Liquid Charcoal Drawing

See Prof Lieu’s first reaction to Nitram & Schmincke Liquid Charcoals.

Watch demos of how this liquid charcoal works on it’s own, and also in conjunction with compressed charcoal, erasers, and charcoal powder.

92 min. video

See how to layer and build up a convincing likeness with a range of specific tools that fit this technique. Demo by Art Prof Clara Lieu.

74 min. video

Video Walkthrough

  • Liquid charcoal appears to be like thick paint when you squirt it out, but once you add even just a bit of water it breaks down very quickly.
  • The liquid charcoal is a lot more similar to painting with ink wash, it is runny and very thin.
  • Liquid charcoal drawings will be fragile to the touch after drying, so they do require fixative to protect them.
  • Some liquid charcoals can be erased after drying, but many are too inconsistent to make this a viable technique.
  • The Schmincke grapeseed black was the one that erased the best, the Nitram didn’t eraser at all.
  • The differences between the various colors of the Schmincke liquid charcoals were whether they were warm or cool blacks.
  • The grapeseed was very cool (almost blue) while the peach stone, cherry pit, and Nitram liquid charcoal were warm blacks.
  • Layering compressed charcoal and charcoal pencil over the liquid charcoal after it dried works very well.
  • Using a paper towel to wipe away and lift areas of the liquid charcoal works very well.
  • You can dip a paper towel into water, and easily lift the liquid charcoal.
  • Using a big brush to push the liquid charcoal around can show very bold gestural brushwork.
  • Using a stiff surface to draw on, or on watercolor paper or a watercolor block is ideal.
  • I recommend starting with a vine charcoal sketch, followed by a quick pass of charcoal to ensure that you don’t lose your lines when you apply the charcoal pencil.
  • Some of the Schmincke tubes can have inconsistency, if it comes out too runny, you may need to mix it up.

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