Best Charcoal Pencils That Create Stunning Results

Michael Daly
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Charcoal is an excellent medium for artists since you get a translucent black medium that is perfect for blending and building depth and tone in your drawings. Charcoal pencils are definitely a better alternative to the traditional charcoal stick.

These hard pencils are easy to control and they have a fine point which makes it easier for you to create detailed drawings and sketches.

Whether you’re a student, professional artist, or you just want art supplies to keep your kids entertained, I’ve picked some of the best charcoal pencils for beginners that I could find.

For added help, you can also find a buyer’s guide to choose the best charcoal pencils for your needs too. You’ll definitely find one that suits you below.

NameCategoryProduct
General 33-Piece Classic Charcoal Drawing SetBest OverallGeneral 33-Piece Classic Charcoal Drawing Set
Peel & Sketch Charcoal Pencils 3/Pkg-Budget PickPeel & Sketch Charcoal Pencils 3/Pkg-
Strathmore Paper 500 Series Charcoal PadUpgrade PickStrathmore Paper 500 Series Charcoal Pad

1. General 33-Piece Classic Charcoal Drawing Set

Our rating: 9 / 10

General 33-Piece Classic Charcoal Drawing Set

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General International has used their decades of experience to craft this brilliant charcoal drawing set. This drawing set is perfect for illustrators, graphic designers, and artists. General International has been making fine art materials since the company was founded in 1882.

The General International charcoal drawing set contains a true charcoal pencils, which provide light shading and smoother marks. The set contains 14 charcoal pencils of varying hardness. Each pencil contains a rich core of pure natural charcoal, made from carefully selected raw materials and each pencil is made with a solid graphite core. The set also includes 2 tubes of modeling wax, two wooden sharpener, and a pencil extender.

When the charcoal in this pencil is sharpened, it will produce a fine, soft point. The higher the grade, the softer the point will be. The harder the pencil, the firmer the point will be. The different grades are used for different applications. This classic charcoal drawing set has an affordable price.

2. Speedball PH Coate Artist Willow Charcoal Assorted Lengths 30 Sticks

Our rating: 9 / 10

Speedball PH Coate Artist Willow Charcoal Assorted Lengths 30 Sticks

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Pros:

  • Easy to see numbers for inking
  • Fine point pencils
  • Comes with a eraser
  • Doesn’t need sharpening
  • Portable
  • Dense
  • Great for illustrations and sketches
  • It’s disposable

Cons:

  • Number of pencils might feel too cheap for some
  • Fewer pencils than most pencil sets

This is the perfect pencil for illustrators. It has a very fine point, comes with a built-in eraser, and doesn’t need sharpening.

There are a few reasons why the Speedball Coate Artist Willow Pencils is on our list of best charcoal pencils. For one thing, it’s very durable. It’s made in the U.S. of reclaimed materials and it’s extremely light and easy to work with.

It does come with a built-in eraser, but keep in mind that it’s made of recycled paper. This means that it tends to break easily. If your project requires a lot of erasing, maybe this isn’t your best buy.

3. Mont Marte Woodless Charcoal Pencils

Our rating: 9 / 10

Mont Marte Woodless Charcoal Pencils

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Pros:

  • A wide range of hardness grades
  • A lot of natural charcoal
  • Perfect for a variety of purposes
  • Affordable

Perfect For Drawing, Sketching, Sketching, Charcoal Drawing, Drawing, Sketching, Painting, Pastels, Art Projects, Drawing In Black And White, Dark Art and More.

Next we have Mont Marte's three-piece charcoal pencils. They have a total of three woodless charcoal pencil grades: soft, medium, and hard.

These pencils are great for beginners or advanced artists and are suitable for a variety of different types of art with a wide range of hardness grades.

4. General Pencil 957ABP Compressed Charcoal Sticks 4/Pkg-Black

Our rating: 9 / 10

General Pencil 957ABP Compressed Charcoal Sticks 4/Pkg-Black

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Pros:

  • Soft, organically refined charcoal
  • Work best with black, smooth surfaces
  • Comes in a variety of shades
  • Rich, smooth black color
  • Box allows you to save what you have left
  • Non-toxic

Cons:

  • Won’t work on some surfaces
  • Total thickness of the charcoal stick is hard to control
  • Has a short life span
  • Takes a lot of practice to master
  • Requires a sharpener

A charcoal pencil is a valuable part of any artist’s arsenal. You can create beautiful sketches and drawings with fine controls. Charcoal pencils come in different varieties and there’s no one best brand.

People use pencils for sketching, drawing, and lettering, to name a few. The General Pencil charcoal pencils come in a sturdy plastic box. Inside, you’ll find four different shades.

The natural color of these pencils allows you to achieve a truly organic feel. You’ll notice that your final drawing is soft but vibrant. Every time you color with these pencils, the tones will vary slightly, which is part of their appeal.

5. Peel & Sketch Charcoal Pencils 3/Pkg-

Our rating: 9 / 10

Peel & Sketch Charcoal Pencils 3/Pkg-

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Pros:

  • Portable size
  • Comes in a display of 3
  • Weatherproof
  • Durable and easy-to-hold pencils
  • Can be used on paper or canvas
  • Can be sharpened using a traditional sharpener
  • Good for sketching, drawing and trying out ideas
  • Easy to transport and pack
  • Long-lasting

Cons:

  • Charcoal can leave smudges on fingers
  • Can break when dropped on hard surfaces
  • Temperatures below 20°F can cause breakage

If you dislike your fine-point graphite pencils but want to go back to using pencils, then you should try these Peel & Sketch charcoal pencils. The warm to black charcoal has a thinner grade compared to other brands, and can easily create a dark mark on paper.

The pencil will be painful to sharp using a standard sharpener because the charcoal is so soft and fragile. We recommend using a charcoal shaving sharpener because it will give you the best results.

We love to watch artists sketch and practice because the first scribble is a glowing ember of imagination that can blossom into a display of depth and detail in the blink of an eye.

6. Cretacolor Charcoal Powder

Our rating: 9 / 10

Cretacolor Charcoal Powder

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Pros:

  • Packaging is very sturdy
  • Relatively soft charcoal that doesn't break easily
  • Great for detailed sketching
  • Comes with a blender

Cons:

  • Very fine powder, not good for scribbling
  • Dusty

The Cretacolor charcoal pencils are a favorite of charcoal artists all over the world. They feature soft Cretacolor charcoal that is easy to use and produces smooth results. You can use them for both outdoor drawing as well as indoor drawing.

The charcoal pencil can be sharpened to a fine point, so you can use them for fine detail drawings. They have a strong black-colored lead that has a bit of a dark gray shade.

7. Strathmore 412-118 400 Series Toned Gray Sketch Pad

Our rating: 9 / 10

Strathmore 412-118 400 Series Toned Gray Sketch Pad

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Pros:

  • Good size 24 sheets sketch pad
  • Very smooth paper
  • Wire-bound so it lays flat
  • Good to use with pencil or charcoal
  • Easy to erase
  • Can be used with pencils or charcoal
  • Thick enough to take several layers of charcoal
  • No problems with this brand
  • Strong wire binding, but easy to tear the paper out
  • Has two pages per sheet

Cons:

  • You cannot remove sheets
  • Pencils may not travel as well
  • Some find the charcoal sticks to the wire binding
  • Soft covers are more prone to damage
  • Paper is thin, and will show the texture of the pigment if too much is applied

50 GSM.

We've found this best to use for sketching, paper or charcoal.

Charcoal sketching is seeing a real rise in popularity. The original charcoal pencils have been every professional's favorite drawing tool for generations. Using a knife, you are able to draw thin lines to create very detailed pictures.

8. Derwent Charcoal Pencils

Our rating: 8 / 10

Derwent Charcoal Pencils

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These wonderful pencils from Derwent are a great choice if you want to go beyond standard graphite pencils and want to try those recommended by artists.

Each pencil comes with a pouch to protect it. The strokes are soft, and the lead is very sharp. They are excellent for fine detailing due to their softness and fine point.

The black pencils are made from pure charcoal, so they are available in variety of shades, which is good news for artists. This is right in line with other charcoal pencils, which come in more than 50 shades.

9. Generals Charcoal Drawing Set

Our rating: 8 / 10

Generals Charcoal Drawing Set

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Pros:

  • Soft and strong charcoal pencils
  • Comes with an eraser
  • Elegant wooden box
  • Great for most artists and beginners

Cons:

  • If you’re looking for charcoal pencils that are darker, you should check other charcoal pencils
  • Not ideal to use for shading

One of the best charcoal pencils you can use for drawing is the General’s Charcoal Drawing Pencil. This pencil is a charcoal pencil, not a charcoal stick or a charcoal pen.

The General’s charcoal pencils produce a soft and strong charcoal with a slight gray shade to it. This allows you to create subtle and detailed charcoal artwork that you can lay over with other colors.

The pencil is made from 3.8mm thick charcoal and produces a soft tone. It’s also perfect for blending to produce other colors. As a result of its softness, you’ll be able to achieve the most beautiful shadings making your drawings come alive on the page.

10. Winsor & Newton 7005166 Artist Vine Charcoal Sticks 12/Pkg

Our rating: 8 / 10

Winsor & Newton 7005166 Artist Vine Charcoal Sticks 12/Pkg

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Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Creates dark lines
  • Large sticks that provide a good even texture
  • Produces rich, dark lines
  • Easy to layer for a darker shade
  • Not rough like some other charcoal products
  • Available in different packages

Cons:

  • Sticks are very thin, and short
  • Not very easy to blend
  • Will smudge if you rub your paper
  • Messy if you push to hard, thus making lines thicker

If you're a pencil lover, you will love the Winsor & Newton Graphic Art Charcoal Pencils. The charcoal pencils are a nice blend of charcoal, so it's dark enough for you to achieve those dark, smoky lines you're after. They're also bold and opaque, so you don't have to worry about having your charcoal pencil lines show through.

The product is simple to use. You just apply to any medium such as watercolor paper, wood, or any other material in which you would like to lay down a darkened layer. Application will help you lay down a firmer layer of charcoal without the need to press down too hard on your paper.

11. Royal & Langnickel RSET-ART2503 Small Tin Charcoal Drawing Art Set

Our rating: 8 / 10

Royal & Langnickel RSET-ART2503 Small Tin Charcoal Drawing Art Set

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Pros:

  • Affordable for beginners
  • Available in multiple sizes
  • Great quality
  • Set includes charcoal, brushes, and a sharpener
  • Packs include multiple types of charcoal
  • Reasonably priced
  • Hosts some of the best charcoal pencils of all time

This is a set of best charcoal pencils, which includes a sharpener and a brush for blending. The set contains a whopping 25 charcoal pencils for a very reasonable price.

You'll acquire two pieces of fine charcoal pencils and three pieces of medium-grade charcoal pencils. This helps budding artists to progress according to their abilities. The set also includes three pieces of charcoal, three pieces of soft charcoal, a piece of hard charcoal, three pieces of charcoal pencils, a piece of chalk, and a piece of smudge charcoal.

So, besides charcoal, you also get pencils and a brush. The set also includes a sharpener in the case that the pencils become dull.

12. Shapenty Sketch Sandpaper Pencil Pointer Sand Paper Sharpener Drawing Tools

Our rating: 8 / 10

Shapenty Sketch Sandpaper Pencil Pointer Sand Paper Sharpener Drawing Tools

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Pros:

  • Easy to hold
  • Variety of eraser points
  • Affordable
  • Comes with a carry case
  • Variety of grades to choose from
  • Can keep your pencils sharpened for a long time

We like the Shaptentoyo sketch sandpaper pencils and eraser set. The cheaper price point of seven dollars really make us well to recommend these for a time when you are looking for the best budget eraser pencils.

The Shaptento sandpaper pencils and eraser set offer you 12 different points of erasers to more thoroughly sharpen your pencils to be ready for a great sketch or drawing. All the pencils are different grades, and the pencils all come with an eraser. These are very easy to use.

If you want to find the best eraser pencils for drawing, you first need to consider your budget as well should consider your preferences in terms of the style and quality of the eraser. When you do this, you will be able to find a great set of quality eraser pencils that you enjoy using.

13. US Art Supply 9 in. x 12 in. Premium Heavy-Weight Charcoal Paper Pad

Our rating: 8 / 10

US Art Supply 9 in. x 12 in. Premium Heavy-Weight Charcoal Paper Pad

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Pros:

  • Available in different sizes
  • Highly durable
  • Archival quality
  • Made in the USA
  • Affordable
  • Features a long pad that extends to 18” x 24
  • Produces vibrant results with minimal smudging
  • Adds a warm touch to black and white drawings
  • Paper is high-quality heavyweight paper
  • Extends for over 3 feet

Cons:

  • Doesn’t erase as smoothly as you’d hope
  • May feel too heavy for kids …and adults!

This 9” x 12” Charcoal Paper Pad checks in at 154gsm and offers a smoothness that’s usually reserved for professional artists. The texture makes drawing on paper much easier than trying to draw on a pad of paper that feels like it’s made from vinyl. The smooth surface of the paper reflects light like a mirror when drawing and allows you to see the drawing and, more importantly, the erasing of the drawings.

14. Grumbacher 546 11-3/4-Ounce Workable Fixative Spray

Our rating: 8 / 10

Grumbacher 546 11-3/4-Ounce Workable Fixative Spray

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Pros:

  • Workable fixative looks great on paper
  • Great for pencil, charcoal, and pastel works
  • Easy to use spray
  • Can be diluted
  • Blends well
  • Makes artwork last longer
  • No odor

Cons:

  • Be careful when spraying
  • Some people have reported that the spray doesn’t last as long as advertised

If you love charcoal, then you know how often you have to work on your artwork. You have to make sure that the charcoal doesn’t smudge or smear. That’s where fixative comes in. Fixative helps your artwork stay in place and look as good as new for as long as possible.

15. Strathmore Paper 500 Series Charcoal Pad

Our rating: 8 / 10

Strathmore Paper 500 Series Charcoal Pad

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Pros:

  • Creates bold strokes easily
  • Excellent blending quality
  • Does not smudge
  • Works well with both soft and hard pencils
  • Very affordable
  • Easily eraseable when used with an eraser
  • Spreads easily with a blending tool
  • Can be used for more than just charcoal products
  • Easily restored using a pencil sharpener

Cons:

  • Some found it difficult to blend and produce shades like graphite
  • May be challenging to erase completely

If you want to learn how to do charcoal drawings or just want to add something different to your art supplies, then this set of charcoal pencils from Strathmore Paper are an excellent choice. They are great for shading and easily blendable to achieve charcoal mixes.

You may notice that these charcoal pencils appear quite dark when you first get them, but they do lose some of their darkness when they are exposed to air. They are quite soft and therefore are not ideal for detailed work.

If you’re going to use these to draw a picture, we recommend that you invest in a blending stumps or pad and eraser for correcting mistakes. This will make drawing easier and give your charcoal drawing the appearance of a graphite pencil.

16. 3M 8511 Respirator

Our rating: 6 / 10

3M 8511 Respirator

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Pros:

  • Provides a tight seal between face and face shield
  • Keeps out airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns
  • Features Cool Flow valve
  • One size fits all
  • Small and lightweight
  • Highly effective
  • Affordable and with a long shelf life
  • 4-layer microporous BetaTech® filter
  • Vent louvers

Cons:

  • Easily fog up during use
  • Head bands aren’t very durable

This 3M Respirator is designed to make work sites more safety during work. It features Cool Flow Valve that makes it easier to adapt the mask to various faces sizes. The design makes it comfortable to wear and allows you to communicate with others without removing it.

3M Respirator is a lightweight device. The design also allows for quick and easy fit into the nose area. The product stays in place without shifting or dropping down onto the forehead.

The 3M Respirator 8511 is designed to be comfortable to wear all day as it offers a wide eyepiece, and it fits close to the face. But if it gets dirty, it has a barrel that can be washed repeatedly.

17. Heritage Arts

Our rating: 6 / 10

Heritage Arts

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Pros:

  • Includes varying sizes and hardness
  • Great variety of charcoal pencils
  • Easy to sharpen
  • Great natural charcoal for drawing

Drawing is an art form that is inherently connected to life, and that’s why so many people of all different ages are drawn to it. However, not everyone likes to use the same medium. While some people may favor soft pastel or watercolor for their drawings, others still feel that nothing beats the classic charcoal pencil.

If you’re one of those individuals, that simply means you have to spend some time looking for the best charcoal pencils for you. Fortunately, we have an excellent recommendation for you in the Heritage Arts charcoal pencils set.

Each of the charcoal pencils in this set individually comes in a wood case, and the set of all of them comes in a brown quality box. That means that you don’t just get a superior set of charcoal pencils, but also that they'll be protected if you want to keep them in your studio.

18. MyLifeUNIT Sandpaper Block Pencil Sharpener & Pointer

Our rating: 6 / 10

MyLifeUNIT Sandpaper Block Pencil Sharpener & Pointer

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Pros:

  • Comes with 2 sharpening sides for your pencils
  • The non-slip inner design keeps your pencils in place during sharpening
  • The outer design helps keep pencils away from the blade during sharpening
  • Great value for price

Cons:

  • Loosens when it’s sharpening and causes your pencils to get stuck inside
  • Doesn’t get the pencils as pointy as we would have liked
  • Doesn’t get the pencils as pointy as you would have liked especially for the price point
  • Needs to be cleaned often by removing the outer part

These are a budget option to replace your traditional pencil sharpener. What’s nice about these is that they come in a pack of two and have two sides so that you can have one set ready to use while you’re getting the other one ready to go.

This is ideal if you don’t want to waste time planning your art, or if you like to keep a set prepped for backups or spares. The pack comes with two packs of 12 so that you have a total of 24 units.

19. General Pencil GEN-570PC Powdered Charcoal

Our rating: 6 / 10

General Pencil GEN-570PC Powdered Charcoal

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Pros:

  • Premium-grade charcoal
  • Produced from non-recycled wood
  • Lightweight
  • Easily blendable
  • Sets quickly and fuses easily
  • High-quality
  • Thin lines
  • Sharp and durable tips
  • Suitable for drawing, sketching, and note taking
  • Creates soft and light marks

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Not permanent
  • Requires careful cleaning

The General Pencil powdered charcoal is ideal for people who are new to the art of charcoal drawing since it’s easy to use and maintain. It’s also the perfect choice for oil painters, craftsmen, and anyone else who needs a reliable and unique drawing and sculpting tool. It’s one of the best drawing charcoal available in the market.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best brand of charcoal pencils?

When deciding what is the best brand, it comes down to what kind of pencil you are interested in. There are different grades of pencils.

It’s important to consider not just the brand, but also what you want to do with the pencil. Pencils with higher B grades are best for art because the wood burns away to make charcoal. A lower B grade would be best for writing because it will be heavier and harder to erase.

What is the best charcoal for drawing?

If you know nothing about charcoal, it can be a bit of a confusing start. You will not know which pencils or sticks are best for creating your desired sketch or which would best suit your needs as well as your preference and style. Well, we are here to help. Here is a short and sweet answer. The best charcoal pencils are colored.

What is the best way to sharpen charcoal pencils?

The best way to sharpen charcoal pencils is to use some type of sanding block. One very popular type of sanding block that artists prefer is called a French Curve. French Curve’s are specially made to keep your pencils at the same width even after sharpening them.

If you don’t have a French Curve or other type of sanding block, you can also make one on your own. The best way to do this is to use a piece of sandpaper and a ruler. First, you cut a piece of sandpaper the size of a ruler and then you trace the shape of the ruler on to it. Then remove the ruler and cut the sandpaper into a curve. This will allow you to keep your pencils at the same width after sharpening them.

Which charcoal pencil is the darkest?

The darkest charcoal pencil depends on the manufacturer. Most manufacturers will attempt to produce the most darkest and the hardest pencil that they can. These kinds of pencils are not always the best because they can break more easily if you are too aggressive. However, if you want the darkest charcoal pencil, and you are willing to risk your pencil’s life if you hit too hard, these are perfect: Eberhard Faber Charcoal; Eco+ Charcoal; General 3X Charcoal; Greco Andromedea; Koh-I-Noor; Derivan Art Charcoal.

Conclusion

Ever since the arrival of the first writing pencil, stylus, and chalk, artists have been discovering new and innovative ways to expand their creative canvas. Today, there's something for every artist to discover, as art supplies are made of a variety of different elements and designed in a variety of styles.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
General 33-Piece Classic Charcoal Drawing SetBest OverallGeneral 33-Piece Classic Charcoal Drawing Set
Peel & Sketch Charcoal Pencils 3/Pkg-Budget PickPeel & Sketch Charcoal Pencils 3/Pkg-
Strathmore Paper 500 Series Charcoal PadUpgrade PickStrathmore Paper 500 Series Charcoal Pad