Realistic Charcoal Sketching – Developing the Forms

In this series we will be working from a sculpture in the Met Museum collection in New York. This is a great exercise for learning traditional drawing techniques in charcoal. The MET is a great free resource for artists who want to copy from high quality images and references.

In this session I will show you how to develop the forms in the shadows and halftones by loosely shading in tone.

You can download the original image I’m working from here:…

These are the minimum materials you will need:

  • Drawing paper
  • Soft willow charcoal
  • Kneadable eraser
  • Use the same soft charcoal as stage 1, but this time you will need to sharpen it a bit as that will give you more control as you add smaller details.
  • Start by darkening the shadows if needed. Then you can add the darkest parts of the shadows – this will start to give the impression of rounded forms within the darker areas of the drawing.
  • Once the shadows are a bit more developed, turn your attention to the halftones.
  • Working in large blocks of loosely shaded tone, start to add the darker halftones next to the shadow edge.
  • Keep adding tone (or removing it where necessary) in the same fashion across the drawing.
  • This will gradually result in a better sense of 3D form.
  • That’s it for now! In the next (and final) session I will show you how to finish off the study.