Charcoal Sketching is a versatile art. And charcoal is used by the artist because of its unique and versatile properties as charcoal has a rough texture and as compared to other visual arts media, it leaves marks less permanent.

The lines produced by the charcoal can be very light or intensely black, and when you want to remove it completely it can be hard.

The artists charcoal which is being used is a form of dry art medium and this is made of finely ground organic material.

And when you are doing charcoal sketching, this dry medium which is being used can he applied to any surface which can be smooth to very coarse.

And while charcoal sketching, fixatives are often used as it solidifies the position and is used to avoid rubbing off or prevent erasing charcoal dust.

Whether the charcoal is hard or soft, it offers a quick sketching experience. For great casual charcoal sketching, lighter and less dense charcoal can be particularly adapted for it.

Different types of charcoal used in charcoal sketching:

Majorly there are three types of charcoal used. All three have unique properties and special qualities.

• Willow and vine charcoal: This kind of charcoal comes in long, wispy strips. And you don’t have to press hard on your page while using it as it is the most delicate of the charcoal.

And because of this reason, it can be used for quick charcoal sketching as your hand would just glide across the paper while you are capturing something immediately.

But like other charcoal, you won’t get it as dark, as vine charcoal is very delicate. And because of this, it can be reserved for lighter values.

• Compressed charcoal: Chalk pastels and compressed charcoal have a similar structure. A binder of gum or was held together with the powdered charcoal it contained.

And it would maintain its shape while you would be doing charcoal sketching as it is much harder than willow and vine charcoal.

For fine lines and texture, it can be great. It can be in the form of sticks or pencil forms. And pencils are preferable because they are handy and when it turns blunt, it can be sharpened again.

• Powdered charcoal: It’s a dusty kind of charcoal, and not in the form of pencil-like willow and vine as well as compressed charcoal. It can be used with a paintbrush or a cloth.

Techniques to draw with charcoal or charcoal sketching:

When you are drawing or sketching with a pencil of a pen, then it is much easier, as the materials used aren’t prone to smudging.

So, hatching, cross-hatching, stippling can be done quite easily. But in charcoal sketching, you have to focus more on blending and layering of charcoal.

Blending gives the substance a better chance of sticking to your page as the substance is allowed to stick on the paper.

But, the tone can become lighter. So, when you are blending then it’s important to build up your tones and layers.

First, to cover the area of your paper with charcoal while doing charcoal sketching is to use the back-and-forth approach.

And when you are finished coating it with charcoal, then you can use either your finger, a chamois or a tortilla to press it into the page. And until your reach your desired intensity repeat these steps.

And you can even mix different types of charcoal while charcoal sketching as it would help you define details in your sketching and build tone as well.

As you can start with the vine charcoal to set the overall tone of your drawing and to depict large shapes.

And when you are completed with lighter and mid-tones, then the areas which need defining like deep shadows or edges you can use compressed charcoal.

And when you are done with using the compressed charcoal while charcoal sketching, then you can go ahead with the highlights and white charcoal is ideal for this and even a kneaded erased while doing the reductive drawing.

A few charcoal sketching artists:

• Albrecht Durer: To utilize charcoal as a medium, one of the first well-known artist was Albrecht Durer. His charcoal portraits were one of the first and finest.

Some of his sketches that gained particular notoriety in World War 2 were The Piece, Knight, Death and the Devil.

• Leon Kossoff: He was a British figurative painter, and he was majorly known for his portraits and London cityscapes.

The charcoal sketching which he used to do, is dark with deep shadows and thick lines which used to depict the smokey atmosphere. And the portraits which he used to do we’re also dark, with bold smudge marks and thick black outline.

Rang De Bharat Chitrakala Kshetra is coming up with all the amazing courses and even have the best guidance for you! You can learn charcoal sketching as well as other different things of your interest!

Artwork Credit: Stan Proko Penko

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