pencil or charcoal for portraits?
I think a mix of both probably looks most realistic. I use pencil right now, but am just starting to experiment with charcoal so I'm new to it. I dont know how to "formally" use it, really, but I like it for how dark/black it is for the most shadowed bits.. the thing with lead pencils that bothers me is the shine you see when you view the paper on an angle. I'm sure theres better pencils to avoid that with, though, maybe? Lol. In all honesty, I've seen people do realistic looking portraits using any and every media. I guess its all a matter of choice and your own skills. I've always liked a thin black ink marker for outlining too.
I would use pencil and highlight it with a little bit of charcoal. I'm also a little new to it like Ghoulie Gaby
I have made my most realistic portraits using charcoal. Pencil is alright but you do need blending stumps to get soft, realistic textures.
Blending charcoal and pencil is a bad idea because they are two radically different media that will behave differently on the same paper.
Just for interest if you are not aware - I tend to use pencil as I find charcoal very messy but I have got a charcoal pencil which gives a lot of the advantages of charcoal with far less mess. These do not seem to be commonly known about, but are more easily manipulated when both are used together.
TracyJ: I've heard of charcoal pencils and am very interested in trying them! I've even heard there is a white one for highlighting? I think prisma colored pencils are soft enough to get similar results with too, probably.. I love art supplies!
Ghoulie Gaby: I have seen the white charcoal pencil I think but never used, so could not comment. The one I used I bought locally (in UK) but they should be readily available over internet,
I have not used Prisma Colour pencils but a member of an art group I go to has just bought some Prisma Colour erasable colour pencils and is very impressed.
I'm probably biased bc I hate charcoal honestly, & never use it. Lmao but I also like pencil better, mainly bc charcoals messy & I don't like foolin with it. I also hate those pencil blending sticks, never worked well for me. So I use pencil & blend with my fingers & eraser. Most of the black/white portrait artists I've known mainly use pencil too.
But its mainly a matter of opinion & personal preference... Whatever medium the artist is most comfortable with, is the best to use. Also the "shiny glare" from pencil in the dark areas usually fades on drawings after a while, I've noticed.
Just wondering...Do you seal your charcoal drawings? What with? Bc I have a few I've done, but have no idea how to seal them from smudging/being destroyed.
I've seen cheap hairspray recommended before for sealing. Not heard anything bad and it is fraction of price.
I use charcoal and also a pencil charcoal, it's from the same material but harder and it helps me to make details or darker parts. I also use a rubber to do the white parts and a cotton to blur (I don’t know the specific term for this word).
So, I suggest you to mix both. The Charcoal, due to its softness, it allows you to make shadows and different dark tones.The Charcoal pencil for details and the darkest parts.
There’re also plenty of pencils of different hardness and softness, so surely you gonna find the ones you need.
I run an art group and one the group likes using charcoal. I always use cheap hairspray to fix it as its tons cheaper than fixative spray and easier to get hold off. He's been in the group years and his older pics still look good so the spray doesn't harm the charcoals. He also uses blue tack in place of a putty rubber. We've had a few putty rubbers in the past but they always end up getting lost in our art cupboard. We have 2 art groups and a craft group and two of them run on my day off so everything always ends up put back in different places.
I personally don't like charcoals as they are too messy and I find them hard to use for finer detail. I prefer pencils.
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