Best Seller

Realistic Portraits Using Charcoal

A course by Xavier Denia Valls
Artist and Teacher. Barcelona, Spain.
On Domestika since 10/20/2018
, Artist and Teacher

Discover the step-by-step process and the materials to draw portraits that leap out of the paper

  • Best Seller Spanish with subtitles in English
  • 100% Positive reviews (7)
  • 1580 students
Realistic Portraits Using Charcoal

Discover the step-by-step process and the materials to draw portraits that leap out of the paper

Spanish with subtitles in English
  • 100% Positive reviews (7)
  • 1580 students
  • Online and at your own pace
  • Audio: Spanish
  • Level: Beginner
  • 27 Lessons (5h 46m)
  • Available from the app
  • Spanish, English, Portuguese, German
  • Unlimited access forever

Art has an inherent element of exploration and mystery. According to artist Xavier Denia, who has been studying it for 15 years: "Art is about discovering diverse ways of solving problems and finding ways to communicate, creating unlimited possibilities that make it truly intriguing". Learn the basics of charcoal portraits and achieve a realistic finish that will amaze you.

In this course, Xavier teaches you how to make a realistic charcoal portrait with graphite and white pastel on toned paper. Explore the structure of the face's individual features (nose, mouth, ears, and eyes), and the effect of lights and shadows that help give a certain aesthetic to your drawing.

About this course

Course table of contents

  • U1
    U1. Introduction
  • U2
    U2. Materials and basic concepts
  • U3
    U3. Areas of the face
  • U4
    U4. The portrait
  • FP
    FP Final project
View details

Xavier Denia starts by giving you a brief presentation of his artistic work, his influences, motivations, and what he intends to go through in this course.

Learn how to prepare and use the materials. Then, learn the basics of how the face is built, how to simplify a portrait (through the big shape exercise), and some basic notions of light and shadow.

Next, study each feature from a morphological angle to learn how shapes work. Start with the eyes and nose, continue with the mouth, chin, forehead, ears, and finish with the hair.

Start working on your final project: a charcoal portrait. Define the subject and composition of your portrait. Then, apply everything you’ve learned including simplification, construction by parts, modeling, textures, lights, halftones, highlights, darkness, and shadows.

Finally, Xavier shows you how to give your drawing some impressive final touches.

What is this course's project?

Draw a portrait with a classic realistic style based on a photograph. Using charcoal, graphite, pencils, and white pastel on toned paper, learn how to create mood and texture in the image.

Who is it for?

This course is appropriate for both beginners who want to explore portraiture —since you will learn the most basic concepts—and experienced artists who want to learn the systems and techniques used in traditional nineteenth-century academies.

What you need

To take this course, no previous experience is needed.

As for materials, you will need charcoal or watercolor paper with a fine grain (not glossy), ink and a sponge or wide brush to tone the paper, an artist gum eraser, charcoal of different sizes, graphite pencils (9B, 4B, 2B and HB), one or two brushes to unify and soften edges, toilet paper to use as a rag, and white pastels. You will also need different types of white pencils: Xavier recommends a Stabilo CarbOthello 1400/100 white pencil, a Polychromos Faber-Castell white pencil, and a Conté à Paris Blanc/France/630 pencil.


1580 Students
7 Reviews
100% Positive ratings

Xavier Denia Valls

A course by Xavier Denia Valls

Artist and Teacher

Xavier Denia is an artist who has been studying and working with figurative art for more than fifteen years. He has his own school, Barcelona Atelier, and joined forces with the Barcelona Academy of Art in 2020, one of the largest drawing, painting, and sculpture schools in Europe.

He has participated in collective exhibitions in Italy, the UK, and Spain. In 2019, he was selected as a finalist in the Reina Sofía painting and sculpture competition, in Madrid. Much of his work resides in the galleries and halls of the Barcelona Academy of Art.


  • U1


    • Presentation
    • Influences
    • What will we do in the course?
  • U2

    Materials and basic concepts

    • The materials
    • Application of materials
    • Basic structure
    • Big Shape Exercise
    • The light
  • U3

    Areas of the face

    • The eye
    • Nose
    • Mouth and chin
    • Forehead
    • Ear
    • The hair
  • U4

    The portrait

    • The photo and the portrait approach
    • Big shape 1
    • Big Shape 2
    • Work in parts 1
    • Work in parts 2
    • Dark and shadows
    • Highlights and halftones 1
    • Highlights and halftones 2
    • Highlights
    • Completion of portrait 1
    • Completion of portrait 2
    • Completion of portrait 3
    • Completion of portrait 4
  • FP

    Final project

    • Realistic Portraits Using Charcoal

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Domestika's courses are online classes that provide you with the tools and skills you need for completing a specific final project. Every step of the project combines video lessons with complementary instructional material, so you can learn by doing. Domestika's courses also allow you to share your own projects with the instructor and other users, thus creating a dynamic course community.

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Realistic Portraits Using Charcoal. A Illustration course by Xavier Denia Valls Best Seller

Realistic Portraits Using Charcoal

A course by Xavier Denia Valls
Artist and Teacher. Barcelona, Spain.
On Domestika since 10/20/2018
  • 100% Positive reviews (7)
  • 1580 students