Charcoal pencil life drawing techniques

Man on tall stool

Man on tall stool

Medium: Charcoal pencil.

My favourite thing with this drawing is the knee that his hand is on. I intentionally made the outlines on his knee slightly stronger than the drawing in the background and as a result his knee is pushed forward and kind of stands out from the picture. I will definitely be using this technique from now on in my work, it's very effective.

Softly drawn girl

Softly drawn girl

Medium: Charcoal on art paper.

Creation time: One and a half hours.

I attempted to make this drawing really soft. I avoided using harsh black lines and I tried to keep the lines I did use to a minimum. I really like the result.

Look at the Detail in her face to see how I've simplified the drawing.

Man seated with hands on stool

Man seated with hands on stool

Medium: Charcoal pencil.

Creation time: 1 hour 10 minutes.

This drawing came out well even though I was quite tired when I started it. I put a lot of effort into the shading and I tried to vary the intensity of the outlines depending on if that area of the body was in shadow or not.

One regret is that I didn't draw the stool in, it looks like he is awkwardly crouching in space which of course he wasn't! A picture like this will always look better if the pose seems relaxed, without the stool it looks a bit odd.

Girl leaning over from back

Girl leaning over from back

Medium: Charcoal pencil.

Creation time: 30 minutes.

This is a quick scan from my sketchbook. There are some nice light and shadow shapes in the pose and I think her hair turned out well too. I should have spent more time on her hands though.

Cute girl

Cute girl

Medium: Charcoal pencil.

Creation time: 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Trust me, this girl was cute even if I wasn't able to capture it properly. I had plenty of time to draw it, I guess I just wasn't on form at the time.

Dark haired girl

Dark haired girl

Medium: Charcoal pencil.

Creation time: 10ish minutes.

The sparse black lines of hair really made this drawing work. The profile of her face was beautiful too, I wish I had more time to capture it.

Free for commercial use

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share or remix the work for personal or commercial use providing you link back to this page.


dark-haired-girl.jpg (5.2MB)

Girl resting on her side

Girl resting on her side

Medium: Charcoal pencil.

Creation time: 5 minutes.

I found this model was difficult to draw because of her long hair covering her shoulders, I couldn't see a lot of the bony landmarks!

Two girls entwined

Two girls entwined

Medium: Charcoal pencil on white paper.

Creation time: 5 minutes each.

Two 5 minute figure drawings of the same model in different poses. I was just trying to save paper by drawing in the gaps and it turned out nicely. I managed to block in more tones in the second (right) drawing.

Standing girl in shadow

Standing girl in shadow

Medium: Charcoal pencil on cartridge paper.

Creation time: 10 minutes.

A tonal rendering of a girl standing up resting her hands up high.

Female curves

Female curves

Medium: Charcoal pencil.

Creation time: five minutes.

A beautiful pose of a women standing side-on with the light coming from the right.

Female bust

Female bust

Medium: Charcoal pencil on white paper.

Creation time: four minutes.

An unfinished drawing of a women's bust.

Girl resting on knee

Girl resting on knee

Medium: Charcoal pencil on cartridge paper.

Creation time: 15 minutes.

Just a simple life drawing. Lots of shadow shapes in this pose. There are a few anatomical errors in this drawing but I hope to get better by drawing regularly now.

Free for commercial use

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share or remix the work for personal or commercial use providing you link back to this page.


girl-resting-on-knee.zip (3.7MB)

Girl leaning on chair

Girl leaning on chair

Medium: Charcoal pencil on cartridge paper.

Creation time: 20 minutes.

This is my first life drawing in over five years... Yikes! I must admit, it feels good to be drawing again after such a long time. I'm a bit rusty though ;)

Just this week a new life drawing venue opened up two minutes walk from my work so I had to check it out. I really love it so far. The people are nice and it starts when I finish work in the evening, so how could I not go! I'm planning to draw every week from now on.


Another thing I've been meaning to do for a while is to provide high-resolution scans of my drawings for free via a Creative Commons license. I'm starting that today. When I get time I'll add downloads for all my previous artworks too.

Free for commercial use

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share or remix the work for personal or commercial use providing you link back to this page.


girl-leaning-on-chair.zip (2.7MB)

Girl reclining with head on hand

Girl reclining with head on hand

Medium: Charcoal pencil on art paper.

Creation time: 20 minutes.

Just a simple reclining pose.

Great seated pose

Great seated pose

Medium: Charcoal pencil.

Creation time: 5 minutes.

This was a really interesting pose to draw. I love the way she is twisted around but she still looks relaxed.

Seated girl with head on hand

Seated girl with head on hand

Medium: Charcoal pencil.

Creation time: 30 minutes.

This was quite a large drawing.

Foreshortened girl

Foreshortened girl

Medium: Charcoal pencil.

Creation time: 10 minutes.

Just a simple drawing of a girl lying down in a foreshortened position. I didn't do a very good job on her hair, it looks a bit messy.

Twisted girl

Twisted girl

Medium: Black and white charcoal.

Creation time: 30 minutes.

This is a difficult pose and there are a number of things wrong however I am especially proud of her feet. I always have trouble drawing the underside of feet but somehow in this drawing I managed to do them well. I think the reason why feet are so hard to draw is because when you stare at them long enough they start to look like some horrible weirdly shaped things and that can freak you out a bit! (I don't recommend looking at her feet for too long!)

Slim girl sitting

Slim girl sitting

Medium: Charcoal pencil.

Creation time: 15 minutes.

This drawing worked out quite nicely however I didn't try very hard with her face and stuffed it up a little bit. It did look like her but I feel that her features are a bit dark and that tends to attract your eye.

Girl sitting with arm back

Girl sitting with arm back

Medium: Charcoal pencil.

Creation time: 15 minutes.

I'm very happy with this drawing. I didn't draw the whole figure this time so I could spend more time focusing on the detail of the face and upper body. I drew her face very quickly and it worked out nicely. I also like how her legs just fade off the bottom of the picture.

Girl with pillow

Girl with pillow

Medium: Charcoal pencil.

Creation time: 20 minutes.

This type of pose can be very difficult, most of the drawing time is spent working out where everything is.

I don't think I quite captured the perspective, her head and arm should have been slightly smaller. But apart from that I'm quite happy with this one. Both of her hands look nice and relaxed too.

Man leaning on block

Man leaning on block

Medium: Charcoal pencil.

Creation time: 5 minutes.

This is a really interesting pose, unfortunately I didn't get enough time to do all the shading. It still has a nice relaxed feel to it though.

Crouching man's back

Crouching man's back

Medium: Charcoal pencil on art paper.

Creation time: 5 minutes.

Just a quick sketch of a man's back.

Sitting man's side

Sitting man's side

Medium: Charcoal pencil on art paper.

Creation time: 5 minutes.

Just a simple drawing that I liked.

Six girls from my sketchbook

Six girls from my sketchbook

Medium: Charcoal pencil on art paper.

Creation time: 3 minutes each.

This is a page of 3-minute drawings from my sketchbook. When I'm drawing well it's nice to see the model in different poses all together on the one page.

Something like this would be nice to frame if it was drawn on toned paper with coloured chalk.

Reclining girl with pillow

Reclining girl with pillow

Medium: Charcoal.

Creation time: 30 minutes.

I really like this drawing but on my previous website the maximum size that it was being displayed was too small and it didn't look any good. Make sure you see the largest version.

Girl reclining on her back

Girl reclining on her back

Medium: Charcoal.

Creation time: 30 minutes.

There are some nice lines in this drawing but I think her hand is a little too small.

Foreshortened girl sitting

Foreshortened girl sitting

Medium: Charcoal pencil on art paper.

Creation time: 15 minutes.

I really like this pose but it's not a very good sketch considering how long it took me. Some days I just can't draw as well!

Nude Series

Nude Series

Medium: Charcoal pencil on blue paper.

Creation time: 3 minutes each.

This is a series of four, three minute life drawings of a female model. I quite often draw a number of quick sketches on the same page because it can look nice seeing the same model in a variety of poses.

Sitting girl in burgundy

Sitting girl in burgundy

Medium: Charcoal pencil on burgundy paper .

Creation time: 10 minutes.

There is not much to this drawing because I only had 10 minutes to do it. You can see how I start constructing the drawing, especially the rib cage.

Reclining girl's back

Reclining girl's back

Medium: Charcoal pencil on grey paper.

Creation time: 10 minutes.

This is pretty much just an outline (no shading) but I love the proportions, very nice.