I have long since known that cotton blends graphite better than blending stumps, and I have always preferred the solid blending stumps over the hollow kind. I have used cotton make-up patches before, which work well for blending large areas, but lack control, and you cannot use them for small areas.
I have also used Q-tips in the past, but did NOT like the “feel” of it in my hand, because it was too thin to hold properly. I recently had the idea to break a Q-tip in half, and insert it into a clutch pencil. By the way, “Clutch Pencils” are made to hold graphite leads, and I also use them for specific parts of the drawing, just like I use Mechanical Pencils for specific parts of a drawing, when I don’t want to continuously sharpen a pencil.
By inserting a Q-tip into a clutch pencil, it gives you the feel of a pencil in your hand, which you are obviously used to feeling.
I CANNOT TELL YOU WHAT AN AWESOME BLENDING TOOL A Q-TIP MAKES, WHEN YOU COMBINE IT WITH THE FEEL OF A PENCIL! Now, I ONLY use blending stumps for tight corners, and very small areas. I also use a “Color Shaper” for specific blending areas, such as where hair follicles meet the scalp.
See my blog post on Color Shapers HERE [link]
I highly recommend you try using a Q-tip in a clutch pencil! It is taking my skin textures to a whole new level of smoothness! It also allows extremely subtle tonal values, which I could not achieve with blending stumps.
Hope you find this to be of some use for your toolbox!