The most popular type of artwork is landscape charcoal drawings, especially among those just starting out. Our blog post will cover every step from how to choose the right charcoal for your landscape drawing, to drafting your design, to choosing a style, as well as protecting it to create an amazing wall hanging.

Making light sketches is the first step in creating a charcoal landscape sketch. Use powdered charcoal to mask the paper, then add details. Add your final details to the drawing after erasing some parts of the drawing. Create highlights to better define the landscape. Make sure to cover your drawing in a fixative before you keep it.



1. Develop a good composition plan

Place your paper on an easel or table high enough to work comfortably for your charcoal landscape drawing, and tape it down. Start your charcoal landscape sketch by making a light sketch with charcoal pencils.  

Now is not the time to get too detailed. Take a few moments to notice the focal point and the horizon line. Look at pictures or memories for inspiration.  

Beginners should avoid canvas, but will have the chance to explore its possibilities as they progress. If you’re looking for relevant results, start with archival heavyweight papers like Stallman & Birn Alpha sketchbook.

2. Use powdered charcoal to tone the paper

You can add value to your charcoal landscape by applying a thin layer of powdered charcoal with a makeup brush. If you need more powdered or willow charcoal, consider where the light is coming from. If the light source is farther away, the object will be darker.

3. Develop your landscape drawing by adding preliminary details

Create a charcoal landscape with details. You do not aim for perfection, but rather for a composition that is intriguing and compelling. A charcoal landscape can be more artistic than a portrait, which requires accuracy. 

4. Make a highlight reel

You can add highlights, lighter values, and contrast to your charcoal landscape by using a kneaded eraser, eraser pencil, or white charcoal.

5. Make sure all details are correct

Adding the final details to your charcoal landscape sketch will allow you to better define your landscape. Create highlights, contrasts, and fix your charcoal sketch values. Add fine details with finely honed charcoal pencils. The high quality of brands such as Derwent charcoal pencil makes them a great option.

6. Use a fixative when you draw in charcoal

Charcoal paintings often have a dusty finish as you have probably noticed. Fixatives enhance the colors by protecting them. The fixative should be layered in parallel directions, working on two or more layers. 

You can watch the video below for a detailed explanation of how to draw a charcoal landscape: 


Before you decide how to landscape your yard, you should decide what style you like. Explore the following options. The surrealist style usually does not appear in tutorials, but we felt it was an excellent way to enhance your creativity.  

You can use their tutorial videos to improve your skills if you are already a member of online art classes. The website of one artist was used to log her progress as an artist.

Landscape of Representation

Abstract art is distant from the object or subject it represents, whereas representational landscape art represents it closely. The representational landscape can be close to realism, but some artists also express themselves in abstraction and impressionism. 

As compared to other styles, artists intend to create artwork that is as close to reality as possible. The audience can easily comprehend representational landscape art.

Landscape with Impressionism

Associated with representational art, the impressionistic style depicts the subject as close to reality as possible while adding a unique take, usually in the case of saturation, contrast, and highlights. The artist, however, depicts his landscapes according to his own perception instead of focusing on realism.

Landscape with a surrealistic appearance

Landscape of Representation

Nature’s scenes and imagery that originate in the unconscious are combined in surrealist landscapes. Despite the impact they have, they are far from reality, as shown in the example below, which features a waterfall and an enormous eye. 

Although the artist has a specific message he wants to convey, the image is always open to interpretation by the audience.

A landscape rendered in abstract form

Landscape of Representation

In the same way as abstract artworks, abstract landscapes have no definite imagery to represent. In a landscape drawing, a foreground object is usually chosen as the focal point, while the background is a landscape. 

It is up to the audience to interpret this art. It is also the most difficult style to understand and critique, which is understandable.


There are several types of landscape that are suitable subjects for charcoal drawings:

Landscapes of the mountains

Landscape of Representation

The most common subject of charcoal drawings is a mountain landscape. The background typically features obscure peaks against peaks of more prominent mountains.

Monochrome paintings need to have lots of contrast and highlights. Drawing as much detail as possible to the focal image is one of the tips to creating breath-taking mountainscapes. 

You can see how the artist makes the foreground more prominent by showing details in the pine trees, while using higher heights to suggest distance and blurred backgrounds to emphasize the focal image. You can achieve this effect by scattering willow charcoal powder on the background, but make sure you provide enough details.

Landscapes with flat surfaces

Landscape of Representation

A flat landscape is suited for meadows, open fields, and ranches because of the large amounts of space available. These paintings should focus on the wide open spaces.  

Since the artist must consider the tonal values, highlights, and contrasts of fields and the objects’ position relative to the horizon, these settings are far more challenging than mountain landscapes.


Landscape of Representation

Beginner artists have a tough time painting seascapes due to the movement of the waves, the subtle changes in colors in the sea, and the reflection of the light in the water. 

If you are working on a seascape, apply a light tone of charcoal powder and adjust the values and contrast as you progress. Light sketches should be drawn in the sketchpad, blended, and highlighted until you reach your desired results. Remember to take the light direction into consideration when creating your artwork.

Landscapes along rivers

Landscape of Representation

Using the river and the surrounding scenery as subject matter for your landscape drawing can be fun and rewarding. 

It’s a good idea to capture trees near the riverbank in the style that you find to be most pleasing. There are several details you’ll want to capture, such as protruding rocks, floating debris, and the reflection of light in the water.

The skyline

Instead of painting along the river, the artist paints along the front of it. The landscapes are made captivating by the reflections of the trees, the shrubbery in the foreground, and stormy skies far off, making them the perfect settings.

Landscape of Representation

Having a look at the sky gives you a lot of ideas due to its dynamic content. An impending storm is announced by the clouds in our example. A tiny part of the drawing is dedicated to the ruins in the foreground to emphasize the sky.

As you look at the image, you will appreciate the subtle changes in tonal values that capture the dynamics of the clouds, especially the lighter values on the horizon where light is more abundant and the darkening as the clouds get farther away.  Detail-enhancing charcoal pencils like Derwent can be used to best advantage.



In comparison to other artists, the city may seem too sterile, but the hustle and bustle of city life makes it an intriguing subject. Pick the perspective you want for your drawing to capture the beauty of the city. 

Artists rarely use charcoal pencils in landscapes like this. In order to create the textured effect, he relied more on the texture of the paper and charcoal powder. For heavyweight papers such as Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbooks, write “b” on all sides.



No city can replicate the charm of an old town. Hardscape makes an excellent landscape subject when it is lined with old stone houses, as we can see in our example.



The moon is a captivating subject to draw with charcoal pencils, whether you make a realistic drawing or a romantic one like this example. In this charcoal sketch, the mountain is implied, but not visible, yet features trees and the moon on top.


You might have the following issues when working with charcoal landscape drawings:

Different levels of ground are indistinguishable to me

Determine your foreground, middleground, and background before you draw your landscape. Make sure that they have different details and values so that it is easy to identify them. 

Due to its proximity to the viewer and vicinity to light, the foreground should be the darkest, whereas the background should be the lightest. 

I draw too dark with charcoal

You want to make sure that your drawings do not seem too dark by adjusting their values. Begin by dusting a little charcoal powder over the surface before adding more details. It is possible to add more powder to darker areas farther from the light source, while keeping light areas near the light source as light as possible. 

There are too many washes in my drawings

In the end, the fading of the drawing is caused by the charcoal dust not settling long on the paper. Fix this problem by applying two to three layers of fixative. 

To keep your charcoal in for the longest time, use archival paper such as Birn Alpha sketchbooks with a high tack and a strong texture like Derwent Charcoal Pencil. 

If you aren’t going to use quality materials, it would make no sense to spend hours drawing just to ruin the experience. 

My charcoal landscapes don’t have a good fixative

Do not use hairspray for your landscape sketches if you cannot find a good fixative for the simple reason that it will ruin the paper over time. Make sure you place the drawing in an area that receives little air movement so that it doesn’t get dusty. 


You can improve your creativity by drawing landscapes, and it is relatively easy if you are just starting out. Providing you have suitable materials, it can also be a great means of visual exploration. 

The topics covered cover what tools work best, how to start when you’re designing, and how to consider aesthetics while drawing – all of which result in gorgeous wall art!

How do you feel about this? Is it difficult for you to understand these charcoal landscape drawing techniques?

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