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Drawing: Stumping

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Stumping means softening, toning down, blending, shading… Multiple definitions for such a simple gesture! Choose the most appropriate one for the effect you want.


What you need to know

The softer the medium you use, the more you can stump it. Why? This is because it leaves more drawing material residue on the paper for you to spread around. Charcoal and sanguine are the materials that stump the best! 

1. What do you stump with?

  • Blending stump: a tool with beveled ends tailor-made for ultra-precise use.
  • Rag: a great home-made, cost-saving, recyclable instrument!
  • A cotton swab: you'll get slightly blurry results, perfectly complementing your rag.
  • Your finger: your simplest instrument and often the most efficient one! 

2. Why stump?

 To blend

Would you like to smooth irregularities in the grain of the paper in areas with drawing material on them? Make your pigment penetrate by rubbing the area lightly with a cotton rag. To darken the area, keep adding layers of drawing material.

Blending and shading

Would you like to smooth the contrast between two juxtaposed gray values? Rub your index finger from the darkest area of the paper to the lightest one. Your slightly oily, damp finger will pick up the residue and gradually drag it along.


You can use the stump like an eraser to create a negative drawing. How it works: gray your surface, then remove the drawing material with the stump. Vary the stump pressure to obtain various tones. 

Keep in mind

Blending stumps have tips at both ends. Use one for dark areas (to gradually pick up the drawing material) and another for light areas (that will stay cleaner).