Wooden Walls and Burnt Cave: A Guide to Coal Drawing & Strategies

Wooden Walls and Burnt Cave A Guide to Coal Drawing & Strategies
Art Secret, Art Tips, Drawing Methods, Drawing Techniques, Pencil Sketch, Portrait, Sketch

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Ever since the ancients took burning wood and pulled down the walls of the caves, painters have turned to charcoal for their unique feel, versatility, and rich, deep blacks. Few deal deals with consumers lend to this straightforward and powerful statement.

Coal is very expensive to use. The art is made without paper and a charcoal stick. There is something very satisfying and rewarding about making art out of such simple things.

When I first started studying college charcoal using cheap Alphacolor sticks and wipes, over the years I have learned the ins and outs of this great tool. Like paint, there are many options when it comes to building materials and techniques, each with specific effects and charms. Knowing the options can help you choose the right drawing tool for you.

Types of Coal

Coal comes in two forms: charcoal or pressed charcoal. Grape charcoal is made of finely ground wood that resembles a willow and is usually obtained by means of long, thin sticks. Sorted as soft, medium, or heavy. The coals of the grape go on slowly, more prone to gray than deep blacks.

The small scales are soft and well-wiped but tend to form powder or dust on the paper making it more fragile. Suitable for the first stages in a drawing or in areas that will remain relatively simple in value.

Compressed coal is made by grinding coals and then grinding them into sticks with a clay-like bond. Pressed charcoal gives blacks a richer, deeper, more comfortable, and more prone to sticking to paper rather than dusting.

Compressed charcoal can be very dark, very dark and often takes the habit of learning to develop a soft touch. You can find charcoal pressed with round or round squares and usually in different grades such as pencils (HB, 2B, 4B, etc.) and small marks (3B upwards) are very dark.

I love round chopped charcoal sticks in Conte, but I also regularly use the less expensive Alphacolor Char-Kole square and the soft, round sticks from Richeson or Yarka. Placing a charcoal stick on its side is a good way to fill in large areas or to focus on large, sweeping members, while sharp edges are ideal for fine lines and details.

Combining the vine with the coals pressed into the painting can give you the whole range of value from the smallest gray to the deep black with all the subtle transitions in between.

In addition to sticks, charcoal is also available in powder and as charcoal pencils. Charcoal comes in handy to set a medium gray tone on large areas of paper. You can dust it or use it with a brush or soft cloth.

Coal pencils can help with fine details at the end of a drawing, or when a direct result is obtained. Pencils can be difficult to sharpen and often break sharpened pencils. Instead use a razor and a piece of sand paper to draw a charcoal pencil to the point.

I prefer charcoal pencils to Ritmo to feel smooth and sharp to the point, and recently became a fan of waxier Giaconda Negro pencils from Koh-i-noor.

I usually use charcoal pencils on gessoed fabric to make the first sketch of my oil paintings. Mistakes can be removed or simply pressed before applying the paint.

Coal works well with other painting media as well. Sometimes I can add some crayons and dogs like Conte Crayons or Nupastels. They both have rich blacks, blacks who are not at all silent but hard to erase. Nupastels and other soft pastels also offer a variety of healthy colors if you tend to experiment.

Mixing pencil and charcoal is often overlooked but can produce good results. The graphite pencil gives a soft, subtle gray while charcoal lends deep black to graphite.

Graphite drawings are smooth and smooth so sometimes the coals do not fit easily at the top. A small spray of active correction is helpful. Drawed results made in this way can have a wide and subtle price range.


The eraser is not just a bug fixer! It is an important drawing tool, useful for creating bright gray tones and outstanding recording. Coal is the process of adding, building space by adding more, and erasers are a balance.

Knee-shaped tissues are made of soft materials, usually gray, and look like chewing gum. Unlike other tissues that leave a small amount of dust on the back of the wipe, the scratched tissue does not wear out when used. Instead, they work by picking up or by absorbing coal.

This makes them very soft on the surface of the paper as well. Knaded erasers can be applied to different types by hand because they are as flexible as putty or clay. You can create small sharp tips for pointing lights that are pointed at the eye and for small details, or large wedges for large areas, and any standing in the middle.

Over time a combined eraser can absorb so much coal that it is exhausted and can no longer wipe. Sometimes I keep these erasers used because they actually make small marks, they don’t mean anything when you draw with them and are useful for moving the coal around rather than removing them.

Various types of hard rubber help to remove excess coal. Some, like the famous Pink, look like the erasers at the end of a standard pencil. They do a good job of wiping but they often leave dust to wipe and explode on your paper.

My favorite erasers are white vinyl erasers like Magic Rub. They hold their shape and edges well. I use sharp corners to clear fine lines and prominent cuts. They are rarely deteriorating like Pink Pearls and last a long time.

Gum wipes are also popular with artists, though I find that I use them sparingly. They can be very useful for delicate drawings and paper as they wipe clean without damaging the paper.

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