Derwent Charcoal and Graphite Blocks 

Featured In / September 2021 ScrawlrBox

We realise you may have never seen or used products like this before so we have put together a few hints, tips and techniques to test out and get the best from these supplies.
chunky sticks made from a perfected blend of charcoal and graphite. They are great for creating bold, dramatic sketches and atmospheric line drawings. They’re perfect for seamless blending, mixing and layering and are also water-soluble too - add a little water to create a subtle wash. Experiment with using the side of the block to create wide sweeping strokes, and the ends, which can create finer more precise lines.

Things To Try...

~ Given charcoal’s consistency, it is very easy to get it everywhere – fingers, wrists, arms and your workspace. This can unfortunately make for some unwanted, accidental smudges on your artwork. Be conscience of this and try not to rest your hands/arms over your work. If needed, you can use a clean piece of paper as a shield when working on your art. Just gently place it over your work and you can then rest your hand on the paper without fear of smudging.

~ It may help to work from top to bottom so you don’t need to lean on any areas and smudge your work.

~ When using the blocks, hold them with your finger resting on the front. This will make it easier to control and creates and even pressure for consistency. The more pressure applied the darker your charcoal will appear.

~ Switch it up! Change directions when layering up your charcoal blocks. This way the newest layer of charcoal will grip to the previous layer filling in all the gaps.

~ When layering charcoal onto graphite, you need to blend out the graphite first. This way the charcoal will have an ideal texture to cling on to.

~ Go lightly... with graphite pencils it’s best to start with lighter layers and gradually build up to create darker shadows. Do this by working in small, circular motions and hold the pencil towards the end for an even consistency and smooth finish.

~ The tailors chalk can be used wet or dry. Draw directly onto the page dry for a lovely chalky texture or try dipping in water for a more intense hue. Y

~ You could even try using it as a wash to create a lighter background- wet the page first and rub the chalk over the top. Let it dry thoroughly before working on top.

~ Blend it out! Your fingers are a vital tool when using charcoal. Yes, it can get messy, but fingers are great to use for smudging, blending and moving charcoal when it has been applied to paper.

~ Of course, we have also provided a blending stump, so if you don’t want to get messy, this is a fantastic tool that can be used for similar effects. Use the blending stump in circular motions for a seamless finish.

~ Once it gets too dirty you can clean it by rubbing against some sandpaper. 

Notes From The Artist 

Robert Dutton

The fear of the white paper. The stark white new sheet of paper can be daunting to many. Beginners often find the concept of leaving white parts of the paper for the highlights quite difficult. By starting on a coloured support you add the highlights which means you can focus freely on everything without inhibition.

 Mixing white with other drawing media to create tints. The Vairico Art Graf chalk is a very useful media to use not only to create highlights but to also create a range of very useful tints (especially with the Derwent Charcoal sticks) to extend both media still further. Place the white first in a required area in your drawing and then add either Derwent ‘Light’, ‘Medium’ or ‘Dark’ charcoal sticks into the white to create tints. To lighten a strong passage of tone add the white on top.

 Subtractive drawing. Using an eraser with different pressure and vigour to help remove drawing media is one of my favourite techniques! Cutting back through the different layers of media, often right through the different layers to the original support offers lots of creative possibilities with tint and tone. Soft erasers blend different media together beautifully too in very different ways. Combining both creates exciting mark making techniques.

 Rubbing and blending media together. The Derwent blending stump is a really useful tool to assist you to blend media together to create lovely transitions from one media into another as a seamless blend. Derwent charcoal into graphite and visa versa is so easy to create with the Derwent blending stump. By angling the tip of the sump and working back and forth continuously between and through both media lovely smooth blends are created.

 Don’t forget to use fixative! The use of fixative is quite a ‘Marmite’ issue - some artists love it and others just don’t like the way it darkens or ‘dulls’ a soft media drawing and choose not to use it at all. This is a shame. Fixative is a very useful tool to assist your drawing process. By spraying aerosol fixative on different parts of the drawing I deliberately darken lots of areas of the drawing to add to the drama in the finished result. Fixative is also useful to restore the ‘tooth’ of the paper support. Applying media in lots of layers (especially soft) soon fills the surface texture. Fixative forces the media deep into the paper to reveal the tooth again so you can add even more layers and thus create added depth in your drawings.

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