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  • Writer's pictureleocharre .

Best charcoal pencil

I’ve made a transition in my art from graphite to charcoal. I have learned a few things that make the difference (at least for me) between being comfortable with charcoal and simply suffering from it. My specialty is line work. Not all charcoal pencils are the same.

Wood: Ever sharpened a pencil and found the wood splinter- be too soft or too hard to sharpen properly? In my breakdown, wood means that. That you can easily sharpen the pencil- you won’t waste too much of it.

Material quality: What you have after you put down the line. What you have on the surface- how easy it is to move around, how well it stays on the surface, quality of pigment, etc.

Quality: overall desireability of product.

Selected Charcoal Types

General’s Charcoal Wood: good Material quality: poor Quality: poor

PRIMO (General Pencil Company) Wood: good Material quality: good Quality: best The PRIMO line of charcoal pencils is amazing. You must have the whites as well, they are perfectly opaque. These are the best pencils to sharpen. I suggest you use mainly the HB- the B pencils are very soft- and you will find yourself sharpening endlessly. Found this out the hard way. You can actually use a good pencil sharpener to keep a decent tip, other charcoal pencils would crumble. When you look for these you will also find the PRIMO Elite Grande 5000, be aware that this pencil is broader than the regular pencils, and you will need a larger pencil sharpener for it, which are available. This larger charcoal pencil is nice but more expensive, stick to the regular size.

Gioconda (Koh I Noor) Wood: poor Material quality: good Quality: good Sharpening with a standard pencil sharpener works half the time. You need a razor blade to keep a fine tip on these. This brand also carries a Sepia Dark 8804 and Sepia Light 8803 that I recommend as compliments to your regular charcoal work. I can tell using this line of charcoal pencils that the pigment/material quality is very high, but the wood used is not very good.

Other materials you will be using:

Kneaded eraser. Standard rubber eraser. Small eraser. Stumps. Brush. Toned paper.

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