Denzel Washington – charcoal portraiture


I just recently completed another charcoal portraiture, this time of Denzel Washington from the Hollywood remake of “The Magnificent Seven”.  I have only a few more western theme portraits to complete, but I will also be drawing other subjects in between the portraits.  Hope you enjoy.

MATERIALS USED:  Fabriano Artistico hotpress 300 gsm water-color paper; NITRAM and Generals charcoals; a piece of felt; a soft tea sponge; and a kneaded eraser

I first began by creating an outline using a B grade nitram fusain.  I like using the B vine charcoal to create the outlines, as it is MUCH easier to erase than graphite and you can easily blend it into the drawing as it develops.


Look closely at the drawing above. You will see that I put down strokes in the direction the material would run if it were being worn/sewn. When it comes to drawing, the most important technique to creating realistic visual art is to make absolutely certain that you draw with the contour of the image you want.  Going against the contour will make your drawing look really strange and unappealing.

I prefer blocking in around the subjects face when I start a portrait. I don’t know why I prefer to do this but it helps me in a way that I can only describe as “setting the range of values and tones” that will help contrast and enhance the face.  If you ever get the chance to watch me draw a portrait, I will always draw the clothing and hair first before I ever touch the face.  I also leave the eyes for last.

Drapery is something that I enjoy rendering, probably because of all the mastercopies I have made of William Adolphe Bouguereau’s work.  If you want to learn how to render drapery – study the great masters of the past.


And now for the completed drawing.


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