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  • Writer's pictureKonstantin

How To Use A Paper Blending Stump

Updated: May 27, 2020

What are the exact possible usage options using a paper blending stump for your drawings?

If you are new to drawing and shading especially with a paper blending stump you might probably ask yourself how to use this tool exactly. I've asked myself that question, too when I started and over time I learned how much is actually possible with a paper blending stick.

How do you use a paper blending stump?

The usage options of a paper blender reach from smudging over shading and blending to adding dark values and adding depth to your drawings. You can use the tool with charcoal and graphite pencils. When it gets dirty you can use that to actually draw instead of using a normal pencil or charcoal on purpose. To clean it you can cut it off, rub it on a scrap paper or use sandpaper for this.

Let me give you some ideas of what it's really about, creating depth and perfect shading with that tool. Anyway... how are you even supposed to draw on purpose with that tool? What do you have to pay attention to?

I. The Exact Usage And Maintenance Possibilities


- Smudging

- Shading

- Blending

- Adding Light & Dark Values


- Scrap Paper

- Sandpaper

- Nail Clipper

- Razor Blade Knife

Smudging is principally wiping already shaded areas of a drawing to make it look smoother. Smudging is also a great possibility to create interesting looking forms on hair, clouds or in a tree crown. Therefore use tiny circulating movements.

Shading with a paper blending stump is one option to purposefully use the tool instead of a 6B or 8B pencil. This only works if the Blender is still dirty at the tip so you are able to use that excess graphite to shade smoothly. Normally, of course, you can also draw many soft and tiny lines in the area you want to shade and make it softer with the blending stump.

By Blending I mean pushing graphite or charcoal areas back and forth with a clean stump so the values get connected in a certain way. Do this very slightly at first to get a feeling for the method and not ruin your drawing. You can also try it on a scrap paper at first of course. You really don't want to destroy your almost finished work, right?

Adding light and dark values to a drawing is easy with a paper blending stump and the perfect option to use this awesome tool. For creating light areas you definitely need a consistently clean blending stump so you have to clean it multiple times during the creation process. Alternatively I sometimes also use a tissue, a Q-Tip or even an eraser for very light areas. To add very dark values the blending stump is optimal as you probably have already noticed while shading with it. It closes white tiny gaps between your with graphite shaded sections in the drawing. By that, it creates very dark areas and lends depth to your artwork.

When it comes to the maintenance of this intelligent tool, you'll soon notice that it doesn't take much effort to keep the paper wiper clean at the tip.

Wiping it over a scrap paper lying next to your original piece of art is probably the simplest and easiest way to clean your graphite and charcoal blending tool. Nevertheless, it definitely is not the fastest method to clean it, which leads us to our next maintenance option.

Using sandpaper for maintenance purposes is an extremely powerful and fast way to clean your paper blending stump. You just have to rub it very few times up and down the sandpaper and it's as good as new again, ready to shade some beautiful girl's face. A very tiny disadvantage of this is you mostly only have a 50% chance of having a tool like that at home. Either you have it or you don't and if you don't, continue reading to find other useful things from your own home to maintain your wiping tool.

A nail clipper is a possible alternative object to the sandpaper because many people have these at home all the time (well... neither do I have sandpaper at home right now nor do I use nail clippers but only nail scissors to cut my fingernails). Hopefully, you have one at home you can use to clip off the dirty parts at the tip of your favorite tool.

The last tool I want to recommend to you for cleaning the wiper is the one I personally use all the time. It's the razor blade knife (I really don't know anyone not having one). Cut the black or gray parts off of the blending tool and continue perfecting your art.

II. Are Blending Stumps Mandatory For Good Drawings?

As you might have already feared, the answer is the following: It depends.

It depends on mainly two things. The surface of your subject and the surface of your paper. When you want to draw a smooth shaded texture such as the one of skin, for example on a face or on a hand you should definitely use a paper blending stump. So if you're working on a portrait drawing you might genuinely consider working with a paper blending stump to recreate the soft look of skin.

However many artists, especially beginners tend to overuse this tool, which I can absolutely relate to. I've done this as well. Isn't it just a world-changing tool to use? It absolutely is but be cautious with the amount of time you spend shading, blending or smudging your way through your drawing.

Some times less is more and this can definitely be related to this topic right now. Pay attention to your usage of the blending tool and only use it when it's necessary. I know how tempting it is.

Taking the surface of your paper into account we can also take note that when the piece of paper you're drawing on is very smooth most of the time it is sufficient adjusting the amount of pressure you put onto your pencil while drawing. To be honest, this was a very long sentence right there but read it once more and you'll definitely understand.

To say it a bit more frankly, smooth paper allows you to shade only using your pencil. In this case, you're able to completely ignore the blending tool and shade darker areas solely with your pencil.

A method to shade effectively only using a pencil disregarding the paper stump is by holding the pencil in a way the whole side of the tip is engaged on the paper. By holding this position steadily use tiny, careful circulating movements (there they are again) while increasing or decreasing the pressure on your pencil to create a smooth transition.

When, on the other hand, your paper is a bit rougher such as the one on a charcoal paper you are also able to choose as you please. In my opinion, there is no right or wrong on such a surface but just always be aware of how much you use the graphite wiping stump.

Summarizing this section you can say, paper blending stumps are extremely useful tools and you should definitely never through them away. You just need to be cautious with the usage amount of it and pay attention to not overusing it, for your drawing might look dirty and very unprofessional.

III. Buying Vs. Making Blending Stumps Yourself

The option of creating your own blending stump always exists but is it better than just buying one? I've been asking this myself for a pretty long time actually and I'm happy to share the answer with you today in case you are wondering, too.

You can buy paper stumps for blending and tortillons at every art supply store. They come in various different sizes and widths. Which one to buy depends totally on the subject of your drawing. How detailed are the shaded parts in your drawing? How small the areas you want to use your blending stump in?

These are possible questions you should ask yourself before buying your paper blending stumps. Of course, you could also just go to the closest art shop or look through the offers on Amazon and buy them in every possible size you can find. When you click on the blue-colored link above you can order 8 different paper stumps in different sizes for roughly $3.50 which is a great offer.

Making your own graphite and charcoal wiper isn't hard as I've already mentioned and explained how to do this in a previous article. But what is better? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each option?

Buying a paper blending stump obviously has the disadvantage of having to pay for it and if you order them on Amazon you might have to wait multiple days until they arrive at your place. On the flip side, looking at the advantages you clearly receive pretty high-quality stumps consisting of very soft paper optimal for shading and blending your work. You have less chance of your blending stumps being broken or worn off too fast.

Making your own paper blending stump is fun, a little bit challenging and you have the joy of creating something on your own which is always a huge advantage of DIY. Even if it's "just" a tool and not an artwork you create, you will still get the rewarding feeling of having done something that you always have when you've just finished creating or building something. Just think about the lego times when we were kids. Wasn't that just the best thing in the world? For me it definitely was.

Of there is an opposite side to every coin but the disadvantages of creating your own paper blending stumps are tiny in comparison. You might experience trouble rolling the paper tightly enough at the beginning and if you don't pay close attention to holding the paper together it could break pretty easily. But if you follow the article I've written about how to make your own paper blending stump you'll be able to create good stumps pretty fast.

IV. Related Questions

1. What Is A Paper Blending Stump?

A Paper Blending Stump is a tool consisting of soft tightly-rolled paper. It is often used for shading, smudging or blending in a drawing to mimic the soft texture and shadow transitions of the subject.

2. What's The Difference Between Blending Stumps And Tortillons?

Paper Blending Stumps are often wider than Torillons, which makes them useful for shading larger areas within a graphite or charcoal drawing. On the other hand, a tortillon has a much pointier tip, which is optimal to shade details with precision.

3. How Do You Make Your Own Paper Blending Stump?

Making your own paper blending stump is basically pretty simple and I've already uploaded an article on this topic. So if you want to know how to make a paper blending stump yourself "DIY style" just click here:

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