Live Lessons: Rhino with Graphite and White Charcoal

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This lesson series features:
10 Hours of Instruction
10 Videos

About This Lesson Series...

In this lesson series, we create a drawing of a wonderfully textured Rhinoceros on toned gray paper with graphite and white charcoal.

Lesson 1 (1:05:01)

In lesson one, we discuss combining graphite with white charcoal and some characteristics to be aware of. We also discuss reducing graphite shine and create the preliminary sketch.

Lesson 2 (1:08:12)

In lesson two, we begin adding tone and develop values and textures on the horn of the rhino. We carefully build up darker and lighter applications to create strong contrast.

Lesson 3 (1:17:13)

In lesson three, we work our way down the face and begin work developing the wrinkles.

Lesson 4 (1:11:42)

In lesson four, we continue working our way to the right side of the head, increasing the contrast as we go.

Lesson 5 (1:09:16)

In lesson five, we work our way over to the right side of the head and address the splotchy texture and pronounced ridges.

Lesson 6 (1:09:33)

In lesson six, we develop the values and textures on the ears.

Lesson 7 (1:14:16)

In lesson seven, we continue working our way to the right side of the picture plane, addressing some of the skin on the back of the body.

Lesson 8 (1:09:27)

In lesson eight, we develop the textures on the upper back of the rhinoceros.

Lesson 9 (1:16:35)

In lesson nine, we tackle the textures on the right side of the body and complete the drawing.

realistic drawing of a rhinoceros

Resources for this Lesson...


Photo Reference

Finished Result

Here's what you'll need...

  • Graphite pencils (H, HB, 2B, 4B)
  • Toned gray drawing paper
  • White charcoal pencil
  • Kneaded eraser
  • Blending stumps

Lesson Discussion

  1. The rhino drawing was very informative. We enjoyed the way you exposed your thinking as you went along – very helpful! We are looking forward to lesson 2 of this series.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you.

  2. Rhino horns are removed for their protection and the preservation of the species. Rhinos are a target for poachers as rhino horn has value when sold for Eastern medicinal use. This is extremely sad because rhino horn is nothing but the protein keratin – the same thing as human nails and hair. By removing the horns of wild rhino, poachers have no interest in poaching them because they have no monetary value. The use of tiger bone, bear gall, and rhino horn in eastern medicine as well as the use of elephant ivory for adornment, has lead to untold suffering, orphaned- and often the death of- offspring and the destruction of these species. While illegal, there is still a thriving black market. Just thought you should know…

    Now that I’ve climbed down from my soapbox… I’ve been a member for almost a year and my New Year’s resolution is to be more active. I confess, I’ve been more of an observer of the site rather than a participant. As I’m sure you now know, I am very passionate about wildlife. I was initially trained as a biologist and I spent 20 plus years in the field in post secondary education. I’ve always loved to draw and paint but never took these activities seriously as I never had much time to devote to them. With my retirement last summer, I hope to have more time to do these things! I was thrilled to see the chubby unicorn as the subject of this lesson. I hope to catch up and follow along! I hope everyone experiences the 2020 of their dreams!

  3. I tried to watch this live last night! But New Year’s wiped me out lol…I’ll be catching up when I get my gray paper this week and hopefully joining you next Wednesday! Thanks so much for these live lessons! Are you planning on filling in the background or are you showing just the rhino?

  4. Hi Matt: I’ve finally got started on this neat rhino…After finally finishing the sketch…which it seems I’m struggling with if i don’t use a scale divider.

    I was finished with what i was thinking an incredible horn now full of values and looking pretty good…
    To my dismay, turning to check the shine, which seems more than i want… realyzing that i will have a re-do…I am one of those who is guilty of going too fast?

    I now have a better set up here and will not mind re-starting…
    Love being able to play and replay parts of interest.

    Enjoying the classes and the critiques.

  5. This neat rhino is emerging! Albeit, finding some shine inevitable…sighs…
    It def has to do with starting with a lighter h, or hb and slowly buiding up. I am falling
    in love with the process though!

    Not to be understated that value is relative! …had to widen his “horn” on the left, so to make it make “more sense to me”…

    Got caught up in a rhythm while working on his wrinkles (lol) …which was what happened when doing the leaves as well….

    made time go by and did not want to stop…

    hope to be caught up by tonight’s lesson…


  6. I am patiently waiting for Lesson 6 in this series that was supposed to have been done last night. I used the grid technique to accurately develop my contour drawing. So far I am pleased with my result. I am starting to recapture both texture and value variation in my drawing. The rhino is a great project to develop skills. I just wish there were more graphite and white charcoal exercises.

    • Hi Ed,
      Glad to hear that you’re pleased with the start of your drawing. There are currently 44 lessons on the site that utilize the combination of white charcoal and graphite.

  7. I just started a trial thinking I want to start a membership. So many of the videos seem to barely stream, they’re constantly buffering. Is this common on the site?

    • Hi Ian,

      The videos stream in HD by default. They do not auto buffer according to your internet connection. If you’re having trouble streaming the full HD video, you may change the stream quality by scrolling over the video and clicking on the small gear icon. Choose a lesser quality and the stream should play without issue. The buffering you’re experiencing is due to a weak or intermittent internet connection.

  8. Nina, I was going to ask the same question but I think it’s the same size pad that I have, 9 x 12.
    Matt, I also wanted to know if you use a fix-it of some kind if you were to frame this drawing.

  9. But, why do we have to use a lighter pencil first and then go darker. Why can we not just use a pencil shade that will give us the shade we aim to achieve one and for all, will doing this not also help in keeping the paper tooth Intact to reduce the graphite shine? Instead if building and building on a shade. Just thinking

  10. Hello! I am very late to this lesson as it is April now but I am enjoying it. I don’t know what you named your rhino, but I am calling mine “Rona.” Rona Rhino. Done during the self isolation during the pandemic. Thanks for your free instruction.

  11. Hi Matt:

    I just bought white charcoal pencils for this project. I have never used this media before so decided to test it first and realized that the white charcoal pencil works fine by itself but it just slides off the graphite marks. Now I am wondering about the quality of the charcoal pencil. I definitely cannot start this drawing with the ones I have. Is there a particular brand of charcoal pencil that I should use? Thanks!

    • Hi Ujwala,

      It’s not the quality of the charcoal. Please be sure to watch the lesson series. The order in which you apply the medium is important. You must preserve the areas of highlight and lighter value. The white charcoal will not cover areas where you put moderate to heavy applications of graphite.

  12. I just wanted to say how grateful I am for this site. I started drawing about 2 years ago. Before that, thinking with the mindset of, not being able to draw something that didn’t look like It was done by my toddler. Using tutorials from all over the web has helped, but it wasn’t until I found this site that my art quality increased dramatically. But even more so was how much more I was enjoying there process. The in depth lessons on each medium along with ebooks have opened me up to trying new avenues in my art, and I’m loving every medium I put in my hands. I especially love the live lessons. To see you make every stroke with an explination on why and how you do it was just the type of instruction I have been longing for. Look forward to being a member for the foreseeable future.


  13. Love your rhino so far. Thank you for this lesson so informative and helped me with getting those wrinkles. Challenging but getting there. Cheers

  14. Thank you for this wonderful lesson. I am originally from east africa and have seen them very closely growing up and have admired this beautiful beast and to finally able to get it down on paper was very emotional. Of course no way close to your Rhino but nevertheless it looks like a rhino and can see where my errors are for a next attempt in the future. Thank you once again.

  15. Hi Matt! Just wondering if you had a particular brand of white charcoal pencils you recommend? Apologies if it’s mentioned in the videos, but I thought I’d ask here.

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