Basic Materials For Charcoal Drawing

There are two types of charcoal artists that pop into my mind. The one that sits at the table and works in a neat orderly fashion, as much as one can do with charcoal. And the other, like myself, a super messy tasmanian devil of a worker.


Either way, here is what you will need to start. And if you’re like myself, all you will need. I don’t get too fussy about having all the varieties of charcoal, as in soft, medium, hard varieties, if I had to choose only two, I would pick one hard and one soft. Most brands are sufficient, start with anything, be choosy when you know what you’re doing. My philosophy is start as a minimalist and add-on as you go.


Minimalist Materials For Charcoal Drawing

  • A thick vine or willow charcoal stick, at least 1/2″ (I hate those tiny thin ones that break easily)
  • Compressed charcoal 
  • Charcoal pencil soft
  • Rubber eraser
  • Kneadable eraser
  • Retractable eraser or you can use a pink pencil eraser
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Soft 1′ paint brush or close to it (for creating softness and brushing away eraser boogers) 
  • Oh yeah, paper, charcoal paper is a good place to start, but any paper you like is what you should use


I work by hanging my paper on the wall using blue low tack tape. First on the back of the paper, with the sticking side facing me, then taping it to the wall using another piece of tape on top of the sticky side, this way you won’t touch the top surface of the paper. A table tops works great too.

As you can see, very messy.

If you have any questions, please contact me at RuthChaseFineArt (at) Ymail .com

I also teach Charcoal Drawing, privately, for retreats, through Skype, and in classes.


One thought on “Basic Materials For Charcoal Drawing

  1. Hi Ruth, Your page on charcoal drawing reminded me that I haven’t been feeding my art chakra much lately, so let’s see about a mutual time we can get together to bring me up to speed on working with charcoal. I’ve been continuing to experiment with touch drawing and love it, but would still like some basics at least on charcoal. Hope you are all doing well – sounds like you’re really taking off these days with your art – I’m so happy for you! Love to you, Nanci

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