To the point
For those of you who have been watching my drawing videos on Facebook, a bit more about how it's done and the materials I use.
First thing is the paper. I use Fabriano Artistico Extra White, which is the whitest art paper available. It offers me the greatest contrast with the charcoal and the hot press version is both smooth and hard wearing - important for blending as it means the surface won't tear.
I use two kinds of pencil - charcoal for fine detail and outlines, then Wolffs carbon pencil to fill in. The carbon is less reflective so drawing lines don't show up on larger areas. As you can see from the picture above, it is also a shade darker.
If I want something even blacker than that I use carbon blocks, though these get messy. I only use them for very large areas and have to be careful to blow any dust away from areas I need to keep white as this stuff sticks. To everything. Including me.
For softer grey areas, I blend the charcoal. Depending on the area to be covered I use either a rubber tipped 'brush' or a stump - these are made from paper tightly rolled into a pencil shape.
Sometimes I need to pick out very fine detail from an area that had to be blended. In this case, I use a sharp scalpel type blade. Disposable ones are ideal as paper does do an excellent job of destroying any kind of an edge. I don't use fixing spray on my work because it can blur and undo such delicate lines. Once I am happy with a piece, I am careful to remove any loose material and then frame asap to protect the surface.
I have been working with just these materials for some time now but I am still discovering new techniques and possibilities. Which is why I do it.