There may be hundreds of materials that you could use as blending tools to hide the shadows in your drawing project.
There are several tools you can use when you want to blend your hatching. Here is an overview of 5 well-known tools.
The cotton swab is a suitable alternative to the blending stump. With the fine cotton tip you can work very precisely in order to work smaller areas reliably. Another advantage is the high availability of the cotton swabs. You can find them in every drugstore and in most supermarkets. They are inexpensive, but also wear out quickly because they bind so much graphite.
Another disadvantage is that the surface can quickly look greasy, because the cotton wool pushes the graphite deep into the structure of the paper.
Using a paint brushes as blending tools
An ordinary hair brush is the best option if you want to make the hatching as smooth as possible.
The hair does not remove much graphite at once, so you will gradually achieve your desired results. If, for example, you want to leave some strokes visible yet blurred, it is best done with a paint brush.
Tissue paper like a cosmetic tissue or wiping paper, is another way to blend your graphite lines. Simply wrap the paper around your finger and then carefully run it over the surface.
The paper towel is an excellent choice if you want to blend a large area at once. It creates an airbrush-like effect where each wipe looks like it’s been sprayed on the drawing surface.
A paper tissue is not suitable if you want to work out fine details.
A blending stump consists of cellulose pressed into a conical shape. The tool is helpful when you need the highest precision and controllability of any blending tools for drawings. On the one hand, the tip can be applied very selectively and on the other hand the pressure can be applied very accurately.
Another form of the tool is the tortillon, where paper is wound tightly.
Using your finger as a blending tool for drawings is not recommended. It leaves nasty grease stains and makes your picture look dirty quickly.
Remember: The finger should only be used for your drawing in an emergency.
Be aware that the results will suffer most in a pencil drawing, whereas a charcoal or pastel drawing is likely to get away with using your finger.