If you’re not already using charcoal, you should pick some up! It’s inexpensive, fast to work in (if you’re like me and love that near-instant art gratification), and it’s great for perfecting your values.

First, we need to get the supplies. I’ve linked my amazon affiliate links so you can see exactly what I’m using. My absolute favorite paper for charcoal is the grey toned Canson Mi-Teintes pad. I work on the rough side when working in charcoal. I tape my paper to a drawing board with artist masking tape. Any drawing board will work fine, it just needs to be larger than your paper.

For the charcoal, I use Generals white pencil, plus a variety of soft and hard charcoal pencils. The peel and sketch pencil is also cool since you don’t have to sharpen them. I use that for larger areas and the sharper pencils for finer detail. I don’t use charcoal blocks often, but they are pretty handy for shading in large areas!

For erasers, I normally only need my Tombow Mono Eraser for small details, but a kneaded eraser can be helpful too.

Next, we need shading tools! I like blending stumps and Sofft tools to blend. I use the Sofft Tools for the softer but larger blending areas and the blending stump for small detailed spots.

To keep my hand from smudging the work or getting the oils from my skin on the paper (people oil is not acid free!), I use a piece of glassine under my hand. Nothing sticks to the glassine, so unlike using another piece of regular paper (which is still better than nothing), when the glassine slides a bit it won’t smudge the work the way paper can. This can also be used between drawings in storage to protect the art long term.

Last, we’re going to need a spray to help seal it when we’re done. Now don’t think a final fixative type spray or varnish is going to make the work smudge-proof. It won’t. This will need to be framed behind glass. Even with that we still want to spray something over the work to help minimize the charcoal fall-off that naturally happens over the years. You have to be careful though, some fixatives can make the work so dark that you almost lose all your highlights! My favorite is the SpectraFix. I put mine in a fine mist sprayer to avoid heavy droplets. When you mist this do so at a distance (I usually keep my sprayer about 15″ or so away from the art), and apply it in LIGHT LIGHT (I can’t stress that part enough) layers, letting it dry completely between each layer. If you go too heavy and it darkens up your whites, just go over those areas with the white pencil again. I find the spectrafix the least likely to darken your colors though.

 We all need to be reminded “Don’t drink the paint water”  and other fun artist sayings. 
Why not wear it on our clothes or coffee mugs to make sure we don’t forget.  LachriMerch.com

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