Ritmo charcoal is my new fav now. It's so soft, with grainy effect, I don't even have to use a stump to smudge it (a finger does the trick). It gives me this painterly effect -easily! No problem on sharpening, it doesn't break easily. I use HB for lighter drawing and 3B for the kind of darks I want. It works perfect with smooth newsprint paper. I used white compressed sticks for my highlights. You should try it.