10 June 2013

Charcoal and White Chalk Portrait Drawing

This portrait, of one-year-old Nicholas, was drawn with charcoal and white chalk on toned paper.  I've posted similar drawings in the past (here, here, and here.)  Charcoal/white chalk drawings are straightforward as long as you keep value relationships and shapes accurate.  Great practice for value control.  And you can get fairly convincing modeling of the form much faster than with graphite. It's an old technique that never looses it's charm.  And it's fun.

I used Wollf's carbon 2B and 4B and General white chalk pencils on Strathmore 400 Artagain Steel Gray paper, which has a nice tooth. Drawn free-hand from a photo, it measures 12"x9" and took about 12 hours to complete.

I was inspired to do this portrait after seeing an article on this technique by Scott Waddell in the Spring 2013 issue of Drawing magazine.  Scott used graphite and white chalk in his demo, but charcoal works just as well.  Choose a paper with a value approximating your halftones.  Model the light side with chalk and the shadows with charcoal. That's it.


  1. very nice drawing indeed.

  2. great job on this! Its an approach i would like to try.

    1. Hi, Steve. Thanks for your comment. It's a fun technique and gives a quick result. Enjoy, and if you do try it, please post your result.