Learn Conte Crayon

A small history of Conte Crayons....

Invented in France in 1795 by Nicolas-Jacques Conté especially for drawing and sketching, Conté Crayons are made from a blend of natural pigments, kaolin clay, and graphite. The Conté crayon has been used by many of the world’s greatest artists, including Picasso, Delacroix, and Degas.

During the French Revolution, while Paris was under siege and cut off from supplies of the best English graphite, French inventor Nicolas Jacques Conté invented the modern pencil by developing a process to combine graphite with clay. Ever since, Conté has been the world's leader in producing fine drawing tools from rich natural materials. Conté Sketch Sets offer a variety of Conté's world-famous drawing materials packaged in special sets. All pencils are pre-sharpened.

The rich, vivid colors of Conté Crayons mix together nicely, and a range of effects can be consistently produced. They are well suited for use on newsprint, bristol, toned paper or heavily grained surfaces. Their rich opacity makes them ideal for work on darker papers and their quality ensures the longevity of drawings. Conté crayons are waxier and much firmer than soft pastels, so they produce little dust and are easy to control. They are smaller, harder and less waxy, however, than oil pastels. Because of this, Conte Crayon colors are more intense (there is literally more pigment per stick than with pastels.)

Sharpen Conté Crayons to a chisel tip with a sanding pad for detailed work or drag them flat on their sides for various shading techniques on large areas. The unique shape allows the sticks to be broken for easier use (yes, it is OK to break them!)

What You Will Need For The Video Project Lessons:

A set four Conte crayon sticks in monochromatic colors (browns and blacks) or a small set of conte crayons in a color assortment. You can do all of the lessons here with either. Color sets a are bit more expensive, but give you the option of using a wider range of color in your drawings.

One 9 x 12" spiral bound good quality sketch book (at least 50 pages)

One eraser (kneaded eraser is recommended, although a white or pink will do well, too.)

One ruler

Paper towels

You can easily purchase conte crayon set as well as your sketch book online by clicking the Amazon product logos on this page.

Try shading a cylindrical shape. A good exercise for learning how to shade with conte crayon.

Watch my video on how to Draw A Flower With Conte Crayon. This will help you to learn this shading technique using still life objects.

Interested in doing portraits or drawing a face? Watch my video on "Drawing A Face With Conte Crayon." It will help you learn this skill....

In this video I am working from a small photograph of my barn in Connecticut. Because I am using a brown conte crayon all of the color, light and shadow have to be translated to a monochromatic scene.It is important to use the whole value scale of very dark to very light to add energy and interest to the landscape subject.

I appreciate your comments, ideas and suggestions!  Contact me using the form below...and thanks!

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Real Feedback

Lois, Thank you so much for this video.You have really outdone yourself on this one. I am truly inspired to give this a try! This is really stunning! I love it. I wanted you to know that you have been a real blessing to me. After the sudden passing of my husband (of 33 yrs.) I decided to take up art, and your site was one of the first I came across. It was, and still continues to be one of my favorite sites for inspiration and relaxed learning. You're a gem. Keep it up! Thanks Much Kim Tanner

--- I discovered your website today and I am so impressed by the content. Not only it is free but is far superior to other websites. My name is Dena and I'm from Queensland in Australia. Just recently (few weeks ago I picked up a paint brush and love it!!! I'm a Mother of 4 and 46 this year, work full time real estate sales. I've never had an art lesson and was surfing the Internet for free tutorage on acrylics. That's how I discovered your incredibly helpful site. You are the one that should be charging not the majority of other ones I have found. My question to you is below is a painting that I'm trying to copy, however the running bits of paint at top I'm not sure how to get that effect. I'm only on lesson one of yours as I just discovered it only hours ago. But if you would share with me how to achieve this it would be greatly appreciated. Again, thank you for such rich information on your site. I'm so excited to get to experiment with all you share




I have had the immense pleasure of discovering your web site and found your online studies. I am a retired person and one of my goals now is to learn drawing and eventually, painting, at which time I'll need formal tutoring or teaching.

I made the list of materials to start drawing and am now going out to buy them, then I'll start the six lessons you suggest. I am so excited that I wanted to thank you for being so generous to the rest of us by teaching freely on line. Happy New Year!

Jorge del Valle

If you can afford it...

a large set of assorted color conte crayons is like having rainbow beams in a box ready to draw with! BUT, there are smaller, less expensive sets of 12 available, too

You don't have to get a set with a wooden box, although, I have to admit, that is a nice touch and makes them elegantly portable.

If you enjoyed doing the conte crayon lessons, consider expanding your colors with a set like this (wooden box or no wooden box!) Search online or go to your local art supply store.

A 12 or 24 color conte crayon assortment is the closest thing to painting without having to buy paints and brushes. Vibrant color, great overlay qualities and nice, soft texture. What could be better?