Drawing Techniques: a Guide
Dry Media: Combined Chalks: Black and Red Chalk  

Combinations of black and red chalk begin to appear in Italy early in the sixteenth century. At first the artists seem to have had purely technical reasons for using them together. Black chalk was a convenient medium for a tracing or underdrawing, and the artist then made a developed drawing in red chalk over it. Soon artists, particularly in Florence, saw the combination as a means of clarifying structure in figure drawings. Red chalk could also render surface qualities more effectively than black chalk. Together red chalk could fulfill this function and black chalk could accentuate contour lines. The Florentine masters Fra Bartolommeo, Andrea del Sarto, Rosso Fiorentino, and Francesco Salviati were often brilliantly inventive in their application of black and white chalk together. Later in the sixteenth century the double technique became more formulaic, and members of the Accademia del Disegno made consistent use of black and red chalks in figure studies.

Later it became a mainstay of French academic working methods. The use of combined black and red chalks developed into the formal technique known as "à deux crayons."

  Workshop of Taddeo Zuccaro. Study for the Sala dei Fasti Farnesiani. MMLV Fine Arts.
Black and White Chalk
Black, Red, and White Chalk