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Which type of drawing charcoal should I use?

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Question: Which type of drawing charcoal should I use?
Answer: One of the good things about charcoal is that it is quite cheap, so try to buy a variety to experiment with. Willow and vine charcoal give delicate grays and smudge easily, and is wonderful for all kinds of drawing. Choose compressed charcoal sticks for a more robust drawing that doesn't smudge so much. Select a medium or soft grade for all-purpose use. Hard charcoals can be a bit scratchy, but are good for fine lines on a strong paper.

Charcoal pencils are basically compressed charcoal, but the timber casing keeps your hands clean, and they are easy to sharpen for fine work. However, they wear out quickly if you are shading big areas.

Carbone pencils are made from an oiler, sooty carbon that gives rich blacks like charcoal but without the dust. They smear a little but don't smudge and are dustless, so are good for sketchbooks or when you don't want to use fixative.

Check out my Charcoal for Drawing Top Picks for more information.

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