Some paper just yellows over time, especially if left out somewhere where it sees sunlight.

Acid-free paper is a partial solution, but not terribly budget-friendly.

Is there something else I can do in order to ensure the longevity of my work? I'd be using a variety of pencils and pastels, including charcoal. Is there something I can apply to the paper before or after drawing on it?

  • I wonder if any fixatives or spray polyurethane would be helpful. Whenever I finished something in charcoal in class, we were instructed to "fix" the piece to prevent the charcoal from continuing to rub and smudge. I wonder if anything like this would help seal the paper as well. May 23, 2016 at 12:33
  • 4
    @BrownRedHawk: fixatives just add yet another variable/ingredient that can age badly. IME, there's really no substitute for using archival, or at the very least acid-free, materials. The only other option is, don't expose your art to light: keep it in a portfolio, not framed on the wall. I know, that's not much of an answer, hence posting it as a comment.
    – Martha
    May 23, 2016 at 22:14

3 Answers 3


Proper storage is your biggest ally in keeping paper from yellowing. Storing your artwork away from light, where it's cool and dry can drastically extend the life of even newsprint.

Obviously, if you can afford acid-free paper, other archival media (e.g., don't draw with Sharpies), and storage (mylar envelopes, etc.), that would be the best. But even just using a good zip-cover portfolio will do a lot to protect your artwork from the ravages of time.


I posted an answer to a similar question on this Exchange.

"The reason [paper turns] yellow is because the paper is made from wood pulp and not cotton. 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."

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

Details here:

How to remove the yellowish color from my old drawings?


There's this thing called "fixative spray" this spray allows you to edit after spraying!

From my experience, this spray is the best, it protects your drawings from smudging. Hopes this helps, luck!

  • 1
    Fixative is used to fixate the drawing to the paper, to prevent it from smudging. Where high quality fixatives might not yellow a lot, or even help slow down yellowing, the process still depends mostly on the paper and the storage, as mentioned in the other answers.
    – Joachim
    Jan 5, 2021 at 7:56

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