How To Be A Pro Charcoal Artist
As they rightly say, practice makes a man perfect and art is a field of talent which requires a talented hand especially when you’re aiming to make a realistic human face portrait. It’s always advised to take a human face photo as a beginner.
There are a few art hacks to make your portrait look more realistic and for starters, to begin with, you should always divide your original image to equal sections with a scale either like checks or slices. It’s easier to understand and draw the curves of the face and other features when the page is divided into sections somewhat like a graph sheet. Charcoals are excellent for blending and are easier to even erase.
Firstly, the materials we need to make a charcoal sketch are:-
- Pencil 4B/6B
- Kneadable eraser
- An earbud to smudge lines
Level: Beginner to intermediate
There are a few art hacks to make your portrait look more realistic and for starters, to begin with, you should always divide your original image to equal sections with a scale either like checks or slices. It’s easier to understand and draw the curves of the face and other features when the page is divided into sections somewhat like a graph sheet.
You can also, draw the basic outline with light hands so you have an idea of the positioning of the facial features. This is the step where you can do a lot of erasing and redrawing because this will shape your portrait further. Carefully, establish the position of the head, eyes, lips etc. lightly like a basic outline. When you are happy with the placement and proportions of the head you can begin to outline the features of the face in more detail.
Check out our time-lapse video to understand the overall portrait procedure quickly and then we can move further with specific facial parts.
For the eyes, always prefer using soft pencil/4B/6B. Firstly draw the basic outline of the eye (almond-like shape) and iris with a normal pencil. Do not hold the pencil too firmly and allow it to draw free strokes in the eye. Draw fine lines to show nerves around the iris and keep smudging them to give it a translucent look. Use the charcoal to darken the iris and the eyelid outline. Once done, smudge the nerve lines and to give the eyes a soft look. Keep creating layers of charcoal shadings and smudge them to make it look deep and realistic. For the eyelids and eyelashes, you have to judge your own drawing if it looks right, that’s literally the way, hit, and trial. Above the eyelid outline lightly sketch and shade the skin folds of the eyelid. Leave a white spot on the iris too to make it look realistic.
For a visual representation, check out this link:-
The hair should be a collection of fine lines smudged to give it a collected look. Use a small piece of eraser/white charcoal to show white spaces between the hair strands. Start by making numerous light strokes in the direction of the flow. Make them very thin, close and in the same direction. Smudge the lines with an earbud/brush to give it a dense look. You could use an earbud too. Using a kneaded eraser you can make some white spaces to show the sunlight/ shading on the hair. Remember to use an earbud/brush to merge the hair strokes in the direction of the hair flow. Darken a few strands to show a thicker collection of hair in that particular area. Draw the tiny untidy strands that spring out of the natural flow in the end.
For a clearer visual representation check out this link:-
For the nose, draw a circular outline and make two light vertical lines on the either ends. Now draw the nostrils’ curvature and shade them with the nose bridge according to the original photo. Finely define the tip of the nose and merge the nose bridge a more shaded look. Now, define the edges of the nose with a darker grip of the charcoal. The nose bridge should be connected with the inner eye corners and shading should be done inwards from the cheek to the nose. If you’re comfortable with the way your outcome looks, start adding more layers to the darker areas which were the nose edges to give it a more shaded look.
For a visual representation of the explanation visit:-
Lastly, the lips, draw the basic outlines very lightly with a pencil. Make the inner line that divides upper lip to the lower lip darker to make the features look stronger. Lightly color the base of the lips and merge it by smudging it with a brush or an earbud. Shade in the graphite inwards i.e. from outer to inner of the mouth. If the lips look grainy due to the graphite shading, don’t worry, once you blend it’ll all look very smooth Then sketch the second layer by shading it darker. Once you’re done with the inner lips start sketching outside the boundaries of the lips to give it the 3D effect. Use an earbud to merge it lightly. Draw and darken the lip creases and the lip division with the charcoal, in the end, to make it look definite. You can lighten the bulged lip parts with a kneaded eraser to show the sunlight shading.
For a better understanding, you may refer to this video:-
These are some tips that will help you to give your artworks perfection with practice. Also, remember the process of being perfect in portrait sketching isn’t overnight magic, you’ll have to practice a lot to get better at it. Never feel let down for not getting the desired outcome because there’s always the next time. Keep trying, keep growing