Get ready for a sort of teachery post
So i started working only with the charcoal pencil, after having used the brushes and blending stump. For "self-portrait before the incident" i tried doing the same as i usually do with graphite, which is sharpen the crap out of it and then make things smooth myself. It worked out pretty well and i'm giving it a go here, too.
I don't really sharpen the charcoal pencil as much as the graphite, cuz i'm using 6b ex soft, maybe harder charcoals can be made super sharp, but this material is generally pretty porous and brittle. So i get it pretty pointy but not that much.
I am enjoying the difference between the eye that is in the light and the one that is in the shadow, with midtones. I find raking light really pleasing to my eye and i find the shadows on the lit side super helpful to tell me where things are, BUT working in the shadow side, there's also information to be taken from the reference and conveyed in the drawing. Maybe not as obvious as in the shadow side where there's lots of contrast, but it's there and it's our responsibility as the artist to communicate that information accurately. On the shadow side, the contrast between the tones is not as pronounced, there are subtle differences and if anything, it's a really good observational exercise, to demand of yourself to catch the subtle differences between one tone and the next.
For example, there is a degradation from the inside of the eye (i'm talking shadow side here), close to the nose, to the bottom eyelid, to then the outer corner of the eye. It goes dark-light-dark super softly, and this talks about the roundness of that part, because the eyeball is pushing through the skin
Swipe back and forth to see how i'm treating each eye, maybe you'll find it interesting.
I'm working with general's charcoal over fabriano artistico paper, and i'm drawing from the mirror. The portrait is larger than life