How to Protect or Seal a Chalk Drawing

So, you've spent some pretty good amount of time on a chalkboard drawing, and now you've got it hanging in your room and are wondering if there is a way to protect it and make it permanent?

They're about a few different ways to seal chalkboard art to keep it from smearing or being erased and make it permanent.


Chalkboard artist is a form of visual art that uses chalk to embellish a blackboard with some art or writing. It a type of artwork that's been picking up in popularity recently as more and more artists get into this ephemeral and flexible type of artwork.

Chalkboard art and writing is not difficult. It just needs some planning and a few trial and error sessions to master the basics. You can use chalk on a blackboard to create just about any kind of art. Mostly, chalkboard art is used to add a celebratory personal touch to a place. You will see decorative chalkboard art, including menus and congratulatory messages at parties.

While the whole point of chalkboard drawings is that they're flexible and enjoyable, some artworks are worth preserving as keepsakes.

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    How Do You Keep Chalk From Smearing?

    If you want to seal and protect your chalkboard art so it won't smudge, you can use any of the following products:

    · Hairspray

    · Homemade fixer

    · Commercial fixer

    · Mod podge matte

    What Do Professional Chalk Artists Use?

    Professional chalk artists use high-quality commercial sealants to fix their drawings on a chalkboard. The sealants are referred to as fixatives [] . A fixative spray is a clear liquid in an aerosol that professionals use to fix' drawings and letterings onto chalkboards or paper, making it safe to touch. It is mostly used in art classes in colleges. The liquid is usually a blend of casein or resin and alcohol or any other high-volatile substance.

    How to Protect or Seal a Chalk Drawing
    How to Protect or Seal a Chalk Drawing

    A fixative works just like varnish: When sprayed onto dry chalkboard artwork, the resin or casein stabilizes the graphite or pigment on the surface and keeps dust off the artwork. Some varnishes can be used as fixatives.

    There are many different brands of fixatives on the market. They vary in properties from quick to medium quick-drying, strong to medium odor, water-resistant, non-yellowing, UV resistant, etc.

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    Does Fixative Reduce  Smudging?

    A good fixative fixes the art onto the chalkboard well to prevent smudging with just a few coats. Modern fixatives are alcohol-based, hydrocarbon propelled aerosols; others are non-aerosols. Some are marketed as workable fixatives meaning they can be used throughout the artistic process, making it easy to re-do areas without worries of distorting earlier stages.

    How Many Coats Does it Take to achieve Smudge-Proof Drawings?

    Some fixative prevents smudging just after two or three coats; others need to be applied several times to achieve smudge protection. Ultimately, you want a fixative that acts quickly after just a few coats so you won't spend so much time on one stage of the drawing.

    Does It Vary Between Pastel, Charcaol, and Graphite?

    Fixatives can be used to seal and protect artwork done in pencil, graphite, charcoal, or pastel. Some vary between all of the media; others work on specified media only. If you are going to produce art on various media, go for a versatile fixative, so you won't need to buy different fixatives for each media.

    Is It Affected By Moisture?

    Modern fixatives are of high quality in terms of water and UV resistance. They are also transparent, colorless, and age-resistance. This prevents fading and yellowing due to intense UV rays and keeps your drawing from being harmed by moisture.

    Sealing your chalkboard artwork with a moisture-resistant smudge-proofing fixative prevents heartbreaks later when moisture gets onto the board or stuff brush against it.

    How Does Fixative Change The Appearance Of The Drawing?

    Using a fixative will definitely change some highlights of artwork; how significant the change is what matters. Ultimately, you want a fixative that doesn't result in so many undesirable color changes.

    Undesirable color changes are one of the biggest disadvantages of using fixatives to seal chalkboard art. Mostly, this happens when you use fixatives in glossy or matte finishes. This is why some artists stay away from fixatives and choose to frame their work behind glass instead. Other artists use fixatives but will then re-do some of the layers to add back highlights.


    Benefits Of Fixatives Include:

    • Keep Sketches Intact

    Fixatives keep your sketches smudge-proof. Most people make a copy of their artwork first on the board before drawing over it using chalk. Without using a fixative, the chalk will smear into the sketch, dissolving details, leaving you with nothing to follow.

    Whether one is using charcoal, chalk, or pastel to make the initial sketch. Smudging is always a problem once the actual painting starts. Apply a god amount of fixative over the sketch and draw over it.

    • Provide Long-Term Ptotection

    Fixatives provide long-term protection. These products are best used to seal chalkboard artwork intended for preservation as mementos. There are many different fixative brands available, and most do a damn fine job. Just visit your local art store and ask for a matte finish spray; it is the smoothest, un-shiny finish on the market.

    • Fixatives Can Save You Time

    Having to re-do an artwork because of damages, moisture damage, or smearing is a harrowing experience. You've put much work into the project; if you like the final results, seal it using a fixative. That way, you won't need to rework the project as the sealants keep the work intact.

    Steps On How To Protect  Your Chalk Drawing and Prevent Smudging

    Fixing a chalk drawing using a sealant is not hard; follow the manufacturer's direction of use for the specific brand. Here is a complete breakdown of the general steps to follow:

    Select a High Quality Fixative 

    Start by selecting a good quality fixative. Remember, you get your money's worth. Cheap fixatives may save you a little cash but won't offer much smudge protection to your artwork.

    Go for a high-quality, transparent, age-resistant, water-resistant, and UV-resistant fixative that offers smudge protection just after a few coats. Experts advise using spray sealant that comes in a matte finish [].

    Find a Well Ventilated Area.

    The chemical combinations in fixatives may be toxic and possible health hazards to your respiratory system. Do not spray a fixative indoors, such as in a classroom. The fumes may irritate the eyes. They may also be carcinogenic. Hydrocarbons catch fire quickly, too. Always work in a well-ventilated space away from people and avoid putting the fixative near flames or incandescent sources.

    Perform a Patch Test

    You won't get anywhere without a patch test. A patch test helps determine if the sealant is best for the chalkboard art and how many coats it takes to achieve smudge-proof protection.

    Therefore, before using the fixative on your precious chalkboard art, perform a patch test first to find out how the spray affects your media. Test the product on a practice chalkboard art.

    Remove Loose Chalk Particles

    Drawing with chalk leaves loose chalk particles on the board; get rid of these lest they give the final artwork a lousy texture. Just tap the board slightly, so any loose chalk particles fall off.

    Apply A Thin, Smooth  Coat of Fixative

    Stand about four feet away from the board and gently spray in continuous strokes, slightly extending past the artwork's edge. Make sure to cover your face with a respirator mask so you won't inhale toxic fumes. Don't saturate the drawing with the spray; just a light mist will do.

    Give it Time to Dry

    Allow the chalkboard some time to dry. Usually, fixative sprays dry in just a short time unless you over-showered the drawing, which is a bad thing to do.

    Apply Several Coats of Fixative

    Coat the drawing for a second time to take care of the areas that didn't get enough smudge protection from the previous session.

    Evaluate The Artwork

    Inspect the artwork making sure the results are satisfying. If not, find out where you went wrong; it could result from spraying too much or too little. Do more practice until you get good results.

    Once you know what to do, apply the spray to the finished artwork, allow some time to dry and store. Keep the fixative out of reach of children and away from flames and incandescent sources.

    Can You Use Hairspray on Chalk Drawings

    Spraying regular hairspray gently over the chalkboard art should also fix the chalk to the board, making the art safe to touch. If you don't have the cash to spring for a commercial fixative and do not know how to make one at home, then your everyday hairspray will do fine. Hairsprays work by covering the chalkboard art with long-chain chemical compounds called polymers (resins), just like fixatives do. Most hairsprays are usually about 25-50 percent alcohol so that they won't saturate your drawing. But alcohol-free is the best so you won't get intoxicated!

    Advantages of Using Hairspray as a Sealant

    The advantage is there is no exposure to carcinogenic fumes, plus it saves you some cash. You don't have to move about looking for a well-ventilated area to do your work since the product is non-toxic. You can safely use it inside. Hairspray is also temporary; if you want to get rid of the hairspray plus the drawing, just rub with alcohol.


    The disadvantage is that smudge protection won't be as effective as that from a commercial fixative, and it won't protect the drawing for long; just a day and your artwork is vulnerable to smudging and moisture again.

    Artwork sealed using hairsprays becomes yellow, faster compared to those fixed with commercial sealants.

    A Final Word on Hairsptays as Sealants For Artwork

    That said, hairsprays are convenient. Surely, you have one of these in your homes, now, don't you? They come in handy if you want to keep the chalkboard art intact just for a few days. For example, you've created a beautiful birthday or thanksgiving chalkboard art that you want to keep intact through a humid day, using hairspray is the best option.

    Keep in mind, though, that not all hairsprays are the same. You may have to try many different brands. All in all, the best hairspray for sealing chalkboard art must meet the following qualities:

    · Aerosol for spraying small uniform droplets

    · Alcohol-free;

    · Silicone-free: Watch out for dimethicone and trimethicone.

    To use the hairspray to seal your chalkboard art, stand at least 10″ away and gently cover with a thin, smooth coat. Don't panic when it looks like the art is starting to disappear. The hairspray makes the chalk wet. Give it 10 to 15 minutes to dry, and you will have a smudge-proof artwork back.

    Can You Make Your Own Fixative?

    Springing for a high-quality commercial sealant is always the best option, but if you are hard-pressed for cash, it is possible to make homemade fixatives [].

    Most commercial sealants do a fine job but cost as much as 10 dollars and last through only a few drawings. Some artists turn to hairsprays, but as explained, hairsprays don't prevent yellowing. Therefore, a lot of artists decide to learn to prepare fixers at home.

    Making and Using Fixtives at Home

    Making your own fixate is not hard. Once you figure out that the key ingredient that makes commercial fixers and hairsprays tick is shellac, you can combine shellac with just about any volatile substance such as alcohol, and voila!

    Mix about a tablespoon of white shellac with four ounces (half a cup) of isopropyl alcohol and stir. You can also use casein from milk in place of shellac. Read this article on how to produce a homemade casein fixative

    Transfer the mixture into a spray bottle (plastic) for applying onto the chalkboard art. Always spray fixers onto a chalkboard drawing instead of painting with a brush. Brushing will ruin your artwork.

    Set the bottle to the best spray setting and apply it just like you would a commercial sealant or hairspray. Seal the homemade fixer in a container and store it at room temperature. Remember to clean the spray nozzle before storage to prevent clogging.

    Matte Spray Mod Podge

    You can also use Matte Spray Mod Podge to seal your chalkboard art from moisture and prevent smudging. Though it does not do an excellent job as commercial fixate sprays, this all-in-one finish and sealer is quick-drying, allowing multiple coatings. For further information click here to visit Amazon

    The Advantages of Mod Podge Spray Include:

    Mod podge is a non-toxic spray. Unlike commercial fixates that release toxic and possibly respiratory-compromising fumes, mod podge is safe for use on almost all surfaces without worrying about potential health hazards. You can spray it anywhere, inside or outdoors.

    Mod podge is a non-yellowing sealant. If you plan to do some oil painting, you don't have to worry about discoloration. Mod Podge sprays enhance artworks with a strong glitter finish, leaving the piece shimmering with a lustrous shine.

    Mod podge has a high-adhesion level and dries quickly and clear for an easy build-up of coats to add dimensional design details to a project. Mod podge is available as a spray formula making it easy to use, just like commercial fixates sprays.

    The Disadvantage of Mod Podge Sprays

    Mod podge is slightly water-resistant, but it is not waterproof. If you are going to keep your chalkboard art outside, this is not the right sealant. The ingredients in the product can be wiped away easily by water droplets in the air. Mod podge spray also tends to leave the artwork spotty. You'd be better off with a hairspray or a fixative. 

    Alternatives Methods to Make Chalkboard Drawings Permanent?

    Chalkboard art uses various media, including chalk, graphite, and pastels. Chalk pastels are a fan-favorite. They make it easy to lay down beautiful layers of color without the need for paint, water, or brushes.

    Chalk pastels ‘catch' better on blackboards, but they may not come off. Always verify first before using pastels on a blackboard. Some wipe off easily; others leave pigments behind. Click Here for further information.

    The disadvantage of chalk markers and pastels is that they don't have the same texture as traditional chalk. They are OK to use, but the artwork is going to look different. Plus, permanent pastels counter the whole paint of chalkboard art -flexible, exciting art.

    Wrapping Up

    Chalkboard art has been surging in popularity for some time now as more and more people get into this flexible, exciting visual art. Sometimes when doing chalkboard art, something incredible comes out of it, and you just want to preserve it as a memento.

    There are several ways you can seal and protect your beautiful chalkboard artwork from smudging. Products range from commercial fixatives to hairsprays, mod podge sprays in a matte finish, and even DIY fixates. Hairsprays offer short term protection while fixates make the art permanent. But not all fixates are created equal. You want a quick-drying product that also dries clear. While at it, make sure it prevents yellowing and provides smudge protection after just a few coats. Just make sure to use it in well-ventilated areas because fixates fumes are toxic.

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      Ian Walsh is the creator and author of and an Art teacher based in Merseyside in the United Kingdom. He holds a BA in Fine Art and a PGCE in teaching Art and Design. He has been teaching Art for over 24 Years in different parts of the UK. When not teaching Ian spending his time developing this website and creating content for the improvedrawing channel.

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