The Charcoal Portrait or Sketch is a type of dry art medium made of finely ground organic materials that are kept together by a gum or wax binder or created without the use of binders by removing the oxygen within the material during the process. These charcoals are also used by artists for their flexibility, such as the rough texture leaving marks that are less permanent visual arts media.

Charcoal can create very light or deeply black lines while being easily soluble, but vulnerable to paper stains. From smooth to very coarse the dry medium can be applied to almost any surface. With charcoal portraits, fixatives are also used to solidify the place and prevent the charcoal dust from being removed or rubbed off.

Handmade CHarcoal Portrait from Photo

Handmade Charcoal Portrait from Photo

The process used to produce charcoal for artists is similar to that used in other fields, such as the manufacture of gunpowder and fuel for cooking. The type of wood material and the method of preparation allow for the creation of a variety of charcoal styles and textures.

There are various types and uses of charcoal as an art medium, but the commonly used types are Compressed, Vine, and Pencil.

  • Vine charcoal is a long and thin charcoal stick that is the result of burning grapevines in a kiln without air.
  • Willow charcoal is a long and thin charcoal stick that is the result of burning willow sticks in a kiln without air.
  • The removable properties of willow and vine charcoal, thorough dusting and erasing, are favored by artists for making preliminary sketches or basic compositions. This also makes such charcoal less suitable for creating detailed images.
  • Compressed charcoal (also referred to as charcoal sticks) is shaped into a block or a stick. The intensity of the shade is determined by hardness. The amount of gum or wax binders used during the production process affects the hardness, softer producing intensely black markings while firmer leaves light markings.

These different kinds of charcoal can be used in producing soft and sharp lines, along with the varied depth of shadows, adding a great blend of shadows to your charcoal portrait.

Charcoal is a smooth, yet brittle material with similar properties to pastel chalk. The dark material comes in various forms — some are hard while others are soft — but it provides a fast sketching experience overall. Lighter, less dense charcoal flies over the paper and is perfect for casual sketches.

But do not underestimate the unbelievable depth that it can reach. If you want a drawing that has deep shadows, charcoal will have the rich black tones you want to convey that sort of intensity. It helps in creating a perfect mixture of lights and shadows, in your charcoal portrait.

Brief History: Charcoal Portraits

Charcoal was often a key component of Cave painting, with examples dating back to at least 28,000 years ago. One of the oldest paintings is a picture of a zebra, found at the Apollo cave in Namibia.

In the renaissance, Charcoal was widely used, but few works of art survived due to charcoal particles flaking off the canvas. At the end of the 15th century, a process of submerging the drawings in a gum bath was implemented to prevent the charcoal from flaking away. Charcoal portraits and paintings date as far back as ca.23,000 BC. Since then, many cultures have utilized charcoal for art, camouflage, and in rites of passage.

A charcoal sketch by Winslow Homer, 1883, Boston Public Library

A charcoal sketch by Winslow Homer, 1883, Boston Public Library

Many indigenous people from Australia, parts of Africa, the Pacific Islands, parts of Asia, and others still practice body painting for rites of passage including childbirth, weddings, spiritual rituals, war, hunting, and funerary rites. Many artists use charcoal because of its unique dark black strokes. The weak structure of charcoal causes the material to flake off onto the canvas.

Throughout western art history, artists well known for other mediums have used charcoal for sketching or preliminary studies for final paintings. Examples of contemporary artists creating charcoal portraits and using charcoal as a primary medium are Robert Longo, William Kentridge, Dan Pyle, and Joel Daniel Phillips.

Charcoal Portraits:

Ditch the colors and go grayscale, with these charcoal portraits! These are one of the best grayscale portraits available. Very realistic, and one of the quickest art forms. And they are best when you want the focus to be on the subjects of the picture. A beautiful way to capture those moments that give you nostalgia: paint my pet. Give your portraits a classy and retro look!

1. A Unique Gift:

A Unique Gift

A Unique Gift

A concept brought to life by medium mastery and kept together by a shared artistic vision-that is an art in short. The vision and style of an artist set him apart from others, making every piece he draws unique – not only in comparison with others’ drawings but also in comparison with his own artwork. No two art pieces are alike, even though made by the same artist.

When you give a custom charcoal portrait to someone, it is this exclusivity, this one-of-a-kind experience that you are giving them. This is the awareness that they own this original work of art and only they own this; the special blend of ideas, colors, and style to produce this particular painting.

2. Huge Price Range:

Huge Price Range

Huge Price Range

The sheer array of options offered by custom paintings makes it the ideal gift for all budgets!

If you are a student scrapping your gift allowance together, an MNC employee trying to pamper someone with an infinite budget, or a businessman – art has something for everyone!

Gifts are a way for the ones you think deserve something special to show your appreciation and love to. Indians are known to give gifts on every special occasion to their loved ones.

It is not a formidable task but a tradition that the people obey because they want to show their affection.

3. Ageless/knows no age:

Ageless/knows no age

Ageless/knows no age

The gift of art is ideal for people of any age, whether the young or the old. Everyone can enjoy a beautiful painting. The colors, strokes, shades synchronize so beautifully. And who doesn’t love an aesthetically pleasing view? If it is a custom painting, everyone would adore it, appreciate it, and relive those memories.

Charcoal Portraits make for great room décor. Add a classy retro look, in your loved ones’ homes!

4. Gifting to a Business Partner

Gifting to a Business Partner

Gifting to a Business Partner

Art will inspire and open up new understandings at the workplace. This will put people back together, communicate, and open up new viewpoints and opinions. And even more. Art can be a tool in bringing forward healthy relationships. Respecting your employees, clients, and investing in their happiness plays a major role in showing strong leadership.

A well-chosen gift will help in the same. It shows respect for your employees and cares for them. It also demonstrates that you are dedicated to them and their work. The artwork that an artist produces, his vision and style distinguishes him from others and makes it unique.

“When you gift someone a painting, you gift them a little piece of the world that is theirs and theirs alone.”

This is what makes charcoal portraits, a perfect gifting solution! You can get customized artwork for your clients, employees, or colleagues, according to their tastes/requirements.

This is one of the very few gifts that would actually be valuable and of use, to them.

5. Express Feelings:

Express Feelings

Express Feelings

When you donate something materialistic like a new cell phone to your loved ones, sure they would be happy for a few weeks or months. What happens next?

In the span of a few months or years, your gift will be replaced by something better that pops up on the market (considering how fast the advanced phone models come).

In comparison, paintings are not replicable.

Even if a better painting comes along, they would not remove yours, as it has a certain sentiment attached to it.

6. A Thoughtful Gift:

A Thoughtful Gift

A Thoughtful Gift

Maybe they like flowers, and are an absolute fan of gardening? The floral paintings will then be a perfect gift to your unique personality. Or your friend is enjoying the outdoor life, hiking trips, mountains, and just loving nature. So it would be a great pleasure to paint a landscape in historic, historical, or abstract form.

You can think about their choices/likes/preferences, and make it into a charcoal portrait. They would love this very thoughtful gift.

Becomes more valuable with time: Suppose it is the anniversary of your brother’s wedding and you cannot decide what you would like to give him.

You can choose an iPad, a pair of wristwatches or any other object. But what if you gift him a beautiful, custom painting?

Gifts like iPads, watches, etc. get old with time, and one day would become outdated, as the new technology rolls in. A painting would always remind them of you! No other gift becomes more valuable with time, the way art does.

7. Would Become a Memory:

Would Become a Memory

Would Become a Memory

It is important to get motivated in life now and then. Like, if you wake up early morning and see the laptop gifted to you, would you feel inspired?

You might feel happy (in the beginning), but eventually, it would stop.

On the other hand, if you wake up and see a charcoal portrait or a painting, you would feel motivated and happy in life.

That is the beauty of an astonishing painting. You always feel motivated.

8. Great Impression:

Great Impression

Great Impression

A charcoal portrait can make for an amazing gifting option if you need to make an impression on someone. Gift them a thoughtful, custom painting. They would appreciate the thought you put in while selecting the painting. You would come across as really thoughtful, considerate, and compassionate.

We always try to tell you the essence a beautiful, custom painting has to offer. Check this for yourself.

See the feelings in the color waves, and see how calming it can help you interact with a painting. Again I would say custom paintings make the perfect present, whether it is festivals or occasions.

They keep you in memory always, because your gift is purely timeless.


We, at Book My Painting, would love to help you out, with this amazing gifting solution!

Just visit, and get in touch with us! We make artwork in various mediums such as charcoal sketch, pencil sketch, colored pencil sketch, oil painting, watercolor, acrylic painting, mixed media art, etc. The painting can be customized in terms of size, and other attributes, according to your personal preferences. Just get in touch with us, send us a picture to paint, give us the specifications for the painting, and after a few days, voilà! You’ll have a beautiful painting delivered to your doorstep.


We, at BookMyPainting, create beautiful Hand-painted Portraits from your memories! Send us your favourite pictures. We will deliver a masterpiece at your doorstep very soon that you will fall in love with. So, let's get started!

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