Charcoal Portrait Demo by Nathan Fowkes

About Nathan Fowkes

I do concept art, color and lighting design for animation and entertainment projects, notable clients include DreamWorks, Blue Sky, Disney and Digital Domain.

It’s a great job but since everything is painted digitally I spend my own time painting with traditional mediums, these paintings and sketches are the emphasis my blog. I’ll post my digital work where possible as well as classroom demonstrations for the benefit of my art students.


Charcoal Drawing Demo

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Anya. Compressed charcoal on rives paper.

1) Construction drawing. Being careful here allows for a confident stroke when I start using the compressed charcoal stick.

2) Establishing landmarks so as to not loose the drawing as the charcoal gets pushed around in later stages.

3) Value block in.

4) Smoothing values and touching up the drawing with the corner of the charcoal stick.

Wow, what a mess. This is one of the reasons I don’t specifically encourage my technique. There are dozens of ways you can apply the medium. It’s the principles of value (light and shadow), structure, edges and composition that really matter.

5) Final touch up with a kneaded eraser and charcoal stick.

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