Learning to draw with charcoal

Learning to draw with charcoal. Do you need to discover how to paint with charcoal pencils? We want to tell you three things. The first is that it takes a lot of patience initially because, due to the friability of the charcoals, the drawing sometimes ends up being almost irremediably dirty. The second thing you need to know is that this particular technique is not only for sketching or sketching drawings to paint but also for making fantastic black and white works in their own right. The third thing we want to tell you is that if you carefully follow the advice, we will give you on this page, you will be able to spend the first difficult hours unscathed with charcoal pencils and flagging!


Are you ready to learn how to draw with charcoals? Then let’s get started! The human being certainly did not start drawing with charcoal yesterday. Indeed, the rock finds you tell us that drawing with coal is ancient and is probably the oldest known form of cool drawing ideas. Prehistoric men and women did not have our handy charcoal pencils available, and they had to use simple charred bits of wood to create their hunting scenes on the cave walls.


Since then, the tools used have improved a lot, but the starting material is always the same: the vegetable carbon, which is mixed with pure clay or graphite in the charcoal pencils. Using charcoal pencils and flagging, per se, is not complicated. However, it is necessary to realize that we do not have to deal with regular pencils, and therefore our movements must be much more careful. Carelessly swiping the palm on the sheet could compromise all the previous work!


The basics of charcoal drawing

Learning to draw with charcoal

Using an inclined plane, an easel, a classic, or a table is advisable to draw in charcoal effectively and comfortably. Why is it necessary to have this tool typically used in the painting? Simple: charcoal pencils and flagging work by ‘rubbing’ and, therefore, release dust on the paper. ing on a horizontal plane, this dust would remain on the drawing surface, thus making any movement on the sheet risky, which could leave a dark halo that is difficult to erase. Much better, however, to have an inclined plane, along which the dust can slide off independently.


To become familiar with the charcoal pencil or the spindle, you can trace and perform some warm-up exercises like those shown in the following photo. In this way, you will understand how the instrument “reacts” under your hands and how to best control it. Another ‘protection’ used by many charcoal designers is then constituted by gloves, or rather, by fabric gloves to which the fingers’ ends have been cut. In this way, the damage done by passing the palm on the sheet full of charcoal is reduced, leaving complete freedom to the fingers.


Charcoal is a very versatile tool, which leaves a lot of freedom to the artist. You can press more or less on the sheet, try the different inclinations to leave different strokes, and use your fingers to blend and even erase. Therefore, as we understand, you can recreate a complete range of grays on your drawing sheet, with the traced mark that will change according to the pressure exerted and how the charcoal is held.


It is essential to start the drawing with very light signs, which can thus erase without problems: as the drawing is defined, the signs can become stronger and more decisive to give character to the subject that is being drawn. But what do you draw with charcoal pencils? There are no stakes, but it should emphasize that this particular drawing technique lends itself particularly well to the creation of portraits and landscapes.


How do you use charcoal pencils and charcoals?

As well as a simple graphite pencil, charcoal pencils and fusaggini can also be pointed or slanted. The same tool is used to trace the contours’ lines, make the hatching, or draw a dense parallel – or crossed – lines to recreate the chiaroscuro of our drawing. However, it should be emphasized that, given the characteristics of charcoal, the shading technique is more suitable. To do this, you can use your fingers directly, as anticipated, or, to be more precise, you can use the smudge. And again: to obtain special effects, it is possible to blend the charcoal using sponges, dry brushes, pieces of fabric.


Some beginners are tempted to use the gumbread to blend, but this is an improper use: the gumbread is used to create areas of light, to give brightness to the drawing, thanks to its peculiar ability to ‘absorb’ the dust of the charcoal without spreading it on the sheet. Given the reduced stability of the charcoal, once the work is finished, it is necessary to use a fixative. Anyone who has been hanging out in the world of art, and perhaps in that of painting, already know this type of product, generally considered options.


 In the case of the charcoal drawing, on the other hand, it is in every sense an obligation: without the use of a fixative, the drawing is destined to be ruined at the first contact. At the end of the work, when you are satisfied with the result, and you are sure that you will not have to make any further changes, you can then proceed with the uniform application of the fixative spray, knowing that from that moment it will no longer be possible to add anything to the sheet, by drawing.


Choosing the proper support for charcoal drawing

Any material can use with charcoals. Proof of this is the ancient use of this material on the walls of caves. In any case, with cardboard pencils, there is a tendency to use drawing paper, even if it must say that many virtuosos of charcoal prefer to range even on canvas cardboard and canvases. It is necessary to avoid excessively smooth drawing paper: a minimum of roughness is required to retain the carbon dust. Furthermore, it is up to the artist to decide how rough the paper should be, based on the type of result to be achieved. Not only that: those who want to use the dry-on-wet or wet-on-dry technique with charcoal – to achieve very particular shades – will have to opt for heavy paper, therefore able to maintain the shape in contact with humidity.

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