Advanced Charcoal Drawing Techniques

Charcoal is a versatile illustration tool. It makes broad, dark lines has a rough look. These unique qualities are what set it apart and can become avenues to new drawing methods.

A New Way to Draw

One method of charcoal drawing involves covering an entire drawing surface (poster, paper, sketch sheet) with charcoal. This is done by using a charcoal stick and rubbing back and forth across the surface of the paper until the entire sheet is covered evenly.

This can also be done with a charcoal pencil, but it has to be held close to the point to give an even and consistent look. After the entire sheet is covered with charcoal, the excess needs to be removed. This is usually accomplished by blowing on the sheet.

Now that the entire sheet is black, drawing can begin using an eraser. For the best results, it needs to be a high quality kneaded eraser rather than a rubber one. A drawing can be made by erasing in lines, to create bold outline shapes and silhouettes. Alternatively, the eraser can be used to create the lighted portions of the drawing, while the charcoal serves as the shadows.

Smoothing Techniques

Charcoal naturally looks rough and full of little white spots when applied to paper. The best way to achieve a smooth, even quality in charcoal drawings is through the use of toilet paper. Tissue paper, when crumpled, is an excellent tool to smooth out charcoal. It needs to be rubbed lightly and in a circular manner for best consistency.

This can be done with paper towels or a rag as well, but nothing really beats soft tissue paper for this technique. Continually rubbing across the surface of the paper will result in a nice, smooth charcoal layer.

If too much pressure is applied while rubbing with the tissue paper, the charcoal will come off completely. When that occurs, another layer of charcoal will need to be applied to that area of the paper, and it will have to be rubbed again with the tissue paper to make it even once more.

Charcoal, as a drawing instrument, lends itself to numerous techniques not possible with other implements.

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