nervous as HELL!
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  1. #1
    OmenSpirits's Avatar
    OmenSpirits is offline Commercial-Illustrator in-training, NOT an artist. Level 13 Gladiator: Retiarius
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    Unhappy nervous as HELL!

    My intensive is coming up next month, and I really have no clue how to manipulate charcoal.

    I've got Henry Yan's book and another that covers some of its usage, and I know I'm taking this class to learn and am supposed to make mistakes...

    BUT DAMMIT, I'M STILL NERVOUS!

    Do I have a question? Should I ask someone here what books are good on charcoal?

    IDK. I've got to practice this weekend with it.

    Just sharing my nervousness.

    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
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    Why don't you just play around with it a bit?

    That's what I've been doing recently (never really had much use for charcoal previously). For what its worth, I think you need - paper with a little bit of "tooth", some soft charcoal, and some harder (compressed sticks - I'm using cretacolor 5.6mm sticks). A brush (bristle is good). Kneaded eraser. Some tissue paper.

    Use the charcoal with a light touch. The compressed stuff can be sharpened with a pencil sharpener. Put down an even tone by lightly using the soft charcoal and wiping it around with tissue. Draw fairly large - A4/US letter or bigger, for a portrait head, for example.

    Think in terms of values. Map out shapes of lights and darks, smooth the charcoal with the brush or tissue, lift out lights with tissue or kneaded eraser, restate darks. Think of it as being more like painting, sweeping the charcoal around, rather than line-drawing.

    I think, for me the biggest thing has been realising that a lot of it is about manipulating the charcoal that's on the paper, rather than "drawing" with it.

    Any help?

    Dave

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    I think you'll find it kind of easy. It erases. The willow is darker than the vine. Lots of people prefer the vine because they think they are getting a richer set of value gradations, or something. You can do a heck of a lot more with a blending stump than you could do on pencil, or even conte.

    It just gets all over your hands and can be real smudgy. I am right handed and so I often work from the upper left corner down and across so I don't rest my hand into something I drew and mess it up.

    You can blend with your fingers if you want. The stuff is non-toxic.

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    A very good charcoal portrait demo, by Domenic Cretara, in 6 parts (at first, its a little difficult to see what he's doing, but stick with it):














    Dave

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    Thanks peeps.

    I've a thing about going into a situation with some knowledge and some experience. I find that having fore knowledge my ability to learn is made all the more. Though I know I depend on a high level of comprehension (always had that along with learning by osmosis & applied knowledge) to strengthen my retention. That info and those vids will ease my nervousness.

    I'll keep researching, reading, practicing up until the intensive, and be ready.

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    Good luck! You can do it! I would bring things to rub off mistakes with...like a sponge or rags or maybe even water? Im not sure what that would do...but i would think it does something nice with chalk!

    Yeaaa, when you get there just hold up the chalk and then wrap it up and start stomping on it! and then throw it all into a bucket of water....and then....pull out a brush and start painting with it P: They can give you the medium! But they cant control how you artttttt!

    (Whats an intensive btw? hehe)

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    I would think just a big pad of newsprint would work fine if you're not experienced with charcoal (as opposed to buying specialty paper).

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    Quote Originally Posted by dcorc View Post
    I think, for me the biggest thing has been realising that a lot of it is about manipulating the charcoal that's on the paper, rather than "drawing" with it.
    Definitely. Even though it's dry, charcoal is a very fluid medium, and has as much in common with painting as it does with drawing.


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    I was in the same situation as you a year ago. I also have Yan's book and bought another book.

    Yan's book isn't that helpful to learn to work with charcoal, it has just a few tips but isn't a comprehensive guide. Trying to copy Yan's work without a huge deal of anatomy knowledge will get you nowhere fast, that's what I tried to do and it simply doesn't work until you reach his competence with just a crayon.

    How you hold the charcoal differs from artist to artist too. Yan and many artist hold it between their thumb and first finger and use a really small stumb of charcoal. They pull on the charcoal. Other artists like the one in the video does not and they hold it like you would hold a painting brush and they apply pressure. You have to find out what you like, they're 2 rather different approaches.

    Also, experiment a lot, it really takes a lot of time to get used to charcoal, it is completely different to pencils and is really unforgiving. Wiping of charcoal with chamois or your fingers is not the style Yan uses most of the time. Yan puts down lines and he leaves them in place. Many don't do this, the guy in the video does it different. 2 completely different styles again. Another style is using charcoal powder and rubbing your picture in with black and taking out the highlights.

    Experiment a lot eh, it can be really confusing at first hehe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ninjerk View Post
    I would think just a big pad of newsprint would work fine if you're not experienced with charcoal (as opposed to buying specialty paper).
    Definitely, but to me nothing feels better than drawing with charcoal on Canson Mi-Tientes paper :>

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pezzle View Post
    Definitely, but to me nothing feels better than drawing with charcoal on Canson Mi-Tientes paper :>
    Just the regular toned paper? I use that for Pencil/Conte and my NuPastel drawings, but I've never done charcoal on it.

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    Definitely. This is Mi Tientes steel gray toned paper with black charcoal and white charcoal. The toned paper lets you go two directions in value rather than just one.
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    i prefer charcoal almost always (other than quick sketching...use the sakura microns for that). For a long time I despised using it and especially vine/willow. But that was due to early courses not teaching me "how" to use charcoal. They just said, buy charcoal, vine-pencil-squares and then just said 'now draw!'. Not exactly teaching. then I went to art school and got my mind blown. Taught to use sandpaper/sand blocks to sharpen the vine/willow and use it in a back and forth motion (not holding like a pencil, more like a brush using your wrist and elbow motion to create long gestural lines in one motion). then going in after structural drawing laid out with vine/willow and doing tonal with the square charcoal (also sanded to a beveled shape to avoid hard lines from the 'square' edges). I agree it's much more painterly than drawing with ink, but i feel even moreso it's like sculpting on paper. you are pushing masses around via charcoal to create the illusions of volume and light/shadow.

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