Charcoal - Setting Up

Updated: Feb 12, 2019

If you fancy giving charcoal a try, I've listed a few helpful tips below about getting started. I like charcoal because I tend to play with light more due to the absence of colour. It can be a good option to use when you're stuck for space when painting is out of the question. Although it can be a bit messy but thats the fun part.

Despite lack of colour, you will be surprised the effects you can achieve with charcoal


If you love to draw then I'd highly recommend giving #charcoal a try. It is inexpensive and quite rewarding. I've listed below some of the items that I like to use that should help get you started. I also love that it's as much about erasing the charcoal as it is adding it that leads to the desired effect.

What you need to get started.

The following products are what I tend to use although there are many others available, do be sure to try various products and see what suits you best. All artists have their own preferences:

  • Paper - I use #Strathmore Bristol 270gsm sheets. I find the smoothness ideal for blending my charcoal and also easier when I'm using erasers to create an effect. You can purchase from many art stores, my favourite being

  • Charcoal - This comes in various forms; vine (for softer effects and easy to erase), powder (soft and ideal for toning) and compressed (harder and ideal for details, can be sharpened but not as easy to erase). You can either buy charcoal individually or as a set. Again there are plenty to choose from, I started with the #Cretacolor set which has everything you need to get started.

  • Erasers - these are just as important as the charcoal itself. erasers are available in various types and shapes and can be found readily available in art supply stores.

In the images below, I have used erasers to create the effect of light; a pen eraser can be used for fine lines, putty erasers can be used to dab on areas where you don't want to take much charcoal away, it can also be shaped to create different effects such as stippling. Soft erasers take away little, whereas the highly effective types are for, you've guessed it, highly effective removal. Other shapes are available which can help towards a desired effect.

So there you have it, just enough information to get you started. I hope you enjoy charcoal as much as I do and feel free to get in touch if you'd like any further hints or tips. Alternatively there are some great lessons on youtube to help you get started. Good Luck.

#art #charcoaldrawing #artist

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