OCAD Studio: Charcoal Portrait Part 2

This series of lessons will walk you through the complete process for drawing a detailed portrait in charcoal paper.

In this session we will be finding the shadow shapes and light shapes then shading the shapes in with a light, even tone.

  • To begin with, you will need to separate out the shadows from the light shapes.
  • A shadow is any part of the form that is not receiving direct light (the left hand side of the face) or anything that is ‘locally’ dark (such as her top or hair).
  • Once you’ve decided what is a shadow, you can draw the outside shapes using as few lines as possible.
  • You can use horizontal and vertical alignments to help guide this process.
  • Keep going until you have outlined all the dark shapes in the drawing.
  • It’s important that you make corrections using your eraser throughout this process, as a more accurate lay-in will make later stages of the drawing a lot more manageable.
  • Finally, once all the outlines of the shadows are sketched in, you can fill them with a single tone.
  • Keep working lightly at this stage as you may see some bits you need to correct once you’ve added the tone.


  • Toned paper
  • Charcoal
  • Kneadable Eraser
  • Sanding Block
  • Sharpener
  • Drawing Board
  • Easel

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