Portrait in charcoal

Peter Keegan


For this demonstration Peter used a different approach using a new piece of art equipment - the tablet computer.

The 'sitter' for this portrait demonstration was Nichola , our chairman. Peter took some photos of Nichola positioned near a window so the face was lit strongly from the side.

The resulting image was then converted to monochrome, and the tablet hung at the side of the easel.

Using willow charcoal on a mid toned grey sugar paper, Peter first positioned the face on the paper at approximately life size. Firstly the top of the head and the bottom of the chin were marked, the curved centre-line of the face was added, followed by the line of the eyes, the bottom of the nose and the centre-line of the lips. This was drawn very lightly with the charcoal so the photo below has had the contrast increased to enhance visibility.

The hair and neckline were then roughly positioned, followed by the posiitons of the eyes, nose and lips. The charcoal was still used very lightly and any unwanted lines were removed by gentle wiping with a fingertip.

Now the charcoal was applied with more pressure to produce a darker line, and some shadow areas were introduced.

Now the real dark areas were applied using the side of the charcoal, and some darker tone added to the shadier side of the face.

Using a charcoal pencil, more detail was added to the eyes and particularly to the lips.

There followed a period of continuous refinement particularly with regard to the tone values, darkening with more charcoal and lightening with the aid of an eraser.

Peter concentrating hard

Finally some highlights were added with the sparing use of white chalk.

A close up of the finished demonstration.

Nichola with her finished portrait