A short quote from this site:
Choosing Between Graphite and Charcoal
Charcoal and Graphite both bring different properties to your work.
Beginners may find it useful to weigh up the pros and cons of using
both drawing materials, before settling on one to start with.
- Much easier to create broad, expressive marks, so may be more suitable for beginners working on a large scale.
- It’s matt finish makes it much easier to layer and create the darkest blacks without any reflectivity.
- Because it is less precise it encourages spontaneity, which makes it easier to build up drawings quickly.
- Great for capturing quick composition ideas, or for use in Life Drawing classes when you need to be able to record things quickly.
- It is much messier than Graphite to work with. Even if you use Charcoal pencils you will still find that they generate more dust than
- Can be more difficult to transport charcoal as it is more fragile and messy.
- It’s easy to disturb the dust charcoal generates and accidentally smudge or dirty your work. More fixative is required to protect your
- Graphite Pencils are perhaps the first drawing tools you’ll be introduced to as a beginner. They’re simple and easy to use, and most
people are familiar with them outside an art setting.
- Graphite isn’t as messy as charcoal, so it is less likely to smudge and much easier to protect (requiring very little, if any, fixative).
This makes it more simple to work with for new artists.
- Graphite is more durable and easier to transport than Charcoal, so would be easy to take out on drawing trips and classes.
- If you’re working on a small scale then the precision tip of a pencil is more suitable for rendering small details.
- Artists working on large scale drawings might find traditional pencils too small – it takes longer to cover an area with a pencil
than it does a charcoal stick. For example, if you’re attending life
drawing classes, you might find the precise nib of a pencil too
- If you’re building up layers of graphite they can quickly become reflective and shiny which can be unsightly in your finished piece.
- The reflective surface can also be problematic when you come to photograph your work.