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The Different Types of Drawing Charcoal

Trying to experiment with charcoal drawing can be a little challenging sometimes. After all, not being able to understand how the artist has achieved certain tones or values can be frustrating! So, like with anything, start with the basics, and work your way up. In this article we are going to help you do just this- tell you all about different types of drawing charcoal!

  • Willow/ Vine

The willow branches or grapevine portions are the most basic types of drawing charcoal. Since there is no binder in them, they are highly fragile and powdery. They can be directly used on paper in the raw form; however, the charcoal does not stick to the paper due to the lack of a binding agent. The absence of a binder in willow and vine charcoal means that the drawing is not protected from smudge.

On the other hand, some advantages of charcoal as a drawing medium are that it can be readily smoothed out and erased easily and, a wide range of tonal values and a variety of appealing textures can be achieved.

  • Powder Charcoal

As the name suggests, Powdered charcoal is charcoal in the form of a fine powder. Willow or vine charcoal is crushed into a powder material to make charcoal powder. It is traditionally employed to give a design a softer aspect or to tone down huge portions. The grey will tone down the paper's brilliant white, allowing light regions to be "lifted out." With a paintbrush, tissue, napkin, or paper stump, you may quickly cover big areas with charcoal powder.

  • Compressed Charcoal

Compressed charcoal is made from powdered charcoal that has been bound with gum or wax. The suppleness of the charcoal stick is determined by the amount of powdered charcoal and binding agent employed, affecting the hues of each stick at the same time. Compressed charcoal may be sharpened because of its hardness, allowing for finer intricate lines that are impossible to produce otherwise.

However, if wet media is used over it, it can be more difficult to erase and can bleed.

  • Charcoal pencils

Hate being fussy? Then charcoal pencils are going to be your best friends! They are simply compressed charcoal encased in wooden or paper cylinders. This variation in artists’ charcoal allows you to create precise, sharp, and clean drawings similar to those made with graphite pencils. However, what makes charcoal pencils different from graphite pencils is their ability to create very deep black matte areas and hues without a sheen. With charcoal pencils, you can make your artwork as detailed as you want it to be. Its variations range from hard to extremely soft, commonly graded as HB to 6B.

It is commonly used to add detailing to the eyes, lips, accessories, etc. in portraits.

  • Tinted Charcoal

Finally, we have Tinted charcoal on the list. It is a mix of charcoal powder and colour pigmented binder. It works just like regular charcoal pencils and compressed charcoal sticks. Because tinted charcoal is based on the dark grey and black tones of ordinary charcoal powder, the colours they produce are rather faint and muted.

We hope that this article cleared up your confusion about different types of drawing charcoal and inspired you to create you next charcoal masterpiece!

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