, and mixed-media compositions. The all-natural formula is odor-free and nontoxic, and the pump spray design (rather than aerosol) protects lungs from inhalants. Fun fact: the formula is based on milk casein, believed to be same fixative Edgar Degas used to fix his chalk pastels.
4. Winsor & Newton Workable Fixative
The second workable fixative on this list, Winsor & Newton’s provides anti-smudge protection coupled with flexibility. This colorless matte fixative protects your pieces from yellowing, wrinkling, and fading.
5. Sennelier Delacroix Fixative
This minimal-odor fixative is specially formulated for graphite and charcoal drawings. Protect your pieces against smudging and fading with this non-yellowing sealant. With a matte finish and a spray that goes on evenly, this fixative won’t threaten the integrity of your finished work. Note that because of its strength, it is not recommended for soft pastels. For these, use Sennelier’s Latour Fixative instead.