Charcoal
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Thread: Charcoal

  1. #1
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    Charcoal

    This is my first time working with traditional materials (mostly, I've just been using Photoshop and Painter in the past) and I have some questions about workflow with charcoal.

    - Do you sketch with a light pencil first?
    - What options are there for making gradients and blending shadows?
    - How do you deal with mistakes that ruin a piece?
    - How do you prevent the coal from rubbing off when finished? I tried hairspray and it doesn't work well.
    - Why doesn't the coal stick to areas that have been colored in by pencil? Am i supposed to be using coal based pencils instead of graphite?
    - How are you supposed to use an eraser when it gets completely black within 10 minutes.

    Also some critique of the piece itself would be helpful. Mostly I'm interested in why the zoomed-in/cropped version looks so much better. Is it because the neck is badly shaded and off axis, or is it a focal point issue? Also, it looks too cartoony - i assume that's from the anatomy deviating too much from realistic human ranges. Are the nose and jawline the worst offenders in this case, or maybe its the brow area?

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  2. #2
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    i much prefer the cropped detail image to the full view. things like the crazy background arnt adding anything, but that detail shot focuses right in on the important stuff. and the marks there on the eye nose and mouth are nice. my 2c anyway,.

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  3. #3
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    Do you sketch with a light pencil first?
    If you want to.

    What options are there for making gradients and blending shadows?
    Other than the obvious "Press more lightly with the stick," you can also blend using your fingers, a cotton ball or a soft rag.

    How do you deal with mistakes that ruin a piece?
    You can erase charcoal with a kneaded eraser.

    How do you prevent the coal from rubbing off when finished? I tried hairspray and it doesn't work well.
    They sell fixative specifically for this purpose. It comes in spray cans. You can buy it any art-supply store.

    Why doesn't the coal stick to areas that have been colored in by pencil? Am i supposed to be using coal based pencils instead of graphite?
    Because the graphite makes the surface of the paper slick. Yes, you should use charcoal pencils instead of graphite.

    How are you supposed to use an eraser when it gets completely black within 10 minutes.
    Be more thoughtful and judicious about the marks you put down. If you lay down thick heavy areas of black, they are going to be difficult to erase.

    Also some critique of the piece itself would be helpful. Is it because the neck is badly shaded and off axis, or is it a focal point issue? Also, it looks too cartoony - i assume that's from the anatomy deviating too much from realistic human ranges. Are the nose and jawline the worst offenders in this case, or maybe its the brow area?
    Find a reference photo that approximates the view you're attempting to draw. Compare, contrast, and correct your drawing until it looks right.

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