12 Best Charcoal Pencils For Drawing In 2021

4/12 of the best charcoal pencils for charcoal drawing

Creating beautiful masterpieces by hand is a rare feat. But you can have all the talent in the world without maximizing your potential if you don't have the right drawing tools. The best charcoal pencils help elevate your creativity with good quality and seamless strokes. 

We jotted down a list of the best charcoal pencils that could do wonders in your next sketching session.

Our Top Picks

Royal & Langnickel Small Tin Charcoal Set
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Best Budget-Friendly -  Royal & Langnickel Charcoal Pencils

Great starter pack for beginners
Good compression
Embossed tin storage case

Most Complete Set - General’s Pencil Classic Charcoal Pencils

Value for Money
Professional-grade
Comes with a drawing pad, eraser, and sharpener

Most Professional -  Faber-Castell Pitt Charcoal Pencils

• 1-liter capacity
• Airtight glass stopper
• Leakproof

1. Sunshilor Charcoal Pencils - Best Beginner Set

Sunshilor Charcoal Pencils

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 Pros Cons
  • Comes in a set of 12
  • Made from flexible, non-toxic charcoals
  • Easy to sharpen
  • Value for money
  • Rough on paper

What Customers Have to Say 

The general feedback on Sunshilor's Charcoal Pencils is quite positive, with users saying it's one of their favorite brands of charcoal pencils to gift to their artist friends. One customer also said it was the "perfect beginner set" for aspiring sketch artists. However, one buyer was quite critical about the charcoal being too rough on the paper. Overall, it's a top choice many avid artists make.

Sunshilor Charcoal Pencils review

Why We Think Its Great

Quality and quantity make this charcoal pencil set of 12 one of the best charcoal pencils you can find online. It boasts user-friendliness and flexibility, made from the finest clays and non-toxic charcoal that creates a comfortable grip and sharpening when it gets dull. 

The Sunshilor Charcoal Pencils come in hard, medium, and soft grades, making it easy to switch back and forth without jeopardizing the precision of an artist's techniques. 

This set of 12 creates a vibrant range of dark values, which are easily blendable and erasable. Textures come out with a velvet accent due to their versatile quality, making it easy to manipulate visuals with an easy-grip that doesn't compromise every hand stroke's darkness. 

Who Should Buy It

Great for beginners and professionals, this set of 12 is a must-have in every artist's arsenal of tools. It's made with delicate materials that make it easy when creating a sketch masterpiecewherever and whenever you are in your artistic journey.

2. General’s Charcoal Drawing Set

General’s Charcoal Drawing Set

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 Pros  Cons
  • Assorted drawing set
  • Comes with a kneaded rubber eraser
  • Made from refined and soft lead
  • Highly durable
  • Quite messy 
  • Quickly becomes blunt

What Customers Have to Say

The General’s Charcoal Drawing Set received mixed reviews from its buyers. Some were a bit frustrated at how messy it can get if not appropriately gripped at once, while others also pointed out how quickly the pencil dulls. 

Regardless of the points to improve on, other happy customers give it five stars specifically for good compression and coverage. Another buyer said it has a "good price" and works well with his style of drawing.

 General’s Charcoal Drawing Set review

Why We Think Its Great

After 132 years in developing a trusted brand for artists alike, it's no surprise General's Charcoal Drawing Set makes it to our list of the best charcoal pencils. This highly durable pencil is excellent for shading and won't easily snap in your hand, a timeless tool in creating beautiful drawings and sketches.

It's made from refined and softer leads, ideal for rich lines and deeper shadows on the paper. This superb choice comes in a set of four that includes a 2B, 4B, and 6B pencil, along with a white charcoal pencil and a kneaded rubber eraser. 

Who Should Buy It

A set of four from General's is great for beginners or those looking to brush up on their shading. There are several styles you can try with this type of charcoal pencil set. When it comes to establishing more precise highlights and gradients, the white charcoal pencil might come in handy for first-time users who aren't well versed in drawing techniques just yet.

3. Royal & Langnickel Small Tin Charcoal Set - Best Budget Pack

Royal & Langnickel Small Tin Charcoal

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 Pros Cons
  • Inexpensive
  • Good compression
  • Embossed tin storage case 
  • Great starter pack for beginners
  • Comes unsharpened

What Customers Have to Say

Overall, Royal Langnickel's charcoal pencil set is a bang for a buck, according to many buyers. "Can't beat it for seven bucks," one customer commented while applauding its versatile quality. Another buyer said it was an excellent purchase for a first-time charcoal pencil user like herself, making her techniques easier to work on.

Royal & Langnickel Small Tin Charcoal review

Why We Think Its Great

A strong contender for the best charcoal pencils you can get for another year in your artistic journey, the Royal Charcoal Set is value for money at its best. It boasts quality and quantity with a superb assortment that offers beginners will appraisal. 

It includes three charcoal pencils, four soft-vine charcoal sticks, and four vine charcoals. One con is that it doesn't come sharpened or with a sharpener. However, it is correctly stored in an embossed tin box for proper storage and quality control.

Who Should Buy It

The soft-vine charcoal sticks have good compression, which helps in meeting darker lines. The pencils are firm and have a good stroke on the hand, which first-time drawers will appreciate. The tin case is primarily for the clumsy artist-types who need a case to store their materials before they break thema definite bonus!

4. Mont Marte Woodless Charcoal Pencils 

Mont Marte Woodless Charcoal Pencils

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 Pros Cons
  • Woodless charcoal
  • Convenient blending, broad strokes, and shading
  • Good grip
  • Firmness
  • Tricky to sharpen
  • Not much distinction from other grades

What Customers Have to Say

Mont Marte Woodless Charcoal Pencils have purchasers on a standstill, with several people saying it's a good buy for professionals. Others have pointed out how there's not much distinction between the soft, medium, and hard grades. Nevertheless, its firm and comfortable grip made it easy to maneuver for other non-beginner buyers.

Why We Think Its Great

These charcoal pencils stand out on their own since they're woodless and hexagonal. They're encased in lacquer for proper handling and have five stars on firmness when you first start stroking on a canvas. They come in three grades; soft, medium, and challenging, which have a subtle distinction when blending, broad strokes, and shading. 

This set of three can equally create dark lines that are great for figure drawing. Despite not coming with an eraser or sharpener, this woodless charcoal pencil set is a bargain for less than $10. 

Who Should Buy It

Ideal for professional figure drawing, this set of three is better for those who have been versed with woodless charcoal on a professional landscape. It can be a bit messy for first-timers and may require more practice using them before using them for professional school projects or whatnot.

5. Derwent Charcoal Pencil Set 

Derwent Charcoal Pencil Set

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 Pros Cons
  • Smoother blending
  • Combination of natural charcoal particles
  • No squeaky sound when shading thoroughly
  • Doesn't smudge easily
  • Hard to sharpen
  • A bit scratchier

What Customers Have to Say

This set of charcoal pencils by Derwent impressed quite many buyers and also frustrated a few. Some customers liked that they're quite soft and don't smudge easily, making it easy to add shadows to canvases. Others pointed out that even if it's excellent for beginners, it can be tricky to sharpen correctly. 

Why We Think Its Great

This is one of the best charcoal pencils that artists would appreciate in their creative journey because of its overall performance. It's affordable and gives you a set of four with soft, medium, and hard gradients. It's a bit scratchier than General's pencils, but it's an excellent tool for those who blend a lot of their drawings. 

Apart from that, it also doesn't smudge easily. Ideal for those who are hyper-precise when it comes to detailing and outlining. Shading will be less of a pain since these pencils don't make squeaky noises than other brands. Made from a combination of natural charcoal particles, the Derwent pencil is a bargain, plus you get a free white highlighting pencil! 

Who Should Buy It

Beginners or those planning to try sketching classes for a day or two will have a better gauge on their canvas with Derwent Charcoal Pencils.

6. Faber-Castell Pitt Charcoal Pencils - Most Professional

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 Pros Cons
  • Comprehensive 24-Piece set
  • Versatile
  • Seamless blending
  • Smooth and glossy finish
  • Tin casing with compartments
  • Pricey

What Customers Have to Say

This expensive set may be worth the budget adjustment since many buyers commended its excellent quality. They particularly enjoyed how it was easy to carry and store thanks to the tin casing. Professionals like that the Pitt charcoal and vine charcoal create so much depth on their canvas without adding fillers or binders.

Faber-Castell Pitt Charcoal Pencils  review

Why We Think Its Great

Another contender for the best charcoal pencils for artists, the 24-piece set by Faber-Castell is a tough one to beat. With an assortment of charcoal sticks, natural pencils, compressed charcoals, and even a kneaded rubber eraser, the Faber-Castell Pitt Charcoal Tin is a comprehensive set of art supplies worth the extra bucks. 

Its versatility gives the artists the flexibility to explore traditional techniques with charcoal sticks to new approaches using pencils. The twigs also glide softly across the paper, with no hassle when it comes to erasing. 

Compressed charcoal pencils will give blacker lines for a more visually pleasing finish for those looking into creating more distinct lines in their work. The tin case is a bonus since it has its compartments for every charcoal tool; great for compartmentalization.

Who Should Buy It

Although a 24-piece set may seem daunting to a beginner, this makes for a great gift to a professional artist specializing in charcoal drawing. Not to mention, it is also accompanied by a blending stump for convenience.

7. General’s Classic Charcoal Drawing Pencils - Most Complete Set

 

General’s Classic Charcoal Drawing Pencils

 

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 Pros Cons
  • Value for Money
  • Professional-grade
  • Comes with a drawing pad, eraser, and sharpener 
  • Portable and travel-friendly
  • Eraser is subpar

What Customers Have to Say

"Great traveling set," one buyer said about these charcoal pencils, which he gifted his traveling artist wife. It's easy to pack up and comes with a top-grade drawing pad. Other purchasers enjoyed the brand's consistency, which many artists and drawers rely on in terms of having a go-to brand when their tools need replacement.

Why We Think Its Great

Striking gold for many artists, the General Pencil 33-Piece Classic Charcoal Drawing Set is a must-have or must-gift. It features professional-grade pencils ranging from soft, medium to stiff gradients, making it easy to explore anyone's creative expression on a canvas. 

The classic charcoal set also comes with ten compressed charcoal sticks, 15 charcoal pencils, two white pencils for highlighting and blending two white compressed charcoal sticks, and a sketch pencil. 

For less than $35, this traveler set won't just give you a wide range of tools but is an artist's essential that won't have to break the bank. An eraser and sharpener also come with the set for those keen on making last-minute improvements. 

Who Should Buy It

This 33-piece set by General is highly recommended for those exploring charcoal for the first time. Beginner-friendly, these charcoal pencils will encourage first-time users to experiment with different strengths and mediums.

8. General's Primo Deluxe Charcoal Pencil Set

General's Primo Deluxe Charcoal Pencil Set

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 Pros Cons
  • Highly durable 
  • 12 piece-set
  • Bold, intense blacks and tonal values
  • Beginner's best friend
  • Comes with an eraser and sharpener
  • Pricey

What Customers Have to Say

This charcoal pencil set is a favorite gift item to artists and avid drawers. It's complete and reviewed with five stars for its quality and precision that helps in blending and shading canvas. Generally, the Prime Euro Pencil Set is well worth the money. 

Why We Think Its Great

The General charcoal pencil set is another top option for the best charcoal pencils amateur artists wish to find online. This set of four comes with an eraser and sharpener for proper upkeep and use, wherever and whenever. 

For a four-pack, it's double the price of the General Charcoal Drawing Set, but aside from its add-ons, unique and dark pigments that come with these pencils might be worth the budget adjustment. 

It comes with six pencils, a primo Bianco, three blend charcoal pencils, a sharpener, and Factis Magic black eraser. Dubbed as one of the best charcoal pencils for beginners, this set is made with the most refined charcoal, which produces ideal black pigments for outlining that other pencils may not be able to measure up.

Who Should Buy It

This is best for amateurs who wish to expand their charcoal drawing skills. Apart from being beginner-friendly, this variant also makes a valuable gift to any art student you may know. For clumsy folks who drop their pencils a lot, these might just survive clumsy artist hands thanks to their durable quality. 

9. Markart Professional Drawing Charcoal Pencils - Best Gift

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 Pros Cons
  • Excellent deal
  • Comprehensive set with a variety 
  • Break-resistant
  • Non-toxic and eco-friendly
  • Shades aren't as dark

What Customers Have to Say

Those who purchased this 10-piece set on Amazon seemed to have enjoyed leaving five-star reviews and commending its flexibility for all artists on several levels. One buyer particularly liked the white pencils since it made it easier to highlight Caliart markers for her sketch. Erasing was also seamless and made for a glossy finish.   

Markart Professional Drawing Charcoal Pencils

Why We Think Its Great

Another great option that is easily one of the best charcoal pencils any aspiring artist should experiment with is Markart. It brings out so much depth in charcoal drawings thanks to its variety in gradients. It's non-toxic and eco-friendly, made from charcoal particles mixed with the safe and top-grade clays, not to mention it's also wood encased for less mess. 

With three soft, one medium, one hard charcoal pencil, three white charcoal pencils, one brown charcoal pencil, and one suntan charcoal pencil, these could be handy for those who dare draw portraits that require intense highlighting styles. 

Clumsy creatives won't have to stress so much on dropping these pencils since they are break-resistant and hardwearing. This set makes for a graduation gift to your artsy friends who just graduated from art school. They make for ideal long-term drawing tools if they're looking to explore their charcoal drawing style. 

Who Should Buy It

On a more advanced level, sketching enthusiasts should consider getting this 10-piece set for charcoal drawing classes. It boosts the overall output with seamless blending and shading applied in whatever type of canvas you're drawing on. 

10. Dowswin Sketch Charcoal Pencils

Dowswin Sketch Charcoal Pencils

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 Pros Cons
  • Lightweight and canvas fabric-protect
  • Ideal for professional use
  • Double canvas leather case
  • Includes a high-quality eraser and sharpener knife
  • Space-saving
  • Did not come with a sharpener

What Customers Have to Say

Amazon shoppers are generally satisfied with the Dowswin 30 Pieces Sketch Pencils with positive feedback on the quality and packaging. Many buyers liked the rollable leather case that secures all the pencils in place without breaking the tips. 

Other buyers enjoyed the range of the set, allowing them to shift gradients quickly during art classes. However, one customer did receive a set with no sharpener. Regardless, the charcoal pencils were of high-quality.

Dowswin Sketch Charcoal Pencils

Why We Think Its Great

Apart from its professional-grade set with 30 professional gradients, the Dowswin charcoal sketch pencils are worth every penny. The quality is impressive, made from lightweight and canvas fabric-protect material that allows charcoal not to impact whichever paper you're drawing on aggressively. 

Since beginners don't often realize how drastic techniques can affect the paper's quality, this is an excellent option to consider for their dry run. This set's highlight has to be the rollable leather case with partitions and slots for each pencil and even the eraser it comes with. A holding tube for shorter pencils is also in this pack for artists who like to maximize the pencils down to their last stroke. 

Who Should Buy It

This charcoal pencil set is ideal for those teaching a class and who wish to demonstrate techniques in portrait mode. You can also belt it around your waist for those drawing on more oversized canvases.

11. U.S. Art Supply Drawing & Sketching Charcoal Pencils - Most Organized Set

 U.S. Art Supply Drawing & Sketching Charcoal Pencils

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 Pros Cons
  • 20-piece set
  • Soft leads and high-quality pigments
  • Suitable for vivid and intense strokes
  • Complete add-ons with proper labels
  • Hard-wearing material
  • Only three pencils are charcoal

What Customers Have to Say

This 20-piece set from U.S. Art Supply received mixed reviews. Customers commended the brand's good starter featuring the labels that came with the erasers and sharpeners. However, one user did point out that it's not the best option for intermediate to professional artists who draw a lot with charcoal since only three pencils in the set were charcoal. Other buyers said this made a great gift, regardless.

Why We Think Its Great

Great for first-timers in charcoal drawing, this charcoal pencil set is worth every penny with its wide range of gradients and hardness in different shades. These charcoal pencils came with eight sketch pencils, three charcoal pencils, two charcoal sticks, two blending stumps, two erasers, two sharpeners, and one round pastel.

If you're giving this to someone who is still reasonably new to charcoal drawing, the labels are quite a helpful detail. The charcoal pencils boast vivid and intense strokes that do play a significant role in blending. It's also breakage-resistant, which adds to its premium quality. Despite having only three charcoal pencils in the set, two erasers and two sharpeners make it a definite value for money.

Who Should Buy It 

U.S. Art Supply 20-Piece Set is an excellent choice to get when shopping around for art materials but is on a budget. For less than $15, you get a little bit of everything while heightening chances of creating masterpieces easy on the hand and the eyes.

12. General's Peel & Sketch Charcoal Pencils - Best for Amateurs

General's Peel & Sketch Charcoal Pencils

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 Pros Cons
  • Easy to peel
  • Three hardness levels
  • Comes with a kneaded eraser
  • Inexpensive
  • No add-ons

What Customers Have to Say

These basic three-set charcoal pencils by Pell & Sketch received mixed reviews from buyers. Some liked how it gave them value for money with superb quality and ease of use. In contrast, others pointed out how there are better pencils to invest in, especially for first-time charcoal drawers.

Why We Think Its Great

We added this to our list of the best charcoal pencils simply because Peel & Sketch offers a particular product. Peeling them is smooth and hassle-free and comes in three different hardness levels, soft, medium, and challenging. 

Not to mention, the set gives you a free kneaded eraser for suitable modifications. This has to be the cheapest selection on our list that provides amateur artists with a little boost to their canvas illustrations without jeopardizing their technique and end quality.

Who Should Buy It

It's great for those who use more traditional sketching techniques since it's easy to peel and isn't aggressive on a canvas due to its natural fullness. Trying to make some cash doing quick sketches of people on the street? This three-piece pencil set is your money maker.

Best Charcoal Pencils Buying Guide

More often than not, student-artists have difficulty finding the most suitable charcoal pencils for their technique and style. Charcoal artists are quite particular with their tools, and getting the best charcoal pencils in the market entails ensuring their quality, worth, and versatility.

  • Lead Softness

When it comes to blending and working in fine details, the best charcoal pencils often have a softness to the lead core. It’s best to check the pencil’s sturdiness since some can be very soft on paper or canvas, creating seamless strokes but can easily break after a few uses. 

Find charcoal pencils that strike a balance between soft leads and sturdy wooden encasing. Nevertheless, the only way to know which one is most suitable is to try a couple before finding the best one for your art.

  • Price

It’s no surprise that art materials, especially niche tools, can be costly. But charcoal pencils aren’t all uber-expensive. Some generic brands offer superb quality at an affordable price point. Check out the Royal & Langnickel Charcoal Pencils, complete charcoal set for beginners at less than $8. A bang for your buck with a little bit of everything you need, plus a tin case!

  • Colors

When it comes to charcoal pencils, there’s no standard shade of black. However, it’s important to note that some brands have darker charcoal blacks than others. Other brands tend to produce waxier charcoal pencils and can make it harder to produce darker values. Make sure to check whether or not your charcoal pencil of choice complements your style of shading.

  • Package

Be specific with the assortment of charcoal pencils you want since a set doesn’t always include one color or hardness level. Some packs have a mix of black and white charcoal pencils. 

On the other hand, other sets come in all black or all white, while others are colored charcoal pencils with a bit of everything. When buying your first set of charcoal pencils, make sure you find the right quantity for your sketch sessions.

Charcoal Pencils FAQ

1. How do you sharpen charcoal pencils?

Start by finding the string of the pencil and pulling it down gently by a few centimeters. Peel the paper properly to reveal the shaft of new charcoal inside. Use a sandpaper sharpening pad and start rubbing the tip with precision. Make sure you rotate properly to sharpen the charcoal pencil thoroughly.

2. Which is better, charcoal or graphite?

Depending on your style and precision when drawing, charcoal and graphite could both be beneficial to your desired output. Charcoal pencils are ideal for sketching and drawings that require fairly dark strokes and values. Graphite pencils are made with a slightly shinier gray which is commonly found in standard pencils. Graphite may be more versatile, but charcoal pencils are better for higher precision shading and smudging.

3. Do charcoal pencils smudge?

Yes, charcoal pencils smudge to create depth in the shading process or the hatching techniques applied to an artist's work. However, some people prefer it not to smudge, so a fixative spray helps keep the surface of a drawing from smudging and fading. 

4. What are the best charcoal pencils for artists?

The Faber-Castell Pitt Charcoal Tin is the best charcoal pencils for artists since it's versatile and gives them a comprehensive set with different hardness levels. This variant is great for seamless blending and gives artworks a smooth and glossy finish. Best of all types of artists, it comes in a tin casing with compartments for each pencil.

5. Can you erase charcoal?

Yes, you can erase charcoal pencils because they have fewer binders than graphite ones. Pencils made with vine charcoal don't have binders, which brings ease to erasing overdrawn lines or removing glitches in your work.

Conclusion

When it comes to showcasing your drawing style and creating beautiful canvases with charcoal pencils, settling for subpar tools is not an option. Finding the best charcoal pencils requires testing out which works best for you.

Take our word for it; the Faber-Castell Pitt Charcoal Tin boasts a selection of highly durable and affordable art tools you can find online. It's the best charcoal pencil set in our book because it helps elevate your work with precision-support and a glossy finish at that.

Our runner-up is the General's Charcoal Drawing Set that comes in just four pencils with a kneaded eraser. If your style plays with many darker tones and hard blending, then these pencils are more suitable.

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