If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, ARTNews may receive an affiliate commission.
From early cave painters to Pablo Picasso to Roberto Longo, artists have long loved the expressive potential of a soft charcoal pencil or crayon. Each sweep of charcoal offers intense black color and easy blending for preliminary studies, lush landscapes, or photorealistic portraits. There is a wide variety of artist’s charcoals on the market, each with its own unique set of properties and ingredients. Compressed charcoal is a soft block or stick, often created from burned birch, clay, and black pigment. Charcoal pencils are similar to graphite pencils; they’re often used to render crisp, detailed drawings. There are also delicate charcoals made from burning willow twigs and grape vines. Buying charcoal implements in a set is a nice option, giving you tools for an array of effects from