ZenART's Membership Plans Terms & Conditions

(Updates effective 17/08/2020)

These terms and conditions (“Terms and Conditions”) govern the ZenART Supplies Rewards & Referral Plan as well as Subscribe & Save Plan (“Membership Plans”), and members of the programs will earn zen coins in connection with the purchase of qualifying online products and online activities that are redeemable towards the purchase of certain products online. For the re-occurring members (Subscribe & Save Plan) this includes exclusive gifts & content.


  • Free. No purchase is necessary to obtain membership in the Rewards & Referral Program, but you must establish an account at https://shop.zenartsupplies.co/account/register . Please see our privacy policy, located here, to understand how information you provide us will be used. This program is void where prohibited.
  • Eligibility. In order to be eligible for the Rewards & Referral Program, you must create an account as outlined in these Terms and Conditions. You may create an account if you are at least seventeen (17) years of age, have Internet access, and have a valid mailing address. If you are between the ages of 17 and 18, you must have your parent’s permission to register for an account. If you choose to create an account, you are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of your account, username and password and for restricting access to your account. You are responsible for keeping such information current, complete, accurate and truthful. You agree to accept responsibility for all activities that occur under your account, username and/or password. You agree to provide only current, complete, accurate and truthful information. If you are accessing and using the Site on someone else’s behalf, you represent that you have the authority to bind that person as the principal to all Terms and Conditions provided herein, and to the extent you do not have such authority you agree to be bound to these Terms and Conditions and to accept liability for harm caused by any wrongful use of the Site or Content resulting from such access or use. You may only have one member account per natural person. Persons who are discovered to have more than one account forfeit their zen coins and will be unsubscribed from the Loyalty Program.
  • How To Enroll in the Rewards & Referral Program. (a) Create an account: Visit www.zenartsupplies.com (the "Site" or "Online") and become a registered user of the Site. Click here to be taken directly to the registration page. You will be asked for your first and last name, your email address, and a password. You will also be given the option to sign up for our newsletter. Once you have submitted the requisite information, you will be sent an email to the address you listed confirming your membership. Once you have confirmed your email address, you are automatically enrolled in the Reward & Referral Program and are a member (“Member”).
  • How to Access/Change Your Member Information. You must keep your personal information on your Account up-to-date. To do so, click on the "My Account" section and access your account by entering your registered email address and current password. From your dashboard you can access your account information; review your current and past orders; change your profile; manage your subscriptions and applications, and access your previous purchases.
  • How to Cancel Your Membership. You may cancel an account at any time. To cancel your account, please send an email to support@zenartsupplies.co and write “cancel membership” in the subject line. The email must come from the account currently listed on our servers as being associated with your Rewards & Referral Program. If you no longer have access to that email address, please email our customer service department and we will verify your status and cancel your account. Upon cancellation, you are no longer a member, and any unused zen coins accrued in your account will be forfeited and cannot be redeemed. Zen coins maintain their value only on valid accounts in good standing, and except as otherwise provided here for redemption, have no cash value outside of their redemption value on the Site.


  • General Members can earn zen coins on the purchase of qualifying online products at zenartsupplies.co. To receive zen coins for your Online purchases, you must be signed into your account. You may check at any time to see if you are signed in to the Site by looking in the upper right-hand corner of the site. Gift cards do not qualify for zen coins. Other products that do not qualify for zen coins are noted on the Site.
  • Earning Rate. Members earn 5 sen coins for every $1.00 spent on qualifying purchases (in other words, one (5) zen coins for every one dollar ($1) spent). Zen coins are based on your order subtotal, after any discounts, only. Zen coins are rounded down to the nearest whole number. For example, if you spend $9.99, you will receive 9 zen coins. The calculation is as follows: $9.99 x 1 zen coins per dollar = 9.99 zen coins, which is rounded down to 9 zen coins. This program started on August 17, 2020, and initial levels were set on the 2020 amount spent on ordering products. Note: Shipping and Taxes are not taken into consideration. If an item is return and/or price adjusted that will also be removed from your rewards calculations.
  • Gift Cards. Gift card purchases are not eligible to receive zen coins. However, once a gift card is redeemed, zen coins will be awarded to the recipient for the subtotal after any gift card values, provided s/he is logged into the account, as outlined in these Terms and Conditions.
  • Addition of Zen Coins to Accounts. Zen Coins will be added to your Account under the following conditions, and will generally show up immediately. You will receive zen coins:
    • At the time of account registration
    • During the purchase of qualifying products
    • For other activities outlined on the Site that may show up from time to time. Note that for these other activities, including “bonus zen coins” accumulations and other zen coin promotions, zen coins may show as “pending,” depending upon the activity.
    • Joining the Birthday Club. Birthdate must be entered 30 days before your Birthday to qualify.
    • For Liking the ZenART Supplies Facebook page and sharing the ZenART Supplies Facebook page with your following. This is good one time only.
    • Following ZenART Supplies on Instagram. This is good one time only.
    • Referring a friend to ZenART Supplies. Your account will be automatically awarded the discount only if the referral friend used the link sent to them from your referral account and makes a qualifying purchase. Discount will automatically be applied to account if stipulations are met.
  • Exclusions. Members earn zen coins only on the purchase price of: (i) qualifying online products. Calculation of zen coins excludes payment by the Member for shipping charges and all taxes, including without limitation, federal, state, and local taxes or use taxes. Zen Coins will not be earned on any discounts or other credits offered in connection with a product or service. For example, if a product that is normally $50 is on sale for $25, a Member will only earn zen coins on the purchase price of $25. Purchases of gift cards, redemption of vouchers, and any type of price adjustments, including merchandise returns, are not eligible for zen coins. All purchases made: (i) by a Member prior to such member joining the Program, (ii) Online without a Member being logged onto the Website with the Member's Account number linked to the Member's Online account, are not eligible for Reward & Referral Program credit. The purchase of ZenART Supplies products outside the Zenartsupplies.co website are not eligible for the Reward & Referral Program.
  • Returns/Order Cancellations. Zen Coins earned for a purchase that is then the subject of a return, cancellation, refund, declined credit card or gift card, or other credit will be deducted from your account in an amount equal to the zen coins earned for the original transaction, including any bonus zen coins that may be applicable. Any rewards discounts that are applied to the order, will be distributed equally to the applicable items in the order when completing a return. Zen Coins redeemed on an order will not be reapplied back to your rewards account for any reason on a returned order. If a return/cancellation will cause your account to have a negative zen coin balance, you will not begin earning zen coins again until your zen coins balance is returned to zero (0), by making purchases, or engaging in other promotional activities offered from time to time. If an item is exchanged (different product) any redeemed rewards on the initial purchase may be transferred to the exchange one (1) time only. Rewards used on an order that is canceled cannot be reapplied as they are good for just one use.
  • Bonus Zen Coins Promotions. From time to time, ZenART Supplies may run certain bonus zen coin promotions. Under bonus zen coin promotions, Members can earn additional or "bonus zen coins" in connection with the purchase of certain online products. When you purchase these specially marked products or make the purchase during a bonus zen coins time period, you will earn bonus zen coins on each product, as specified in the offer. Bonus zen coin promotions are subject to the terms and conditions of the offer and may be offered at any time in ZenART Supplies sole discretion. Bonus zen coin offers cannot be combined with any other offer.
  • Limitations on Bonus Zen Coins and Zen Coins, Generally. These terms apply to zen coins and bonus zen coins accruals. If you purchase a product during a promotion and the product comes with an additional, free product, zen coins will not be issued on the retail value of the free product. If you redeem zen coins towards the purchase of a product and pay a portion of the retail price after the zen coin's redemption, you will receive zen coins only on the leftover retail amount you pay, and not on any value attributed to the zen coin you used. If you redeem zen coins towards the purchase of a product in an amount equal to the full price of the product, you will not earn any zen coins.
  • Non-purchase Options for Earning Zen Coins. You may also earn additional zen coins on non-purchase activities. From time to time, ZenART Supplies may offer you the chance to win various prizes, and earn zen coins, for entering into promotions. For sweepstakes promotions, there is NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO PLAY OR TO WIN. Rules and restrictions will apply to such promotions and may be found on the entry page of any promotion.
  • Referring a friend to ZenART Supplies. Email a friend an $8 off coupon on $50 order by clicking “ Earn Zen Coins” then “ Refer a Friend”. Enter the email address of a friend who has not purchased with ZenART Supplies before (if your referral has shopped with us before the referral link will be automatically voided by the system). A referral link will be sent to your friend with an $8 off coupon on a $50 order. $8 off coupon on $50 order will automatically be rewarded to your account only if the referral friend used the link sent to them from your referral account and makes a qualifying first-time purchase with ZenART Supplies. Your Referral friend will receive an $8 off coupon on $50 order, 200 zen coins for signing up, and zen coins from their first purchase made while signed into their new ZenART Supplies account.


  • How To Use Your Zen Coins. Zen Coins must be used in increments outlined in these Terms and Conditions. The maximum number of zen coins that may be used in a single transaction is 10,000 zen coins. Zen Coins may only be used Online at the ZenART Supplies website. Zen Coins towards Products: Members can use their zen coins to reduce the purchase price of a product or to receive a product for free based on the following scale:
    • 500 zen coins = $5.00 off
    • 1,000 zen coins = $10.00 off your at least $50 order
    • 1,500 zen coins = $15.00 off your at least $50 order
    • 2,500 zen coins = $25.00 off your at least $50 order

    Zen Coins can only be redeemed in any combination of the zen coin and increment amounts set forth above. Redemption of zen coins towards purchases of products is subject to product availability. Any rewards discounts that are applied to the order, will be distributed equally to the applicable items in the order when completing a return.

  • Gift cards. Once available, zen coins cannot be used towards the purchase of gift cards. Gift card redemption, however, is eligible for zen coins. Zen Coins accrued pursuant to the use of a gift card will benefit the gift card user, provided the user has an account in accordance with these Terms and Conditions.
  • To Redeem your Zen Coins. Before you begin shopping with us, sign in to your Shop account on our site. Select “Redeem Zen Coins” from the red tab housed in the lower left-hand corner of the screen and select the amount of zen coins you would like to redeem. You will be issued a custom code that you can copy and paste into the discount bar during check out (Please note - only one code can be used). Your total payment amount will be discounted by the amount of zen coins you allocate to the purchase. Note that zen coins may only be redeemed for the purchase price of the product. Sales tax, shipping, and other handling charges assessed in addition to the price of the product are your responsibility and zen coins may not be used to discount these additional charges.
  • Exclusions. Only one account per natural person. Only one discount code can be redeemed per transaction. Rewards redemption codes may not be combined with any other discount codes. Zen Coins may not be transferred or gifted at this time. Zen Coins cannot be used on past purchases. Zen Coins accumulated on different accounts by different members may not be combined or aggregated to make purchases of products or for any other reason. Zen Coins earned in a transaction cannot be redeemed in the same transaction. Redeemed zen coins cannot be retroactively applied to any past order or receive a price adjustment on any order where redeemed zen coins were not applied. Zen Coins have no cash value outside of the ZenART Supplies website and are available only to members in good standing.
  • Zen Coins Expiration and Time Lapses. All zen coins acquired, whether standard zen coins or bonus zen coins, shall expire 180 days from the date the zen coins are added to your account. Zen Coins expire 180 days from the date in which they were assigned to your account. Specific onsite activities in which zen coins will be awarded are set to accrue zen coins based on a time-lapse at the discretion of ZenART Supplies.
    • Sign up: zen coins are added to your account instantly
    • Order: zen coins are added to your account when your order is placed.
  • Once zen coins are redeemed, a discount code will be assigned and we are unable to cancel the discount code and reapply the zen coins to your Reward & Referral account. Discount codes generated by redeeming zen coins do not expire until used. They are a one-time use code, so once it is used it is gone. If an order is returned zen coins will not be reinstated.

4. Subscribe & Save Plan

  • Re-occurring purchase. Purchase is necessary in order to participate in this plan. The plan is worth $6.95 and will be charged to your account on the same date of the month that you purchased the plan, i.e. if you purchased the plan on 19th of January, you will be charged for the plan on the 19th of each month you are a Subscribe & Save Plan member.
  • 15% re-occurring discount. As a member of the subscribe & Save Plan, you are eligible for a 15% discount every time you put an order in place. You are qualified for the discount as soon as you purchase the plan.
  • Cancellation. After a purchase made with a Subscribe & Save Plan, you are not able to get a refund for the plan for the month the purchase was valid for but you can cancel for the following months.
  • Free samples & accessories. These are included for members of Subscribe & Save Plan only. These are not included in each order but the member will be informed when they will receive "extras" in their order.
  • Access to exclusive content. Exclusive access to tutorials, guides, tips & tricks in video, pdf, or audio format will be part of the membership program. Not all exclusive content is available but what is and will be available is up to ZenART Supplies sole discretion.


  • By registering with Zenartsupplies.co and joining the Reward & Referral Program, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions set forth in these Terms and Conditions, as well as any other terms that may be associated with the Reward & Referral Program. ZenART Supplies reserves the right to cancel, modify, suspend or restrict the Reward & Referral Program, your account, the redemption of zen coins, or any aspect of the Program, including, without limitation, the zen coin conversion ratio and the zen coin expiration policy at any time. Any changes can be made without advance notice. ZenART Supplies may make these changes even though such changes may affect your ability to use zen coins already accumulated. You are responsible for remaining knowledgeable about the Program Terms and Conditions. A Member's zen coins balance, as reflected in ZenART Supplies records, shall be deemed correct. ZenART Supplies reserves the right to determine the amount of zen coins in any Member's account based on ZenART Supplies' internal records related to such Member's account. In the event of an inconsistency between the amount accrued in a Member's account as stated on any Member's receipt and ZenART Supplies internal records, ZenART Supplies internal records will control. ZenART Supplies assumes no responsibility for errors caused by incorrect Member information. Your right to transfer zen coins earned or granted under the Program is strictly limited. The sale of zen coins is prohibited and may result in the confiscation or cancellation of your zen coins as well as suspension or termination of your membership, which in each case shall be final and conclusive. All transactions involving zen coins and all Member accounts are subject to review and verification by ZenART Supplies. The zen coins balance in a Member's account may be unavailable for use when an account or transaction is under review. ZenART Supplies may revoke any Member's membership in the Reward & Referral Program at any time if such Member engages in abuse of the Reward & Referral Program or fails to follow the terms and conditions of the Program. Fraud or abuse relating to the accrual of zen coins or redemption of rewards may result in revocation of membership in the Program and may affect a Member's eligibility for participation in any other ZenART Supplies program, present or future. Zen Coins are non-transferable and cannot be redeemed for cash. The interpretation and application of the Program's Terms and Conditions are at the sole discretion and determination of ZenART Supplies. For more information or other questions, click on Contact Us.
  • The Terms and Conditions of the loyalty program are subject to change at ZenART Supplies’ sole discretion at any time and without notice to customers. Upon customer’s at-will termination of their Zenartsupplies.com registered account, or if a customer is termination for violation of these Terms and Conditions or other activities in violation of the intent and good faith intended use of this Site, all zen coins will immediately be forfeited and will no longer be redeemable. ZenART Supplies will make reasonable efforts to award zen coins as outlined above to all 1. registered and 2. qualifying Zenartsupplies.co customers but is not responsible for any technical or unforeseen errors that may occur.
  • Zen Coins are nontransferable, nonredeemable for cash, are nonrefundable and are not valid outside of Zenartsupplies.co. Purchases made outside Zenartsupplies.co are not valid for zen coin accrual (this includes, but is not limited to Facebook resell groups, Ebay, and Amazon).
  • Employees of ZenART Supplies are not eligible to participate in the Reward & Referral Program.

Subscribe & Save Plan

Membership Benefits for Just $6.95/Month

For other currencies, the respective conversion applies.


How To Draw with Charcoal - Charcoal Drawing Techniques

How To Draw with Charcoal - Charcoal Drawing Techniques

Different Types of Charcoal | Essential Charcoal Drawing Supplies | Charcoal Figure Drawing Video Tutorial | Charcoal Drawing Ideas

Drawing is the most essential skill that any artist should possess and continue to hone. And it makes it even easier to do so because all you really need is a pencil and your paper to start off. As a child, I started drawing with my school pencils and used them from basic sketching to more complex shading later on. But I felt limited and always wondered how the other drawings I saw achieved their darkest darks. The not so secret answer was they were charcoal drawings, of course.

I was about 12 when I was introduced to the 6B graphite pencil and needless to say, I loved it so much! A few months later, I started exploring sketching and drawing with charcoal. And it was a whole new experience yet again. I can even go darker and now I can blend using different tools.

Graduating from the basic school pencil to charcoal was a very rewarding experience.

What is meant by charcoal drawing?

A charcoal drawing is a drawing made using charcoal as the medium, usually applied on paper as the surface. Charcoal can be bought in various kinds, forms, and hardness. There are also various ways of using them, either on their own or with the help of other drawing implements.

Is charcoal good for sketching?

Yes, it definitely is. Charcoal lends well to expressive strokes and applications. Since charcoal is on the powdery side, similar to chalk pastels, I find it especially useful for doing easy smudging techniques here and there even with just my bare fingers. The softer willow and vine charcoal is especially suitable for quick sketching.

Before I discuss the techniques, let me go through the types of charcoal and the tools you need for drawing in charcoal. Knowing these will help you better understand and use the techniques that I’ll be showing later.

What are the different types of charcoal?


Willow and Vine charcoal

Willow and vine charcoal are on the softer side and can easily snap or be crushed if you apply too much pressure on them. They look like long and thin sticks and are very light that if you blow hard enough, your stick will roll off your table.

Being very soft and light, they are perfect for those quick charcoal drawings or sketching. For more detailed works, they are best used for lighter applications. It will be very difficult to get a deep, dark shade using them.

Compressed charcoal

Compressed charcoal is powdered charcoal that has been compressed into round or square sticks by mixing the powder with a gum binder. The hardness will depend on the amount of binder used. This is the kind of charcoal used in charcoal pencils.

Because this type can be very hard, it’s quite useful for drawing in fine details. Especially with the pencil ones, that you can really sharpen to as fine a point as you want to.

Powdered charcoal

Powdered charcoal is exactly its name – in a fine powder form. It’s perfect for soft, subtle layering. You can use it to cover large areas of your surface for a light tone, then use erasers to lift off the charcoal in the areas where you want highlights. To apply it, you will need to use a paintbrush or a piece of cloth. This comes in a container and can be quite expensive.

*You’ll also find tinted charcoal available in pencil and compressed stick forms, and powder form. And I just recently discovered that there’s also a paint palette option, but I haven't had the chance to try it out yet.

Quick comparisons between the different kinds of charcoal

Here they are applied on ZenART’s B5 Artist’s Sketchbook, side by side for a quick comparison.

Vine charcoal glides very easily and smoothly across the paper, the texture it leaves behind is also on the softer side. But as you can see, the darkest it can go is a deep gray. It’s perfect for mid-dark to very light values. No matter how hard you press you won’t be able to accidentally do dark shading.

The compressed charcoal in pencil form and chunky round stick gives you the blackest of blacks. It can also be rendered, blended, or smudged into the lighter values. Because they are harder than the willow and vine sticks, you can sharpen them to fine points or edges in the case of the round stick. Which then allows you to draw in fine details and textures as darkly or lightly as you want.

With powdered charcoal, the application is obviously quite limited. But it’ll give you the smoothest of all applications if that’s what you need or are going for. It’s all a matter of preference at this point. Personally, I hardly use this as I prefer to draw more textured charcoal drawings with visible strokes.

What are the other charcoal drawing supplies?

Paper - first and foremost!

The most commonly used support for charcoal is paper - toothy and thick paper is best. Charcoal needs a textured enough surface to adhere to and a thick enough paper that will take in several layers of charcoal. Good thick paper ensures that it won’t easily tear no matter the amount of pressure you apply. A sketchbook with thick enough paper is also good to have around for quick sketching and for doing studies.

The fun part is that there’s also toned paper if you want to explore working on paper that’s not white or ivory-colored. They are available in sheets or pad form. Below are just some of the colors that you can play around with, you’ll also find ones in earthen tones. The ones I most often use are white, cream, bluish gray, and black.

A Spotty Grey B6 Artist’s Sketchbook on top of an open B5 Artist’s Sketchbook, on top of multi-toned watercolor sheets.

Here’s a close-up of the texture, this paper is suitable for pastels, inks, and watercolor as well. This is the kind of paper and texture that I prefer to use for charcoal drawings. Many artists like using watercolor paper because of its thickness and texture.

Leftmost is ZenART’s B5 Artist’s Sketchbook, it looks much smoother next to the watercolor paper but actually has just the right amount of tooth for the quick charcoal drawing ideas that you want to record.

Watercolor pads are also quite convenient to have as you can easily bring them along with you if you want to use thicker and more textured paper compared to sketchpad paper.

ZenART’s watercolor pads/blocks in various sizes. They’re all made with 100% cotton, cold-pressed, and acid-free paper. Each pad comes with 20 sheets.

Other tools that will help with your charcoal drawing process:

Kneaded eraser and white eraser

Of the two, the kneaded eraser is the must-have and is quite indispensable when creating charcoal drawings. I use it for subtracting charcoal from the surface, for lightening a too dark rendering and for easily creating highlights. And of course, for a fantastic clean up when needed.

The nice thing about a kneaded eraser is that it’s malleable like clay. But because it’s basically a rubber putty, it stretches and can be molded into any shape you want. I find myself therapeutically kneading it when drawing. Just stretch and knead it around to distribute the lifted charcoal to the whole eraser.

White vinyl or synthetic rubber erasers are great for any hard erasing and lifting you need to do. Just be careful as it can also accidentally smudge areas that you don’t mean to be so.

Blending stumps or Tortillons

I’m sure you’ve seen them around, they’re white, round stumps with pointed tips and are usually made of rolled paper. A handy bunch to have around if you don’t like getting your fingers dirty by using them for blending. Use the stumps instead to blend out the marks you make with charcoal for soft textural effects.

You can also use them for pastels, pencils, and other drawing tools that are blendable. They come in a variety of sizes which is awesome. Whether you like to work with big or small charcoal drawings, you’re sure to find the sizes you need.

You can clean them by using your kneaded eraser or by ‘sharpening’ it across a sandpaper block.

Paper towel or cloth (chamois cloth)

This is another way of blending charcoal if you don’t want to dirty your hand. Just like the blending stump, use it to blend areas where you want to soften your charcoal marks. Simply wash it in warm, soapy water when it becomes too dirty to keep it nice and soft.

I just use a paper towel. But other artists prefer to use a chamois cloth (chamois leather) as it blends softly and subtly depending on how you use it. It also won’t leave any unwanted smudge marks that sometimes happen when using your fingers.

Utility knife

You’ll need to sharpen your charcoal — especially the pencils — every so often. A utility knife is best for this as you can control the length of the tip and how sharp you want it to be or not. You can also use it to shave off some charcoal from your compressed sticks if you need some powdered charcoal and don’t have store-bought ones around.


The thing about charcoal drawings is that they can be messy and they can be easily smudged. To avoid this, you can spray your work with a fixative. There are two kinds: a workable fixative and a permanent fixative. Workable means you can still work over the top of the sprayed layer of fixative. Meanwhile, permanent fixatives should only be used at the very end, much like adding varnish on a finished painting. Only apply this type if you’re absolutely sure you’re done with your drawing.

You don’t need to have all the different kinds of charcoal to start studying how to use it. When we learned it in school, we just used charcoal pencils. Then I eventually added compressed charcoal sticks to my kit for quicker and easier coverage over large areas when we started drawing bigger works. You can start with a pencil and start small, too.

And now you’re well prepared to take on the basic charcoal drawing techniques!

How do you start a charcoal drawing?

Just like when using a regular pencil, you start by sketching your main details in. You can plot out the main value changes with lightly sketched lines for added guidance. Below is a great place to start to familiarize yourself with the characteristics of charcoal.

Charcoal Drawing for Beginners

Start by drawing a sphere, since it’s just a basic form, this will allow you to focus on getting the values right first and foremost. And the techniques you need to use to accomplish this.

First lightly sketch out the circle shape and the cast shadow. You don’t need to sketch much with this one.

Start with the mid values and work your way towards the darkest and the lightest, blending and layering where needed. It’s always much easier to add than to have to remove a much too dark application.

For the lighter values, lightly go over the area with your pencil and then softly smudge it with your preferred tool.

Keep layering and smudging until you reach the desired values. I like to lightly go over the smudge areas with my pencil to add a subtle texture — that’s my own preferred way of doing things. If you want to keep it all smooth, then just leave it at that blended stage.

Drawn on the B6 Artist’s Sketchbook from ZenART Supplies.

Leave the darkest areas for when you’re certain of how dark you need to go. It’s quite hard to erase heavily applied and very dark charcoal markings. And your charcoal drawing will look dirty or messy if that happens.

Graphite pencils or pens are much harder which allows techniques such as stippling, hatching, and cross-hatching to be much finer when using them for shading or textural effects. Charcoal, being on the softer side, makes it more challenging to use those techniques. And the sharpness of your charcoal's tip will make a difference on the kinds of marks it'll make. You'll still be able to do them, don't worry! The effect is just very different. The easiest way to use charcoal is to blend, layer, and redact it.

If you found that too easy, then this next one might be more up your alley!

Charcoal Figure Drawing

I’ve chosen a photo of a woman’s back with dramatic lighting for a nice contrast between the lightest and darkest values. Choosing subjects with a good range of values makes it easier to achieve very compelling results.

Just like with the sphere above, start by sketching out the form. Then identify the major value changes or differences, already marking where they are making for an easier workflow.

Start with the midtones just like before and again work your way towards the lightest and the darkest values. Work in sections so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Once you’ve added the darkest areas, you’ll be able to adjust all the other values if needed.

Here’s a time-lapse video of my charcoal drawing process so you can better understand my working flow:



You can find the reference photo I used here, if you’d like to give it a try. And here’s the final work:

Drawn on a 9 x 12 inch Watercolor pad/block from ZenART Supplies.

Charcoal Drawing Ideas To Inspire You

Here are a few that I hope will encourage you to draw with charcoal. There are so many subjects waiting for you to draw and explore. Something as simple as an egg can be quite interesting when properly lit and placed in a good composition.

Scenic Views

“A Zandmennik house” by Vincent Van Gogh, 1879, charcoal on paper.

Why not draw cityscapes or landscapes? Or the view outside your window. It doesn’t need to be super detailed or hyper-realistic. Focus on the values and how they play against each other.

Animal Charcoal Drawings

“An Elephant” by Rembrandt, 1637, charcoal on paper.

Animals also make for great drawing subjects, you can be more rough and visibly linear with your renderings just like Rembrandts’. This will help add texture or suggest movement to your animal drawings.

Dramatic Charcoal Portraits

“Portrait of an Italian” by Edgar Degas, 1856, charcoal.

Charcoal is perfect for creating dramatic monochromatic portraits. You can really create a wonderful drawing by choosing to bathe your subject in dramatic lighting that’ll give you wonderful high-contrast values.

Remember, just keep drawing and practicing. The more often you do it, the more progress you’ll see in your charcoal drawing techniques. And all you need are just a few supplies to get starting! And don’t be afraid to get messy, drawing with charcoal is one beautiful mess of an experience.

If you’re looking to draw some portraits in charcoal but need more guidance with the proportions and such, check out our How To Draw a Basic Portrait and How To Draw ¾ View Face articles. You’ll find step-by-step guides to help you out.

We’d love to hear from you!

Have you tried drawing with charcoal before? What did you find was the most challenging aspect of it? If it’s your first try, what are you thinking of drawing for your first time? Looking for a topic that we haven’t covered yet? Let me know in the comments below, I’m always looking forward to hearing back from you.

Join our friendly art community Painting Inspiration Daily on Facebook. You can share your art and ideas, watch LIVE tutorials, and be inspired to paint!

Have a fun drawing time!


Kathleen is the Wordsmith at ZenART, resident artist and art editor. When God sent a shower of talents, Kathleen made sure she got a basketful of them! She's a visual artist with practical knowledge on various fields from painting and sculpture, to costume and set design which comes in very handy when writing about various art techniques and theories. She also shares her passion for the arts through teaching. She runs her own brand of handmade wirework jewelry designs.

Leave A Comment

Special Discounts