Charcoal is a black residue produced as a result of slow pyrolysis with the heating of sugar, bone char, wood and other substances due to lack of oxygen. Charcoal is used in art to outline rough sketches in painting. There are three different types of charcoal commonly used by the painters. Vine charcoal is a natural charcoal made from straight beech or willow twigs.
Created by burning sticks of wood, Vine and willow charcoal sticks offer soft blacks to medium gray for the sketches. The sticks are usually long and thin. The vine produces dark gray while willow charcoal is black. Willow charcoal available in several widths and therefore, it can be categorized as thin, medium, thick and jumbo. Painters used vine charcoal as it is erasable and blends very well with other material.
Another form commonly used by the painters is compressed charcoal. Sold in sticks, it is made by condensing powdered charcoal with a binder into a large stick. It is sharpened to a point and sold in varieties such as hard, soft and medium. The powdered charcoal is also used as a drawing medium as it works well for subtractive methods.
Subtractive method is a technique where the image is produced by erasing the light areas. This charcoal is applied for pattern work as well as transferring pattern which is known as pouncing. Among other frequently used charcoals are charcoal pencils. Compressed charcoal comes in the form of pencil. The pencils are found in H, HB, B, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5B, and 6B. Painters opt for charcoal in drawings due to its ability to be blended.
Charcoal can be blended with tortillion, chamois, finger or erased with a technical eraser. Tortillion comes in a roll of soft paper while chamois is a soft cloth used for blending purposes. Smooth drawing will appear as the tones blend well with it. More charcoal can be added for different effect.