How to do a charcoal portrait on sketchbook

charcoal portrait painting

                          I have an unbound love for charcoal portraits. No other medium can produce such a beautiful interplay between light and dark and light and shadow. Charcoal portraits look true to life as they can create very apt contrasts and highlights. But, in order to get the desired result, one must use the right paper GSM. I have used 115 GSM sketchbook from Menorah for my drawing. This is the best sketchbook for colored pencils and is excellent for dry media art work like pencil sketching, Sakura micron pen, wax crayons, pencil colors, charcoal and graphite. I have used mild water colors on this sketchbook as well before and I was very impressed with the paper quality. You can go ahead and buy this 115 - GSM sketchbook for pencil drawings from Menorah, with no doubts.

Here are the materials required to do a charcoal portrait:
1. 115 GSM sketchbook
2. Charcoal powder
3. Charcoal pencil
4. Brush
5. Stump
6. Electric eraser

Choose your subject

                        Charcoal can be used for a variety of art works like landscape, still life, abstract, silhouette landscape, cartoons etc. Personally, I love using charcoal for making portraits and human figures to obtain a high defined clarity. This particular portrait is that of a woman in a traditional look. The inspiration for this particular sketch is from my own South Indian wedding family album. You can choose your subject from the myriad things around you and get ready to explore.

Create an outline

                          I have created an outline of my drawing on my dry media sketchbook with a micro tip pencil to be more precise. You can skip this and use a charcoal pencil directly, if you like.

 charcoal pencil drawing

                             When you start using charcoal pencil, make sure you are in a well-lit area so you can see the details and shadows very clearly on your portrait sketchbook. Smudging is a problem that beginners often face while doing a charcoal portrait. So, remember not to touch the area of your drawing. You can place your pinky finger against the surface of the paper, when you want to life your hand away after you have finished drawing. You could also put extra pieces of paper under your arm, if you are a beginner.

charcoal pencil painting

It's time to charcoal!

                   Once the outline is done, I have used my charcoal pencil, for a darker highlight. It’s easy to use a charcoal pencil. Hold it just like you would a normal pencil with your thumb and forefinger and let you your palm face downwards. You can apply more pressure if you want darker strokes. I have used darker strokes for drawing parts of hair on top of the head and lighter fewer strokes for the hair strands on the front. 

                     After using charcoal pencil, I have applied charcoal powder by dabbing it with a brush.  The charcoal powder gives a lighter look when compared to the charcoal pencil.  I have made use of it in few areas of my portrait, like the neck, to create a contrast.

charcoal art

                        Soon after, I used a stump to blend the powder well for a smooth finish. Blending creates shadows and highlights. You can also dab the charcoal powder with your finger tips to make it stick to the paper.

 Highlighting is the key

                         I wanted to create a dimensional effect on the jhumkas after using charcoal pencil, so I made use of an electric eraser. An electric eraser is very precise. You can use it to erase and make minute details as there are absolutely no chances of smudging. You could also use a white charcoal pencil to highlight your portrait.

 Fix your drawing

                          Fix your drawing when it is complete, so the charcoal powder remains in place. You could also use a little of hair spray as a fixing spray if you wish, but cautiously.

                           All you need is time and patience to master charcoal art and once you do, there is no going back! Get started on your dry media sketchbook from Menorah, use code ARTMAIDNEN05 to avail extra 5% discount and get ready to create your masterpiece.


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