Quick Drawing Tips: How to Draw With Charcoal
1. No Fingers! -
Don't use your fingers to blend the charcoal! The oil from your fingers will change the way the charcoal acts on the paper. Also friction from your finger can cause the paper to fray, resulting in different textures of paper on your drawing. If you need to blend, use what is referred to as a 'blending stump'.
2. Use Quality Charcoal -
Charcoal and graphite manufacturers have different quality standards, so watch out which brand you buy. I tend to enjoy Coates Premium Artist Willow Charcoal, they are a family business and the charcoal is suuuuuper smooth. Along with the willow charcoal it is helpful to use at least one harder pencil, like the Ritmo Charcoal Drawing Pencil for the finer details like eyes and eyelashes.
3. Use the Side of the Charcoal -
When blocking in areas of color it is helpful to turn the charcoal stick on its side. Not only does this shade more area in the same amount of time, it also evens out the wear of the charcoal stick giving you more consistently shaped pieces of charcoal.
4. Make Smooth Gradients -
The key to any believable charcoal drawing is the shading gradient. Areas deep in shadow should be very dark and areas receiving light should be very light. If you can transition smoothly between these areas from dark to light, you will have successfully created an illusion of volume and therefore fooled your audience!
5. Get a Kneaded Eraser -
Kneaded erasers are the unsung heroes of charcoal drawings. They are a simply incredible tool. Kneaded erasers can be shaped into fine point to use in subtracting light details from a drawing and at the same time they can be used to erase an entire drawing. Then just stretch the eraser and squish it a bit and it is as good as new and ready for your next drawing.