top of page


Charcoal - Line Control, Blending, Values, Properties, and Techniques

Materials: natural charcoal with 18 x 24" newsprint paper pad, compressed charcoal with 18 x 24" drawing paper pad

Charcoal is one of the oldest drawing tools. It is a wonderful substance for drawing as it gives you rich black lines.


Natural charcoal is used for line control, blending tones with stumps, fingers, and chamois cloth. Natural charcoal is very dry so it does not adhere to paper very well, which makes it easy to erase. It is so delicate and dry that you can blow on it and it will come off the paper. Using your finger you can create tones, soften lines, and erase to change your drawing.

Compressed charcoal is used for line control, blending tones with stumps, and chamois cloth. You can use erasers  not only to erase but also as a drawing tool. Compressed charcoal is very different from natural (vine and willow) charcoal as it is oily so it adheres to the paper better, has a more intense black, and does not erase as easily.

You should try to re-create the two exercises below. When you have successfully re-created them, you should explore other sets of marks and blends that are unique to help expand your mark making vocabulary in this medium.


Drawing art exercise, natural charcoal.


Drawing art exercise, compressed charcoal.

bottom of page