We establish form in all subjects by observing the light, medium and dark values. Keep the shapes simple and general and begin blocking in these passages with a useful tool – a “sock” filled with powdered charcoal. Once these shadow planes are blocked in we can either lift out highlights with an eraser or develop darker passages and details with compressed charcoal.
Create your own sock by cutting off the toe of a light weight dress sock and fill it with charcoal powder or place charcoal sticks inside, tie off with string or elastic band and crush with a hammer.Try blends of charcoal and conte for a traditional feel. Conté is a drawing medium composed of compressed powdered graphite or charcoal mixed with a wax or clay base. It is water-soluble and thus can give contrasting effects of dry texture and smooth blending or washes. A heavier drawing paper works best with conte since it needs more pressure to erase.