How to Draw Chalk Art

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Outdoor chalk drawing is a fun project for children.
Outdoor chalk drawing is a fun project for children. (Image: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Anyone can draw with chalk. It's easy to work with and cleans up quickly, making it a great artistic medium for children. The two basic types of chalk are the cheap, hard sticks of pigment made from gypsum and typically advertised as sidewalk chalk, and the soft sticks like those used in pastels which is easier to blend, more expensive and favored by professional 3-D outdoor chalk artists like Julian Beever. However, whichever type of chalk you choose, the drawing process is largely similar.

Things You'll Need

  • Chalk
  • Canvas
  • Drop cloth
  • Water
  • Sponge
  • Paper

Select your canvas. Chalk does not adhere well to a smooth surface, so a rough piece of paper, linen canvas or, for exterior projects, concrete, asphalt or brick all work well. Though basic chalk cleans easily with water, it can stain clothing and is dusty, so put down a drop cloth and/or wear old clothes.

Outline your design. Remember that it is easier to darken a chalk drawing than to lighten it, so use a soft, light color for the initial layout. The outline doesn't have to be perfect--it will be covered later on--so just get your design down on the canvas.

Begin to color in the outline, layering and blending colors from light to dark. Don't be afraid to get dirty. The best tools for blending chalk are your hands. For larger outdoor drawings, it is best to work in sections to avoid smudging your work.

Take a break. Let the drawing sit for at least an hour. This is an important step as it quite literally allows you to see the drawing with new eyes. Then go back and do your touch-ups. Create definition with crisp lines of contrasting color. To avoid smudging a large outdoor drawing, place white sheets of paper down and carefully walk across without twisting or shuffling.

Clean up the edges of an outdoor chalk drawing with water and a sponge. For water-soluble pastel chalk, blot mistakes with a damp piece of paper towel.

Tips & Warnings

  • Because outdoor chalk drawings are naturally ephemeral, take a photo of your art project for fun or for your portfolio.
  • To prevent ruining highly intricate outdoor chalk drawings during touch-ups, lean on a golf cane chair to avoid stepping all over your artwork.

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