5 Charcoal Drawing Techniques Every Artist Should Know

5 Charcoal Drawing Techniques Every Artist Should Know

Are you an artist looking to enhance your drawing skills? Then you must try out charcoal drawing techniques. Charcoal drawing is a classic art form used by artists for centuries. The process of charcoal drawing involves using charcoal sticks, pencils, and powder to create beautiful black-and-white drawings.

This article will discuss five charcoal drawing techniques that every artist should know. From explaining what charcoal drawing is to sharing tips and tricks, we’ve got you covered.

5 Charcoal Drawing Techniques Every Artist Should Know

Photo by Lavi Perchik from Unsplash

What is charcoal drawing?

Charcoal drawing is a type of art that uses various charcoal materials to create a drawing. The technique is based on creating tonal values with black and white. Charcoal can be used for quick sketching or detailed drawings, and it can be used on a variety of surfaces such as paper, canvas, or wood.

Benefits of Charcoal Drawing

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Charcoal drawing offers numerous benefits to artists. For one, it is a great way to improve your drawing skills. Using charcoal allows you to create bold, dynamic lines and achieve depth in your drawings. Additionally, charcoal drawing is a great way to develop your observation skills and increase your ability to see and replicate different tones and textures.

Materials Used in Charcoal Drawing

Charcoal Sticks

These are the most basic materials used in charcoal drawing. Charcoal sticks are the most commonly used material in charcoal drawings. These sticks come in various hardness levels and are made by burning wood (usually willow) in a low-oxygen environment. 

Charcoal Pencils

Charcoal pencils are similar to regular graphite pencils but are made of compressed charcoal. These are similar to regular pencils but are filled with compressed charcoal. They are great for creating fine lines, adding detail, and making more precise marks in charcoal drawings.

Blending Tools

Blending tools, such as tortillions or blending stumps, soften and blend charcoal marks. They can be made of paper, felt, or other materials.


Fixatives are used to set the charcoal on the paper and prevent it from smudging. There are two types of fixatives: workable fixatives and final fixatives. Workable fixatives allow you to continue working on your drawing without disturbing the charcoal, while final fixatives provide a more permanent hold.

Techniques Used in Charcoal Drawing

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Blending is creating smooth transitions between different values or tones in a drawing. This technique can be achieved using various tools such as blending stumps, paper towels, or fingers. Blending can help create a soft and realistic effect in charcoal drawings.


This technique involves using a blending tool, such as a blending stump or your finger, to blur the lines and create a softer, more blended effect in the drawing.


Chiaroscuro is an Italian word that means light-dark. This technique uses contrasting light and dark tones to create a sense of volume and depth in a drawing. This technique can be used to create dramatic and moody effects in charcoal drawings.

Hatching and Cross-Hatching

These techniques involve creating parallel or intersecting lines to create texture and shading in the drawing. Hatching involves using straight lines, while cross-hatching involves layering lines at different angles.


Erasing is a technique that allows you to create highlights or lighten certain areas of your charcoal drawing. You can use an eraser or a kneaded eraser to remove charcoal from the paper gently. This technique can be especially useful when drawing portraits.

Tips and Tricks

Experiment with Different Textures

Charcoal is a versatile medium that can create a range of textures, from soft and powdery to sharp and defined. Try using different types of charcoal (vine, compressed, etc.) and various tools (blending stumps, erasers, etc.) to create unique textures and add depth to your drawings.

Don't be Afraid to Make Mistakes

Charcoal is a forgiving medium that can be easily corrected or adjusted. Don't be too hard on yourself if your drawing isn't turning out how you envisioned it. Instead, use mistakes as an opportunity to experiment and try new techniques.

Use negative space

Negative space is the area around the subject that is not drawn. By paying attention to negative space and using it intentionally, you can create dynamic compositions and emphasize the subject.

Take breaks

Charcoal drawing can be time-consuming and tiring, so it's important to take breaks and give your hand a rest. Stepping away from your drawing for a few minutes or even hours can help you return to it with fresh eyes and a new perspective.

Practice, practice, practice

Like any skill, charcoal drawing takes practice to master. Set aside time each day or week to practice different techniques and experiment with different subjects. The more you practice, the more confident you'll become in your skills and the more creative you can be with your drawings.

Order Your Charcoal Portrait from Memorialize Art

Charcoal drawing is an art form that can be challenging and incredibly rewarding. Using the right techniques and materials, you can create stunning black-and-white drawings that will impress you. And, if you're looking to take your charcoal drawing skills to the next level, consider having your charcoal portrait created at Memorialize Art.

If you want to create a unique, one-of-a-kind piece of art, consider having your charcoal portrait created at Memorialize Art. Our team of talented artists can create a beautiful, lifelike portrait that will be treasured for years to come. Contact us today to learn more!