I've really been enjoying charcoal drawing recently and read somewhere about something called Nitram Charcoal. I ordered some to test it out and I have to say that it's amazing! Their website is filled with information about the product, but it's also available through other vendors and art stores. It wasn't available at my local Blick so I ordered it online.
I got a few different hardnesses to try and found that I really enjoy the softer B hardness. The Nitram charcoal sort of feels like vine charcoal, but it doesn't crumble or break at all. It also maintains a really nice point and doesn't wear away as quickly as vine or willow charcoal. It erases really easily and has a very nice ability to capture midtowns.
I'm also a huge fan of the darks that the Nitram can achieve. When I used to draw with vine charcoal, it wasn't able to layer on the paper. So it would get to the point where any new darks would almost slip off the paper; I used to think that this might be a problem with my paper, but the Nitram can be layered and layered without this slippery effect. Each layer darkens very nicely.
Overall, I'm really satisfied with this product and I highly encourage any artist to try it out!