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Basic techniques with Pitt Charcoal

Natural charcoal is the oldest sketching and drawing material in the world. The greyish-blue shade glides softly across the paper, rubs and smudges easily, and can be erased without difficulty and repeatedly overlaid. Many art students are taught to first make sketches in natural charcoal, even when working on canvas, before further elaborating the details of the picture. Faber-Castell has developed two further products based on this classic drawing material, namely pressed charcoal sticks and pressed charcoal pencils. Ground natural charcoal is enriched with black pigment, and then compressed with clay to form a crayon. This results in a significantly blacker shade, which is available in 5 different grades of hardness. The pressed and natural charcoals in pencil and crayon form are a tried and tested traditional art material, as are the natural charcoal sticks. All of the charcoal products in the Art & Graphic range have a high level of light-fastness.

Pressed and natural charcoal sticks

The pressed charcoal sticks are made of charcoal, which has been enriched with additional pigment and then pressed together with clay to form crayons of different grades of hardness. It leaves strokes of deep black, which can be smudged with a finger to create an even area of intense black colour. Pressed charcoal is ideally suited to larger areas, as it is somewhat softer. Natural charcoal is harder, and thus perfect for drawing outlines and details.

Brush painting

Due to its high level of pigmentation, pressed charcoal can be painted over using a bristle brush and paraffin oil (baby oil or salad oil) to create areas of intense colour.

Transitions pressed charcoal

Pressed charcoal produces a very intense colour. Transitions enable its full range of shades, from pitch black to light grey, to be shown to best advantage.

Natural charcoal

Natural charcoal is made by charring willow twigs in the absence of oxygen. The strokes can be easily smudged with a finger to create a grey surface.


Natural charcoal is available in a range of diameters. The colour deposit and character of the charcoal sticks is uniform. The strokes are very easy to erase. Fixing is required to preserve the drawings.

Transitions natural charcoal

Natural charcoal has a very limited intensity of colour. Its delicate greyish-blue hue is shown to advantage in very fine colour transitions. 


Charcoal drawings smudge very easily, and thus require fixing.