10 Easy Charcoal and Ink Drawing Techniques for Beginners

green and white leafed plantsFor people who are just beginning to get into art, it is easy to see that there are a lot of techniques to try. When you are a beginner, the number of things that there are to learn can be overwhelming.

You might find that there are so many options you don’t know where to start. For most artists, this can be a bit paralyzing. Of course, the best way to learn how to make great art is to experiment.

This is why we brought together this list of pen drawing and charcoal drawing techniques for your convenience. As you begin to explore the options at your disposal for drawing with different kinds of tools, it can be a lot. It is important to remember that most people do not know all the techniques.

Even professional artists tend to have niches with a brief exploration of other kinds. That isn’t to say that you can’t try it all, but starting easy can help you to stay committed. You will find that some techniques have amazing results without necessarily demanding you to be perfect.

Use An Eraser For Simple Highlights

—Not too many people think about erasing when they first start working on a charcoal drawing. This is because charcoal can look fairly unique compared to other pencils. For a lot of people, the assumption is that if you erase it, it will only smear it.

While you can use an eraser to smear charcoal to some extent, you absolutely can erase. Erasing it can take your charcoal drawing to the next level.

After you have done your drawing with the normal charcoal pencil, it is time to break out the old eraser. While you no doubt left gaps when drawing as a sort of highlighting technique, you can advance upon this by using your eraser.

Go in and make your highlights more bold by brushing away the existing charcoal. This will help you to get a more smooth balance between the darkness of your art and the lightness of the highlights.

Explore Cross-Hatching As A Pattern Option

—For pen drawing, there are so many techniques available that it might make your head spin. One particularly effective method of drawing with ink is to embrace cross-hatching. This is a technique that has been used for years and no tool makes it easier than a pen.

It is a great way to add a sense of imperfection despite the crisp lines that ink usually brings. You can use this method to create compelling textures as you explore pen drawing.

Cross-hatching is a fairly simple act. It involves focusing on drawing lines in one direction and then crossing over them with another set of lines. There are many ways to do this. In some instances, you might cover an entire surface with this look. In others, you might instead focus on using it to create shadows or add depth to your drawing. It makes it easy for you to focus on making something with a little more complexity.

Use A White Charcoal Pencil For Stark Highlights

—Most people operate under the idea that all charcoal products are black. When we think of charcoal, black is the color that comes to mind. However, the reality is that white charcoal pencils are incredible products.

They are particularly effective when you use them with their darker counterparts. You can easily enjoy making amazing creations with this product type. It is perfect for helping you to get the most out of your charcoal drawing experience.

You can see an example of this technique here. The general idea is that you will use traditional charcoal to create your masterpiece. After you have finished drawing out what you were hoping to create, you will find that it is a great time to bring in the white charcoal pencil.

As a general tip, make sure that your pencil is clean. It can become compromised when you are using it with traditional charcoal, which can dirty the tip. To avoid this, simply draw or clean the tool after each use.

To effectively carry out this method, you can focus on using the white charcoal as a highlighting tool. While there are plenty of effective ways to use white charcoal beyond this, it can have an amazing impact on your drawings. Using your white pencil, simply modify your charcoal drawing with highlights. This will build a beautiful contrast on the page.

Vary Your Strokes

—One thing that surprises some beginners is the fact that you can do quite a lot with pens. A pen drawing does not necessarily have to be a sharp and vivid image. There are entire techniques that you can use to add a little something extra to your pen drawings. By embracing the diversity of this medium instead of drawing in the same way that you would write, you can make amazing art.

The best way to begin growing your understanding of making art with pens and ink is to recognize what it can do. It might seem a little odd to hold a pen differently than you normally would, but this is where the magic happens. You can easily tilt are change the way that you hold your pen to create different strokes.

By varying the angle your pen is at as well as pressure, you can make some truly unique lines. Many amazing works of art with ink change stroke type during the same line. You can push hard and soften your grip over time as you drag the pen across the page.

Use A Paintbrush to Blend Your Charcoal Drawings

—For beginners, it can be interesting to realize how much more effective charcoal is with the right tools. While some artistic tools are best used alone, charcoal thrives with other elements. You can use a variety of other tools to make some truly stunning effects with charcoal. Though many people rely on just the pencil and their fingers, it pays to bring in a little something extra.

One thing that sets charcoal apart is how well it can be blending. Blending charcoal can lead to some truly amazing effects. To do this, you can use a variety of methods. However, one particularly effective approach is actually to blend your charcoal drawings with a paintbrush.

A clean paintbrush can do a lot for charcoal, particularly about smoothing it out. Using clean and even strokes, you can make some amazing effects when it comes to your charcoal-based works of art.

Give Your Pen Drawings Texture With Stippling

—Not only is stippling a silly word, but it can feel a little silly to do. This is one approach for pen drawings that can have some surprising impacts. One area that many young artists struggle with is adding texture to a drawing.

While most can make some exciting lines and shapes, they find their drawings feel empty. Adding texture to your drawings is a great way to bring them to life. It gives them more artistic depth and makes them look better all around.

Stippling is simply the act of adding dots on the page. While you can do this in a variety of ways, it is easiest to simply dab or point the pen and move it around while pressing down frequently. The effect is a lot of little dots. This might not sound like it will do much, but it adds a lot to works of art. You will love seeing what it can do for your pen drawings.

Create Texture in Charcoal Drawings by Varying Pressure

—The power of charcoal is the soft texture it comes in. You can use this to your benefit as you learn and grow with this medium. It gives you the power to make stark contrast within your charcoal drawings. Using varying pressure, you can create a fascinating balance between light and dark. This makes it easy for you to make certain elements of your art well and truly stand out.

As you work, think about the parts that you want to emphasize. This will allow you to consider where you should work in a starker contrast. You can achieve this by pressing down hard in certain areas and lighter in others. The result is a product that catches the eye in certain places. You can use this to drive the way that people look at your art.

Use Your Finger and Water to Blend

—Few people think about blending when it comes to pen drawings. This is because most of us see ink as a permanent and unmovable force after being scolded over it as children. Worse, most people think that smearing ink is a bad thing.

However, in the world of art, it can be a pretty amazing technique to use once you get it down. You can easily blend the ink in your drawings by using water.

Before you die of shock, don’t worry. We would advise you to try this with some standalone lines before implementing it on a masterpiece. It is a technique that requires a little bit of practice to get down. There is a fine line between impressive blending and ruined pen drawings.

To dodge this, you will work on something else first. Simply draw your line and before the ink completely dries, add some water. Using your finger press the ink around to learn how to control it.

Smear Charcoal onto the Page

—Most people know that you can blend charcoal by drawing with it and using some sort of surface to smear it. However, you don’t have to put the charcoal on your drawing to get a great effect. It can be helpful to put the charcoal on something else like a different piece of paper and blend first. You can then use the paper and loose charcoal to make a smoother blended texture onto your masterpiece. This can also be done with durable tissues, but you will want to be careful to avoid tearing.

Let Your Ink Bleed

—If you are looking for a fun effect on paper, you can always mix water and ink. By applying a small drop of water to a page and then dabbing your pen into it, you can generally create a cool effect. This only works with some kinds of pens. You can also do this with loose ink if you are up to the challenge. You will love watching the ink swirl through the water almost as much as you love the results. Make sure you give the work of art enough time to dry.


Art is therapeutic because it is a way for you to freely express yourself. The truth is that there is no right or wrong way to go about making art. If you are looking for a way to break out of the box, we would encourage you to explore these mediums and see what you can do.

You can rely on existing techniques that are tried and true to improve your craft. If you are feeling more experimental, you can always try to make your very own techniques. This is perfect for getting the most out of your experience as an artist. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and see what you can create. The results might surprise you.

What technique from this list would you try?

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