Many people think of a charcoal drawing as lacking the vibrancy and depth compared to colored portraits since they are in black & white. However, in reality charcoal portraits contain a more dedicated creativity. When doing a charcoal sketch, an artist uses a scribbling & sketchy technique which expresses his emotions. Something which cannot be done with a realistic style oil portrait
Charcoal portraits were used for preliminary drawings during the early years of human history. The early origins of charcoal drawings are found in the caves of Lascaux, France which are inscribed onto the walls. During the Early and Middle Renaissance periods, many artists used charcoal drawing for exercises. Charcoal gives the artist the ability to freely draw their pieces and easily make corrections, something which is not so easily done with other mediums. By the 15th century charcoal was extensively used to prepare fine art. In the 16th century, full-scale drawings were transferred onto the support by pouncing charcoal dust through holes pricked in the paper.
Charcoal can be obtained in sticks, chunks, pencils, vine, and compressed charcoal. Willow and vine are the two most common woods used for charcoal portraits. They produce delicate grays and smudge easily, and are wonderful for all kinds of charcoal drawings. The difference between the two is that vine produces a darker line since the wood is softer. Charcoal comes in three basic densities which are soft, medium and hard. They are much easier to erase compared to the compressed charcoals. Compressed charcoal, as compared to uncompressed charcoal, can be shaped into longer sticks of charcoal. It is less messy to use than uncompressed charcoal and is rated by its hardness. It is used for a more robust charcoal drawing that doesn't smudge so much. Charcoal pencils are basically compressed charcoal with a timber casing for keeping the hands clean
Today many art studios offer charcoal portraits from your photos. You can provide them with any photo and they will transform it into a charcoal drawing. The most commong photos which can be used are of people, pets and animals. A charcoal artist can also draw a landscape photo. However, most people prefer other mediums for their landscape photos