Carbon Dust Drawings

The carbon dust technique was first used by Max Brodel in the late 19th century to create medical illustrations, and is a great medium to use for a drawing with very fine details.

I made the drawings below using the carbon dust technique (except for the last which is pencil). I love the range of grays I can get, but have never loved the dustiness of any charcoal or pastel medium.

To make a drawing in carbon dust, you start with a piece of multi-media vellum drafting film, like Denril. Somehow it holds the carbon dust better than regular drawing paper.

Using a razor blade, you scrape the tip of a carbon dust pencil into a dish to create the dust, and a paintbrush to apply it to the film. You build up the darks in this way, and use an eraser to add light.

Work from big shapes to little, and from large brush to small, until you capture the tiniest detail, like the glint of light in a beetle’s eye!

carbon dust beetle.jpg
carbon dust mushroom.jpg
Drawing on left was done with carbon dust, on right is pencil.

Drawing on left was done with carbon dust, on right is pencil.