Fixative Spray for Charcoal: 13 Great Options

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Last Updated on August 23, 2023 by Dee

Do you love to do charcoal drawings? If so, you know that finding the best fixative spray is essential. A fixative spray will help to protect your artwork from smudging and fading.

In this blog post, we will discuss 13 of the best fixative sprays for charcoal drawings. We’ll also provide a buyer’s guide to help you choose the right fixative for your needs!


Fixative Spray For Charcoal | 13 Best Fixatives

Lascaux Fine Art Fixative

Lascaux Fine Art Fixative - 10 oz, Spray Can

For years, I’ve been creating charcoal drawings and using other mediums that require a sealant.

Lascaux Charcoal Fixatives not only fixes or seals virtually everything from pastels, pencils, charcoal, crayon, ink, gouache, or watercolor – it won’t yellow the drawing surface over time and is highly resistant to aging.

I highly recommend Lascaux Fine Art Fixative.

Blick Matte Fixative

Blick Matte Fixative - 12 oz

As an artist using charcoal to create my masterpieces, I love the Blick matte Fixative from because it does exactly what it promises: providing lasting protection for your work.

Its workability is great for layers of color, allowing me to modify and detail my pieces between applications. You can apply multiple lighter coats as you develop your finished piece.

And if you want to make changes to your charcoal drawing? No problem; simply erase or rework the drawing as desired!

Grumbacher Workable Fixative

Grumbacher Workable Fixative - 11.75 oz, Matte

As a charcoal artist, I’m always on the hunt for great fixatives that won’t affect or alter my artwork.

That’s why I love using Grumbacher Workable Fixative – it locks in my charcoal drawings and prevents smudging without shiny film residue.

Because it is workable, I can rework, erase, and fix mistakes in my drawings.

It even helps with layering textures and details.

Plus, its versatility allows me to apply it to paper, acetate, foil, and glass surfaces. Such an amazing fixative definitely deserves a spot in every charcoal artist’s toolkit.

Grumbacher Final Fixative

Grumbacher Final Fixative - 11.75 oz, Gloss

Grumbacher is an excellent brand to seal charcoal. Not only is Grumbacher Final Fixative it colorless, fast-drying, and flexible – but it also comes in a choice between glossy and matte finishes- allowing me to experiment with different looks.

In addition to protecting my art, it’s also versatile enough to be applied on a variety of surfaces such as paper, photographs, printed materials, and ceramics.

Sennelier Delacroix Spray Fixative for Pencils and Charcoals

Sennelier Delacroix Spray Fixative for Pencils and Charcoals - 400 ml (13 oz)

Not only does the Sennelier Delacroix Spray Fixative dry quickly to a beautiful matte finish, but it’s transparent, and non-yellowing properties mean that your artwork won’t be affected by using the fixative.

Plus, you get the convenience of a 400 ml (13 oz) aerosol spray can!

Just make sure not to use it on soft pastel drawings due to the resin content. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed with Sennelier Delacroix Spray Fixative.

[Related article: Gouache vs Acrylic Paint | What’s the best paint for you?]

Sennelier HC10 Universal Fixative

Sennelier HC10 Universal Fixative - 13.5 oz

As an artist, I’m always looking for ways to protect my work and allow it to last through time. That’s why I love Sennelier HC10 Universal Fixative—it’s the perfect tool for a powerful invisible coat of protection.

Created from protective acrylic resin, this high-concentration fixative doesn’t change the look or feel of your art in any way while still providing extremely effective preservation.

The versatility of the product is truly amazing; it can be used on paper, canvas, wood, glass, ceramic, porcelain, and walls, as well as with pastels, charcoal, watercolors, inks, acrylics, photos, and for gilding.

Plus, it’s lightfast and water-resistant so you can even use it outdoors!

Sennelier Latour Pastel Fixative

Sennelier HC10 Universal Fixative - 13.5 oz

If you are looking for an all-in-one way to preserve and protect your charcoal art, Sennelier Latour Pastel Fixative is the ideal choice.

This unique fixative contains both a resin-based and alcohol-based solution, specifically designed by Sennelier not to alter the delicate hues of pastel colors.

Repeated light applications create an extremely transparent matte film to ensure your artwork remains smudge-free.

Not only does it leave pigment colors unaffected, but you can guarantee that there won’t be any yellowing or fading over time.

SpectraFix Spray Fixative

SpectraFix Spray Fixative - 12 oz

If you’re an artist looking for professional-grade protection for your charcoal sketches and artwork, then SpectraFix is the perfect fixative for you.

This unique, all-natural spray fixative is made from milk protein and grain alcohol to keep your art safe from smudging or color alteration.

It offers a fast, odorless application that eliminates potentially toxic fumes and heavy waiting outdoors.

Best of all, it won’t darken or dull the colors in your art — SpectraFix leaves the pigments crisp and vibrant while providing permanent protection.

Brush and Pencil Advanced Fixative

Brush and Pencil Advanced Colored Pencil Fixative - Final Fixative, 9 oz

Brush and Pencil Advanced Fixative are a must-have in any charcoal artist’s arsenal!

Their Final Fixative has a 9 oz aerosol can which is ideal for providing long-lasting protection for your colored pencil artwork, so you can ensure that all the effort put into making it will be preserved in perfect condition.

But not only that, their Texture Finish maximizes layering, so you don’t have to worry about working on areas already done.

It creates a barrier between layers and won’t allow water, alcohol, or mineral spirits to damage the artwork.

Golden Archival Spray Varnish

Golden Archival Spray Varnish - 10 oz, Gloss, Spray Can

This is a fabulous varnish with archival properties. As a final protective coat, Golden Archival Spray Varnish offers excellent dirt-, dust-, and moisture-resistance – guard against all the unwanted elements!

Its adjustable fan spray tip also makes precision application easier, so you get more coverage without the extra mess.

Plus, its ultraviolet light filters and stabilizers ensure your charcoal art stays beautiful longer.

The bonus is that it’s removable, so if you feel like making any restorations in the future, this varnish won’t make it difficult to do so.

Krylon Gallery Series Fine Art Fixitif - 11 oz

Not only does Krylon offer effective protection, but it’s specifically designed for charcoal artwork so I don’t have to worry about it dissolving lights or whites-something other fixatives do when applied.

This spray provides two levels of protection-workable and final-allowing me the flexibility to experiment with new techniques without risking ruining the fineness of my charcoal artwork. 

Winsor & Newton Artists’ Fixative

Winsor & Newton Artists' Fixative - 400 ml (10.4 oz)

If you’re an artist who loves to work with charcoal, then Winsor & Newton Artists’ Fixative Spray is the perfect addition to your workstation!

This fixative is a dream come true for those of us who want our artwork to last: it provides a colorless and transparent finish that won’t wash away from rain or humidity.

Plus, with 400 ml of aerosol spray in each can, you’ll have enough for dozens of projects.

Best of all, this product contains no fluorocarbons, making it an environmentally conscious choice.

Aleene’s 26412 Spray Gloss Finish

Aleene’s spray fixative is ideal for any artist looking to preserve their charcoal artwork.

After spending hours refining the details of a masterpiece, it’s important to secure it properly with a sealant.

This product provides all that and more – it offers a clear protective finish with a stunning glossy luster so your artwork looks just as beautiful as when you completed it.

Plus, its easy-to-use spray-on formula ensures that the application will go on simply and evenly every time, giving you worry-free coverage every use.

And with no CFCs in accordance with federal regulations, Aleene’s spray fixative is an excellent choice for art makers.


Workable Fixative vs. Final Fixative

When it comes to protecting your artwork from smudging, fading, or other damage, fixatives are your best friends.

Workable fixative and final fixative both help keep the artwork in pristine condition; however, there is one key difference between the two – workable fixative allows for additional work on the artwork after it has been applied, allowing you to continue working on your masterpiece without having to start anew.

Conversely, final fixative is used when an artwork is finished in order to seal and protect it.

How to use Fixative

Fixative is an essential part of art supplies that any artist should make sure they have on hand!

Fixative typically comes in the form of a can, and its purpose is to set artwork with dry media such as pencil, charcoal, pastel, or wet media that has dried.

This helps prevent smudging and keeps your illustration looking fresh. And before you use it for the first time, there are a few steps you’ll want to follow to ensure optimal results every time:

First, make sure to use your fixative in a well-ventilated area. Breathing in the spray is not a good idea because of the chemical makeup. Using a respirator mask to protect your lungs is a good idea.

If this is the first time, you have used the fixative, then do a test spray on scrap paper.

Next, hold your fixative spray can 6 inches from the surface of your artwork.

When you’re ready, gently spray over your artwork in a continuous motion using long back-and-forth movements and applying slow and steady pressure while slightly overlapping spray passes.

Lastly, wait at least 15 minutes before touching or entering the workspace (the longer waiting period may vary depending upon the type of Fixative used), and voila! You’re done!

Use a kneadable eraser to lift off charcoal particles after using a workable fixative.


Is there a Substitute for Fixative?

Using hairspray or a spray glue is a good way to lock in color and protect from smudging — especially for pen and charcoal-based artwork.

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly option, buying ready-made fixatives remains the best practice.

A lot of DIY admirers have found water-based fixatives work well in common home projects and will only introduce minuscule amounts of VOCs.

However, unless you have the time and inclination to do more research into what kind of art materials work the most effectively, professional-grade fixative sprays are likely your best bet.

Can you use hairspray as a drawing fixative?

Hairspray is often associated with big hair and beauty routines, but did you know it can also be used as an art fixative?

Using hairspray to protect your drawings is a pretty unique opportunity that gives surprisingly great results.

The simple act of spraying a work of art with hairspray seals in layers of compressed charcoal and color while helping keep the paper or canvas from smudging and getting watermarks.

Too much hairspray might damage your materials, so use it sparingly!


Further steps to preserve your charcoal drawings…

  1. Avoid Touching / Rubbing the Artwork
  2. Get The Artwork Framed
  3. Avoid direct sunlight
  4. Keep away from Moisture
  5. Work on an Acid-Free Surface

Frequently Asked Questions about Fixative Spray for Charcoal…

Is fixative charcoal necessary?

To fix and protect the artwork as well as hold loose particles, fixative sprays are necessary for charcoal drawings.

What fixative is best for charcoal?

The fixative that works best for charcoal drawings is a workable fixative, like Krylon Workable Fixatif.

How do you seal a charcoal painting?

To seal a charcoal painting, first use fixative spray in a well-ventilated area.

Does fixative make charcoal darker?

No, fixative will not make charcoal drawings darker. It is used to protect and fix the artwork and prevent smudging.



Be sure to keep our buyer’s guide in mind as you shop for a fixative spray for charcoal- it will help ensure that you choose the right product for your drawings. With the right fixative spray, you’ll be able to protect your charcoal artwork for years to come!

Happy art-making!

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