Sunday, May 6, 2012

Working with Tinted Charcoal

It rained.

It poured.

Then it rained some more.

The perfect day to lose yourself in a new or at least changed medium.

I have wanted to work with my tinted charcoal pencils from Derwent for a while, but just did not seem to be able to find the time to really explore them.

The one time I really worked with them, the results were spectacular! That was in my figure drawing class on heavy black pastel paper. There I simply drew with them. But I did want to understand more about working and blending with them.

I had thought I had more black paper, but I did not, so I changed gears and tried a sheet of textured gray pastel paper. This paper, by Strathmore, has great tooth. The color is not solid gray, but flecked with shades of gray.

I drew with the charcoal pencils,
But I was not happy with it.

The still life I chose to draw is simple, Grapes a pear and several apples. One green, and two red. I wanted to see how I could develop the colors.

I did decided to draw directly with the charcoal pencils, as for this drawing I did not want to introduce the gray of graphite. Also, I wanted to see how hard it would be to make corrections with these pencils.  

I found blending with a cotton swab
gave very good results

I sketched in the basic shapes of the still life, and then went over the relationships and sizes. I did sharpen the pencils for sketching, and did make corrections, simply using a stiff brush to remove any lines I did not like. A soft, kneaded eraser did lift any powder, but I tend to draw lightly, and none of the charcoal was worked deep into the paper fibers.

blocking in a shape

heavy color before blending

working with a cotton swab, I blended
the shades together

first layer after blending

Now, these pencils did tend to lay down quite of bit of the tinted charcoal. I was not completely happy with the colors as they went down. Not a look I liked in this work. Using a cotton swab, I rubbed the colors in, and was actually happier with the colors and look. So I started to layer on different colors and blend them together, first with a cotton swab, then at the end with a tortillion to get sharper, cleaner edges.

I am rather pleased with the results.


  1. Superb! Really nice demonstration, Starr!

  2. Your welcome.

    I so enjoyed this, that I really needed to share it.

    I am working on a drawing with the tinted graphite and will post that too!

    I love to draw!

  3. It really shows that you love to draw
    Freda G

  4. You have to love it to be any good at it.


Did you enjoy this post? I would love to hear from you