Learn blending basics from Marcula Stauffer and take your art skills to the next level.
A blending tool can be found almost anywhere and can be made from almost anything.
With a limitless sea of textured objects to choose from, where do you start? Every medium is different, which means blending tools work differently depending on the materials being used.
Marcula Stauffer has spent years in the art studio mastering his techniques, and he’s ready to help you choose the right blending tool for your next project.
1.) Blending Stump
This tool is made of soft, tightly rolled felt the paper, and has two pointy ends. Blending stumps are most commonly used to blend and smudge graphite and charcoal, mediums often used for drawing. Marcula Stauffer recommends using this tool for projects that require large areas of blending. It is also ideal for shading and can be of great use when making light and dark values.
Commonly confused with a blending stump, a tortillon is a short stack of tightly rolled paper that is much firmer. This tool is best used for fine details, as it is small and easy to control. Marcula Stuffer suggests holding the tortillon at an angle to avoid pushing the tip back into the paper roll, however, this issue can still be fixed by pushing a straightened paperclip into the bottom. They are available in a variety of sizes to accommodate both small and large projects. Always shade light areas with a clean tortillon, saving the regularly used “dirty” paper sticks for dark areas.
This blending tool is commonly used by artists working with charcoal, pastels, and pencils. It is also an outstanding choice when working on black and white drawings. To use, gently wipe across areas to soften or lighten dark marks. A genuine chamois cloth is made of real leather and is very soft and absorbent. Marcula Stauffer appreciates its long life, as a dirty chamois cloth can be washed with warm soapy water to be used again and again. To make the cloth softer, simply rub against the edge of a table, or rub two pieces together.
Artists usually use their fingers as the last resort when other tools are not available. This practice can be seen with pastels, paint, and drawing, but can leave fingerprints or make colors bleed. Marcula Stauffer does not recommend using this method with charcoal and suggests practicing before using your fingers on a serious work of art.