Create charcoal drawings and portraits.

Charcoal Drawing

Create Charcoal Drawing Portraits & More

There are many ways to go about creating charcoal drawings. This is just one of many techniques for drawing a portrait with pencils. This is a pencil drawing portrait of a friend. This portrait is drawn from a reference photo.

What Charcoal Is Best For Drawing?

There are many types of charcoal for drawing. I prefer General's charcoal pencils and Nitram charcoals for drawing.

Charcoal Drawing Supplies

What do I need to start charcoal drawing? The only art supplies needed for creating charcoal drawings are charcoal, paper, and possibly an eraser to lift out lights.

Which Paper For Charcoal Drawing?

This charcoal drawing is drawn on Strathmore toned gray paper from their 400 series. It's an acid-free 80 lb. paper, 130 gsm. that is available in a spiral drawing pad.

Which Paper Is Used For Charcoal Drawing?

Virtually any drawing paper will work to create charcoal drawings. The paper should have at least a little tooth. A paper's tooth is its surface texture. A textured surface helps the charcoal adhere to the paper's surface. Glossy papers don't work well for charcoal drawing. The charcoal will fall or dust right off of a slick surface.

My charcoal drawing supplies include a variety of charcoal pencils, tinted drawing paper, a kneaded eraser, a pencil-style eraser, a cloth for blending, a blending stump stick, and new blades for my pencil sharpener. Sharpen your charcoal drawing pencils often to keep a sharp, fine drawing point.

Why Use Charcoal For Drawing?

Charcoal is a great choice for portrait drawing. It blends really nicely. It's a natural material made from charred wood. It comes in a pretty wide variety of styles from vine charcoal to charcoal pencils. You can learn to make your own charcoal with a bit of research and effort.

How To Erase Charcoal Drawing?

Keeping a variety of eraser types on hand can help when creating a charcoal drawing. This portrait was drawn with a kneaded eraser, a pencil-style eraser that can be sharpened to a fine point, and a medium-sized retractable click eraser.

Can You Seal A Charcoal Drawing With Hairspray?

Yes, you can seal a charcoal drawing with hairspray. Use an aerosol hairspray that sprays out a very fine mist. Hairspray may turn yellow over time so it's not the best choice.

How To Seal A Charcoal Drawing

I prefer to use a charcoal fixative spray that is specially made to seal charcoal drawings. There are workable fixative sprays that can be erased and drawn over. They are used to seal your work while the artwork is still in progress. You can continue to make changes after using a workable fixative. Final fixative sprays are also available for pastel, charcoal, and pencil. Fixative sprays are pretty toxic, so be sure to use them outside or in a well-ventilated area. You don't have to seal a charcoal drawing. Sealing a charcoal drawing is optional. The drawing that is created in this video is not sealed or sprayed with a fixative. Fixative makes charcoal drawing a little less fragile. It prevents the charcoal from dusting off as easily.


There are many ways to create charcoal drawings. Charcoal is a great medium to draw with because it requires very few art supplies. Art supplies that I would recommend for charcoal drawing include charcoal pencils ranging from hard to soft, toned drawing paper, a kneaded eraser, and a pencil-style eraser that can be sharpened to a point.

Author: Sonia Reeder-Jones