What would be better for shadows, charcoal or smudged pencil?i have a really big assessment task coming and i would like to know. please and thank you

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The choice of medium is literally and figuratively in the hands of the artist.  By this statement, I mean that an artist who uses one medium that he is comfortable with can often render effects that others cannot.  Nonetheless, there is, it seems, a distinct advantage to pencils over charcoal:  With the different qualities of lead in pencils, the artist can achieve more variety in shades.  So, if the artist wishes to make a light shadow, it seems easier to arrive at the degree of grey that he/she wants by selecting the appropriate softeness of lead.  In addition, pencils lend themselves to crosshatching and other effects that, also, can suggest shadowing.

lit24 | Student

'smudged pencil' would be ideal for creating shadows. To create the effect of a shadow you must first be aware of the direction from which the light is falling on the object. The shadow always falls exactly in the opposite direction from the source of light. First draw a thick outline with a soft dark pencil then using cotton start smudging in an outward direction so that the shadow shades off from dark to light from the edges to the center.

The problem with charcoal is that it is always messier and if something goes wrong it is difficult to erase charcoal. Handling and manipulating charcoal needs a lot of practice and only an expert artist can do it.

arrellbelle | Student

This totally depends on you and maybe what you're drawing because using charcoal can evoke a sense of mysteriousness and really convey shadows well. Whereas, a smudged graphite pencil shows more control and possibly a wider range of values to get the full effect of a shadow. Personally, I like using graphite pencils when doing shading.