Introduction: How to Draw With Charcoal Pastels

This instructable is a BASIC tutorial for drawing with charcoal pastels.
The violin was my first ever experience with this medium.
I will explain the process as best I can. (I just realized I no longer have all the picture of my process.)

Before we begin, I would like to tell you what I think it takes to draw.

1. Shapes
2. Details
3. Shapes

That's really it. If you can draw shapes and you can recognize one color from another, or when more than one color seems to be present and you can be patient and focused, you can draw!

Step 1: Choosing a Reference Picture

I like to do animals more than anything. I love animals more than anything.
The first animal I did a portrait of was my grandmother's cat Princess. I have sold pictures of people's pets as well.

You want to make sure that the picture you choose has enough detail and was taken in decent lighting. It also helps if it is large enough for you to see detail and it really helps if you are personally connected to the subject.

Step 2: Outlining a Basic Shape

This is a little more detailed of an outline than you need.
You need to focus on your image and make sure you are getting your proportions correct. If it is easier for you, you can create a grid to go by.
The resin I add little splotches where the color is different is because I like to make sure the picture is going to look like my subject. However, adding those splotches is very unnecessary with your basic outline, since you will probably be coloring over the area before adding the different color.

Step 3: Coloring in the Basic Colors

The next thing you want to do is color basic colors.
I prefer to use drawing paper over charcoal paper because the paper is less textured. HOWEVER, if your subject has a lot of different colors to it then you will NEED to use charcoal paper, otherwise the colors will smudge and cover one another, rather than blend into one another.

*For this step you should refer to the solid color of the collar and nose portion, not the face of the dog.

I do a base color for every part of my picture. If the dog is primarily brown, I do brown, then maybe black where needed, or red, or white. I do not overlap or blend yet.

Step 4: Adding the Detail

Now it is time to add the details like in the picture before. This step is what makes the creature come together. You need to pay attention to the details and the blending of the colors. Don't go by what you think a dog or cat or violin should look like, go by what the picture actually looks like. If you are having trouble doing that, try flipping your reference picture upside down and drawing that way. Then it become an object, rather than a thing you know very well.

As an example of color blending, for the violin picture (the first charcoal pastel picture I ever drew), I looked very carefully to not that the violin was not simply "Brown." The violin had some orange and some red in it, as well, and all in different places. Because of lights and angles, objects are almost never (if ever) all the same color/shade. Also with the violin picture, I noticed in my reference picture that the violin was hanging against a cupboard. I saw that there was a dark crease in the middle. Originally, the background was solid black but when I noticed the crease, I added a thin layer of dark blue to the background, a little more black, and then I added the dark center line with just a touch of grey to show depth. I do not think anybody else would look at the picture and even notice that, but it guarantee you would notice if it WASN'T there.