Charcoal Portrait Drawing Tutorial

About Brian MacNeil

Brian MacNeil is an artist of great talent and imagination and is one of the new generation of Realist painters that are the new avant-garde in the art world. Brian studied at the Angel Academy of Art, Florence, from 2004 to 2008 and showed himself to be an extremely gifted student, understanding, as though instinctively, what his instructors were teaching…

Learn more about Brian and view of his work by visiting his Websites:

Charcoal Portrait Drawing Lesson by Brian Macniel

(Click Images Below for Larger Views)

First 20 Minutes

I started at a rapid pace just sketching the angles and major masses that I was seeing in front of me. My academic training would have urged me to take measurements and plot point. Because this was just a demo and I wasn’t being commissioned for the work I decided to have some fun.

Work in Progress

Now I did this charcoal drawing in the local coffee shop in Lakeville, MA. Somethin’s Brewin’ is one of my favorite places to get my morning Coffee. They are really great and love to promote local artist and small businesses. As far as ideal studio conditions it would not be my first choice but I was able to work from a consistent natural light. Typically I like to draw with the model elevated to my eye level and sight-size.

40 Minutes

After I roughed in some general shapes I now have enough information to start refining the contours and planes of the drawing. The beauty of charcoal is that it is easy to push around and shape. I find that if I keep things loose in the beginning I’m less attached and I don’t think twice if have to erase something that is wrong.

Tristen is making sure that I’m not turning her into Quasimodo

I’m heightening the drawing with White Chalk

The final Drawing

So after about three and a half hours this is what I came up with. I had a lot of fun and made a few more friends in the process. I would have loved to have more time with this but happy I was able to do this much. Hopefully Tristen will pose for some more paintings in the future.

Great Resource on Portrait Drawing

Realistic Pencil Portrait Mastery Home Study Course


  1. Garth McGlasson says

    Exceptional work. The model’s beauty really shines in the finished piece. Well done.

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