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Home >> Painting Media >> Charcoal

Charcoal Painting

Charcoal is the blackish residue consisting of impure carbon obtained by removing water from animal and vegetation substances. Charcoal is used in art for drawing making rough sketches in painting, and is one of the possible media for making a parsemage. It must usually be preserved by the application of a fixative.

Artists generally utilize charcoal in three forms:

Vine charcoal

Vine charcoal is created by burning sticks of wood (usually willow or linden/Tilia) into soft, medium, and hard consistencies. Bamboo charcoal is the principal tool in Japanese Sumi-e ( charcoal drawing) art.

Compressed Charcoal

Compressed charcoal is charcoal powder mixed with gum binder compressed into round or square sticks. The amount of binder determines the hardness of the stick. Compressed charcoal is used in charcoal pencils.

Powdered Charcoal

Finely powdered charcoal is often used to "tone" or cover large sections of a drawing surface. Drawing over the toned areas will darken it further, but the artist can also lighten (or completely erase) within the toned area to create lighter tones.

Charcoal and Pencil

The main difference between drawing with a pencil and charcoal is that charcoal leaves a track that is darker, velvety and it can be spread much easier and finer. Both natural and artificial charcoal is used. Natural charcoal is a stick of wooden charcoal with precisely defined characteristics suitable for very fine drawing.

Charcoal Drawing

The drawing starts out by outlining the whole composition. The basic feature of work with charcoal is its ability to spread on the drawing surface and the creation of soft transitions.

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