The Monochrome Lover

All about pencil and charcoal sketching

Month: March 2017

Because everyone can draw

One really must experience how light it feels, to sit with their sketchpad and charcoal for an hour. For the people, out there, who’ve never tried that, this post is for you.

Most of us are self-taught artists, which means our technique and our ideas would differ from one another. Nevertheless, the basics never change and we have some help from Erika, giving us some tricks to create winning sketches.

Create awesome charcoal portraits, no matter how difficult it is!

Always start with enhance the reference image on Photoshop using techniques cropping, so that we have a format and a skeleton for our drawing. Then, print it to the exact size we want our sketch to be.  For example, if our sketch is going to be an 11” x 14” or larger drawing size, print it on a ledger size paper of 14” x 17”.

‘The grid-method’ on drawing paper

Once printed, divide the print-out and the drawing paper in squares of 4 inches, called the ‘Grid-method‘, so the image comes out as a grid. Further divide the face in 2 inch squares, especially around the eyes and mouth. The grid allows us to transfer the portrait proportions as accurately as possible.

Sample of the grid-method used in drawing objects

With the grid in place on the drawing paper, start outlining the head, neck, shoulders, and then the face with a graphite pencil or a black crayon. Further the grid-method helps you to a great extent while drawing the features of the face.


The trick is to start with the top and go downwards of the sketch, so you start with the eyes and end with the mouth/ lips .

Finally, use the charcoal pencil to give the bold strokes to complete the sketch and to do the highlights, always use a mechanical eraser.

Charcoal is a very messy medium, so we really have to be careful as a beginner.

From white paper to wall frames: A chat with Erika Farkas

Have you ever wondered making a career in canvas and colours? While I was wondering about the scope for art as a career, I got to interact with Erika Farkas, a Romania based artist, specialized in charcoal and portrait and here is what I learnt…

Erika Farkas, a Romania based artist

Q: How do you think the society has accepted art as profession in this age? Has it progressed since the past?

Erika: Art as a profession has certainly progressed. Back in the renaissance, artists only worked on commissions from their patrons, they rarely created works for their own enjoyment.  The acceptance of women in the artist profession has also come a long way. However, now there are too many talented artists out there, and if want to make it as an artist, you have to be original and stand out from the crowd.

Q: How did you prepare yourself to choose art as a career?

Basically, I started drawing. I was always pretty good at it. The more I drew, the better I became at it and I developed my own style, or so I would like to think.

Q: Was it not difficult for you to pursue a career in art without a formal training? How did you handle it?

My belief is that you don’t need a formal training if you are able to learn and experiment on your own. But nowadays, there is so much free information on the internet, free instructions from accomplished artists from where you can learn the basics without paying an arm and a leg for a fine art degree.

Takeaway from the chat: “My advice for the beginners is the Nike slogan “Just do it!”. Keep at it and I promise that the more you practice, the better you get and the greater will your satisfaction be!”



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