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I have my old (10+ years) pencil art drawings and when I looked at them recently I notice that the paper has yellowed where it is visible.

Is there a way to remove to remove the yellow tint without affecting the drawing?

  • Do you mean to say that the paper has yellowed? What is yellow? Can you please clarify your question a bit? – Catija Jul 28 '16 at 23:38
  • I drew the drawing in a white paper, now it is not looking white it became pale yellow. – Vijai Jul 28 '16 at 23:49
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    This question is very related: crafts.stackexchange.com/questions/528/… – Matt Aug 1 '16 at 2:54
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I don't believe there is a way to remove the yellow staining but there are a lot of methods to keep it from getting any worse.

The reason your paper is turning yellow is because of the quality of paper that was used to make the drawing on. Economical paper is made from wood and not cotton. Chances are you have paper made from a wood pulp. Wood is made up of lignin and cellulos. The yellowing in the result of lignin, still present in the fibres of your paper, oxidizing when exposed to sunlight and air.

And if the paper wasn't washed properly residual acids from the paper makeing process may still be present. And these acids help with the oxidation process.

To save your paper I would recommend two things, 1) Neutralize the residual acids and 2) Seal the paper from contact with the air.

Krylon makes a spray which helps neutralize the acids. Neutralizing the acids slows down the yellowing and aging of the paper.

Krylon also makes a preservative for protecting documents and photos called PreserveIt.

Neutralize the acids first then perserve it.

In the future if you want your drawings to last longer (say a couple of hundred years). Try using paper that is archival safe or acid-free.

enter image description here

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  • But if the paper has already yellowed, is there any solution? This seems like a method of preventing the yellowing in the first place. – Catija Jul 28 '16 at 23:50
  • Undo the yellowing? Not that I know of. – John Vukelic Jul 28 '16 at 23:59
  • Yeah, I didn't figure that was the case. That might be worth adding to your answer, since the question is how to get rid of the yellow. Very nice, overall, though! Not trying to be critical. – Catija Jul 29 '16 at 0:07
  • I have added the note. And thanks for the review! I always appreciate a good critique. Cheers! – John Vukelic Jul 29 '16 at 2:21
  • Thanks John, I follow this for a new drawing. Do you want to spray this first and start drawing? or Choose acid-free paper? – Vijai Aug 1 '16 at 16:40
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Take high quality digital scans or photographs of it.

That won't undo the damage if some of the drawing is already lost, but digital editing may help make the parts of the art that are still there more visible.

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    This seems a better fit for the comment as, like you say, does nothing to address the OPs question but tries to provide a potential solution to keep a copy of the work if nothing else. – Matt Aug 1 '16 at 16:49
  • You can then print them out on a newer sheet of paper, too. – haykam Aug 2 '16 at 18:04
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b_jonas is on the right path...

Take a high quality scan or photo of the discolored work. Then take that scan and in photo editing software correct out the yellowed tone. A decent app will have tools that can make this fairly simple, though you may want to outsource this if you are not familiar with the process.

Now make a giclee or high quality inkjet print of the work, using the same or similar paper and dimensions of the original. Yes, it is a reproduction, but fine art ink jet prints can be nearly indistinguishable from the original.

There is no way to "unyellow" aged paper without damaging the work. This way you can still have a piece you can show that is in pristine condition and that will look like the original to all but the closest inspection.

(Note: this is also the reason you should not use hair spray or other cheap alternatives as fixative. Not saying you did here, but it will result in the same yellowing and should be avoided.)

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