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Charcoal or Conte

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bigjonny13
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Charcoal or Conte Apr. 24th, 2012 @ 12:12 PM Reply

Well, what with this discussion almost starting in that pencil thread, I figured why not start a new thread up for it so taht people could discuss one one they prefer and why.
I've used both of them, and although they're both really nice and you can get some sweet tonal ranges, I personally prefer conte. Other than the obvious fact that charcoal leaves such a massive mess, I just don't feel as comfortable with charcoal as with conte. I find that I can get stronger lines with conte, and with regards to tone, I've always found myself getting too dark when I use charcoal. Also, if you're not coordinated, you run a higher risk of smudging all over the piece with charcoal than with conte.
Again, these are just things I've found with my experience with the two media, and in no way am I saying that one is better than the other.
So, that being said, what does everyone else have to say on the subject?

lovingthedark
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Response to Charcoal or Conte Apr. 24th, 2012 @ 12:22 PM Reply

They're both good. Not much else to say.


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Response to Charcoal or Conte Apr. 24th, 2012 @ 12:41 PM Reply

I haven't used either of them very extensively to be honest.
I think I have two sticks of white Conte and a couple sticks of Charcoal, but I never use them.

I know that a lot of a discussion on this will come down to the artist preference and what they want to create, but I would still love to see quite a bit of information get presented about each medium from both sides of the line.

Ironically though, I do carry a white charcoal pencil in my drawing case.


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bigjonny13
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Response to Charcoal or Conte Apr. 24th, 2012 @ 01:06 PM Reply

At 4/24/12 12:41 PM, Kinsei01 wrote: I know that a lot of a discussion on this will come down to the artist preference and what they want to create, but I would still love to see quite a bit of information get presented about each medium from both sides of the line.

Yeah, I figured people could also share their experiences with either medium.

lovingthedark
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Response to Charcoal or Conte Apr. 24th, 2012 @ 04:07 PM Reply

At 4/24/12 01:06 PM, big-jonny-13 wrote:
At 4/24/12 12:41 PM, Kinsei01 wrote: I know that a lot of a discussion on this will come down to the artist preference and what they want to create, but I would still love to see quite a bit of information get presented about each medium from both sides of the line.
Yeah, I figured people could also share their experiences with either medium.

Ah, sure. I should say though that all the different kinds of charcoal and their uses are pretty well spelled out in the charcoal art101 article, but there's nothing in there on conte. I generally feel that conte is a less responsive version of charcoal- it doesn't go down or come up as easily, but on the plus side it's a lot less prone to smudging and it's a lot cleaner to work with. Visually I find that that while charcoal can create the same effects as conte, it would be difficult to use conte to recreate some of the markmaking that can be done with charcoal.

Conte comes in red and brown as well as black and white though, so there is that.


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J-qb
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Response to Charcoal or Conte Apr. 24th, 2012 @ 04:44 PM Reply

I don't have a great amount of experience with conte crayons, don't have a heap of experience with charcoal too actually, but I love the speed of charcoal. Probably due in part to it's easy lifting and darkening (and smudging) charcoal seems to be more "willing" to work with you...

can't really find the word for what i'm trying to say, can you tell?

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lovingthedark
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Response to Charcoal or Conte Apr. 24th, 2012 @ 07:52 PM Reply

At 4/24/12 04:44 PM, J-qb wrote: charcoal seems to be more "willing" to work with you...
can't really find the word for what i'm trying to say, can you tell?

Ha. I find when I'm evaluating mediums I call that ease of usage "friendliness". Like copper is a really friendly material- can be used for everything from electronics to jewelry, takes a variety of surface treatments, and can withstand a fair amount of abuse. Charcoal's definitely really friendly- so friendly it follows you home and hugs all your stuff.


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Response to Charcoal or Conte Apr. 24th, 2012 @ 09:48 PM Reply

In general charcoal is more my thing, like Dark said, there's tons of kinds of charcoal and it's got range, conte is kinda like charcoal partly because charcoal is usually one half the ingredient of conte...

Though I'd rather use the graphite based conte maybe because then it feels a bit different almost like a super soft pencil. But I hate soft pencils soooooooooo let's go with charcoal and all it's flexible glory


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Response to Charcoal or Conte Apr. 25th, 2012 @ 01:14 AM Reply

Well I preffer Conte simply because of its range, the fact that it doesnt smear away as easily and the blacks it gets are a lot more black than the grey black charcoal sticks have . Now there's a rebuttal on each of these points i'm sure, but having used primarily conte on the last few years and charcoal before it i simply feel for my purposes of life drawing, planar analysis, model drawing(as in building up the tones slowly like a 3d object) and for the sake off not using spray afterwords conte is wayyyy better than charcoal ever has been. It's only down side is that Black Conte is a lot more expensive, Conte Pencils are amazing as well but again they're super expensive so i rarely use them these days.
Charcoal is a light, easily breakable, less fun to play with material. FOR ME. I may not have as much practise with it, i only used it for 2 years during life drawing, but it's pretty boring for me and i got really annoyed that it could get proper black black tones. That said Conte gets boring too, using ink , goach(e?), pastel etc for life drawing is also really fun and i love experimenting with more mediums. Ok i rambled on way too long about this.
At the end of the day, personal choice.

lovingthedark
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Response to Charcoal or Conte Apr. 25th, 2012 @ 01:27 AM Reply

I think all of you who have been disappointed with the range of charcoal have probably only used vine charcoal. Compressed charcoal is a lot darker and makes a proper black, and using both together gives you a wider range of values than conte will imo.


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Response to Charcoal or Conte Apr. 25th, 2012 @ 08:23 AM Reply

If you are comparing conte to vine charcoal, then obviously conte. I get the feeling more are, which is an unfair comparison considering vine charcoal is sort of the mspaint of the traditional world. Its simple but in most hands will produce an ugly mess and awful amateurish results.

Conte is a slower waxy version of compressed charcoal (and man do i hate waxy, don't even ask me how I feel about 'art sticks'). Compressed smears less than vine charcoal but a bit more than conte so less tidy people tend to make a mess out of themselves.

I may be slow at drawing, but its because I take my time to do stuff right and pay attention to the media, I don't need the media itself slowing me down and prefer something that can keep up if i decide to work faster, conte doesn't provide that needed speed so its compressed charcoal for me.

bigjonny13
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Response to Charcoal or Conte Apr. 25th, 2012 @ 12:56 PM Reply

At 4/25/12 08:23 AM, ornery wrote: Conte is a slower waxy version of compressed charcoal (and man do i hate waxy, don't even ask me how I feel about 'art sticks'). Compressed smears less than vine charcoal but a bit more than conte so less tidy people tend to make a mess out of themselves.

I just decided to check my supplies, and I have been using compressed charcoal and not vine charcoal.
Again, it's personal preference, but at this point I still prefer conte.
It could be due to the fact (and this is probably the main reason) that I'm still very much an amateur when it comes to these different media, so I'm just not used to them as much, and with charcoal being more powdery than conte, I just find myself leaving too much of a mess on the page and I haven't been able to control it as well.