Paper is fragile and graphite smudges easily, so take a few extra steps in the beginning and save yourself a lot of extra work at the end. Here are two inexpensive drawing guards that have saved me a lot of headaches.
Back when I started to draw seriously, and don’t ask me how long ago that was, I spent over 200 hours on a piece without protecting its borders in anyway. The drawing turned out very well, but the framer had few options when framing it. He had to cover up those messy borders!
These days I protect the borders by covering them with paper cut into wide “L” shapes. Just tape them around the drawing area and they protect the area from smudges from your hand, eraser crumbs, bits of graphite, and all sorts of things you wouldn’t imagine. These large paper borders are a great place to test tools and jot down notes too. And framers can leave as much room around the drawing as their heart’s desire.
Sometimes I like to store my drawings where I can see them between sessions, because glancing at them in odd moments helps me to see them objectively. One time I made the mistake of leaving a drawing sitting out unprotected, in the middle of a dry summer, with all the windows in the house open. When I started to work on it a few days later, I was horrified to see that the whole thing was covered with dust!
I spent the rest of that day lightly brushing and blowing the dust away. Sadly, I spent my next free day re-drawing some very dark details that had been lost in the cleaning process.
My very simple solution for dust, and other mysterious spots and specks, is to tape a piece of plastic food wrap to the back of the drawing board, and then flip it over the drawing between sessions. After a while, the wrap loses most of its clinginess and you can easily flip it from one side to the other.
Your drawings are the creations of your time, devotion, and talent; they deserve to be treated with respect. You, your buyers, and your framer will thank you for taking the time to keep them pristine.