Drawing with Char­coal

Fan­tasy artist Pa­trick J Jones re­veals his clas­si­cal side as he shows how not to make a mess of fig­ure drawing

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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.

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