The most common drawing tool when we first begin is a #2 pencil. We graduate from there into softer and harder leads for all the drawing techniques we need to accommodate these pencil leads. Charcoal too is an early tool for students to learn the sharp contrast capabilities of charcoal, the blending qualities, and clarity of contrasts from extreme black to white. 


Good learning tools. The more advanced artist might be interested in trying white charcoal. White charcoal comes in a variety of forms from pencils to sticks. It has the same drawing and blending capabilities black charcoal does. 


The process and thinking strategies while working, however, are completely different from black charcoal. The artist must think in reverse. White charcoal drawings are usually on dark paper, commonly black. So, all of the black paper you begin with are all the deepest shadows of your drawing. Everything that is added will be going up on the value scale toward white and will be white unless blended out into warmer grays. 


Instead of looking for and adding shadows, the artist will look for highlights. This is where understanding light source is important along with the meaning of the value scale. Initial sketches must be made lightly so erasing can happen if necessary. This is true of all drawings, especially if you are working toward something realistic. 


Keep in mind composition, location, size and light source to keep the drawing on keel. But with the white charcoal remember you are working from the bottom of the value up. Drawing with white charcoal may be applied with either the tip of the utensil or the side. The tip will give you a hard line so be careful to avoid any hard edges on your object or person. 


This is what you will use as you begin to lay your drawing out keeping in mind to keep the lines light. To tint the values between use the side of the lead to get a soft layer of charcoal that covers a wider area. You may blend these areas out with your finger or a blending stick. This is the way you will build form. 


Working with white charcoal will give you a dramatic drawing with great contrast. It is a challenge but that challenge will be good for you to exercise your thinking in a completely different way.

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