The Ultimate Guide to Blending Stumps: What are They, How to Use Them, and More

Are you an artist looking to enhance the quality of your drawings and sketches? If so, you may want to consider investing in a blending stump. A blending stump is an essential tool that can help you create beautiful and lifelike drawings that come alive on the page. In this post, we’ll explore everything you need to know about blending stumps, including their uses, differences between tortillons and blending stumps, and how to sharpen them without sandpaper.

What is a blending stump used for?

A blending stump is a tool used to blend or soften the lines and edges of a drawing, creating a smoother, more realistic appearance. It’s commonly used in graphite drawings, charcoal sketches, and colored pencil illustrations. Blending stumps are perfect for blending soft media such as charcoal or pastels, and it can also be used for shading.

What is the difference between a tortillon and a blending stump?

One of the most common questions is the difference between tortillons and blending stumps. While they look similar and function the same, there are some differences between these two tools.

A tortillon is made from tightly rolled paper, whereas a blending stump is typically made from compressed paper or felt. This means that tortillons are softer and more pliable, making them ideal for blending very fine details or detailed areas. Blending stumps, on the other hand, are better suited for blending large areas or creating a smoother transition.

How to sharpen a blending stump without sandpaper

If you run out of sandpaper or prefer not to use them, there are alternative ways to sharpen a blending stump. Here’s what you can do:

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Using a pencil sharpener

A great way to sharpen blending stumps is to use a pencil sharpener. However, not all sharpeners work, so make sure you have a sharpener that can handle blending stumps. Hold the stump vertically and slowly pass it through the sharpener, turning it as needed until you get the desired point.

Using a razor blade

Another way to sharpen a blending stump is by using a razor blade. Hold the blade flat over the rubbing end of the stump and gently shave off the wood until the point is sharpened.

Using a sanding block

If you have a sanding block, you can use it to sharpen blending stumps as well. Rub the end of the stump back and forth across the sandpaper until the tip is nicely pointed.

Do you really need blending stumps?

While blending stumps are not necessary for creating beautiful artwork, they can be a tremendous help if you want to add depth, shading or create smoother transitions in your artwork. You can create the same effect using your fingers or cloth, but blending stumps can offer more precision and control of the media.

If you’re serious about creating artwork or want to take your drawings to the next level, investing in a blending stump can be a wise decision.

How to use blending stumps with colored pencils

Using blending stumps with colored pencils is not much different from using them with graphite and charcoal. Here’s how to go about it:

Step 1: Apply the color

Color the area that you want to blend in using colored pencils.

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Step 2: Blend with a blending stump

Use the blending stump to blend the colors. Start from the lightest area of the drawing and work towards the darker areas. Remember to rotate your stump frequently to keep it clean.

Step 3: Add color and blend

If needed, add more color to the drawing and repeat the blending process to create a smooth, even look.

How do you make a homemade blending stump?

While you can purchase blending stumps from art stores, making your blending stump is easy and can save you money. Here’s how:

Step 1: Gather your materials

You’ll need paper towels, tissue paper, and a wooden skewer or toothpick. Cut the paper towels and tissue paper into a long strip.

Step 2: Roll the paper

Roll the paper towel strip tightly and twist it. Wrap the tissue paper over the paper towel roll and twist it into a tight cylinder.

Step 3: Secure the paper

Secure the paper by wrapping a rubber band around it, leaving a small amount of the tissue paper exposed.

Step 4: Sharpen the stump

Sharpen the paper stump using the methods described above, such as using a pencil sharpener, a razor blade or a sanding block.

What are blending stumps made of?

Blending stumps are typically made of paper, felt, or leather compressed into a cylindrical shape. They come in various sizes and densities, which makes them great for blending different media.


Blending stumps are a useful tool for artists of all levels. They help to blend and soften lines and make artwork look more lifelike. Whether you’re using graphite, charcoal, or colored pencils, blending stumps can be a great addition to your art supplies. Remember, if you run out of sandpaper sharpening your blending stump, you can always use a pencil sharpener, razor blade or sanding block as an alternative.

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Making your blending stumps at home is straightforward and cost-efficient, and it will help you save money that you can invest in other art materials. Whatever method you choose, remember to experiment and have fun creating beautiful blending effects using your blending stumps.