How to Fix Damage to a Colored Pencil Drawing

How to Fix Damage to a Colored Pencil Drawing

Knowing how to fix damage to a colored pencil drawing at all stages of the drawing process is vital to finishing drawings.

If you don’t know how to repair physical damage to paper, you’ll end up throwing out drawings that could otherwise be salvaged. Believe me! I know from experience; a lot of drawings were trashed  early on that would now be salvageable.

How to Fix Damage to a Colored Pencil Drawing

Some of the damaged drawings were self-inflicted, while others were the result of manufacturing flaws. So the first thing I’ll encourage you to do is examine every sheet of paper before you use it.

But let’s assume you’ve looked for scuffs, dents, indentations, and marks and you’ve still discover a flaw after you began your drawing. What do you do?

Following are two forms of damage that happen most often to me. I’ve had lots of practice repairing them. Here’s what I do.

Scuffed Paper

Are you of the opinion that once you tear or scuff your paper, it’s over? I used to share that opinion, but no longer do. Not after this drawing.

How to Fix Damage to a Colored Pencil Drawing - Icelandic Prince

I don’t remember what type of paper I used, but I found a serious flaw in it on the right side, where the horse’s rump is. Memory suggests that I scuffed the paper trying to lighten the area with a eraser.

How to Fix Damage - Icelandic Prince Detail

Whatever the cause, it became more noticeable with every layer of color.

I considered cropping the drawing to remove that part of the composition, so put different sizes and shapes of mats over the drawing. None of them worked. I either needed to find a way to work over (and hide) that scuff or start over.

Fixing Scuffs

To cover the flaw and avoid making it larger, I used Verithin pencils with very light pressure and very small, circular strokes to fill in the scuffed area. Then I worked over them with waxier Prismacolor soft core pencils. I used very light pressure to work over the scuff and blend it into the colors on unscuffed paper.

I also kept my pencils very sharp so I didn’t worsen the scuff. Eventually, the flaw disappeared enough to rescue the drawing.

There are two morals to this story.

One. Erase carefully. It’s frightfully easy to scuff drawing paper.

Two. It is possible to cover a scuff if you work carefully and slowly, and don’t make the scuff worse by drawing over the edge of it.


This portrait represents the first time I used Stonehenge paper. I loved the paper from the start, but learned something quickly.

It was extremely easy to impress unwanted lines. Every layer of color seemed to reveal another impression somewhere and before long, I began to wonder if I should restart on another paper.

How to Fix Damage to a Colored Pencil Drawing - Courtster

Then I learned how to fill in those unwanted impressions with a very sharp pencil, and a very light touch. Pencils with harder pigment cores are best, but it can be done with softer pencils.

And it’s easy!

Filling Impressions

Sharpen your pencil as absolutely sharp as you can. Then draw along the length of the impression with light pressure. Turn your pencil in your fingers between strokes to keep the point sharp, and stroke until the impression is filled in.

When you add another layer, make sure to add that color to the impression, too. Eventually, the impression will disappear.

NOTE: This drawing was done back in the day when Rising made Stonehenge. The formulation or sizing has since changed, so the Stonehenge you buy today is no longer so soft. You can still accidentally impress lines into it, but not so easily.

A Last Resort Solution

If all else fails, and if the damage is on the edge of the drawing, you can crop the drawing. That removes the problem physically.

Even if the damage isn’t around the edges, you may be able to crop one or two miniature “detail” images from the larger drawing. The first time I did these years ago, I ended up with an eye study and a bit study from a larger race horse portrait. Both of them sold quickly.

Quickly enough to prompt me to make more drawings of the same size and type.

Now You Know How to Fix Damage to Paper

At least for two common types of damage.

These methods work on most papers, though you may have to adjust the method for whatever type of paper you’re using.

Sometimes you can’t fix damage once it happens. In such cases, starting over is probably the best answer.

But if you don’t panic and if you proceed carefully and thoughtfully, you can rescue more damaged drawings than you might think.

Give this tips a try. What do you have to lose?

Got a question? Ask Carrie!

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