Charcoal is burnt organic wood, which is used by many artists. There are a few different types of charcoal to choose from including vine and compressed. Vine charcoal is usually made up of burnt willow wood. It can easily be spread on a surface and just as easily erased. However, due to this effect it makes a much lighter mark, when drawing which can be undesirable for many activists. It also smudges very easy, but this can be used as a benefit.
Compressed charcoal is much darker and it has a gum binder that holds it together. Compressed charcoal is available in a pencil form, round stick, or a square stick. Vine charcoal is always available in a round stick. Some compressed charcoal can be pigmented. For instance, white compressed charcoal is pigmented.
Tools You Will Need
When choosing to draw with charcoal, it always helps to have a few other tools at your disposal. First off, you want to make sure you have a variety of different charcoals like the compressed and vine charcoal, along with the pencil form. Any variety of these materials will be acceptable to work with, but this still depends on what you are drawing.
You are also going to need a kneaded eraser, which is a special type of eraser that will lift the charcoal material off of the surface. These types of eraser work really well with charcoal materials.
A blending stump may also be very handy, but is not needed. A blending stump gives you full control over blending and smearing the charcoal. You can simply create your own blending stump by tightly rolling up drawing paper to form a point.
It also helps to have a roll of paper towels handy, as you may know charcoal can be very messy, but the paper towel can prevent you from smearing your work. All you have to do is place the paper towel between your hand and the surface you are drawing on.
Properly Holding Charcoal
A charcoal stick will be held in your hand much differently than a pencil. Of course, every artist has his or her own preference, but it is recommended to hold the charcoal with your thumb and forefinger. Also make sure your palm is facing the surface you are drawing on.
By applying this holding technique, it gives you the ability to use your elbow and shoulder, rather than just your wrist. However, some artist will hold the charcoal stick like a pencil to make little detailed marks.