Drawings drawn with graphite shine a lot under even a little light. The paper needs to be held at certain angle for proper viewing. Anyway to reduce or stop this?

  • Is it possible to adjust the light so that it is not in the reflection at the desired viewing angle?
    – rebusB
    Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 15:17
  • 1
    @rebusB Well light source is always not in my hand to control. So...
    – Bluebug
    Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 15:53

5 Answers 5


Spray fixative should make the drawing more matte as well as protecting it.

You could also try a layer of acrylic matte medium, sprayed or brushed, but that would be a little more involved and riskier to the original work if it cannot handle the wet medium.

Either way do some test pieces before trying on the finished work.

I also would recommend drawing with a softer lead for dark areas, it will require less working and less material to get the tone you want, which means less buildup and less gloss.

  • "acrylic matte medium / wet medium" — it was good to point out the necessity of trying it out on test pieces first: I can imagine that the wet medium, even after drying, can massively alter the values, and change the inter-relation of tones in the work: in effect, amplifying minor mistakes / inconsistencies that were still tolerable / acceptable in the original dry state. Also due to this, it could massively alter the character of the work. Even a simple fixative has some similar contribution, if applied in too large quantities.
    – Levente
    Commented Apr 3, 2021 at 21:45

There is a type of spray that is often used by film production teams called “dulling spray”. It is a spray that kills reflections on anything, because in movies you DO NOT WANT HIGHLIGHTS.

The spray is expensive and quite a challenge to come by, as the best sprays are only distributed by photography and film equipment rental shops.

If you do use it, always spray very light coats - and definitely do a test on another piece of paper before you risk ruining your work.

  • 1
    Well that's a new piece of information indeed. Thank you. Although I'm not sure I can find it locally. I found some in Amazon.
    – Bluebug
    Commented Jun 11, 2018 at 20:37
  • 1
    this sounds like its for temorary use (while filming) for a drawing however you would need to ensure its also archival.
    – Vincent.W.
    Commented Nov 14, 2018 at 15:18
  • Exactly as @Vincent.W. said: who guarantees whether it would not discolor the paper, or accelerate other erosion over time? The overwhelming majority of artist's fixatives and mediums were designed to answer for this criteria, but a film-prop product does not imply in the slightest that its creators took care for the concern of it being archival.
    – Levente
    Commented Apr 3, 2021 at 21:57

If you use graphite, then you have the properties of graphite: it conducts electricity and it shines.

To make it less shiny after using it, you most likely need to apply a layer of something which washes away (partially) the shine, but still leaves the drawing visible.

You can try some of the following:

  • special plastic sheet, used instead of glass, to protect the front of the paintings; it was especially designed for the purpose to minimize reflections;
  • apply a layer of fluid, which will cure into a non-glossy solid; e.g. hair spray, special fixating spray for graphite / charcoal / crayon drawings; linseed oil (or any other oils for painting)...

Note: before you apply anything on the original drawing, make a test on a separate piece of paper, on which you draw some shape. In that way you do not destroy the important art, trying to improve it (see below a sample of what I mean).

Be warned: I am not an artist and I did not try any of this myself (yet).

enter image description here

  • Thank you For the suggestion ٩(๑~▽~๑)۶
    – MKX
    Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 5:58

Vertruvian Fine Art Studio, an online drawing and painting school has a very good answer to your question, provided by instructor David Jamieson.
The shininess is "burnishing" which happens when an area is worked too much or you press too hard.
He says:

"In my experience, there are only 3 ways to prevent your pencil drawings from becoming burnished:

  • Limit the amount of graphite on the page.
  • Limit how hard you press with the pencil.
  • Limit how many times you rework an area."

More detail on these is provided in the article.

  • And how does one build up value then? Doesn't this set a limit on the darkest tone that can be achieved? Even when using paper with a strong, deep tooth?
    – Levente
    Commented Apr 3, 2021 at 21:54

Actually I doubt that there's a way to do that. Every drawing medium has its own traits and one of graphite is to be shiny. (To be honest, I like that a lot about graphite, so it's not a bad thing). Because of the different shininess I simply wouldn't use charcoal and graphite together in one picture. Using 7B instead of charcoal will give the drawing an even shiny effect.

You can try adding a layer of matt varnish (a spray one). It will make the overall picture matt, though I'm not sure if it works with graphite's shininess. Also your paper shouldn't be too thin or it will become wavy.

For the future you could try switching completely to charcoal. You are able to create similar drawings as the one you drew but charcoal is not shiny.


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