Task 3: Universal forms in Charcoal

Task 2: Draw each of the universal forms (Cone Cylinder, Cube and Sphere) using Charcoal to create the illusion of 3-Dimensional forms with highlights and shadows

A wide range of artists use charcoal to create incredible artworks. We are going to build up tonal drawing knowledge further and also see how this medium can be used to great effect.


Georgia O’Keeffe:

Joel Colo:

Leonardo Da Vinci:


Using Charcoal

I will demonstrate a couple of kinds of charcoal for this task.

Compressed charcoal is a powdered charcoal that has been mixed with gum binder and then compressed into sticks. To determine how hard or soft that compressed block will be depends on the amount of binder. Charcoal Pencils are created in the same way and you can use all these types for this task- A mixture is best!

Vine charcoal is another kind, made from burning pieces of wood into a harder or softer product. This type of charcoal stick tends to be messier than compressed charcoal but can give you great results. Powdered charcoal is exactly what it sounds like – charcoal in powder form that is great for covering large areas.


To begin we are essential going to work backwards 🙂

Cover your page with charcoal and use tissue to smudge the charcoal into a nice smooth base on the page. I would recommend using paper like brown parcel paper or something of a mid-tone with texture to it. Smooth white paper doesn’t work the same.

Be sure to put newspaper down to catch all that dust!

Try your best not to rest your hand on the page when you are drawing as charcoal smudges easily.

Using a putty rubber you can begin to mark away the highlights of the form you wish to draw…then slowly work back in the dark areas of shadow to build up your tonal range (see task 2 for more information on tonal scales). To achieve a bright highlight to showcase the full tonal range, you can use white chalk or soft pastel to really extend to those brightest tones.

Join me for a demonstration soon and I am sure you will be excited to get going with a charcoal drawing-It is one of my favourites 🙂


Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART



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