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How to Draw: 6 Tips for Framing Pencil Drawings

It is the way your finished artwork is presented that makes all the difference. Although it’s tempting to simply place your drawing in a ready-made frame, there are several things you should keep in mind before framing your artwork to ensure it’s adequately protected over the years.

Use acid-free materials
Any mat, tape, or adhesive, barrier, or backing you use to frame your art or drawing must be completely acid-free. Acidic materials, over long periods of time, can damage the artwork in the frame by distorting the actual paper or turning it a yellowish color.

use mats
I prefer to use mats with the framing of my drawings.

If an acid mat is used, it must be backed by an acid-free material that will act as a protective barrier between the mat and the drawing. There is a standard thickness that is necessary and preferred in the industry for this buffer or barrier. The same consideration should be given to the backing of your drawing. If your drawing or art is backed or mounted on an acid-free material, the barrier is not necessary. Some framers use a foam core board as a backing.

stay away from black
As a general rule, I always stay away from black, especially solid black, although it can work if it’s part of a color scheme with particular trim and doesn’t dominate the pattern. It’s nice to have something that has a variety of values, including trim and floor mats, that work as a whole. Even with the values ​​and gradations created within the graphite medium, the mat(s) and frame can be chosen to complement, tone down, or emphasize any particular value or aspect of your drawing.

Always frame with glass
I would always frame with glass, but spend the extra money on UV protection glass as well. However, I would never use non-reflective glass or plexiglass.

The drawing must be cleaned well, removing stains, dust or eraser fragments. To see if there are small fragments in your paper or drawing, you need to look at the surface closely from a severe angle, so you can see them contrasting with the surface of the paper as they rise. You can use a brush or compressed air to remove any shards of material from the frame.

The glass must be exceptionally clean and tested for fingerprints, dust, hair, or other foreign material, before it is permanently secured in the frame. You may have to do this more than once.

Let your artwork breathe
When attaching the drawing to the backing or whatever secures its position within the mats or frame, it should only be secured at the top and allowed to hang down if an adhesive or tape is used. It should not be securely fastened at all four corners or around its perimeter, because moisture is continually changing and the paper must be free to flex, expand, and contract. Otherwise, the paper will curl or develop waves if it is restrained in any way. These ripples in the paper become very apparent when the lighting is directional or at an angle to the framed artwork. The light causes reflections and shadows due to the contours of the paper. Some framers are using a large photo-type plastic corner that allows the paper to slide in and lock at all four corners and still allow the paper to flex. It seems to be working quite well, as a number of my drawings and illustrations using other paper media have been framed this way for a number of years.

Add a protective dust cover
After the art and framing materials are placed in the actual frame, a dust cover should be used on the back to prevent further dust, spiders, or insects from entering the framed picture compartment. This is usually done by using double-sided tape on the back surface of the trim all the way around. A piece of brown paper is then placed on the sticky surface while it is stretched and pressed onto the sticky surface. You then trim the outer edges of the brown paper to fit and then you’re ready to attach the hanging wire, before putting your artwork on display!

Have fun drawing!

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