Task 3 Charcoal

Drawing the universal forms is great practice before taking on more challenging still life drawing. It allows you to learn about how light and shadow work on the main forms for all future drawing. It also gives you chance to experiment with a new media…in this case, charcoal.

You are aiming to produce each of the main forms: Cube, Cylinder, Sphere and Cone, using your charcoal media.

To get a richer experience, do try to leave the confines of a sketchbook. Larger pieces of paper work very well and allow for different expression of markings. Being able to smudge easily, you will find covering large papers much easier than with graphite.

Try white paper, but also tonal and black papers. I like to use brown parcel paper as it has a bit of texture, it’s cheap, and you can buy a roll and have the freedom to cut it to any size you want.  White charcoal or even chalk, is a great to get the highlights onto the paper and to create your full tonal range.

After you have trialed and experimented with using Charcoal on different papers, you should take on a still life drawing to test your technique.

Final Still Life

Less is more. One object or three objects…don’t go too far. Think of the scale of your piece-it can be bigger than what you did for graphite-especially if you are using blocks of charcoal.

Composition is important. If doing fruits, think of their interesting textures from inside as well as outside. Zoom in and think about placement on your final page.

Whole objects are not necessary and can focus your observation and make the piece more interesting too.


What paper will you use? This would have been decided from your previous trials with charcoal. Brown parcel paper perhaps to make the scale larger and involve white chalk too? White A3+ paper to capture some textures and work on main shadows?

Make time to set the composition and trial many variations before deciding on the final one. Do careful observations of the main forms and objects, then you can start to add the tones and details.

I will demonstrate in my next facebook live how I go about a still life using charcoal, in case you are anxious to start.

See you there 🙂


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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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