Tortillions and Blending Stumps
What is a Tortillion?
A tortillion is a small white beast that dwells in the depths of art classrooms and cubbyholes. They've been known to keep struggling artists company, and have been sighted in arts and craft stores. Inquiries to Google turn up little information. Don't let the mystery surrounding tortillions fool you, however; they're actually simple and benevolent creatures.
Consumption not recommended.
My first set of graphite sketching pencils came with tortillions. Upon closer examination of the little white rolls of paper, my first thought was, “what the heck are these?” I was still in elementary school at the time, and to me they resembled the stick of a Lollipop. I couldn't imagine what purpose these rolled up pieces of paper had, and always got that weird papery taste in my mouth that reminded me of all the times I chewed on the stick of a DumDum pop until it disintegrated in my mouth. Blech.
Enhance shading by blending.
Not to be confused with the giant burrito, El Tortillon, the word 'tortillion' is actually of French origin. It comes from 'tortiller,' meaning 'something twisted', which describes how a tortillion is made. It's basically a piece of tightly rolled paper. If you'd like to save money by learning to make your own tortillions, click here.
Tortillions and blending stumps are helpful blending tools. I've noticed that shading often isn't enough when it comes to achieving a realistic image, and that's where blending becomes extremely useful.
Pastels, charcoal, and graphite are great media for blending. If you've never used blending tools before, experiment with various media on a piece of scratch paper.
blend from darkest to lightest
use a new/cleaned tortillion when working in lighter areas
clean used tortillions against an abrasive surface (a pink, rubber eraser will often work)