Charcoal provides a precise and versatile medium for drawing stellar works of art. Charcoal pencils are an alternative to art charcoals and offer a cleaner, more controlled application. Made from ground charcoal that has been compressed and then encased in either wood or paper, charcoal pencils are easy to apply and easy to remove. Charcoal pencils offer artists a medium that creates values ranging from a light grey to a dark, true black. They’re ideal for everything from simple line drawings to complex landscapes and portraiture.
What are charcoal pencils used for? Artists often choose charcoal pencils for sketching because of their greater versatility of texture and tone. A charcoal pencil set will include pencils ranging from soft to hard. The softer charcoal pencils are ideal for adding darker elements to a drawing. Using a hard charcoal pencil lets the artist sketch light lines of varying width and intensity.
What is the difference between charcoal and graphite pencils? Charcoal is a type of carbon that’s made from burnt wood. Because of the natural variations in wood, charcoal has a complex structure that is uneven. This structure creates a crumbly product that adheres unevenly to the texture of the paper. This flaky texture lets the artist draw anything from a very light line to solid, dark areas. The charcoal will produce much darker surfaces than can be created with graphite.
Graphite is a type of carbon. Graphite pencils are made from graphite mixed with a binder. The more binder that is added, the harder the pencil will be. Graphite has a comparatively smooth texture compared to charcoal. It’s ideal for creating drawings on smooth paper with great detail. Graphite doesn’t work well for very dark or very large drawings because of its smaller marking surface. Trying to get very dark tones with graphite is problematic because of the shine that layering graphite will create. The more pressure put on the pencil, the more of a slick, shiny surface you’ll create.
Do you sharpen charcoal pencils? Yes, you can sharpen charcoal pencils. And you should! A sharp tip on your pencil will make detailed drawings much easier and more precise. Charcoal pencils that are encased in wood can be sharpened using a standard pencil sharpener. Sharpening to a fine point is usually done with a razor blade or razor tool. This will let you get the most precise tip for your pencils.