Realistic Gorilla in Charcoal

by Wendi OBrien


Charcoal is a versatile and fun medium to work with.

When working in grey scale or black and white it is best to convert the photo to black and white so you will be able to better see the different values in your piece.  I have provided both so you can decide which way you would like to work.

That being said it is also great practice to work from color and refer to the black and white to make sure you are working in the correct values.  This way you are able to start training yourself to see value with color, which in the long run will also help your develop your skills when working with color.

Supplies for this project:

Mixed Media Paper

Charcoal pencils 2B, 4B, 6B and white

Tombow Mono Eraser

Kneaded Eraser

Pencil Sharpener

Scrap paper

My Process for Creating this Gorilla

Today’s drawing is of a gorilla completed in charcoal.  

This piece was completed using generals Charcoal pencils on Canson Mixed Media Paper.  I started by blocking in some charcoal creating the fur area.  I used a scrap piece of paper and scribbled some charcoal on it then used a paint brush to apply the charcoal to the paper.

I then used the pencils to create some of the texture of the fur then blended and softened with the paintbrush. 

I continued to apply layers deepening the shadows and blending and spreading with my paintbrush.  I chose to use the Pencils to create the deep lines in the skin and using the paintbrush to blend out as it really gave the dimensional appearance I wanted for the gorillas skin

I used the paint brush in the same manner completing his nose but used the dark shadows that I applied with the pencils as the pallet then softened and spread those areas around the face with the paintbrush creating the overall values of the skin.

I moved on to the lower jaw.  Since there is a lot of texture in the skin in that area I decided to use the charcoal pencil to block it in following the direction of the skin.  I used the same pencil to put in the texture and details in the upper mouth area and used a paint brush to blend but maintaining some of that texture.

I then took my tombow mono and kneaded erasers to start pulling out highlights throughout the face  I used my charcoal pencils to put the final details on the skin and softened with a paint brush.

I moved on to the mouth using the same methods paying attention to the highlights and shaded areas.  I used my tombow eraser to pull out the brightest highlights and to give portions of the mouth a bit of a wet appearance. Always softening and blending with the paint brush.

I finished up by using the white charcoal pencils to put in the fine hairs and pull out some highlights.  Then made the appropriate adjustments to make the piece look just how I wanted.

Until Next time…keep on arting!

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