Charcoal Drawing Tips

By: Misha Anatolia

Charcoal Drawing Tips

Charcoal is one of the earth's oldest tools of expression. Charcoal drawing has come a long way from its primitive beginnings and is a layered and elegant way to express yourself. When using charcoal for the first time, here are some tips to follow.

1. Use a range of tools

Buy charcoal in a range of different forms and price points. There really is a difference between the cheapest and most expensive charcoal. Use everything from professional tools to cotton swabs and your fingertips to explore texture, line, and shading. The same rule applies to the paper used. Use plenty of newsprint, but grant yourself a few pieces of fine, professional paper, as well. You can't find the true range of the medium if you don't use all of its aspects.

2. Play

At first, throw convention and instruction out the window. Treat drawing as a sensual experience and immerse yourself in it as if you were a child. Children and geniuses produce the best works of art because they don't follow rules and because they throw themselves into the experience of the art they are producing. Follow their example by allowing a few hours to pretend you aren't a grown-up with a lifetime of rule-following behind you. Feel the charcoal as if seeing it for the first time. Make lines and smudge them. Work on different colors and textures of paper. Work in different lights. What does charcoal do to your body? What does it feel like to your hands? See how far you can let yourself go. The art you create later will be deeper for this time of exploration.

3. Find the tones

Put a few still-life type objects in front of you. Begin to look at them in terms of shading and light. Notice where they are darkest and lightest. Notice how the shadows present themselves. Practice sketching with charcoal just to record those tones. How can you represent dark, light, shadow, and all the tones in the middle?

4. Sketch with a charcoal pencil

The first way to draw with charcoal is straightforward and follows other traditional art forms. Using a compressed charcoal pencil, sketch the form of an object. Use different pressures and smudging techniques to bring out the highlights and other tones.

5. Erase it into being

If you rub soft charcoal onto the entire surface of a page, you now have a canvass from which forms can emerge. You already know that you can use erasers to smudge your work and affect tone. When you start with a page full of charcoal, you can sketch in reverse. Using several different types of erasers, smudge low, medium, and high tones into being. Experiment with different types of erasers. Gummy erasers, pencil erasers, and hard erasers will all produce different lines and effects.

Don't lose your sense of play, explore different techniques, and never stop learning. Charcoal is a medium that can bring out the artist in anyone. Enjoy yourself as you explore the sensual art of charcoal drawing.

About the Author:
Misha Anatolia enjoys writing about various topics including bridal showers, weddings, and arts and crafts. For more bridal shower arts and crafts information, go to bridal shower.


Drawing tutorial using charcoal. Beginners. Intro to materials and short tutorial



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