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Charcoal: Our knowledgeable staff at The PaintBox can guide you through our carefully selected ranges of Charcoals for all applications. This is only a small selection of our charcoal. We sell many brands, weights, and textures, in-store only. Please call 08 8388 7776 to enquire

Charcoal is a traditional drawing material – which can be used for quick sketches or detailed studies. It is the fastest drawing medium you’ll use and you can create some really strong images in much less time compared to graphite. Charcoal is available in differing softnesses – the softer the material the darker the marks. Charcoal is most often used for quickly sketching and is especially suitable for life drawing sessions. It is chosen by so many artists because of the immediate response to the artists hand where the marks can be very bold and heavy or can be blended into soft and subtle shading. Willow charcoal breaks easily, especially the thinner sizes. But that’s okay as you will usually want to break the sticks into smaller pieces when you start drawing, as they will be easier to use.

Charcoal pencils are the perfect tool for an artist who desires the traditional effect of a charcoal stick without the associated messy dust. Charcoal pencils are charcoal leads encased in a layer of wood which not only protects the charcoal from snapping, but also guards the fingers from charcoal marks. Charcoal pencils stop you from getting too fussy, they force you to focus on the things that really matter – like value and proportion – instead of obsessing over small details that are not immediately noticeable. Get yourself a set of three or four charcoal pencils. They can all be the same colour (black) – though tinted charcoal (black with hints of various colours) are available and they can add a subtle coloured tone to your work. Charcoal pencils are really affordable but you will go through them quite quickly so buy more than a single pencil. You should also definitely consider a white charcoal pencil which is great for working with toned paper.

Willow charcoal has a look and feel that is quite smokey and light. You’ll struggle to get strong darks with willow charcoal though. The sticks tend to be slightly distorted and curved, part of the natural effect of burning them to a specific hardness. Vine charcoal is similar but instead of willow, grape vines are used.

Compressed charcoal will get you those much stronger dark tones and more controlled lines. The sticks are formed from powdered charcoal which, as its name implies is compressed with a binder into consistently-sized sticks. It tends to be slightly harder than the willow or vine varieties.

Charcoal powder can be used to create very soft and refined shading (such as skin tones or a muted background). It can be applied with a brush or other applicator (or even a finger) to block in large areas quite quickly.
You can also use charcoal powder to create a toned ground on a white piece of paper, that you can then draw darker values on top of, or use an eraser to lift out lighter areas and highlights.

White Charcoal is a misnomer, the term refers to the production process of the extruded ‘lead’ which is bound with gum Arabic without oil. If mineral oil is added it’s a pastel. If wax is added it’s a crayon. If it’s bound with clay it’s a chalk. Given that the company that invented it wanted to distinguish their products from conte, pastel, chalk and crayons they decided to align it with compressed charcoal which, when of high quality,is more expensive to make because of the binder.

White charcoal is similar to that of compressed charcoal and it comes as sticks or pencils. White charcoal, sometimes referred to as white pastels, offers another way to define highlights in your drawing. There are different varieties of supplies that can be used as “White Charcoal”. White pastel pencils are one option. My favorite white charcoal and the favorite of many artists, is General’s. They are made of Calcium Carbonate mixed cation process with a binder inside a pencil. Alternatives to this would be white pastel – like CarbOthello, Wolff, NuPastel, Lyra, or Conte. Just beware as some of these options may become waxy (think crayons) when used so you’ll want to test it first, especially if you intend to paint over it.

Few materials produce such a wide variety of creative effects, from rich, deep tones to a translucent-like mist. Mixing natural charcoal particles with a small amount of colour pigment and the finest clays extends the creative possibilities even further. They are ideal for covering large areas quickly and smoothly. Unwanted colour can be lifted out quickly with a kneadable putty eraser or plastic eraser, while the pencil s natural water solubility creates delicate wash effects. And because this unique medium is wood-cased, it is clean and pleasant to use.

Buy your art supplies online and take advantage of our many specials. Or give us a call on (08) 8388 7776 and place your order.