Drawing With Charcoal Stick and Powder

Charcoal is one of the oldest medium of drawing. The beginners would be greatly helped if they use charcoal sticks for learning the drawing. We can have the charcoal in two forms: it is available in powder form that is useful in shading the broader areas; and the pencil form. The charcoal pencils are made by using gum as a binding.

Tonal Values of Charcoal

When we need to so a drawing that needs much shading, charcoal is the best option compared to the graphite pencil. Having nice tonal capabilities, charcoal would help us creating tones, from the darkest to the lightest shade.

Special Uses of Charcoal

Unlike graphite, the charcoal is dry and would not stick on the paper. We can erase it just by rubbing with fingers. However care must be taken while rubbing, lest it put some black spots on the paper. Charcoal is known as first and the best friend of an artist, as it offers a huge variety of drawing treatments. You can use this medium to make out a natural looking portrait. By using the sides of charcoal stick with the combination of the texture of the paper, you can create a structural drawing. The artists are at their best when they use the charcoal with lively strokes for depicting an expression on the paper. One of the finest use of charcoal is while you do the hatching work; it would help creating a magical effect in your drawing.

Charcoal pencils 051907

Drawing with Charcoal Pencils

You can create soft, delicate, and hard lines with varying pressure on the charcoal sticks you use. A pointed stick would create fine lines, and the flat would work well in shading and covering larger areas. If the stick is rubbed keeping its side on the paper, it would do shading of the size of its length. Different effects can be created with blending and smudging the shaded area with finger or by using a piece of clean cloth. If initial schematic drawing is to be done, charcoal would be the best option. Once the drawing is completed, you can preserve it by spraying fixative on it. You can by charcoal sticks and fixatives from any seller of art materials.


The technique known as sfumato is a method of shading that allows the tones of charcoal sticks to shade gradually into one another. When we need doing a drawing with lower degree of contrast, this is very useful. This technique was very much used by the Renaissance artist, as at that time there was limited availability of colours. It helps creating graded and softened lines with a charcoal stick. Though this technique can be used by using colours also, the charcoal produces great results. [Images courtesy By Pierre-Paul Prud'hon (1758–1823) Description French painter Date of birth/death 4 April 1758(1758-04-04) 14 February 1823(1823-02-14) Location of birth/death Cluny Paris Work location Paris (artrenewal.org)[see page for license], from Wikimedia Commons , Charcoal Sticks By Mrs Scarborough [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons]

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