Finding The Best Paper for Your Charcoal Drawings

Finding The Best Paper for Your Charcoal Drawings

When it comes to charcoal drawings, choosing a suitable paper for charcoal drawing is a very important choice that can have a big effect on how your coal drawing turns out in the end. The best paper for charcoal drawing will ensure that your artwork will showcase your drawing skills.

How the charcoal reacts with the surface of the ideal paper depends a lot on the thickness, weight, and quality of the paper. This affects the depth, details, and general look of your charcoal sketch.

Finding The Best Paper for Your Charcoal Drawings

Why Select An Appropriate Paper Type for Your Charcoal Drawing

The paper for charcoal drawing you will use can significantly impact the overall quality, durability, and visual appeal of your charcoal sketches. Charcoal is a versatile medium known for its soft edges, smudging, and blending properties, as well as its ability to create rich, dark tones.

The right paper will provide the necessary tooth or texture to hold the soft charcoal particles, allowing for precise control and manipulation of the medium. It should also withstand multiple layers of charcoal, erasing, and blending without tearing, smudging excessively, or losing its integrity.

Charcoal drawings are a popular medium for celebrating family milestones. You can use this medium in a Christmas charcoal drawing, graduation portrait, or celebrating the life of a deceased loved one.

Types of Paper for Charcoal

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Charcoal Paper

The charcoal paper stands as the optimal choice for artists due to its tailored characteristics that enhance the unique qualities of this dusty medium. It is specifically designed to accommodate the requirements of charcoal drawing. 

This type of paper is made of cotton fiber and features a rough and textured surface that offers a superior texture, providing the necessary grip for charcoal particles, even if it is enhanced with soft pastels. As a result, artists can effortlessly apply and manipulate charcoal, creating a wide range of expressive marks, textures, and shading.

Smooth Papers

While charcoal drawings are commonly associated with textured papers, smooth drawing paper, like watercolor paper, can also be advantageous for certain artistic intents and techniques. Its smooth surface offers a different aesthetic and allows for precise, detailed rendering in charcoal drawings, even without the use of a workable fixative.

Acid-Free Paper

Because it is delicate, charcoal can easily deteriorate over time if not treated with care. Acid on paper causes yellowing, fading, or degradation of the artwork, Acid-free papers are made with a neutral pH level throughout production to prevent these from happening to the coal painting.

Pastel Paper

The rough or toothed surface of the pastel paper for charcoal drawing creates a captivating texture. It adds depth, dimension, and visual interest to the artwork. It enables artists to effortlessly create rich, expressive strokes, subtle gradients, and gestural techniques.

Moreover, pastel papers come in a variety of colors, including shades of gray, tan, and brown, which can add an additional layer of depth and atmosphere to charcoal drawings.

Colored Paper

When combined with the deep blacks and rich tonal values of charcoal, black papers can create a visually stunning effect, particularly in drawings focused on high contrast and dramatic lighting.

While often associated with black or toned papers, white papers can create a striking visual impact when paired with charcoal. The white background allows for a strong contrast between the dark charcoal marks and the paper, resulting in a high level of clarity and crispness in the drawing.

The cool tone of the blue paper creates a distinct atmosphere, evoking a sense of tranquility, depth, and even mystery in the artwork. The charcoal marks stand out prominently against the blue background, creating a dynamic interplay between light and shadow.

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Charcoal Drawing Paper

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Consider The Surface Textures

The lines, precise shading, and overall aesthetic attractiveness of your drawing are all affected by the toothy surface since it dictates how the charcoal sticks to the paper and interacts with the surface. A rougher paper, like fine-tooth sanded papers, provides more grip for the charcoal particles, allowing for better control and a greater range of expressive marks.

On the other hand, a smooth surface texture allows for finer details, precise lines, and smoother blending. It is ideal for achieving a polished and refined look in your charcoal drawings, like in a baby charcoal drawing or a family portrait.

Evaluate The Weight and Thickness

Heavyweight papers, such as 100 lbs or higher, offer more substantial support and can withstand multiple layers of charcoal, erasing, and blending without buckling or tearing. A lighter sheet of paper, like pencil drawing paper, may be more suitable for preliminary sketches or studies.

Thicker papers tend to have a sturdier feel and can handle heavier applications of charcoal, while thinner papers offer more translucency and are often preferred for techniques like tracing or transferring finished drawings.

Charcoal Drawing Technique on Paper


Blending is a way to draw with charcoal pencils that involves blending or smoothing the lines and changes between them to make the tones and values flow together smoothly on rough paper. Most of the time, artists use their fingers, mixing sticks, soft cloths, or even special tools made just for blending and shading with charcoal.


Stippling is a way to make patterns or textures in charcoal drawings by making a number of small, unique dots or marks. Using the tip of the charcoal or a sharp charcoal pencil, dots, and lines are made on a piece of paper in a light, organized way. You can make the dots all the same size and distance apart, or you can change them to get different looks.


Charcoal drawings can have intricate features, slight changes in value, and a sense of depth and three-dimensionality if they are made by building up layers. It gives artists power over the range of tones and lets them show how rich and complicated the subject matter is. Trying out different ways to add layers to your charcoal drawings can give them depth and make them look more real

Final Thoughts

The quality of the paper you use will have a significant impact on the output of your charcoal drawings. You can discover the perfect paper for drawing with charcoal by tailoring the surface to your preferences in terms of texture, weight, and color. Remember to use high-quality paper, experiment with various techniques, and consider the specific requirements of your charcoal art.

Make Your Photos Extra Special By Getting a Charcoal Portrait from Memorialize Art

A charcoal drawing is a piece of art that will never go out of style because it shows the subject's soul and personality. Each charcoal picture from Memorialize Art is made by hand with care but still comes at an affordable price. The attention to detail and the dedication to craftsmanship ensure that every piece is a unique and exquisite work of art.