Target Practice

*Reading Time: 2 minutes*

When I was initially approached to create an image based off of someone’s roleplaying character, I was very excited. Not only is there some sort of artistic freedom when working on characters who don’t have an appearance that’s set in stone, but it’s also liberating to work in a tangible media once in a while. While reading this guy’s description, I wanted to give him an epic pose. I mean, it was mentioned he’s sporting a human skull as his mask. A human. Skull. He’s tipping the scales of epic already!

I began with a few rough sketches of how I wanted our master-class archer to look. What stance I wanted him to take? Where was he looking? Once the pose was decided, I began redrawing the pose, working out kinks and all of my artistic problems in my sketchbook. After that, it was time for the big paper!


After my very light sketch underneath, the first layer of charcoal was applied. I got it as dark as I wanted to, working up the values of the light beam in the background and playing up the shadows and highlights.  Using the sides of compressed charcoal was my go-to for this method. Compared to vine charcoal, compressed is darker and has a wider coverage of area. While blending the background, I had an extreme amount of powder on my hands, so I just slapped some on the figure!

You might be wondering what that yellow sticky note entailed. It said: “Don’t forget the arrow!!!


Once the first layer looked good, I sprayed on the surface with workable fixative to give myself another layer of toothiness for the next application of charcoal. It was time to darken some darks, add detail, and blend, blend, blend! Layer after layer, with detailing and polishing, we’ve crossed the finish line.

The very last step is to spray with permanent fixative and send him off!


Charcoal on 18 x 24in Strathmore


It was such a pleasure working on this piece. I  learned some serious ways to manipulate charcoal and I was challenged every step of the way. Can’t wait for the next project!


Until next time!