Sketching on Black Paper with toned charcoal

Using Black paper for charcoal sketches works exactly the opposite way as that of working with white paper. We usually sketch the dark areas and then erase off the highlights while drawing on white paper. But with black, we usually draw the highlights and let the dark background work its magic!


The basic charcoal pencil used for drawing on black paper is white charcoal pencil. Im using Mont Marte White charcoal pencils- Set of 3 ( soft,medium,hard).

Other than the basic white pencils, coloured charcoal can also be used. For landscapes/flowers/fruits/birds/animals the usual colours set can be used. But usually for portraits , colours like sanguine, sepia, ochre etc. are used for bringing out subtle skin tones.

For my sample drawing below, I have used :

  • MontMarte A4 size black sketchbook
  • MontMarte coloured charcoal pencils for portraits
  • Derwent coloured pencils
  • Montmarte Black eraser
  • Blending stump
  • Fixative spray


Step 1 : Firstly, complete the basic sketch using a normal graphite pencil (HB). Im using a graphite pencil instead of white because in case you make any mistakes, it can be easily erased.


Step 2: Once you are happy with what you have sketched, start using the coloured charcoal pencils. I have started with the face, using white and ochre colours. Based on the light and shadows, make sure to use white for the lighted spots and ochre for the shadows. In a few places, I have also used sepia for darker spots. Make sure to use blending stumps to blend the colours softly.


Step 3: Next we move on to the hair. Again I have used the white and ochre for the few strands of hair exposed to light and also for the jewel on the hair. Even though the background is black, I have used black pencil to highlight the hair strands with bold strokes. Next move on the flowers on the hair, for this I have used ochre and highlighted with white in a few areas.


Step 4: Next step is the ear , neck and the jewellery for which I have used white and ochre and also black in between to bring out the highlights.


Step 5: To complete the sketch, draw bold strokes of white and ochre at the edges of the page and also give a minute outline with black to fine tune the edges.

If you have tried something similar, feel free to say something in the comments section! 🙂


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