OCAD Studio: Negative Drawing

Negative Drawing is a great way to quickly draw an image which is mostly dark with a few light patches. It creates an impressive and luminous chiaroscuro (light/dark) effect.



  • Charcoal paper (strong enough to resist a reasonable amount of erasing)
  • Soft stick charcoal or block
  • Kneadable eraser
  • Sponge or kitchen roll



  1. Using the soft charcoal, lightly apply an even tone over the whole page (it can be bit irregular at the edges if you like the effect). Get the tone as dark as possible without working too hard into the paper as this will make it harder to erase back to white later.
  2. Once the tone is applied, use your kneaded eraser to lightly remove the major light masses. Progressively lighten these masses to build form.
  3. The image should begin to emerge and you can roll your kneadable eraser into a point to erase finer details.
  4. If necessary, you can use the same charcoal to darken some areas and increase the value range. This can be particularly useful for reinforcing the darks in the background.
  5. You can keep erasing and adding tone until you’re happy with the drawing.

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