This focuses on charcoal materials for life drawing, figure drawing, foundation classes, etc. This is mostly to help out people just starting out in taking figure classes and to do product reviews. Your instructor will more or less tell you how to use your stuff, but sometimes, you don’t meet them before you buy class materials. And you’re like, “Whaaaa does this do?”
I’ll just start with kneaded erasers! All illustrators should have this. Only if you’re a sketch artist, then yeah, you too. But its very versatile. What person does not know about this eraser? You can flatten it, shape it, mold it, and it leaves no eraser dust behind. It’s self-cleaning… But as you can see in the above picture, the very first one I bought for school is on the right. And the very left is quite recent, probably some months ago in the summer… So it turned black at the end of the first semester. It was dying on my second, so I bought a new one! Oh, it turned black two. In fact, I had 2 with me, because I had two of everything, two knives, two chams, and split up the charcoal, which I kept buying anyway. This was because I didn’t want to carry too much to and from school, so I kept one case at home and one at school to lighten the load. Heavy stuff! Anyway yeah, now I gather them all up and I don’t throw my kneaded erasers away. They’re useless once they’re not self-cleaning anymore. It’s hard like a rock, not as stretchy and, sometimes it erases but if you’re not careful, it’ll leave black marks… that are not erasable. And that’s shitty. So use them as wall tackies for posters! 😀
This is my box of charcoals. The aluminum thumb tacks are there only if you’re going to a live class, otherwise, its okay if you do not buy. They’re for posting up art in front of everybody and getting teacher critiques.
Okay, first up is chamois. Or chams (shams). They are for smearing and blending large surface areas. What it once looked like is on the very right, the light yellow square thing. Yeah. But you want it dirty! It can take away or add more charcoal, it’s also easy to blend when there’s a lot on it. So I’m probably going to get a lot more years out of this thingy. I bought an extra one to use with colored conte, which the beginning student does not use until later on or when the instructor says okay.
This is a vine charcoal by daler rowney. They come in various sizes and are ideal for the beginning student because it’s easy to erase and manipulate. However, it smudges incredibly easy. It’s also used to color/tone a background. And you can erase to the white of the paper if it’s applied lightly, or not, obviously, it’s heavily applied, it’s going to stay a bit more. The middle tier in the box has more. There’s also that other box of vine charcoal on the right. It sucks. You get what you pay for. That thing was a waste of $0.99. It was hard, there wasn’t even a thing on the box that says hard, medium, or soft, it was just hard. And it didn’t go on well. I also had a box by General’s, I’m pretty sure it was soft, not extra soft, which is what the one above is, but that brand is all right. They make better compressed charcoal. I just didn’t like using it. Daler Rowney vine charcoal is the best I’ve used, not even as expensive as the General’s, I think. Oh yea, these break easily if you hold them too tightly.
Charcoal pencils. I haven’t tried others, because General’s is the cheapest and it works. I guess there is also derwent? and I also tried the one that resembles Chinese markers. Those are useful when you don’t feel like carving the wood. One must buy X-acto craft knives with no. 11 blades. I bought a 100 pack of blades and I have not used it all up, but I replace them often, it makes sharpening charcoal pencils much easier when you have a sharp blade. I always keep the extra charcoal dust for tone backgrounds, so I keep a plastic bag handy.
Hmm.. sorry, guess I shoulda lightened it. This is my compressed charcoal. Hard to see, but below are they’re retailed images.
I forgot what class had me get this, but it’s not very comfortable, but it’s so flat…. Just something to get used to. The way it goes on paper is different from the usual round ones I bought in-class. It comes in 2B, 4B, and 6B being the softest. It’s also tedious to sharpen because it’s flat-ness doesn’t make a very rounded point. But the edges are sharp so it’s good for edges. Just hard to maneuver for newbies. Compressed charcoal is not introduced until later when you get used to holding the charcoals properly and you’re used to it. All compressed charcoal are harder to erase, so you can’t use your fingers like vine charcoal to erase, sometimes the kneaded eraser will not erase all of it, so then you’d use a rubber one made for charcoal erasing.
This one, I barely used. I bought a 3 instead of a 12 pack, but the ones I bought were fat and not flat. But they break rather easily… However, it comes out very dark, darker than the others I’ve used. Do I like it? It’s got its uses, but I don’t think I will try this one out as I’ve still got broken pieces that I can still use.. 😦
Can’t remember the brand, but this resembles the usual ones I like because they’re round. Easy to sharpen to a fine point. It’s rounded, but doesn’t mean you can’t make a straight line with it.
Conte crayon, I didn’t touch until the second semester…? Hm… when was my first anatomy class.. haha! It’s square, but you can sharpen it too, it’s not bulky, so easy to sharpen. The one above is a darker sanguine, I had a redder one somewhere, I used that one most because it showed up better on camera. They go on easily. I had bought a white conte to compliment a drawing done in black conte. Conte all in all is very soft, it’s not like charcoal. Erases a little more stubbornly, but not impossible just stubborn like compressed charcoal. It’s like a classy crayon without the wax.. The whitest highlight for a 3 toned drawing is with chalk. But I don’t have that… hm so. I wouldn’t buy too many of the General’s white charcoal because of its hardness and tone, probably just 1 is good. I bought a 4 pack… sigh. Still haven’t finished that 1 in the box. Or get the white charcoal pencil, it’s somewhere in the main picture. Next to the vine charcoal. That reminds me, I bought the sticks because I thought it would be different from the pencil. I’ve had that pencil for the longest time too. So a pencil should be enough because whites are for highlights, mostly.
And extras are the blending stumps. My friend taught me how to make my own, but I bought some before for detailed drawing. I heard people only use them once…. Haha… obviously, I haven’t, they’re useful when they need to be. Or use your finger.
Okay, that’s all. I’m done. Hope this was helpful. Hmm… My nose is getting clogged just by looking at it. Beware of black boogers.