Portrait in charcoal

I recently learned about Creatacolor charcoal leads.  I've always had problems with sharpening charcoal pencils and am very happy with the Cretacolor leads.  I found some lead holders on Amazon that work quite well with the leads.  

This is the first portrait I've done with the Cretacolors.  It is of our son-in-law's father who dies in 2018.  I couldn't wait until Christmas, so I gave it to my son-in-law a week before Christmas as soon as it was ready.  He was overwhelmed.  He said it was like having his Dad with him again for a few minutes.  

Done in medium strength Cretacolor charcoal lead on Strathmore Series 400 drawing paper.

The reference photo is beside the drawing.



  • The overall shape and proportional are ok. The dark shape that defines volume is not there. I made a simple dark shape and overlayed as an example. It is not the simple though. The light and dark forms should be delineated at the start. A good approach is to us tinted paper. You can use the paper as a mid tone and use charcoal for dark tones and white chalks for the lights.

    This is a life drawing done in an evening using the tinted paper as described. This is on Canson Mio Tinte.
    I use Strathmore Toned Grey pads for most of my drawing. The process is described in Figure Drawing Master Class by Dan Gheno form North Light Books.

  • Thanks!  It looks like I'm at the point where small changes can make a big difference.  Again, I need to work on my values.  

    Thanks for taking the time to improve these!

    I did a rough sketch last night on Strathmore 400 Series toned gray sketch paper.  It's small, 5 x 8, but I was just experimenting with exactly what you are suggesting.  I'm not trying for a likeness yet.  Just trying out the idea.

    I have some toned tan paper on order.  I want to try the same sketch in sanguine on the tan paper.

    Here's the reference.

  • @mstrick96
    The thing about this toned paper technique is that the charcoal and white pastel can never meet. Each must have their own distinct space. 
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