Make a Start in Art: The Basics of Line in Charcoal

Make a Start in Art: The Basics of Line in Charcoal

Rosa Roberts, WHSmith Resident Art Expert –

In this video I draw a still life in charcoal on white paper that has been coloured mid-grey using an initial layer of charcoal. I explain the thought processes I am having along the way in order for me to draw the outlines accurately and work out the spacial relationships going on in the composition. The result is a line drawing which can be shaded later or left as it is.

You will learn techniques such as looking at the space between objects (the negative space) in order to place things correctly, and how large to draw one thing in relation to another (proportion). There are also some basic points that are general to most still life drawing such as drawing a curved line for the bottom of round objects as opposed to flat.

I would watch this video once all the way through before pausing and either attempting to draw from the still-life on screen or setting up something similar at home for you to have a go at.

Working in charcoal on the grey charcoal surface is great as you can rub out mistakes with your finger and erase back down to white paper once it’s time to start adding shading and highlights (see next video). Working in charcoal like this is really tactile fun and easy, give it a go. But remember to prepare the paper to grey first as shown in the video, if you just draw with charcoal straight onto white paper it won’t have the same effect.


To practise line drawing at home you’ll need to stock up on charcoal and a blank piece of white paper.

Once you’ve mastered line, move onto our next video; Make a Start in Art: The Basics of Tone
For more art tips you can browse our selection of #MakeAStartInArt videos here.

If you’d like to find out more about Rosa and her background as an artist/art tutor, then don’t forget to check out our Rosa Roberts Profile.