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  • Writer's pictureKOH-I-NOOR HARDTMUTH

Charcoal, one of the oldest drawing techniques



Charcoal - one of the oldest drawing techniques, whose fame has persisted for many centuries. And no wonder. Despite the fact that this drawing art technique is used mainly for study drawings and the creation of sketches, the drawings created by charcoal look very professional, because the charcoal strokes can be erased and then corrected immediately. The result is then a dynamic drawing of black and white.





The antecedents of today's charcoal were only charred wooden sticks, which were used to create art. They date back to prehistoric times, when people used them to capture animals in caves. This technique has always found some application in all styles of fine art. For example, Leonardo da Vinci used it to create sketches for his oil paintings; Edgar Degas to capture famous sketches of ballerinas, and the symbolist Odilon Redon used it as well. Today, perhaps there is no longer a person in art culture who has never seen, heard or tried this type of drawing.


Jiří Kornatovský



Despite the fact that charcoal is used more for study drawing, or rather for drawing a still life, portrait or whole figure, this does not mean that it is not a full-fledged art technique. Especially today, there are many top artists who create the so-called great art with the help of this art medium. We have long admired the work of Docent and Academic painter Jiří Kornatovský, who is famous for his monumental drawings of rotating objects, that he captures on cardboard of huge size.




The biggest advantage of drawing with charcoal is the fact that you can constantly correct the image, which is ideal for drawing still lifes or human figures. Another plus of this drawing technique is the possibility of shading.


Drawing with charcoal seems more dynamic and relaxed than, for example, with a pencil, and even some small mistakes of a beginning artist can be hidden in the process.





You can also erase charcoal, however not with an ordinary eraser, but with a kneaded eraser, which you will find among Koh-i-Noor products in several variants.


After completing the drawing, it is necessary to seal the charcoal so that the strokes can no longer be smeared. To do this, you will need to use a 300 ml fixative spray or there is also available a fixative solution in a 100 ml bottle.







Today, you can get charcoal in every shop with art supplies. However, it is possible that you will come across two types of charcoal - natural one, which is made of wood...






...and artificial charcoal, which is made of ash and pressed into an oval and square variant. In addition to this, you can also find a variant of charcoal inside a pencil, which also has its advantages and is preferred by more experienced individuals, who use this drawing technique mostly to create portraits. The charcoals in pencil are divided according to gradations, thanks to which you can bring even the finest details to perfection.





For a complete start and acquaintance with this technique, we recommend natural charcoal, which you can shorten to the required length with simple breaking it, grind as you wish and further adjust. To create smaller sketches, one of our special structured sketchbooks for drawing with charcoal, pencil, crayons or sepia could be useful. Are you interested in this technique? Show us your creations on social networks!




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