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Charcoal Sketches

Using pencils may well be one of the oldest art forms. From what I have heard, ancient cave men have been drawing charcoal sketches since well before the dawn of civilization. Obviously, the originals did not have the sophistication of modern charcoal pencil drawings. They would use crude charcoal sticks pulled from the bottom of fire pits, rubbing them onto the cave walls to make simplistic designs. Although charcoal sketches can take simple forms like this, it is only possible to see charcoal's full potential when you are tackling the more complex art project.

As a matter of fact, the charcoal pencil is one of the most versatile and sophisticated tools in a portrait artist's repertoire. Shading is a notoriously difficult problem for artists. Creating the sensation of depth and shadow is something that takes many people years to develop. I won't say that the charcoal pencil makes it easy, but it certainly makes it easier. Charcoal pencils, you see, lend themselves naturally to shading. By using the edge of the pencil, you can easily create varying degrees of darkness. You can then blend them together by using your finger or some other tool to rub the charcoal. When you really know how to use your charcoal pencils right, the effect is dazzling. The charcoal sketches are almost as realistic as a photo, and much richer.

Of course, when you are first using charcoal pencils they are very difficult to get the hang of. I remember my first charcoal drawing art class and how hard it was. I had been used to drawing with normal graphite pencils, so when I picked up the charcoal pencils, I was in for a shock. I needed to develop a very light touch or else I would break the tip. I needed to be aware of not only where the tip of the pencil was, but where the side of it was as well. I needed to give up my normal habits of crosshatching for shading, and use blended charcoal shading instead. Most of all, I had to give up the mechanical pencils I had been using for years. When creating charcoal sketches the drawing pencils were a much different, and more temperamental implement.

Nonetheless, I'm glad that I gave all that stuff up for the class. Nowadays, I can use pencil or charcoal with ease. They both have their uses, so it is good to have both in my toolbox. After all, it is always good to have more tools available and some of the charcoal sketches I have created are stunning - in my opinion!

Charcoal Sketches is a resource site for those wishing to learn how to create charcoal sketches and also for those wishing to enhance existing skills. The resource center can be found at Charcoal Sketches