Drawing Backwards with an Eraser: Charcoal Techniques | Kristina Moyor | Skillshare

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Drawing Backwards with an Eraser: Charcoal Techniques

teacher avatar Kristina Moyor, fine artist

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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

7 Lessons (37m)
    • 1. Introduction to Drawing Backwards with an Eraser

    • 2. Class Project

    • 3. Becoming Acquainted with your Tools

    • 4. Graphite vs Charcoal

    • 5. Drawing Backwards Vine Charcoal

    • 6. Drawing Backwards Compressed Charcoal

    • 7. Conclusion

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About This Class

Take a break from line drawing and explore the wonder of drawing with an eraser! We’ll be looking at a variety of charcoals and comparing them to graphite to demonstrate why this medium works so well for this practice.



Take a break from line drawing and explore the wonder of drawing backwards with an eraser! We’ll be looking at a variety of charcoals and comparing them to graphite to demonstrate why this medium works so well for this practice.

Learn to draw backwards with light as the guide. Becoming more aware of light and shadow is at the heart of accuracy in any art medium. Drawing with an eraser is a really nice, stress-free method since it is so forgiving and much less intimidating than some other mediums such as the permanence of ink drawing.

This class is designed for all skill levels and doesn’t require any prior experience or knowledge. Kristina will show you how to increase or decrease the level of difficulty based on your drawing experience.

All you need is:

  • charcoal - I’ll be using compressed and vine, but use whatever you have. If you can’t get ahold of charcoal then use graphite
  • erasers - kneadable is my go-to eraser, but other types will be useful as well
  • blending stump - or use your fingers
  • mixed medium art paper or a good quality sketchbook (doesn’t have to be high end, but if the paper is too thin it won’t hold up with all the erasing).
  • *graphite sticks – optional – more for demonstrating
  • *fluffy makeup or mop brush – optional – good for brushing off eraser bits if not using a kneadable eraser

With over two decades of experience drawing and painting, Kristina will guide you with valuable tips and tricks along the way. She'll even help you select the right subject matter for this project for the best possible outcome. She believes art should be both a growing experience as well as a very therapeutic and joyful one.

Technical skills included in this class will focus on:

  • Blending and drawing with charcoal
  • Drawing with an eraser
  • Observational drawing

Once you hone these skills, you will be able to rethink your approach to drawing based on light and shadow rather than focusing so much on the outline of objects. Tonal values will be your new best friend and you will improve how you see the quality of mass in the subject matter of future projects.

Commit to each lesson and practice. By the end of the class you will complete a moody, compelling drawing.

To get the most out of this course, share your progress in the project gallery and connect with other students and of course Kristina is always happy to help.

Ready, set, let's ART!


Meet Your Teacher

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Kristina Moyor

fine artist


Hello, I'm Kristina.

I'm a 2D artist in Calgary, AB., Canada. I am passionate about the Arts and love to paint, draw, sing and dance. I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Lethbridge in 2010. My dream is to continually evolve and elevate my craft while helping others achieve their artistic goals.

I have almost two decades of teaching experience in art, dance, English and church.

I believe that art is for all and can have an incredibly positive influence in our lives. I hope you will embrace this opportunity to learn, create and connect with me and the other students. 

Let's Art!


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1. Introduction to Drawing Backwards with an Eraser: Hello, welcome to class. My name is Christina lawyer and I am a 2-dimensional artists from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I'm so excited for you to join me from wherever you are in the world and find out some of the things that I've learned through my many years of doing art as a young child through school and a university degree. I also have a love of teaching. I've been teaching since I was in high school. I used to teach dance, I've taught art and I still continue to teach English. So today I want you to take a break from line drawing and explore drawing backwards using an eraser. We're going to be using a little bit of graphite, but mostly focusing with AHRQ charcoal in today's lesson. So if you have some charcoal, bring it out and it's messy, so make sure you're wearing clothes that you don't mind getting dirty or you have plenty of paper towels and white stuff to keep your hands clean. I especially like to use a nibble eraser because I find that that really keeps my hands clean while I'm in the in-between stages of my drawing. This class is designed for all skill levels and doesn't require any previous experience or knowledge. So you're welcome to join whatever age you are, whatever skill experiences you have, art, feel free to join and I'll show you how to make it more challenging if you already have a solid skill set face for drawing, some of the technical skills in today's lesson involve blending and drawing with charcoal, drawing with an eraser and observational drawing. Commit to each lesson in this class. And by the end, you will have a compelling, Moody work of art that you'll be excited to share with us and your family and friends. Let's get started with the next lesson, which is what this product is all about. 2. Class Project: For today's project, will be creating an observational charcoal drawing. With this, what we'll be using is our charcoal or graphite. If you don't have it, to create a backdrop and erase the lighting, and then add in more charcoal to create the object that we see. So observational drawing is drawing what you see rather than drawing from a photograph. The grid drawing like in my previous class. Throughout the class, you'll have opportunities to share your work in the gallery. I hope that you'll take advantage of this opportunity because it will allow myself to see what you've created and engage with you, as well as with other students to enhance your learning opportunity. And I've always found in classes where I have other students, my skill level increases because it pushes me to do better, gives me new insights and ideas and allows me that opportunity to actually hit my target of finishing the project and sending that off and sharing it. In this class we'll be creating two projects of vine charcoal drawing and it compress circle drawing. These are observational drawing skills. Whenever you're doing an observational drawing, I do suggest having your paper on some kind of inclined it, whether that's a tabletop easel, a stand-up easel, or just creating your own inclined through creative methods like myself, I just have something lodged under the top end that's not going to slip out from underneath. So make sure you're also working in a space that is allowed to get messy with charcoal dust. It will stain. So make sure that you're working in a space that's not with white carpets or something below you. So make sure you're in a space where you can freely create and not worry about making a mess. If you don't have vine charcoal or you don't have compressed charcoal, that's okay. Just use whatever you have. And if all you have is an HB pencil, then give it a go. You can still learn how to draw backwards. You can still focus on your skills of observational drawing, which are both very valuable. Until you're able to get a hold of some charcoal drawing, then you can come back and create this piece with that charcoal and you'll see how much of a difference it makes for blend ability. So when you have your project's finished, please share them in the gallery so I can have a look and give you some feedback. Okay, up next we have becoming acquainted with your tool. 3. Becoming Acquainted with your Tools: Alright, let's get acquainted with the tools we'll be using. So let's do a little exercise with our tool. So first of all, what tools we'll be using in this exercise? We'll be some graph I eat. So if you just have a pencil, that's fine. I'll be using this kind of graphite pencils, stump type of flock. You can get graphite in different forms. So whatever you have, you can give it a try. It's just a bit easier when it's a block to cover more space at a time, then using a pencil, but a pencil is gonna work just fine to you. I'm going to be using vine charcoal. So there's various types. Don't worry, What if you have some buying charcoal, go ahead and use it. If you don't, there's a variety. You'll see on the back that different levels, I would suggest getting something more soft or extra soft for that, for this kind of purpose. Otherwise, it's just kind of similar to using a graphite pencil and also compressed charcoal. So this is probably what you're more used to seeing when it comes to charcoal, it's that really messy black block. And we won't be using that as well. Some of the other tools we want to become acquainted, better acquainted with before we work on our project will be erasers. So I love the kneaded eraser. You can shape it, It cleans your hands and it doesn't leave those little eraser shavings. There's other racers that worked really well too. And sometimes they erase, take off, clean it a bit better than the kneaded eraser you'll see in the process. And for smudging, I'm going to be using my fingers. Also if you don't have immutable eraser or you want to test out these other types of art erasers. I suggest using some kind of fluffy brush to brush off the eraser shavings. Otherwise you're gonna just gonna smudge it all with your hand. Your hand's going to have a nice black embark on it. So let's get acquainted with these tools. So let's get started and her sketchbook or a piece of paper. And I'm going to get started with the graphite, whether that's a pencil or a block, whatever you have. So I'm just going to create little block shapes. Kind of like a tonal value chart. Just not a formal one that I've drawn out. It's just I'm creating these block sizes, getting lighter and lighter as a go. So the first one was as dark as I could go and the last one's going to be as light as I possibly can go. Next. I'm grabbing the compressed charcoal. I know in this video lesson I've been saying compressed, compressed compress. My apologies for mispronouncing that. But anyways, so compressed charcoal, this is going to be a bit harder to get lighter and lighter. So you're going to have to really loosen up that pressure. Take a load off. All right. You can see how dirty my fingers are getting. So I'm going to grab my kneaded eraser and clean them off as I go, especially without one. Ok. Now some buying charcoal. So I do have a few different types. When I mean different types, that just means that some of them will be a bit darker, that kind of thing. So if you find some vine charcoal, See what you like from the back. Maybe if there's a tester that be great to be able to test it. So again, as dark as again. So I'm gonna give more pressure and blend of it harder there. And then we get lighter and lighter. It's always easier to add on and not make it too dark rather than. Start to dark. Okay, so that was one. And now we're going to go again with another type. And see in a comparison, something interesting I found with these vine charcoal is that they weren't that different. Even though I had some that said they were medium or dark, I kind of found that they were quite similar. So that was interesting to me. I think this is the darkest one, and this one did show a little bit darker, but barely. I feel like it's still again, very comparable, very similar tones to each other. So if you're looking for more of a dramatic tonal change, then maybe you have to mix in some compressed charcoal with these guys. Otherwise, I do like the effect. They have very soft cleaning up my fingers again. Let's continue on. So next we're going to blend. So I'm gonna use my finger. Who's considering using the blending stake, but I thought, you know what? Just use my finger to clean finger to get started with blending from light to dark because we start from the dark. You can do that and you can try that as an experiment too. Because the compressed struggle is so strong, I decide to do the vine charcoal ones. Next, look at how much better those blend compared to the graphite. So it's an interesting thing. So I'm going to clean my fingers so that I'm not blending from previous charcoal on to the next one as much as possible, even though my finger won't get completely clean. That's OK. It's a little bit again from light to dark, lending it in with the finger. And you can see when I wipe off with finger on the page, what's leftover? That got stuck to my vigor. Okay, here we go. Here's a compressed struggle. Len been blend and doing that super speedy here. So and I found like the compressed charcoal that there are more little dust particles that paying off. But look at that deep dark tonal value. Who love it. Ok, so as part of this experiment, we're going to also see which ones erase better. So I'm going to try different erasers, even just a regular eraser that you'd find on the back of a pencil. And I was actually pretty impressed with how well it erased. I have to say, do you make sure that your eraser is clean somewhat. And these are just different types of artistic erasers and they did a pretty good job too. I was pretty impressed. Just gonna give them a comparison and try and see how much of that one did a pretty good job too. Now for my needle eraser, I kinda thought the mutable arrays or would do a lot better than the others. But those other ones have those little shavings that come off from the racers. And then when you try and brush them off, it does make those areas of it dirty or so the needle racer doesn't do that, which which I love. So now I'm trying to erase a hey, come on kneaded eraser. You're my favorite. Show me your stuff. Show me your skills. So it's good to be able to test your materials that you're using. Use a scrapbook page. Sketchbook page, I should say, and just argues a scrapbook I guess too. But yeah, users sketchbook or just a random piece of paper. A good art paper would be good though you don't want just any paper, but it's still doable. Practice on the paper that you're going to be using per project is ideal. And I'm going to be using this sketch book for the other parts of this class. So that will be helpful. Whatever you're going to be using for the rest of this class, use for this project. Now I'm just trying to erase the whole thing to see which material erased the best. Titled OK. Her he's arrays making a ton, a mess with those pencil eraser shavings. Does lots of meso be prepared to use a space that you can be messy in. You're not too worried about that. Now let's evaluate how they did on here. So obviously you can see some pluses and minuses for each thing. So let's take a quick look and see. So for graphite, graphite did well in erasing. I think it did quite well. None of them did a 100% for erasing the darkest tone on our value chart. But graphite did pretty well at erasing most of it. One thing I think that gravity would be really good for is the line drawing. We use that often for linear drawing. So I do think that graphite is good for that. It's not the best for smudging. So if you're looking to do something that requires a lot of switching, which drawing within racer does require that, then graphite does not take the winning rule for that one. Let's look at the different types of charcoal. So we have our compress charcoal is right here. And then we have three types of buying charcoal that we use that you saw in the video. So with the vine charcoal, What I love about vine charcoal, it's one of my favorites actually for sketching because it erases really well and it blends really well. So it's similar to graphite in terms of its contrasting Depth of tone, but it blends better. So if you want something to kind of blend, maybe you're doing an observational drawing, sketching somebody, you know, and you want to have kind of a blending blurry feature in it, then you're buying charcoal is gonna be really useful for that. If you're trying to draw in little details that don't blend well, then go for graphite, then our compress. How does that compare to the vine charcoal? Well, the conference charcoal, What I love about it is how deep strong that dark black gets. Its such a deep strong black. If you really want that contrasting tone, then that's your guy. And in terms of erasing, it's not the best. So if you're trying to raise it back to the original of the paper, as you can see, it did the worst in terms of even when I really lightly was drawing with the charcoal as light as I could, It's Jill was not able to erase very easily. So that one's not great and erasing, but maybe that's a good thing in some projects. And I do like that. You can see the whole this row. It shows the best in terms of the values kind of still staying in and tonal value chart. So I like that. And it's very good at blending. It's very messy. So those are some of the pluses and minuses. And that will help segue us into our next exercise, which will be taking these skills and drawing each graphite charcoal, vine charcoal. Seeing how each of them performs when we're trying to draw an actual object. So let's give that a try. 4. Graphite vs Charcoal: Okay, now that we've seen how our tools perform, what their limits are, let's do a little exercise with each one of them. Alright, so we're gonna get started with the materials. We're going to just be using the same sketch book or paper that you have with a racers are charcoal and are graphite that we have. And we're going to have fun with these. So I'm gonna start with the graphite and I'm gonna create a little backdrop just by almost making one of those little tonal value spaces. Just brush it on and smooth it out, Blended out. And I'm going to take my needle of racer and start erasing. Now you can choose any shape you want. You could do a square, a cube. I suggest a 3D shape so that you can work on creating light and shadow. So for this one, I just did ball shapes for all of them and with different directions of light. So this one was kind of a backlit. So the darkest spot was showing and then light kind of encircling on the other side. I do recommend, especially if you're new to this, to have the object in front of you for you to see what's really going to help you see where those shadows really are. Our minds sometimes think are shadows or in some places and then really they're not. Okay, let's bring out the charcoal. So these are the vine charcoal. And you can see on the back a guide to what level each one is. If you're not really sure what it means when it says it's soft, that kind of thing. They come in little sticks and then you just you can break them to make them easier manner, more manageable sizes. So we're gonna do the same start blended in either with your finger or a brush blending stump your choice. The vine charcoal blends really well. So the brushwork to not too bad. Notice when I'm creating light shining from the front, but a little off to the side so that I can still see my shadow. More of like a diagonal front. And the other the first one was a diagonal type of shot too, wasn't directly. I think it's always a little more dynamic to have it a little bit off to the side. From that kind of person I like a little asymmetric. So sometimes they're hard to get out a little package, but I'd like to keep them separated into their boxes because then I know which one is which, but just put them in a box, communal box of charcoal than I don't know which one is dark and light. They all look the same. And did you see how I added that dark piece and it really made it more dynamic. So for this one, I'm just going to draw a ball-shaped instead of creating a backdrop and just see how quick you can create a sports ball. So I don't know if this was a baseball or basketball, but I just was creating and then thought, hey, I can erase the lines on it. So watch as you blend your edges or blend the darkest areas, you will make them a bit lighter by blending them. So if you need to add more to darken it, then add more. Next we have our compressed charcoal and created a nice dark big spot on there. And I'm working my needle eraser and I'm going to keep working it because as soon as you touch it to that, especially that compressed charcoal, it's gonna get black quick. So then I have to maneuver it around, massage it, need it. And that's why we call it needle. It's not because you need it like, Oh, I need to have this or it's a want a need. This is something like needing like bread. When you need bread. Some people might say they needed also. I need to have my brother. Okay? And I'm thinking about my shadow and this time I used a real ball to look at. And so it's kinda doing observational drawing. And so then I was erasing my background a little bit because the area around it wasn't so dark and typically it's more than the mid ranges anyways, we're not usually dealing with extremes, but adding in those little extremes here and they're really makes a great contrasting touch that makes your work really engaging and exciting. Now you can see how much harder this is to erase. And we did look at the previous lesson about erasing this compressed struggle is more challenging. But look at the variety of tonal values that remain. I find that very exciting for this kind of work. So when you're doing erasing, if you find that this is something you really love to do, you might find that this compressed for our goal is really your favorite. So now I'm looking at a ball and I'm seeing where the darkest points are amusing, different blending methods. And then I'm erasing and adding and erasing and adding until a get it just right. Alright, so as I look at this, I think grappling definitely has its place and I will still use graphite. There's no way I'm not going to stop using it. But vine charcoal, I just love it's Majid capabilities and erasing. And this is my favorite Look at this. Those deep dark, beautiful tones. And just the overall feel and mood of it is just perfect. I mean, it looks great on this image as you can see, it really stands out. So, which one's your favorite? Well, let's get started with our first drawing practice. I'm going to get started by using the fine charcoal. 5. Drawing Backwards Vine Charcoal: So we've already discussed the positive qualities of using vine charcoal. So now let's put it into action and make an observational charcoal drawing. And just a quick reminder, and observational drawing is drying something from what you see rather than drive from a photograph. So I want you to grab a real object, put it in front of you, and draw from what you see. Let's get started. Alright, so using my vine charcoal and my sketchbook or whatever paper you're using, I'm going to cover a large space on the page, large enough to make it a substantial work of art. You can cover the whole page if you want, or does leave part of the edges lighter or without any charcoal, I'm discovering what I think will be enough so that I can erase this conch that I've selected as my object that I'm drawing backwards with. So I'm starting with the lightest areas and also the shapes around the object. So this face it's taking up. So find those lightest areas. And what shape does that area make? Is it a kind of a triangle kind of shape? Is it kinda of a line? Find those lights and erase them. And as I go, I'll be needing my eraser a lot and working it in my fingers as I'm thinking. So I can reshape it and make sure that's on a clean area. If you're not seeing enough contrast with your object, then I suggest either switching objects or finding a space with a lamp or you can shine it onto your object and get more strength in those shadows and lights. You can also just imagine it being lighter in certain areas than what it's showing certain degrees. If, if you have that kind of brain, if you're just starting out, that might be a challenge and you might just need to get an object that's simpler. I find it's quite interesting to get an object that has more organic shapes that aren't so obvious to your mind that you're not fighting that right side, left side brain problem that we do have. Like if you're looking at a tree, that one can be tougher. You're looking at a person's face. I find with a conscience, I don't necessarily think about, oh, this is what a conflicts like in my mind. So this was good for me to work with this object and it had really interesting bumps on it. And it's just a fun shape anyways to work with. And I'm never punish front a contra before. So why not? I'm also using the drawing and erasing techniques, blending as I go. Just trying to find, okay, am I creating the correct proportions? So as I'm going, I'm altering my proportions because some things might not be fitting, right? So when you're working with observational drawing, but you can do is look at angles. Angles are huge. Compare different lines to other lines and different areas of your object. What's the highest point of your object when you look at it? I'll so make sure you're staying on the same angle that you're looking at it if you move it around or it's a moving object, that's going to be a lot more challenging. So I suggest something that can be stationary, set yourself off in a stationary way, and take breaks to when you need to. You don't have to do this all in one sitting. That's sometimes using your finger to blend is great. And don't be settled in on. This is the correct way I've drawn it. Be open to a racing and area and fixing an area up as you go. It's not permanent. I love this blending and redrawing and erasing with this charcoal. It's really forgiving. And I think it's a lot of fun. Something you may notice is that initially the shape seems to come together pretty quick. And then I'm spending a long time on these details and things and that's very typical. You start out, you get in your basic shape of the whole design of the whole object. And then you start adding in, okay, this is where it really gets light. This is where I'm seeing more lines and more action, more detailing. And then I'm okay. No, you gotta fix this area, that kind of thing. The proportions are not right. This is where you need your patients, bring out your patients and say, look, I want to get this right. I want to keep working at it until I feel it is right. And that's usually for me when I'm getting that feeling of yes, that looks right. And I think we all have that in us. It's almost like when you look at a picture frame that's tilted slightly off and you know, it's not right. It's kind of a similar thing. You're looking at the object, you're saying something's not quite right here. And then you've got to go in and fix it. And look com comparing the two tall points on this conscience saying, Hmm, which one is taller? You can use a ruler in front of you to kind of, or a pencil or something to kind of see. And then kind of test out, well, what's the distance between the top end and the backend, the bottom? And you can use all of these kinds of measurements just based on one part of a pencil, that kind of thing. So it's a really neat way to, to practice drawing and to learn how to, to draw what you see. So keep going until you got this. I'll see you at the finish line. And in the network, they do. 6. Drawing Backwards Compressed Charcoal: Did you have fun? Did you post it in the gallery? I hope so. I'm excited to see it. So now that you've tested out the vine charcoal method, let's move on and try to compress charcoal method. So we're going to do the same thing but with compressed charcoal. Now you can use a same object if you want to have a direct comparison. Or you can even move that object around if it has different sides to it. You could also take a new object or create a whole group of objects and create your own little still life set up whatever you wanna do, however challenging you wanna make it for yourself. So for video purposes, lighting, so you can see what I was doing. I didn't do this, but I encourage you to give this a try, turn off your lights and setup a lamp next year object off to the side that creates a shadow, a strong shadow and strong light source. When you have multiple sources of light, it can kind of confuse you if you're a beginner. So this isn't really a great opportunity. Set up enough light that you can see where you're drawing a hell. So, so if you have the lamp here, you should be able to see what you're drawing. Have your object, that light shining on. So you have that one direction of light and that strong edge of a shadow. So I didn't do that because of drawing purposes, but I really encourage you to give that a try. And just a reminder, if you don't have charcoal, that's okay. Use graphite. And let's say you don't have vine charcoal, but you have compress charcoal will do two products with compress charcoal. Give yourself extra practice. This isn't going to come just after doing it once. This is something that practice, practice, practice to get better at it and to get more insights into your own abilities and into the light sources that are coming your way. I don't want to get too much during this one, but another note to make is write down the date, something I sometimes forget to do. And later on I wish I'd known when I actually created something. So this time I did put down the date. So it's always good to do. And I'm using the brush to blend out my compressed charcoal. And basically you're going to do the same thing that you did with the buying charcoal. You may decide to do the same object or to the new one. I've chosen a new one. And you can see the shadow on this one quite well. So it's quite interesting. So give it a go. And again, follow the same methods of looking for that light, those light areas to find the shape. To get that accuracy in getting that image, keep going back and forth with drawing, erasing, blending until the image really feels right. I go by, feel again, I will see you at the finish line. And please feel free to message me if you have any questions about how to make it more accurate or anything about this project, please message me, create a discussion and let's talk about it. Right? Okay. I like this. I see. Why. 7. Conclusion: Alright, you made it wild-type and now you know how to draw with charcoal and blending techniques as well as drawing backwards. So you seen an eraser to draw. That's such a cool skill to learn. The last thing that we did focus on was observational drawing, which is a skill that I want you to keep practicing. Whether you're using charcoal and drying backwards, or whether you're just drawing with whatever other tools, pens, ink, whatever it is, we'll be doing more projects that involve observational dry for sure in the future. Don't forget to post your results in the gallery. I especially wanna see that final DECT posted so I can see and congratulate you on a job well done. And if you could please take a moment to tell me what he thought about the class. Did it meet your expectations? But did you think was it for every skill level or was it too advanced? Let me know so that in future I can make better videos for you. If there's other comments you want to leave, I'd love to hear them, so thank you so much. Thank you for joining me today. I hope you had a great time in the base class. And if you did, please follow me so that you'll be one of the first to know when my nice classes posted her. I will see you next time. Take care now.