Watch me paint my new digital charcoals [+ video]

Want to see behind the magic?

Here’s a peek into the creation of my new digital charcoal series.

First, I prime my canvas

Like any painter, I start with a blank canvas. For this series, I wanted an inky dark background. So, out came large, soft watercolour brushes to blend into a dark grey texture.

Then it’s all about getting messy with black & white charcoal brushes

My next step is to block in a messy, tonal underpainting. Then, layer by layer, brush stroke by brush stroke, I smear tones around and pull out the details. But not all the details – I smudge back certain lines so that your eyes are drawn to the central parts of the image. I keep experimenting, deepening or lightening tones, until my dancer pops from the background.

©2018, Ailene Cuthbertson, Radiant. Digital painting, 25 cm x 30 cm

So, how is this different to actual charcoals?

Instead of paper and charcoal, my canvas and paint are pixels. I move my virtual brush with a pen and tablet. And because my original painting is just data sitting on a hard drive, it means I need to print my art to bring it into the real world.

Fresh from the printer - fine art glicée prints of my new series: digital charcoal ballerinas.
Fresh from the printer – fine art glicée prints of my new series: digital charcoal ballerinas.

Watch it all in action

I made a video for you! And don’t worry, I’ve sped up the process so it’s nice a quick to watch.

If you enjoyed this video, please like, share + leave me a comment on YouTube!

Love these prints?

For the prints of this series, I chose a thick, textured fine art paper which adds such a luscious depth to the blacks. They’re a limited edition of 10, a handy 10” x 12”, and come unframed for $150. If you’d like this image (or the ones from last time) for your wall, drop me an email at

I hope you’re enjoying this series as much as I am. More next time!

Keep on shining bright,