How to Create a Realistic White Charcoal Rose on Black Paper

by Wendi OBrien


In this tutorial I show you How To Create A Realistic White Charcoal Rose on Black Paper.

I go over my techniques on creating the realistic textures of the rose petals using only 1 white charcoal pencil. I also explain a great technique on keeping your black paper clean as you work and a few other techniques I used for this rose completed in white charcoal.


Paper: Strathmore 400 Series Black Artagain

Pencil: Generals White Charcoal

Blending stumps – Small and Medium

Tombow Mono Eraser

Kneaded Eraser

Q-tip (Cotton Bud)

Pencil Sharpener

Creating Realism with 1 Pencil on Black Paper

 In this tutorial, I will be taking you through my journey of completing this realistic rose with just 1 white charcoal pencil.

Protecting Black Paper

Using black paper, everything and I mean everything shows up on this paper.  So, after transferring the linework, I placed masking film over the entirety of the artwork.

Usually you will see this done to protect the subject while working on the background.  In my case, I wanted to protect the background and the different areas I was going to be working on as created this artwork.  It just keeps everything clean and tidy and prevents smudging and having to retransfer your lines.

Exposing the Petals

I carefully cut out each individual petal as I worked.  This is a bit tricky to do on the paper, especially one so thin as this one. 

To keep from cutting the paper I use a very light hand, sharp blade and a bit of a side angle.  I follow the shape of the petal basically scoring the masking film if you will.  Some instances it will cut through to the paper but to ensure I don’t cut the paper itself, I like to use this scoring method.

Then as I left up the area I am working on I will follow that same score line to cut the rest of the way through.  For the most part it will follow that same line that you have already placed in the film, but you still need to be very careful and follow the shape. 

I have had much success with this technique after a bit of practice.  Let me know in the comments below if you would like to see a tutorial using this technique for cutting masking film.

Masking Film

Also, not all masking film is created equal, so you need one that isn’t excessively stretchy and cuts easily with a craft knife.  I am using xpress-it low tack.  I have tried the ones they sell at hobby lobby and I have to say for this technique it is a struggle. 

So be sure so research and find the one that works best for how you will be using it.  If you use masking film already, let me know what your favorite brand is and how you like to use it.

Charcoal Application

Once the first petal is free from masking film I then start laying down my white charcoal pencil.  Since my darks are already established, I only need to worry about establishing my mid tones and highlights.

I use a light touch and start by blocking in my highlight areas carefully fading out into the mid-tones. 


I leave the paper showing through for the shadow areas.  Once I am happy with the initial lay down I take my blending stump and blend out the charcoal.

Using the Eraser

I then go back with my Tombow Mono eraser to establish the petal texture.  I then will go back and forth between the pencil, blending stump and eraser to get the petal as I want it to look.  I also like to use q-tips or cotton buds to dab some of the dots and texture to lighten them up just a little bit. 

I try not to use my fingers too much on the paper since it is black paper and I don’t want to transfer the oils from my hands onto the paper.

Using the Texture of the Paper

The Strathmore Artagain paper I am using does have a fine texture so you really need to be careful when laying down the charcoal to not press too hard to flatten the tooth.  Not only do you want to keep that tooth for additional layering if needed but you also want to use it to your advantage when creating the different textures of the rose.

I work in sections.  Not only by petal but also within the petal.  This way I can keep track of where I am so as to create less confusion and a bit more streamlined work flow.  Once I am happy with the current petal I then cut the masking film away from the next petal and begin the process again.

Tool Uses

I use two different sizes of blending stumps appropriate for the area that I am working in; a very small one and a medium sized one. If you have watched some of my other charcoal videos you know I am a fan of using a brush to apply the charcoal. 

For this particular piece I did not find it necessary as I wanted the rougher appearance of the pencil on the paper to help create the petal texture.

Another tool you will see me bring out is a kneaded eraser.  I use this in a similar manner as the mono eraser, just in larger areas or to dab to pull up some of the pigment when I don’t want it so bright.

By using a dabbing motion instead of an erasing or back and forth motion, you lighten or in this case darken the area by lifting the pigment off. 

You will see at the end of this video when I sign my name a good example of this as it was just way too bright for the piece overall so to tone it down I dabbed it with the kneaded eraser to darken it so it fit more inline with the artwork and not the first thing you see.

Satisfaction of the Crisp Edges and Clean Background

After completing all sections of the rose I then Lift off the remaining masking film cover the background.  Not only does it leave the background nice and clean but also a very crisp edge to the rose.

Until next time…keep on arting!

You may also like

Leave a Comment

Solve : *
23 − 16 =