How To Draw Using Charcoal

How To Draw Using Charcoal

In this video, an art teacher shows you his way of creating a charcoal drawing from a black and white photograph, slowly making a framework and building up from it.

We're going to make a drawing to show you how you can use charcoal. I am going to work very, very loosely. I am going to take my charcoal, it is already willow charcoal, and I am going to keep a putty rubber in my hand as well, keeping it nice and warm for when I want to remove the charcoal. Drawing with charcoal, I feel, is as much about putting charcoal down as taking charcoal off, so the first thing I am going to do is get the head shape working from this photograph. I am not going to worry about putting marks down that I don't want because I can just remove them, I am going to make an energetic start to a drawing. I can see the right hand side of this face is all in shadow, so I am going to start just shading like that, getting some charcoal down and then over this side is much lighter. And in the background, we've got a darker background like so and I am just going to start to work that charcoal with my fingers making sure it is light on that side and getting darker on this side perhaps some background in there as well. Once I've got the general tones down, I can now start plotting where the details are, so halfway across the face is the line of the eyes and then straight down the center of the face to make the portrait which is equal on both sides, a line for the nose, a line for the mouth and then just going to remind myself where the end of the face, of the chin, is the eye socket. It's much darker in there so I am going to put the eye socket in dark down the side of the nose. Underneath the nose, I am putting the second layer of charcoal. My first one was really lose and just treating almost the head like an egg, I am now looking much harder to see where it is darker and lighter. The eye socket there is quite dark as well and the hair that comes around like that underneath the neck in there, and I can even work the charcoal in once again where I wanted to do smudging. It's better to put marks on, then take them away, than to worry about putting the marks on in the first place. I'm now going to take my putty rubber and I am going to put it into a point and use it almost like a pencil, but I am going to start picking out some of the light hairs. I am going to start with some detail, so on the left hand side of the nose is very light and it comes across the top of the head here. There is a light hair up here and then that comes round like underneath the eye round the side of the cheek, like so. I am just following the shapes, I am not trying to tell myself to draw a nose or a mouth, I am just literally drawing the light and dark that I see underneath the lip. It is lighter and then there are a few bits of detail underneath the eye there. On the eye socket there comes round and this side isn't light at all, so for any lights on this side, I am just going to use my finger to lighten the charcoal slightly, so underneath the eye, underneath the eyebrow, underneath the eye slightly a little bit over here, just a little bit there, shows where the cheek is and the side of the mouth bottom lip like so, maybe just under the neck slightly as well. I can now take it back to my charcoal and start being a bit more precise with things like detail so I am now going to start with this eye here. I am going to make the eye work by choosing the place where I need the eye to be, which is here but dark there, get the putty rubber to a point get light on that side, light on that side, just a little highlight in the eye, just make sure the highlight is not right in the center in the eye because it looks a little bit odd, a little highlight just there, then I've got the eyebrow that fits in nicely just like that and a bit of shadow underneath and a very faint shading just in this area. I am going to smudge it so it is very, very pale and then the eye on this side which is in much more darkness but we still need to suggest where things are. Make sure the eyes are in line, top of the eye there in darkness, there is the iris of the eye, it has still got a highlight, very important highlight, get a clean piece of the putty rubber like so into shapes darker underneath and that is more in shadows, so I am going to put more shading in there coming down. Into the nose, got the bridge of the nose that comes down there, got a little bit of the nose that suggested just like that with that side there no more than a little of the line. The nostril is just a little bit of a line on this side. We've got a nostril in the darkness and a line in the darkness coming down even further, a piece of shadow in the center, a bit of light on either side, and we're going to move the mouth up slightly from where I originally had it. The center line of the mouth is there. Underneath the lip is there, top lip, little bit of shading there, but it's light that hits the top and there's light hitting on the bottom lip there, one thing comes down, and I am going to move the chin up slightly, just always making little changes side of the face comes in like that and start to think about the hair fits in very dark in there. The ear is in line with the eye, comes down to here, dark around there and then the ear here is in light. Make sure it's light now. Once you've got a drawing like this, you can spend as long as you like making it really, really perfect. You can just keep subtly changing things and then gradually the portrait will become more and more lifelike, more and more detailed if you want to keep it sketchy, you can just keep it sketchy as it is like this, I'm going to make the background slightly lighter just using my hand just so it's not too dark and like I say, you can carry on drawing, fine tuning and editing as long as you like but if you start in this way, you will get to this stage nice and quickly rather than have to worry about all the details. So, this is how I make a drawing using charcoal.