Fixative (drawing)

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In drawing, a fixative is a liquid, similar to varnish, which is usually sprayed over a finished piece of artwork, usually a dry media artwork, to better preserve it and prevent smudging.

Modern fixatives are usually alcohol based, and hydrocarbon propelled. Certain manufacturers produce fixatives specified for a certain media only, such as soft pastel fixatives. Modern fixatives are elevated in quality in terms of transparency, colourlessness, age-resistance and UV resistance, which prevents yellowing and fading caused by exposure to light.

Fixatives are more often than not highly toxic and potential health hazards to the respiratory system, hence should only be used in a well ventilated area. Such fumes may also cause irritation to the eyes. Hydrocarbon contents are also flammable and should not be placed near an open flame or any incandescent sources.

Artwork media requiring fixative include drawings done in pencil, charcoal, and pastel. An artist will often fix layers of a work in progress, in order to easily add further layers. Such a technique requires a workable fixative. Fixative is most commonly available in aerosol sprays. Fixative can also come in a liquid form that can be used from the bottle via a manual spray diffuser. This form is better for one's lungs and has less of an impact on the environment.[citation needed]