Drawing Portraits with Pencil and Charcoal, Level 1


Learn Betti Pettinati Longinotti’s best techniques for drawing with pencil and charcoal as the medium in creating outstanding portraits. Are you looking for new ways to revitalize and enhance your portrait drawing skills and techniques? Would you like an introduction to portrait drawing using pencil and charcoal? Then this course is perfect for you! Learn simple techniques for achieving emotive and interesting portraits.
This online drawing course will provide skills and insights to help you create portraits by exploring drawing techniques using graphite and charcoal. This course is designed as an introductory course for artists at all levels of experience. If you love to draw portraits then you’ll learn something new in this portrait drawing course.

Start Date:

October 28, 2014

Course Length:

4 weeks




Betti Pettinati Longinotti (bio)

View Course Schedule


COURSE MATERIALS (included with tuition):

What You’ll Learn:

  • How to use the essential tools and materials
  • Tips for using and understanding the drawing of facial features
  • How to create more accurate proportions for the head and face within portrait drawing
  • Varied techniques for better charcoal drawing

Who should take this course:

  • Artists new to charcoal drawing or portrait drawing
  • Experienced artists who would like to broaden their technique


  • A range of drawing pencils of the B family
  • Charcoal pencils, soft, medium to hard
  • Vine charcoal
  • Compressed charcoal sticks
  • Char-kole
  • White plastic eraser
  • A chamois (this can be purchased at an art supply store, but also an auto care supply store)
  • Kneaded eraser
  • Workable fixative
  • Hand-held pencil sharpener
  • Sketchbook or hardbound journal
  • Drawing paper- 16 x 20,” white drawing paper; suggested – Strathmore; Canson, Rives, Bienfang , or another good printmaking paper
  • Stumps, blenders, tortillions are optional
  • 22 x 28” or larger Drawing Board


In order to be successful with this course, read assigned pages from:
Drawing Portraits for the Absolute Beginner by Mark and Mary Willenbrink, The Art of Portrait Drawing by Joy Thomas, and Drawing Expressive Portraits by Paul Leveille.

All assignments should be completed on 16 x 20” or larger 80 lb. white drawing paper or a good printmaking paper like Rives or Bienfang; digital photo taken at 72 dpi, jpeg. Sketchbook exercises may be scanned jpegs, 72 dpi.

All assignments must be submitted through the Blackboard System for evaluation. To expedite responses to questions, contact the instructor via e-mail.

Course SyllabusRegister

Lesson 1: Getting Started

  • Using essential tools and materials. Read The Art of Portrait Drawing, pages 8-10 and “Setting Up/ Essential Materials” in Drawing Expressive Portraits, pages 10 & 11
  • Overview the three texts and post-it tab the areas that are most compelling to you
  • The homework assignment this week is to use this photograph, or your own, to render a quick one hour or less, painting of a scene. Here we are using Wallis paper in the Grey Tone called Belgian Mist.

Homework Assignment (3 Parts): Exercises to get you started with a good foundation.
Read and complete the following exercises for your first steps and turn three assignments in.

Lesson 2: Understanding Facial Proportion and Head Structure/
Drawing a Portrait with Drawing Pencils

  • Read Chapter 2 – “Proportions” (pages 25-38) in Drawing Portraits for the Absolute Beginner
  • Read Chapter 2 – “Head Proportions” (pages 22-37) in Drawing Expressive Portraits

Homework Assignment (2 Parts):
Turn in a completed photograph of your 6-hour portrait drawing in pencil, with a few photos of it in progress.

Lesson 3: Drawing a Portrait with Charcoal

  • Read “Charcoal” (pages 16 & 17) in Drawing Expressive Portraits
  • Read “Practicing your Drawing/ Charcoal Portrait of Bryan” (pages 86-93) in The Art of Portrait Drawing
  • Read “Light Effects and Lighting the Subject” (pages 22-23) in Drawing Portraits for the Absolute Beginner

Homework Assignment (2 Parts):
Turn in a completed photograph of your 6-8 hour portrait drawing in charcoal.

Lesson 4: Drawing a Portrait with Charcoal Using the Eraser as a Tool with Charcoal

  • Read “Demonstration 8/ Portrait with a Dark Background” Drawing Expressive Portraits, pages 114-117
  • Also review and read again “Practicing your Drawing/Charcoal Portrait of Bryan” (pages 86-93) in The Art of Portrait Drawing

Homework Assignment (3 Parts):
This is a personal technique that the instructor works with when she is drawing with charcoal. The instructor will provide you with video links to reinforce the steps for success.

Turn in your charcoal portrait studies from (1.) and your 6-8 hour charcoal portrait using your eraser as a tool from (3.).

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