Review of Jackson’s Curated Sets: Charcoal and Graphite

Review of Jackson’s Curated Sets: Charcoal and Graphite

Hertfordshire based artist Ryan Leigh reviews Jackson’s Curated Set: Charcoal and Graphite demonstrating how the materials can be used together to create rich and detailed tonal drawings.


Ryan Leigh Tests Jackson’s Curated Set: Graphite and Charcoal

This set comes in a thoughtfully packed box with the products wrapped in an eco-friendly paper. The presentation is good and care is given to the delicate contents.

The set contains:

  • Jackson’s White Putty Rubber
  • Caran D’ache Blending Stump 140 mm
  • Schmincke Liquid Charcoal Set of 3
  • Viarco Artgraf Soft Stick Watersoluble Graphite
  • Nitram Academie Fusains Square Stick Charcoal, Pack of 5, B
  • Viarco ArtGraf Graphite Powder 100 g
  • Seawhite Black Cloth Case Bound Sketchbook 140 gsm A4 Portrait
  • Jackson’s Raven Synthetic Brush Mop No. 4
  • Jackson’s Paper Guide


Jacksons Curated Sets: Charcoal and Graphite


I seldom use water-soluble graphite or charcoal, so I was eager to test everything out and see if I might incorporate some of the media into my practice.

To kick off, I tested the Schmincke Liquid Charcoal in the Seawhite Black Cloth Sketchbook with Jackson’s Raven Synthetic Brush Mop No. 4. The liquid charcoal set consists of three black hues – Peach Stone, Cherry Pit and Grape Seed. Each hue provides a slightly different tonal quality, Peach Stone is more black, Cherry Pit is a brownish hue and Grape Seed has a grey/blue quality.



When applied with the water loaded mop brush the liquid charcoal behaves much like water colour but has a granulated texture, albeit a subtle one. It can be applied in thin washes or a thicker almost gouache like finish. It was a pleasure to use, especially with the mop brush which held its shape and didn’t lose any of its bristles. The inclusion of a slightly smaller brush would be useful for fine detailing but you can get a lot done with the tip of the mop brush.

Unfortunately, the pages of the sketchbook didn’t handle the water and buckled somewhat, there was no seeping through the page however. In the future I think I would use the sketchbook with a sparing amount of water or dry media only.

Next, I sampled the Viarco Artgraf Soft Stick Water-soluble Graphite and Viarco ArtGraf Graphite Powder. Graphite is a staple media for me but usually not in water-soluble form, so this was going to be a new experience! The powder form is contained within a double sealed and lined bag to protect from moisture. I scooped a small portion out into a palette and applied varying amounts of water.



The finish of the Viarco Artgraf Soft Stick Water-soluble Graphite and Viarco ArtGraf Graphite Powder ranges from a light wash to a deep almost metallic ink.


For a quick study, I applied the powder dry at first, using the brush and blending stump, then sketched out the figure using varying amounts of water mixed with the powder. I’d like to become more familiar with the powder but I can see potential in its versatility.



The graphite stick behaves in a similar way to the powder when applied with water but offers more control over the mark making, that being said I prefer the powder form.

After testing out the unfamiliar media in the box I decided to see how well the materials worked together. Firstly, I stretched a sheet of Arches Hot Pressed Watercolour Paper and applied some light washes with Grape Seed Black Liquid Charcoal, slowly building in with darker tones.




Once dry, I applied the same process with the Cherry Pit Black Liquid Charcoal to the bottom of the work. I selected the Cherry Pit Black for the earth element of the drawing as the tone works well with the Nitram Academie Fusains Square Stick Charcoal, which I then used to work in the detail, refining and blending with the Caran D’ache Blending Stump. If needed, I lifted some of the charcoal with the Jackson’s Putty Rubber; a nice addition to the set.



I then worked in the fire element with the graphite powder mixed with a little water, again gradually building the heavier tones.



After some consideration, I decided to go in again with the charcoal stick on the fire, aiming to give a bit more depth.



Overall, the set is great value and most of the materials work well together. The liquid charcoal is a revelation for me, I’m excited to experiment more with it as well as the water-soluble graphite powder.



I’d definitely recommend the Jacksons Curated Set: Charcoal and Graphite. It’s a great primer for those who want to explore the possibilities of charcoal and graphite. The set also offers enough quality and range for experienced artists. I think the inclusion of a small detail brush would be a useful addition.


Black Flame Rook, 2022
Ryan Leigh
Schmincke Liquid Charcoal, Nitram Academie Fusains Square Stick Charcoal and Viarco ArtGraf Graphite Powder on Arches Hot Pressed Watercolour paper, 35 x 25 cm | 13.7 x 9.8 in


About Ryan Leigh

Ryan Leigh is an artist based in Hertfordshire. His practice explores the intersections of romanticism, mysticism and the esoteric through drawing. Leigh studied BA: Fine art painting at Wimbledon College of Art. He was included in Saatchi & Channel 4 New Sensations and exhibited multiple times in England and Sweden; including Base Metal, Simon Oldfield Gallery, London, 2010 and Out of Line, Köttinspektionen, Uppsala, Sweden 2017. Leigh has work in various collections including University of the Arts London Emerging Artists Collection and Michelin star restaurant Pollen Street Social, London.

Visit Ryan’s website

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Further Reading

Jackson’s Curated Sets for Botanical Watercolour, Lino Printmaking and Oil Painting

The Difference Between Graphite and Charcoal Explained

Exploring the Place Where Painting and Drawing Meet With Nitram Liquid Charcoal

Liquid Pencil – Paint With Graphite


Shop Jackson’s Curated Sets: Charcoal and Graphite on


Read more reviews of Jackson’s Curated Sets


Clare McNamara

As Blog Editor, Clare oversees content for the blog, manages the publishing schedule and contributes regularly with features, reviews and interviews. With a background in fine arts, her practices are illustration, graphic design, video and music.

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