Drawing with Charcoal
Fantasy artist Patrick J Jones reveals his classical side as he shows how not to make a mess of figure drawing
As most artists who’ve taken an art foundation course or an evening life-drawing class can confirm, charcoal is a fantastic creative medium. In his digestible but comprehensive introduction to this gleefully messy tool, Patrick Jones calls charcoal “a gateway to painting” – an easy way to extend your drawing skills into exploring relationships between form, light and shadow.
Patrick kicks off with a few examples of what you can achieve, before explaining the tools of the trade: how to sharpen your charcoal stick and what to use to remove marks – not just to erase mistakes, but also to bring back highlights and negative space. Your finger will also come in handy!
Most of the charcoal techniques you’ll pick up, however, are shown by example – because once he’s run through the tools, Patrick’s narration focuses almost exclusively on figure drawing and anatomy. He variously uses a live model, other drawings or photography as reference, then builds up a series of studies, explaining his thinking as he goes.
As with his other training videos – including Conan the Conquered, which we reviewed in issue 110 – the depth of Patrick’s knowledge is obvious, but he always keeps the tone conversational rather than technical. If the complexity of figure drawing intimidates you, then watching this video will help to remedy matters. You’ll see how to start with simple construction shapes, develop them into forms that feel threedimensional, and finally, key in on the all-important details.
The video might not place as much emphasis on charcoal skills as the title suggests, but it’s a great primer for starting to learn techniques and principles that have underpinned great works of art for centuries. Other videos from Patrick delve deeper into the topic of anatomy for anyone who wants to go further.
In Drawing with Charcoal, Patrick Jones shows how to create art from a simple black stick and some erasing tools. The video frequently uses split-screen to show what Patrick is either referring to, or striving to achieve. Patrick breaks figure drawing into a few simple stages – the process won’t seem quite so overwhelming once you’ve watched this.