Getting to Grips

with Charcoal

one of the world’s oldest mediums

Artist - Paul Knight

Paul Knight (front cover artist from November 2011) illustrates the remarkable detail that can be achieved with charcoal.

Charcoal is probably one of the world’s oldest art materials and is incredibly versatile. It can be used for bold sweeping lines or precise detailed images depending on the type of charcoal you use. It is also particularly good if you are learning about shading and lighting techniques.

To help you experiment with this exciting medium Derwent invited me to have a look at their new Charcoal set featuring a comprehensive range of charcoal media which can be used for a wide range of drawings from dramatic intense landscapes to more detailed and intimate life studies.

The new Charcoal set contains four different forms of charcoal from pencils and compressed blocks to chunky willow and fine sticks together with a paper stump.

The Derwent charcoal pack has all the ingredients for making great life/figure studies, except for one important item, a model! I find

that thinking about a pose is difficult and hiring a model can be expensive, personally I do all my studies the old fashioned way and use classical statues.

For one, the pose is perfect, most statues show great definition and a good photo reference from a book or internet resource is perfect for home use. Also you can spend as much time as you like and complete several other pieces as comparison/improvement guides.

One of the major problems I find that people have when starting a figure is that they concentrate firstly on the head and facial features, I'll get around this by mostly leaving the head out. Another problem beginners face is deliberating where to make the first mark. I try to solve this by just laying down an abstract silhouette shape of the figure.

The willow charcoal sticks are ideal for making fast and light marks onto a surface, making them ideal for initial lining out of form in life drawing classes. They leave a very light line as there is virtually no pressure used in application due to their delicate nature. This line can easily be removed with just the brush of a finger, making for quick adjustment without the use of an eraser and leaving almost no mark on the paper.

The exterior of the figure is blocked using the light, medium and heavy compressed charcoal blocks by using their sides or pointed edges.

Body tone, form and detail are created by blending the Glowing Ember and Dark charcoal pencils together. Highlights are mostly created using an eraser with pinpoint White pencil highlighted edges.

Charcoal picture of david

David - an example piece using the Derwent Charcoal set ‘After The Snowfall’ Thin willow charcoal and Dark pencil ‘Dusty’ Thick willow charcoal and compressed blocks

Further examples of what can be achieved with the new Derwent set

after the snowfall - a Charcoal picture by Paul Knight

After the snowfall - Thin willow charcol and Dark Pencil

Dusty - the cat - a Charcoal picture by Paul Knight

Dusty- Thick willow charcol and compressed blocks

Marble

Have a go at this simple drawing exercise with the aim of developing shape, form, tone, value, light and shade.

1For this piece a circular form is required for a marble. A compass or other object could be used, but this does not teach any technique towards drawing a shape.

The best freehand way to draw a circle is to first draw a square: draw one line to the approximate length of the diameter that you require, next measure the line by holding the pencil between your finger and thumb so that from fingernail to the pencil tip is the length of the line.

Then keeping the grip throughout, place the finger tip on the end of the line at 90 degrees and make a mark with the pencil tip. Repeat this process until the square is complete. Next place the pencil in the middle of a line and lightly draw a curve until it touches the centre of the next line and so on until the circle is formed.

2Altering the drawing from a flat image is now done by giving the shape form. The form is created by making a small freehand circle in the top of the main circle and a larger broken circle between the small circle and the outer circular line (notice that this circle seems to hang off the small circle somewhat like an ear ring). Create some tone in the marble by shading and blending in a uniformed manner to give an impression of a ball.

A simple technique which gives composition to the piece is placing two lines that come from the bottom corners of the square and form a triangle with its point meeting at the top of the small circle. This creates a sense of depth.

3Now having established the basic form and composition, a start can be made to develop the foreground by laying down loose shading. 3-4 The marble can now be given more weight by developing a sense of light and shade. This can be done by erasing any points of reflection and darkening any areas of shade. This is where value becomes very important and the shading can be blended to give a smooth contrast between light and dark.

4The next step is the really creative part, which allows the addition of further interest by adding shapes to suggest internal structure and additional lighting effects. This exercise can be repeated at intervals as a comparison guide.

How to draw a sphere - a Charcoal picture by Paul Knight

How to draw a sphere - a Charcoal picture by Paul Knight

How to draw a sphere - a Charcoal picture by Paul Knight

How to draw a sphere - a Charcoal picture by Paul Knight

All the drawings, including the drawing on the pack are created using the same materials and surface.

How to draw a sphere - a Charcoal picture by Paul Knight

The cat’s eye - is a progression of the marble exercise using the same techniques.

To enjoy more of Paul’s work visit his SAA professional pages at www.saa.co.uk/art/astarvinartist where you can also contact him


Getting to Grips

with Charcoal

one of the world’s oldest mediums

Artist - Paul knight

Paul Knight (front cover artist from November 2011) illustrates the remarkable detail that can be achieved with charcoal.

Charcoal is probably one of the world’s oldest art materials and is incredibly versatile. It can be used for bold sweeping lines or precise detailed images depending on the type of charcoal you use. It is also particularly good if you are learning about shading and lighting techniques.

To help you experiment with this exciting medium Derwent invited me to have a look at their new Charcoal set featuring a comprehensive range of charcoal media which can be used for a wide range of drawings from dramatic intense landscapes to more detailed and intimate life studies.

The new Charcoal set contains four different forms of charcoal from pencils and compressed blocks to chunky willow and fine sticks together with a paper stump.

The Derwent charcoal pack has all the ingredients for making great life/figure studies, except for one important item, a model! I find

that thinking about a pose is difficult and hiring a model can be expensive, personally I do all my studies the old fashioned way and use classical statues.

For one, the pose is perfect, most statues show great definition and a good photo reference from a book or internet resource is perfect for home use. Also you can spend as much time as you like and complete several other pieces as comparison/improvement guides.

One of the major problems I find that people have when starting a figure is that they concentrate firstly on the head and facial features, I'll get around this by mostly leaving the head out. Another problem beginners face is deliberating where to make the first mark. I try to solve this by just laying down an abstract silhouette shape of the figure.

The willow charcoal sticks are ideal for making fast and light marks onto a surface, making them ideal for initial lining out of form in life drawing classes. They leave a very light line as there is virtually no pressure used in application due to their delicate nature. This line can easily be removed with just the brush of a finger, making for quick adjustment without the use of an eraser and leaving almost no mark on the paper.

The exterior of the figure is blocked using the light, medium and heavy compressed charcoal blocks by using their sides or pointed edges.

Body tone, form and detail are created by blending the Glowing Ember and Dark charcoal pencils together. Highlights are mostly created using an eraser with pinpoint White pencil highlighted edges.

Charcoal picture of david

David - an example piece using the Derwent Charcoal set ‘After The Snowfall’ Thin willow charcoal and Dark pencil ‘Dusty’ Thick willow charcoal and compressed blocks

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