Pastels are easy to use for creating expressive paintings along with more detailed photorealistic art. They are affordable, easy to store, and even found in classroom art supplies for children.
If you are interested in working with pastels, there are a few things you will want to know about the different types of pastels that are available.
Each type of pastel will create a different mark on the drawing surface, and your artistic style will determine the best ones for your art projects.
Are you trying to decide if you should purchase pastel sticks of oil pastels? If so, don’t worry. We have you covered. This post will explain the difference between each type of pastel available and highlight different brands often used by professional artists.
Before spending a lot of money on pastels, you will never use, read this article so you can decide what pastels will work best for your creations.
Many professional artists and student artists use pastels for their original artwork because of the pastel’s vibrant colors and the wide variety of different available colors in a pastel set.
The different types of pastels artists use for their pastel paintings are:
Each of the types of pastels will create different effects. So it is a good idea to know what pastel types will work best for your next project.
If you are trying to decide if you would like to use colored pencils for your next drawing read, Pastel Pencils vs. Colored Pencils – What Is For Your Art Project.
Soft pastels are also referred to as pastel chalk. However, pastels do not contain any chalk.
Soft pastels are made of dry pigments and resin or gum binders. The binders are used to keep the pigments from falling apart.
Most soft pastels come in a square or stick form, making them easy to apply to multiple surfaces like pastel paper, canvas, and watercolor paper.
The main difference between soft pastels and the other types of pastels is that they contain the least amount of binder and have more pigment, which results in rich, vivid colors.
The downside of having more dry pigment and less binder is that they have a more fragile consistency, making it challenging to create fine details. On the other hand, the powdery texture allows artists to easily blend different colors with their bare hands, allowing them to create a wide range of hues.
Soft Pastel Techniques
Soft pastels are a versatile art supply that allows artists to create beautiful paintings without brushes, palettes, water, or drying time.
Here are some different techniques artists use with soft pastels:
Smudging – blending two or more different colors with your fingers or other blending tools. Blending colors create a variety of color effects. Smudging is good for blurred backgrounds and applying soft value changes to a subject.
Layering – is adding different colors over each other to create depth and shadows.
Stippling – is a technique that uses tiny dots to create texture or shading effect. Stippling is good for adding texture to subjects with a rough surface like rocks, trees, or even freckles.
Feathering – is applying multiple colors with lines that overlap each other. This is a good technique for animal fur.
Scumbling – is a technique when light layers of pastels are added to an area to create a sense of depth.
Soft Pastel Tips
The tips outlined below can also be used with hard pastels, pan pastels, and pastel pencils. Some techniques might also be applied with oil pastels.
Before you start drawing with pastels, you must purchase the right paper for your pastel drawing.
A smooth surface works well for a pastel painting that does not require many layers.
A rougher surface like PastelMat works well for adding multiple layers. The different textures will provide different results, making sure you purchase the right pastel paper for your project.
- Start with a light sketch of the subject.
- Add light layers of pastel and add layers as you go.
- Add the midtones to the subject first, then add the lighter and darker details.
- Spay the drawing with a fixative to add more layers to the drawing. Use fixative carefully because fixatives can darken pastels.
- Protect the finished drawing with glass or glassine paper.
Top Selling Soft Pastel Sets
The main difference between oil pastels and the other main types of pastels is the different materials used for the binding. Oil pastels contain a pigment for the color and an oil or wax binder.
Oil pastels work well on different surfaces, including paper, wood, glass, plastic, and canvas. Oil pastels have a similar characteristic to crayon or oil paints.
The main difference between oil pastels and other pastels is that oil pastels do not blend as easily as soft pastels because of the different binders. Another difference is that oil pastels can not be layered as much as other pastels.
Various techniques can be used with oil pastels to create expressive art, landscapes, still life, etc.
Oil Pastel Techniques
- Start with a loose underlayer of the midtones and layer highlights and shadows on top.
- Slowly build up layers
- Define edges with a background.
Top Selling Oil Pastel Sets
- Caran d’Ache Neopastels
- Sakura Cray-Pas Expressionist Oil Pastels
- Sargent Art Artists’ Oil Pastels
- Van Gogh Oil Pastels
Hard pastels use the same binders as softer pastels. The only difference is that harder pastels use more binders which is perfect for more detailed work because it is easier to sharpen to a fine point.
Many artists use a combination of soft pastels and hard pastels for their pastel paintings. The soft pastels are used for intense colors, and the hard pastels are used for fine lines and highlights.
The general rule is that soft pastels are used for the underlayer and backgrounds, while hard pastels are used for details.
Pastel pencils are like soft or hard pastel held together with wood, just like a graphite pencil. Pencil pastels work well finer details but not as well for larger areas.
Pan pastels are a powdery pigment that is applied to a surface with a sponge-like applicator. Larger areas can be covered quickly with pan pastels and blend very easily.
Final Thoughts On Soft Pastels vs. Oil Pastels
Pastels are an accessible medium for creating art. The wide variety of pastel colors make them the perfect choice for creative minds.
Deciding on which pastel is best for your artwork is more of a personal preference.
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