My Top 6 Supplies For Charcoal

Since I've been using charcoal recently whilst creating my new online class, Portraits In Time, I thought I'd share my top six supplies for this beautiful and expressive medium.

my top 6 supplies for charcoal


Incidentally, the artwork below is from my new online course and I share very closely, my process for creating this piece (as well as others). 

portraits in time class

Please click on the product images below to learn more...

Peel and Sketch Charcoal Pencils

I have this set and really enjoy the convenience of the 'peel away' aspect of these charcoal pencils.  They are also great for detail adding.  This set comes with a soft, medium and hard density.  Begin with hard and gradually build to soft.

Daler & Rowney, Pastel Paper

This paper is fantastic - it takes charcoal beautifully.  It has some texture to it so that you're able to build up layers and form, tone and value etc.  The colours of the paper seem to compliment your artwork in a really subtle way.  Good quality paper.  Tip - if it feels like its getting overloaded with charcoal, flick (ping) it with your fingers on the reverse side. 

Derwent Battery Operated Eraser

I really like using this battery operated eraser.  Charcoal can get quite messy and yet I find this eraser makes such a clean and efficient job of lifting out highlights and it's just a pleasure to use.  I chose to buy an additional pack of erasers, just in case I ran out!  You can of course use a kneadable eraser if you wish.

Derwent Charcoal - Assorted Sizes and Thicknesses

This pack comes with assorted thicknesses of high quality willow charcoal.  It's highly blendable and a pleasure to use.  Really dark and rich.  Ideal for sketching and expressive drawing as well as portraiture.

Stumps, Tortillions and Sandpaper Block

Three more products - a sandpaper block for sharpening willow sticks to a point, stumps  and tortillions (they have a flat 'bottom' at one end).  Stumps can be sharpened to a new point with a sharpener.  The latter two, both great for blending and softening in both charcoal and pencil.

Extras That I'd Recommend

I'd also recommend some paper towel, cotton buds or even some hand wipes to keep your hands as clean as possible.  A wipeable surface is ideal and put some paper down on your work surface.  I found using an easel was ideal, so that I could move away from my piece and it encourages you to use not just your hands but move your arms and body as well - this all helps create a dynamic and flowing piece of work.

portraits in time class
portraits in time class

So, I hope you've found this helpful and I'd be curious to know of your favourite charcoal related supplies too.

Please note that if you purchase any of the above product recommendations, I will receive a very small commission.  I am however, recommending them because I genuinely use and like these supplies.


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