Charcoal Universe: Exploring the Expressive Dry Media of Charcoal | Zoe Alexandra Glass | Skillshare

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Charcoal Universe: Exploring the Expressive Dry Media of Charcoal

teacher avatar Zoe Alexandra Glass, Art Jiu Jitsu Life

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

18 Lessons (1h 2m)
    • 1. Charcoal Welcome

    • 2. About the Class

    • 3. Introduction to Charcoal Properties

    • 4. Pencil Properties

    • 5. Vine Properties

    • 6. Willow Properties

    • 7. Conte Properties

    • 8. Artist's Dust Properties

    • 9. Types of Surfaces

    • 10. Vine & Conte Plant Demo

    • 11. Hot Press & Cold Press Demo

    • 12. Inversion Method Demo

    • 13. Subtractive Method Demo

    • 14. Spray & Lifting

    • 15. Wet In, Dry In & Wash

    • 16. Tape Resist

    • 17. Digital & Final Project

    • 18. Thank You & See You Soon!

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About This Class

Hi & Welcome to Charcoal Universe!

 This is a general overview that encompasses many questions I have gotten about how to work with this media over the years. 

This class is designed for All Levels and I have created individual sections to guide you through all the forms Charcoal has, it's properties and ways it can be used. This course is a primer on getting more familiar with the media in an in-depth way.

How can I use the knowledge?

A lot of this content is specific to the media of Charcoal, but I also take the time to discuss elements within the drawing process; setting up an observation table and general self-assessment during art study that is applicable to any project you may invest in. 

Charcoal seems daunting, I can't do it...

Yeah-you can! I've come across a lot of students who are hesitant to work in Charcoal. But knowledge creates familiarity and comfort. My aim is to take the guess work out of exploring a media that is really varied and has so many possible applications.

Thats great but...I work digitally...

No problem. The concepts and elements remain the same and I do address Digital Charcoal within this framework. My information is meant to be broad enough that the principles can be applied to Charcoal brushes or how you handle the pressure and brush stokes from your stylus. 


If you work in Procreate, I created 2 Brushes from the sample sketches I did in class. Check them out here!





All artwork & references are created by me; any additional information is properly credited/attributed. 

All music and SFX are commercially licensed from Epidemic Sound

Meet Your Teacher

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Zoe Alexandra Glass

Art Jiu Jitsu Life



                                         I'm on Instagram         Browse Etsy          I'm on TikTok


                                                       Hey I'm Zoe, so happy you dropped by! 

After many years of my own practice and learning, I'm here to bring classes based on my own experience, practice and knowledge being both a teacher and a student. My goal is to distill complex techniques, theories and concepts into manageab... See full profile

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1. Charcoal Welcome: Hey, I'm Zoe. Welcome to my Skillshare. Lets see. What are we doing today? Charcoal. I have a long history with this media. It was the material that I turn to the most when I was experiencing tough stuff in my personal life. And it was something that really helped me get that expression onto the page and just get it out. Even though my style has changed a lot over the years that I've been working with charcoal. It remains one of my favorite mediums to work with, especially when the work I make. It's more of a personal nature and more vulnerable. I find that charcoal has that real emotional charge within it to make working with it, with your art really powerful. In general, it's a very visceral way to express yourself. Actually, the first jujitsu drawing I ever did was in charcoal. I just thought of that. It's also the medium I'm most comfortable with. I would say out of everything that I use in my practice, it's an incredibly powerful in dynamic material to put in your toolbox of knowledge. But it can also be very hard to control if you don't know what you're doing, which is why I think it's scares a lot of people off. But after the class, you're going to leave with more confidence to use this medium more often in your work. Just so versatile, you can have really gentle, soft, willingly drawings or you can push the charcoal to its most full Ross date and embrace that frustration and chaos, which actually a weaves into the two types of students I usually see when approaching this media, neither of these personalities are better than the other, but each mindset can really inform the other. I'll show you the different ways that you can have a relationship with your materials and how the emotional intent of a piece can be the deciding factor in which charcoals to use and what papers to use. Honestly, paper is just the beginning. There's so many surfaces that you can use with charcoal. It's so versatile. So it's going to be pretty detailed as much as I can give you from all of my experience. So get your stuff and let's go. 2. About the Class : So there's a number of exercises that I'm going to be doing that you can completely follow along with. But I want you to keep in mind that these aren't really about building your masterpieces right now. And more so about how to understand to handle the materials that you're using, the demonstrations that I'm going to be going through with you. I'm going to talk them through. And it's all going to lead up to the final project where we do one longer pose for the still life that we're studying in which we can take these ideas and techniques and put everything onto the page with them, drawing the same thing over and over and over again is really taxing. And it takes a lot of mental energy and concentrate. But the purpose of this is to keep redefining and honing your skills both in observation and with the materials so that it all comes together when you go to do your final work. If you don't have a style yet, this is perfect for you to do a ton of experimentation. And if you do, this is a great opportunity to start doing things outside your comfort zone. We're also going to be setting up a small little still life. And I really want to express to you how important it is to draw something that is going to retain your interests over a long period of time. And I'm not just talking like a one-hour drawing session. I mean, repeatedly, like days. Maybe weeks did depends on how quick or slow or however you work, that's up to you. But I just really want to express how important it is to find subject matter that is going to keep your attention for a very long period of time. Actually, when setting up for this class myself, I have a completely different thing in mind. When I had all the scripts, I had all the things done. And then when I went to draw it, I just wasn't feeling it. So I chose to change my direction. And if this happens to, you know, that it's common, know that it's normal. It's alright if you start to draw something that you think is going to capture your attention and then it ends up filling out. Honestly, that's just part of the process. So do a couple of setups for yourself. Play around, see what works, what doesn't do, a couple of sketches. And eventually you're going to find a setup that really works for you and your still life. 3. Introduction to Charcoal Properties: Alright, so here we are with our general materials and we're gonna go through a demonstration of the properties of everything you see here. They each have their own interesting individual properties that they bring to the table in terms of understanding how to work with charcoal. And it's really awesome to have an understanding of all of them because really they come from the same place. So for this demonstration, I'm going to be using one type of paper only so that you can see the properties of all the charcoal in contrast to only one surface. But just for the sake of simplicity, we're going to keep with newsprint. 4. Pencil Properties : Okay, So really the principles of using the charcoal pencil or the same as using any kind of pencil. We have hatching, line or contour and shade. So direct lines like this. And you can build them on top of one another, can vary your pressure. But again, with the harder pencils, especially if you're using a cheaper paper, it may even take off part of the paper. The cross hatching. You can build up textures like this. Again, like, let's say I'm going to hatch on a 6 B. You already get a sense of depth that is not occurring over here just due to the nature of the six B charcoal line and contours is going to be the same kind of thing. It has to do with your line weight and your pressure of how you press into the paper. As you go along. Let off the gas, Push again, come back around. Precedent further. This is how you vary your line weight. It's really easy to control, especially when you're using in pencil form. It's not going to get away from you too much. Let's see what happens with HB. You can tell it's acting much more like a graphite pencil than charcoal. This would be good for initial sketches or layouts. Lastly, let's see just a square. We're going to go to corner to corner for a gradation, starting with the heaviest pressure. Again. And it's taking some of the paper with it. Because of how hard the pencil is against the cheaper paper. Working with the pressure. I'm going to try it and go as deep as I can. Because this pencil is so much smoother. Like technically, my pencil can move more freely. Let's go again. That if we're going to extend this more delicate, you use it. The more of the paper green is going to be revealed to you. So it's just scraping the surface and the H B does not have that equality. It's much more of a hard graphite luck. 5. Vine Properties: Willow charcoal is one of the primary medias when working from life, especially, you'll see this in a lot of artists toolbox. When we're doing life drawing from the figure or still-life, you use it with a gentle touch because it is extremely, extremely fragile and guaranteed it's going to break no matter what you do. But generally, when I use it, I keep a very light touch and I do tend to grip it further from the point at which it's going to be touching the paper for like really soft marks and general shape making. This is really great. It gives some really nice variation of value as well. You just can't press too hard or it's gonna do that. Okay, So let's pretend I'm in a life drawing class and we have only a few seconds to get our gestures on the page. This is a really great warm-up tool for doing a short sketches. And you can still get some really nice line variation going on. But again, careful, undoubtedly it's going to break. You can also use the edge of it to fill in. And it's not gonna be perfect or even. But sometimes that's what's going to give it an interesting quality to it as well. Not all the drawings have to be immediate and quick, but they're definitely excellent for live drawing sessions. Or if you have a still life that you want to keep practicing, maybe in different styles or line qualities. And it's okay if you like, run it around your paper and everything when you're working with charcoal. 6. Willow Properties: All right. So this is regular willow charcoal. It actually comes in a much more bigger variety than just these three in terms of width and thickness. And it can be really helpful depending on how large your work now mean. Personally, I like to wear off the edges. If you can see there's a pretty sharp edge right there. And I like to wear it down a little. So I usually do that by drawing just off to the side or on a scrap piece of paper. I'd like for kid in a little bit, get it ready. And then I can sort of flatten one side if I want to. And you can get prepared for the different kinds of textual strokes I can make. Or if you'd rather, you can sharpen it or shave it down on some sandpaper. Especially if you want to use this more like a pencil, for example, adjusting the tip of the charcoal is going to be key in developing different kinds of line widths off the bat. So already you can see that there's a whittling down of the tip there, which can give a lot of interesting formations on the page. If you don't want to waste all this charcoal on the sandpaper, your other option, make sure it goes into some kind of container or another piece of paper that you can carry it to. And you can start to chisel. Again. When you do this, you need to be wearing a mask because you can see all that fine particulate matter is going into the air. And no matter even if you think that this is going to be 0, I'm just going to sharpen it for a little bit. It's not going to be so bad. Trust me, Pew work without a mask. You're going to feel it in your lungs and you're going to be sneezing charcoal for a few days after. And now we have a more sturdy full charcoal pencil like that. We can really do larger swaths of value fill in then as opposed to the fine line work that the vine charcoal has. Also for the thicker guys, for this. Really good to break apart. Especially if you're working larger. And again, work, there's sort of a type of coding. You can sort of see it and you really need to work on here or opened the charcoal up a bit. I'll show you in a second what it looks like. If you just open up the surface, you can definitely tell there's definitely more charcoal that's exposed that will give you a richer tone right away. There you go. These sizes are really good when you're working in large with all kinds of different kinds of paper or doing background work will always, still very delicate by nature. It is not going to give you very deep set blacks, but we're going to explore that in a second. 7. Conte Properties: So next material is beloved by all students of life drawing, and that's konnte. This is a staple to have in your art toolbox for sure. It's pretty solid unless you purposefully break it in half or you again put too much pressure on the certain angle and it'll pop. Or the common thing in live drawing sessions is to find this crushed all over the floor because if people drop it in and step on it, but other than that, it's pretty sturdy. Now in this selection, it comes in a wide array of colors, but in this is just an assortment. We have the traditional black, we have the white highlight, we have a really nice brown and then we have sanguine. So if you look back into the Western historical canon of traditional art masters, you're going to see a lot of drawings with this type of tone. But for the sake of this, you don't have to get this. They sell these as singles in any kind of art store. So it's mostly in terms of preference. Well, konnte is really one of my favorites because of how sturdy it is and how varied your linework and strokes can get. You can start to shave off some of the corners and work it in if this is helpful for you. Unless I want to do really faded line work, I really don't hold it like that myself personally. Again, this just a stylistic choice. Often a folded kind of almost like a pencil, the way that I hold a pencil, but so that my top fingers kind of guiding the tip to where I want it. But the thing about this is that sometimes it's really cool to actually break it and then have it a little bit shorter so you can really get a good feel for how versatile this material can be depending on how you actually physically handle the konnte. So when it is short in my hands like this, I feel like I have a lot more control and I can, without drawing anything in particular. You're going to get really interesting shapes by curving and moving and drawing mostly on the edge of the konnte. Start with a large swath on the side and then kind of cross, turning the charcoal with it. Turning again, you can get a lot of really cool, interesting variations. Coming back to the tip like this and coming down here. Another thing that I often do is I shaved down my content. Defining it to a point, which is going to give me a tool that has both a finer point for the detail and then I can use the other end for my more large shapes. You can really go as finance you want with this in shaping it. And now it becomes more of the texture of the charcoal pencil. So the other thing I want to introduce you to is the stomp. It's acting like a blender or a ghost stroke, which is really cool and can give you a lot of interesting effects. So you can use the stomped directly, apply the dust, and you can work it out from the center like this, using either the whole width of the tip or making little points like that. Or sometimes we will already have something sort of roughed in right here. And if we just want to make it a little bit more delicate, we can come in and start from the deepest places and really start to smooth it out, giving a completely different effect to the object that we've just sketched out. And maybe you went a little bit too far and it looks over blended. And you can go into your powder and reapply in spots, then need a deepening. Or again, you can come back and reapply layer on layer the content again and then go back in. If you want to completely re blend. And going back and forth like this is how you develop really nice depth in your work in whatever forms that you're working on. 8. Artist's Dust Properties: Now here we have right here the regular powder and here are the shavings. So we did with the old, nice. You can see that this is much more chunky and this is ground to a fine powder. This is fine on its own. But if you have any kind of hard surface, either a rolling pin or bladder stones, this is from my printmaking suppliers. It's called a buret and you can actually even work if you grind this down. Kind of depends on what your style is, but can either put it on your drawing if you're a little more rough with your drawings or you can put it off to the side on a different piece of paper. I recommend always using gloves. Minor texture. So it's going to give a bit of texture to it That's still has a lot of bits in it. So it'll have those striations, which actually makes a pretty cool effect. I would just refrain from unnecessarily swiping it anywhere or doing any kind of frantic motions that if you want to keep your space more neat and tidy, just make sure that your container has a lid that can keep all this in a safe place. That's not going to make a huge mess. But you'd be able to tell definitely texturally, how much softer the artists charcoal is versus the stuff that you shaved off from your other charcoal bits are really, they are going to work the same. What's cool about the powders is that they can also be mixed into all sorts of things for mixed media, it can go into other paints, you can go into other gel mediums. You can mix it with water or any other kind of binder in. It's going to give you something interesting from that result. 9. Types of Surfaces : Due to its nature, charcoals are really great material to use on pretty much any surface you can imagine, from the cheapest grade to the highest, you'll always get a good return on luck charcoal can deliver for you. But you also need to keep in mind how much you'd like the work to stay preserved. Because a lot of the cheaper stuff like newsprint is not archival, which means that the paper itself will quickly degrade over time. It's really awesome to invest in all sorts of papers to see which ones work the best for you. This is newsprint. It's not archival, which means it's going to break, crack, yellow, fade over a short amount of time. But it is good for volume like drawing a lot, a lot, a lot for your practice and as cheap. There's a joke that some of your best drawings actually happened on newsprint because there's no pressure, right? So you can always treat it with fixative if you want to try to preserve it a little bit more. You can see there's a smooth glide to the application. And the broad strokes are easy and they pick up the grain of paper just a little bit. On newsprint, the fibers don't really visually interfere with the material. And so the charcoal can really shine as itself without that textural interference. Despite how it doesn't last. In terms of overtime, it is very tough paper. And so you're going to have a lot of fun experimenting on this with different kinds of pressures that you can use. And especially in terms of practicing your blending, it really seeps into the paper very well and gives you a good idea of how a real finished polished work of art can look like and the tones that it can take on. So this is a type of panel called masonite. They're really cheap and really excellent surface to practice on. It can be just sold or sanded in preparation of also taking the materials as well. But in it's untreated state, it's very smooth and solid. It has the feeling of newsprint, except it's much more durable and sturdy and can make working on your lap. For instance, let's say if you don't have a board really easy to do, or you can mount it on your easel and you won't have to have an extra backing to help you out. Along with being durable. It really takes the value range really, really well. Using broader strokes, however, the natural grain of the Mason ID is going to show. Do you see those horizontal lines in the middle of the strokes? And that's a given for any kind of wood-based panel that you are going to be using. But how it differs in wood paneling, the Mason ite versus like a pine board is that masonite is basically pressure cooked wood fibers. So it's really highly compressed, which is going to give you the opportunity to do the really highly polished blending that you see here. And you can create really fine polished art works just on this surface and then treat it with a fixative followed by a varnish with no previous surface treatment required. One of my favorite surfaces to work on in any media is actually canvas paper. It is woven very finally of fiber. And it acts like any other kind of linen or just sewed Canvas that you might pick up from the art store. Because it is woven fabric. It has those microscopic pits to it, which is why the texture is showing up so much more. It's like the charcoal is just grazing really. And you'll really have to put a lot of pressure or layer. We're going to see heavy blending to make sure that the, that the material is ground into the entire surface. Despite a layer of charcoal kind of resting on the surface of the canvas, it actually seeps in really well, which means that trying to erase it by irregular means through like a rubber eraser is much more difficult. So when the pressures added to the stroke, the charcoal kinda breaks off a lot on to the canvas. Grains sort of acts like a sandpaper in a way. But despite that, it's still really supportive of charcoals, natural range of value. And depending how you scatter it is going to give you a lot of interesting textural effects, depending on the handling of it. The charcoal actually can be worked into the sunken texture of the canvas. We've leaving uniform areas of tone. The next paper is intended for watercolor, but it's really good to practice it on dry media as well. Especially if you get into mixed media and you put a bunch of stuff altogether, these heavier, more high-quality papers, I'm going to give you a really good surface to work on repeatedly, as well as if you introduce water, which we will for a technique later on in the charcoal, then you're going to have that substantive surface to play with. The top one is cold press and the bottom one is hot press. And I had them against each other so that you can see the direct difference when I apply the charcoal. Since we're not dealing with the water component right now. This is mostly just a texturally based and that you would make in picking your paper. You can really start to see the difference when your strokes have more half to them as with using the pencil. Although both can support messier or looser linework, the hot press is what gives you the room for the delicacy, detail, and precision. So here when I use the edge of the konnte to be able to spread more charcoal in larger sections over a shorter amount of time. You can see how the hot press still has its own innate pattern in the paper. We, and these impressions are really cool to start to bring out of the paper depending on how you use the charcoal, then they can really lend to whatever atmosphere you're trying to develop. If getting a very refined product is important to you, then cold press may not be the paper for you. Hot press really lends to those layers that you can get in terms of blending with your stone for your finger or whichever else you may choose. The delicacy can be retained, whereas in the cold pressed, the texture is just too overwhelming for the charcoal to fight with it to get that same kind of detail. But in the end, it's going to depend on how you handle it. Here, for example, I can get very similar textures and outcomes from using the stock in a single straight line. And it's almost indecipherable. Which one is the hot press versus cold? 10. Vine & Conte Plant Demo: So after you select whatever you feel like drawing and you can adjust the lighting, I suggest a single light source. In a way it's a little less complicated and gives you a really nice clear edges to work with. Now, initially, I was going to use an easel to show the entire demonstration process and the drawing. But then I realized there was times in my life where I didn't have an easel and it's very likely that you may not have an easel. So what I did was take two chairs and I faced them towards each other. I sit on one and then I placed my drawing board and my pad of paper on the other and it rests against my niece or my inner thigh. And then I'll have a stable, sturdy drawing surface will I can look at my still life and nothing's going to fly offer fall down while I work. So on the left I'm working in Vine, and on the right I'm working in konnte. I'm doing them in tandem so that you can really start to see the differences between the two materials and how I handle them. So with the vine, I'm starting with line work. And with the konnte, I begin to model the general points from both outside and inside of what I'm drawing. Using the full Media at the tip and the side. I'm really making sure that I cross check my proportions and then put little notches with a context as to where the major points are that I can end up reconnecting all those dots for lack of a better term. I've worked a little bit more loosely with the vine. I don't mind going over and over my old lines or making suggestions that are not particularly realistic. They might be bumpy out of shape and not as angular as how I use the content. I feel that it lends to a much more flowing way of seeing your object or whatever you're trying to end up capturing. So I base my decisions heavily upon line work or contour and a little bit of hatching for the shade. That said, I still do take this method somewhat with the konnte. However, a very my mark-making by twisting and turning the charcoal to get those broad strokes that represent the leaves, rather than relying on strictly contour to develop the forms. I'm now going to speed up the drawing process so that you can see how it looks when the time is compressed and the different kinds of development that happens. You'll notice that I'm much more heavy handed with the shadows using the konnte. And that's just because I feel that it's a very emotional medium that really lends well to high drama, which using a lot of contrast can sort of instigate in your drawing. Now the vine drawing has far less contrast in general. And because of the nature of the charcoal, it really doesn't have the same intensity as konnte, but you can still get some medium to deep values, depending how many times that you run the charcoal over the same spot, your pressure. It also matters how you work with your lines so you can do hatching, so crisscrossing lines over the other to build up the feeling of deeper tones is something that's available to you across media. But even in W9, you'll notice that I took to starting to work in the leaf detail much earlier than I did with the konnte. Vine is really great for the sort of quick gestural squiggly stuff. And I thought it was perfectly suited for something like the details of the snake plant. So here coming up with a content, you're going to see how I changed the direction of how I right there. You see how I sort of change the angle of the konnte as I was drawing with it. And then move it towards the tip and then come all the way down for that thinner line work. This is how you learn to vary your line what, and how you can get the impression of overlapping structures towards one another. The end stages of both drawings are similar. I pick main points to emphasize and with mine I chose to focus on the leaf pattern. And in the konnte, I focused more on layering with value ranges to imply that overlapping of the snake leaves to one another. As I mentioned before in the properties, I find that vine charcoal lens to quicker drawings, one that have more agility and a fast-paced feeling to them. And konnte really allows me to go into the more depths of the details that can be in front of me and my still life. And really applying those interesting shadows that I see on the form. 11. Hot Press & Cold Press Demo: So the hot press paper is on the left and the cold pressed paper is on the right. Since hot press is smoother, I went with a contour drawing at first to catch the whole form. Whereas with the cold press, you can see that I took a more sketched like approach, accounting for how the pencil jumps along the textured paper. My marks kind of echo that. And because of that, the proportions are completely different between the two pictures. So on the hot press, I managed to get the entire plant situation within the borders of the paper. And you can see that I had over enlarged what I was seeing with the leaves and left little room for the planter that was holding them. I took a lot more time on my line mark on the hot press as well. And I turned to blending on the cold press much faster. Because to fill it out is a larger process when dealing with the texture of the paper. I was also more heavy handed on the cold press, driving the charcoal into the texture. And that pressure changes the tone of the drawing because that gives you much more higher levels of contrast. In my opinion, there's a much more meditative blending process on the Hot Press. And I treat the leaves much more individually with the mid-range tones than with the cold press. You'll see on the textured paper, I gravitate towards pushing detail quicker so that the work was more centered on the patterns that is reflected in the paper. Despite using the same tool for each drawing, you can see how different the outcomes are and how you handle it. The charcoal travels really well in the hot press, but as cotton, the grooves of the paper on the cold press and this roughness gives the drawing on the right a little more of a harder edge to it visually than the one on the left. Because I didn't keep the images of the same proportion. This is zoomed in picture of the leaves, gave me an opportunity to invest in my miscalculation and to go more detailed than the one on the left. 12. Inversion Method Demo: For this drawing, I'm going to be using both contact and the charcoal pencil, and it's going to be on toned paper. Working on toned paper is great for already having a mid-range values established. So you can practice drawing in different concepts, which I'm going to be doing as I worked with this image. I'm starting with a contour line drawing right at the top. Because right now it looks like I'm drawing the plant, but I'm actually tracing with my eyes and then down to my pencil. The positive and negative space that's given to me between the plant and the wall. This type of thinking can really help you source and define the shapes that you're looking to capture. And the more that you practice shifting your mindset between what you see you versus the background is going to help define what you see and your awareness of shape and form will develop quickly. It's the most fun. So I ended up dropping a huge portion of the weight in immediately, just to give it a solid base to build some of my shapes from. As you can see, I am using contour drawing. But since this side is where the light is hitting, I take some points of it brighter in the content and clean up the edges in pencil. And of course the highlights or the most fun part to address. So I'm doing them first. Usually I don't do detail first. But in a case where I'm kind of working in an inverted manner where the strongest points of the light source are really, really bold. It actually helps me map out and guide my drawing for myself. By doing this, it can lock you up into its measurements, which can lead to things that are out of proportion. But I find inverted drawing has a little more room for error and suggestion rather than a full valued polished piece. When drawing the shadowed aspect, I keep my touch lights so that the line value doesn't actually match where the direct light sources on the other side. I have a much more calculated and patient approach in terms of dealing with shadows that are on toned paper. And I prefer to build them up very slowly rather than make an educated guess on what the right mid-tone may be. This is why I borrow the chalk or the charcoal from the other side of the paper to lay in something that's just a little bit brighter than the toned paper, but not enough to really make it overwhelm the opposite side. But I start to place the really bright highlights where it's going to make the entire image pop out a little bit more and give a lot more volume to its shape. In inverted drawings, I tend to work from the outside in addressing both the left and right before coming into the middle to pick my focal points. With this work, I really chose the less is more approach here. And decided that the places that had the most light focus is where I would pick out the details. In reality, the wall value behind the plant is much more mid-range, but I choose to enhance it for dramatic effect with the layers of konnte. There's a lot to be said in your drawings for accuracy and representation. But at the same time, even still lives or live drawing sessions, there should be some room for you to put your spin on it or to bring your imagination into the picture is definitely up to you what you want to amplify and what you want to tone down. These are all considerations when I go to do a drawing, no matter what media I'm working in. 13. Subtractive Method Demo: First, I'm going to build the background with konnte. You see it still has its own patterns on how you lay it down on the page. This is still just on newsprint again. And depending on how you turn the konnte is going to determine how the pattern is going to sit. But you can keep building on the layers and layers to build it up. So you can take anything soft and smooth and work if more into the paper. But you're going to see that that underlying pattern of where you put the strokes is going to remain. This is where the difference to the dust comes in. As you can see, the value is much lighter, but the distribution is much more even. It takes a number of layers to build up depth and can be used alongside the konnte to deepen your surface. Getting to know your erasers can give you better information as to how they eat, react to the process of lifting. The sharper, more hard edged ones are good for line-based strokes or measurement points. And the gray one right here is for the faint removals that when two more shadowy places or mid-tones where the light is more gradational. You can pull it apart and use it in lots of different scenarios and sizes depending on what your needs really are. The process of subtractive drawing isn't the same idea as the white konnte, except the image is built upon the removal of the charcoal and not the addition of the lighter tones. But inherently this embodies the same visual thinking as using the highlights positive and negative space to guide your reasoning and your choices. You can see the shift of the two eraser results here. Where I choose to go in with the sharper or eraser edge to pull out some of the reflected light of that leaf against the softly faded one in the back. Once you establish the basis of your drawing, it really just works like any other work you'd be doing in an additive way. This can give practice to methods of abstraction as well as a gets you to identify basically the essentials of form and can help in finding how to reduce your focus to key points in whatever you're drawing through exaggeration and Lost and Found edges. 14. Spray & Lifting: So the first thing we're doing is going to be water-based the spray bottle. So I'm gonna take willow and I'm working on canvas here. And right from above, you can see how much that spread it out. And what you can do is take something absorbent, a cloth, napkin, paper towel, and I can start to lift to make the watered aspects bleed a little bit into the Canvas. Let's try another section. Now. Let's say we're going to work in the charcoal into the canvas. For this part. We can even take our finger and move it around. So it's really grounded in to all fiber we use. And again, using the spray bottle, cover that up so it doesn't get. And you can see the charcoal is getting pushed by the water into deeper parts. Use something absorbent, Even a stamp, and you can remove the watered down parts. Just like we did with the eraser, except now we're working with what media. The other cool thing that you can do is if you wanted to plant textures, if you're working with a textured paper, since this is already wet down, let's say we're working on another piece of paper. Go here. Briefly, burnish it with your finger. You can already see it's soaking through. Get that impression. So if you're working with mixed media or abstract and you want to really build layers and layers and layers. This is a really fun thing to play around with. 15. Wet In, Dry In & Wash: The next one we're going to use a simple acrylic brush for the detailed and refined work. And you set it up like any other kind of painting. Let's say you do an under drawing to secure the placement of your images, a water and then brushes all that's needed to turn the dry media and too wet. So even though the charcoal is not uniform as you draw it on the canvas, because of the texture. Once you add the water, you can see it turns into something similar to watercolor. You can drag the charcoal around, adding water to the edges to let it flow into what's already there. And let the water do its work in moving the charcoal around. So once it's all wet in, you can keep adding water to encourage those kinds of blooms that you see in watercolor. As the ground, we'll keep expanding outward with the addition of liquid. And by ground, I mean, the initial charcoal sketching that you did. Because the more water you add to the center of the mix, if pushes the pigment or the charcoal dust out from that space, which is then how you can take a napkin and lift that water. And in its place remains a pattern. You can also put dry into wet. So here I'm reworking the pencil into the already watered down charcoal. It's kind of like watercolor pencil as well. And we'll have a similar effect and outcome if you've ever use that media. And I just let it sit in a kind of disperses on its own. It's really good for detailed work, like on an underpainting or an under drawing, like I mentioned before. The charcoal will actually blend into the first layers of the paint, giving a darker undertone to work from. It's really fun to go back and forth between the dry and the wet. Seeing what kind of interesting effects you can create as the edges of both of them can meet and present really interesting shapes and natural forms like this bloom. So here I've laid down some water as a wash first. And as I delicately go with the willow, you can see it's sort of expanding out by the nature of how the waters taking it. But then when I do a larger swath and really start to get it worked in, it dramatically changes. This is my favorite 6 B pencil. And you can already see the value difference between the willow and the 6 B six be having a much darker value range. This is really excellent technique to get very light washes, even if you're using a charcoal that has denser value properties. These lighter washes will also dry even lighter than what they look like when they're wet. So it's really nice to use if you don't want to use the absolute blank, lightening white of the canvas that you're using. So now I'm going to work on having a gradational wash. So I put that deep 6D at the top and I'm just dragging down with some additional water in my brush to make the charcoal disperse more evenly. And a lot of it is not even in my control. I just move it around a bit and the water will take it to where it's going to go. I am lifting the charcoal breakoffs that I can see, but you can definitely keep them in for some kind of textural effect. I spent this section up so you can see how the water behaves over time affecting the charcoal. You can control it to an extent, but it's kinda cool. It a wait-and-see what occurs naturally. 16. Tape Resist: So the next thing I want to talk about our resists there is the green painter's tape, but I find that it doesn't create a lot of sharp defined edges when I remove it. So I really prefer the blue painters tape instead, but it's up to you. I'm just doing a test. Usually the green tends to bleed under here, but I often use Canvas. So that makes sense since there are going to be some spaces in the fibers. But just for good measure, we'll do a test and both. Something fun. Let's try that, line that up and see what happens. Okay, so we just make sure that this is flush. And let's give it a go. This is on hot press watercolor paper. And I'm going to be doing the wet on dry method that we just saw. Now since it's a different surface, is definitely going to take it a little bit differently. You'll notice that the initial strokes don't actually disappear like on the canvas. It was much more easy to blend them in together. So if you're gonna do this type of stuff on paper, there's a little bit more calculation and that's needed before you begin. The reason the marks are staying put on the paper is because of the papers own absorbency. We don't have any kind of surface treatment that creates a barrier for the mobility of the water and the charcoal like the Canvas does. Although you can drag the charcoal around somewhat, the points of contact with the pencil or the charcoal, whichever you're using may remain. You'll also be able to feel the paper lifting. So it's very important to appreciate the limits of whatever surface that you're using. But you see that the paper can really take a lot of interesting values and tones. This is already seeping in saturating and drying. Whereas with the canvas it took far longer for it to dry. Now let's see how their resists did. We'll start with this corner. See how it did. Pretty clean. I tend to have trouble when I use it on Canvas because of the way the fibers are woven. But I'll see here, the issue with this. Sometimes this can happen because this was overlapping and it wasn't completely flush. And the adhesion lung green tape was not fully down on the paper. So that's why the little leak happened. But sometimes accidents or mistakes like that. They work super bright and clean. See even I automatically solve fence here and there's a shadow being cast. So you never know what kind of mistakes can lead to invention of a blue tape. Really excellent Look at that Peel. Fantastic. So this, So tape resist is absolutely excellent. If you have the patients, you can even do a kind of paper cutting into the tape and you can go as detailed as you want and start to get really nice, interesting kind of stencil light qualities. So really the sky's the limit with your imagination in this type of resist. 17. Digital & Final Project: We've arrived at the final project and I just wanted to mention that all of these ideas and techniques are absolutely applicable to digital work as well. So for the final demo, I decided to work in Procreate. Procreate is my main digital art desk. But all sorts of programs can do the same sorts of things. So whatever your setup with, if you work digitally, that's absolutely fine. Procreate has its own section of charcoal brushes that are built into it that you can customize. But I also created a few out of the sketches that I did for this lesson. I'll include in the resources if you want to try them out. So I worked this drawing with a 40 minute timer. And thus basically to compare the developments that are achievable when given certain blocks of time to work within. Your 10 minute exercises are going to look drastically different than to a piece you spend four times as much time upon. And how you approach each step of your drawing is totally up to you and your style and how you work. A lot was gone over and introduce in this class. And I'd encourage whatever made sense to you or feels more natural, is where to start from. Long form drawings are where you can really dive deep and take your time and work to find a lot of interesting characteristics that may have been missed in the 10-minute exercises. So because I had this time, I paid a lot more attention to the background giving the plantain environment to exist within. I also jump around a lot while I'm working and I never just finish one aspect and move on to the next. As I'm working, I still think like it's paper and I use the eraser and smudge tools as if I would be drawing on paper. The delete button in digital work is really handy, but I also try to select my brushes and choose my mark making with the same thoughtfulness I would if I were working on paper. And in preparatory drawings like this, I still only use one layer, so I don't have a bunch on the go right now, just to give myself less of a safety net of that eraser, which keeps me an alert to my choices as I'm working. If I were to do more experimental tactics though, I'd begin to start layering just as I would do tests on scraps of paper before committing to whatever technique I'm trying that could change the work entirely or ruin it if it were on paper. 18. Thank You & See You Soon!: Hey, you made it. Congratulations. Wasn't that bad now was it? I know that charcoal can be a very intimidating media to begin to work with. I think because there's so much potential within charcoal to express yourself in a variety of ways that it gets people really stuffed up and they just don't begin. But the point, like you just got to start, you just got to start. If I had any final thoughts to tell you in regards to charcoal, it would be that the more you step outside of your comfort zone with charcoal, the better you're going to get with the dry media as a whole. Sometimes we just want to make marks, sometimes we just want to scribble, sometimes we just want that sensation of making or creating without any intention. And I find that charcoal is a really fun, fantastic, and freeing modality to do that in, or love to see what you guys come up with, what your exercises are or your own personal projects and post them all below. And remember, keep making hurt because your art is worth creating.