Task 3: Charcoal Forms

Learning to Draw: TASK 3

You can use a range of Charcoal equipment, but I like for this task to look at the effects I can get using the blocks of Charcoal! They create such dark effects and so you can achieve eye popping results due to the tonal range you can create.

Charcoal pencils are great too…but the skills you are learning from using Graphite are being utilised again. The reason I like to encourage students to grab the blocks is to widen their experience and knowledge of alternatives. So, come out of your comfort zone and grab a compressed charcoal block for this task 🙂


Other Equipment that is useful:

Putter rubber / kneaded eraser is crucial for the technique I will show in my next video (Facebook live tutorial). Willow sticks are nice but more light and good for midtones… the break easy and smudge easy too- this is good for some effects but the block you will get a solid black covering.

White charcoal, or even a white chalk stick, is great for making highlights when using midtone paper- I will be! Creating a stark tonal range, and again, making that eye popping result.

So, the paper… Brown parcel paper is what I use in my demonstrations. I really love this paper as it is textured, providing a rougher surface to work on. This holds powder media really well and allows for harsh mark making. It can be cut to any length when bought on a roll, so it adds to your flexibility of what you can create. White paper usually is set to one size and when working in a sketchbook it can restrict creativity sometimes.

For this task, I will go big! I want to work on nothing less than A3 for sample and produce a final outcome around A1 size…don’t be daunted by this, it is great and much easier to do when you have blocks of media to spread all over the surface in no time at all 🙂

The Task

For this task you are continuing your skill building with using tone. By using Charcoal this time, you will not only be trialling a new medium, you will also be using much darker tones and testing how you see tones in these forms.

You first need to add the tonal scale to the universal forms; Cube, Cylinder, Sphere and Cone. This allows you to understand the range of forms you will encounter when taking on a still life observation in the future. If you can shade these 4 forms, it is commonly thought you can apply tone to any object you may want to draw 🙂

You may wish to use your own photography and still life compositions to further explore adding tone to your art. Check out the resource for inspiration and guidance;

charcoal practice

Also, see me in this quick demo to see how to use charcoal in different ways 🙂


I will be on Facebook soon giving another tutorial using this great media! Look forward to seeing you there 🙂



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