Finding the best soft pastels for professional artists can be daunting. You need pastels that deliver pigment quality, texture, and lightfastness without compromising on the bendability that elevates your work. This no-nonsense guide cuts through the clutter to bring you top-tier soft pastels favored by artists for their performance and reliability. Ready to discover your next go-to pastel set? Read on, but we’ll leave the rich details for each brand to the main article.
Premium soft pastels, particularly from Schmincke, Sennelier, and Unison, offer rich, vibrant colors and smooth textures that cater to the needs of professional artists, with concentrated pigments for lasting artwork.
Artists requiring precision in pastel work can opt for brands like Rembrandt and Faber Castell, which offer a balance between softness for blending and firmness for detailed work, alongside various tools like pastel pencils and sticks.
Considering non-toxic and eco-friendly pastel options, such as Mount Vision Soft Pastels, helps artists work safely while making a more environmentally sustainable choice, with these products often being larger and longer-lasting.
Elite Selection: Premium Soft Pastels for the Professional Artist
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For the pastel artist, choosing premium soft pastels significantly elevates their craft. Quality is paramount, as it influences the richness and vibrancy of colors, smooth consistency, and lightfastness. The pigment quality is key, affecting how vibrant and long-lasting the colors are on paper. Highly concentrated pigments give a more vivid color, ensuring your artwork lasts longer without significant fading. The softest pastels are usually found in premium sets, providing a luxuriously smooth buttery texture that is an absolute joy to work with.
Regarding the best budget soft pastels, consider these three outstanding brands renowned for their exceptional quality, vibrant pigments, and smooth textures: Schmincke, Sennelier, and Unison. They have set the standard high in soft pastels, offering products that cater to professional artists’ diverse needs and artistic visions worldwide.
Schmincke Soft Pastels epitomize the pinnacle of quality. Their features include:
Super soft and buttery texture
Great archival quality
Wide range of rich colors, precisely 400
Free from fillers or additives
This ensures a pure, highly pigmented application on your support, letting your creativity flow without obstacles.
Schmincke Extra Soft Pastels come in a beautiful wooden box with foam inserts. This is for safe transportation and storage and helps keep the very soft pastels organized and protected. A perfect blend of functionality and aesthetics, the packaging adds a dash of elegance to your art supplies.
Sennelier’s Legacy of Color
Sennelier soft pastels carry an illustrious history, having been used by famous artists for over a hundred years. Known for their top-notch quality and lightfast pigments, they have earned a reputation as a popular choice among professional artists.
Sennelier soft pastels are famous for:
Being extra soft
Offering brilliant and bright colors
Having excellent lightfastness
Being made of natural pigments with less binder and no fillers
Being super concentrated in pigment and high-quality
These professional-grade pastels, including oil and student-grade pastels, are perfect for artists who settle for the best materials for their work.
Unison Soft Pastels perfectly blend quality, versatility, and diversity. Made in the UK, they are highly pigmented and luxurious, making them ideal for layering. They offer a range of earth tones, portrait colors, and seascape sets, catering to the diverse artistic needs of professionals.
Unison’s range is extensive – a whopping 320 colors. This wide palette, combined with their tailored sets for portraits, landscapes, and seascapes, makes them a great investment for artists who crave variety and quality in their pastel artworks.
Crafting Fine Details: Soft Pastels Suited for Precision
Certain pastel brands stand out when crafting fine details with their firmer textures and precise application. Brands like Rembrandt and Faber Castell have developed products that offer a perfect balance of softness and firmness, making them ideal for sketching, detail work, and layering.
Rembrandt soft pastels, for instance, strike a perfect balance between softness and firmness. Their texture allows for:
Outlining and mapping out compositions with ease
Blending and layering colors smoothly
Creating a wide range of effects, from delicate details to bold strokes
Additionally, Rembrandt soft pastels offer decent lightfastness, ensuring that your artwork remains high quality for a long time.
Rembrandt’s Firm Yet Blendable Pastels
Rembrandt pastels, specifically their soft pastels, are a unique blend of firmness and blendability. Made of finely ground pure pigments in an extra-fine Kaolin clay binder, they offer a smooth and easy blending texture. This unique property allows artists to achieve fine details in their work effortlessly.
The colors and hues in Rembrandt’s soft pastels range are carefully chosen to provide artists with various work options. This allows for a diverse range of artistic expression and a greater depth in the final artwork.
Faber Castell’s Precise Pencils and Sticks
Faber Castell’s Soft Pastel Pencils and Sticks are another excellent choice for artists who value precision. With a high pigment content and wax and oil-free composition, they are perfect for crafting realistic looks and fine details in pastel works.
Their soft pastel sticks are perfect for making smooth and soft gradients, while their soft pastel pencils are better for detailed work. They provide artists with various techniques to achieve different effects, making them a versatile option to have in your arsenal.
The Spectrum of Softness: Understanding Pastel Hardness
Understanding the varying degrees of softness in soft pastels is instrumental to mastering the medium. The hardness of a pastel can vary from extra soft to firm, significantly affecting the artist’s experience and technique.
Here are some key points to remember:
Hard pastels have less pigment and more binder than soft pastels
Hard pastels are better for fine lines
Soft pastels are more vibrant and easier to blend or layer
Medium-textured pastels, on the other hand, offer a sweet spot between softness and hardness. They offer the best of both worlds – they’re soft enough to work with quickly but also provide enough control to use them for different artistic techniques, making them a popular choice for those who prefer working with softer pastels.
Art Spectrum’s Vibrant Offerings
Art Spectrum’s pastels are a perfect example of medium soft pastels, often used in pastel painting. Offering intense colors and a slightly grittier texture than other soft pastels, they provide artists with a balanced experience between softness and control.
The pigments used in Art Spectrum pastels are of the highest quality, which is why they perform so well and produce such vibrant colors. They offer 20 lightfast colors in Smooth, Original (Medium), and Rough textures, giving artists many options for their expression.
Non-Toxic and Eco-Friendly Options
Searching for the best soft pastels is worth considering brands emphasizing safety and environmental sustainability. Mount Vision Soft Pastels, for instance, steer clear of using harmful pigments like cadmium or cobalt, making them a safer choice for artists who are particular about the materials they use.
Moreover, Mount Vision Soft Pastels are much larger than other brands. This means they last longer, reducing waste and making them a more sustainable choice for artists, who are increasingly conscious about their environmental impact.
Mount Vision’s Balanced Approach
Mount Vision Soft Pastels perfectly blend affordability, quality, and safety. With bright colors, non-toxic ingredients, and a well-balanced pigment-to-binder ratio, they provide a healthy and delightful experience for artists.
The texture of Mount Vision Soft Pastels is soft yet firm enough for detailed work. Their heavy pigmentation and smooth, creamy texture, made from the finest traditional and synthetic pigments, ensure that artists can enjoy a top-notch, eco-friendly product.
Diverse Palettes for Every Artist
Selecting a brand that provides a broad color spectrum enhances the creative opportunities for artists. It allows them to experiment with different colors and expand their artistic skills. For beginners, exploring and learning about color theory and mixing can be an exciting playground.
For instance, Girault Soft Pastels offers a staggering 300 colors. Such a wide range allows artists to explore and express their artistic visions without feeling restricted.
Terry Ludwig’s Color Rich Sets
Terry Ludwig’s medium soft pastels are another gem in the pastel world. With an impressive range of 750 colors, they offer artists a diverse palette for various subjects and styles. The wide color range caters to professionals’ diverse artistic needs and styles.
Terry Ludwig’s pastels are known for their thick mark on the paper, which allows for covering the surface faster. They use a wide variety of pigments and very few natural binders, so their colors are really intense and velvety.
Specialty Pastels for Unique Effects
In soft pastels, artists continually seek innovations in design and distinctive effects. For instance, Pan Pastels have gained popularity for their innovative pan format, similar to watercolors or makeup. They offer the following benefits:
Create less dust
Can be easily erased
Offer vibrant colors
Give a softer look than regular pastels
Their design allows artists to:
Paint smoothly on paper or panel surfaces using a special sponge tool
Open up new creative possibilities
Offer a distinct advantage over traditional stick form pastels.
Pan Pastels’ Innovative Design
PanPastel Colors were developed using a unique manufacturing process by Colorfin. They use minimal binder and fillers, providing ultra-soft and highly blendable colors with rich pigmentation.
Their minimal binders, concentrated colors, and low pastel dust make them great for creating softer areas and atmospheric effects. These properties set them apart from regular pastel sticks, making them versatile for artists.
Enhancing Longevity: Fixatives and Storage
Maintaining the vibrancy and prolonging pastel artwork’s lifespan is paramount. Proper use of fixatives and storage solutions can significantly enhance the life of your creations. Fixatives offered by reputable brands like Daler-Rowney and Sennelier are specifically formulated to protect the delicate nature of pastels.
To prevent smudging and keep pastel artworks looking vibrant, they should be stored flat with glassine paper over them. If you frame them, use acid-free, archival-quality matting and framing materials to prevent discoloration. Consider wrapping finished works in a glassine for extra protection.
Essential Tools for the Pastel Artist
Creating with soft pastels necessitates certain indispensable tools and supplies. For instance, you will need:
Textured paper, boards, canvas, and sandpaper
Papers with a high tooth to hold the pigment and a surface that feels soft
Sandpaper type paper with a fine grain or papers made from cotton or cotton blends
These materials are excellent for their durability and ability to hold pigments without needing fixatives.
Fixatives are another essential tool for the pastel artist. They work by spraying onto the back of the paper, soaking into it, and capturing a light layer of pastel as they dry. This leaves the top layer dry, preserving the vibrancy and integrity of the pastel artwork.
We’ve explored the world of soft pastels, from the elite selection of pastels to the essential tools for the pastel artist. We’ve discovered how the hardness of a pastel affects the artist’s experience and technique, and how brands like Mount Vision prioritize safety and environmental responsibility. We’ve also highlighted the importance of using appropriate fixatives and storage solutions to preserve the vibrancy and longevity of pastel artwork. Armed with this knowledge, you’re now ready to explore the spectrum of soft pastels and create your own pastel masterpiece.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best artist pastels?
The best artist pastels in the market today are soft pastels. They offer a high-quality result and vibrant colors.
What pastels are best for portraits?
Soft pastels are best for portraits because of their fantastic blending properties, making them great for building up tones and shapes. Try using soft pastels for your next portrait!
What are the best pastels for blending?
The best pastels for blending are the Schminke soft pastels, which are known for their incredibly smooth texture and ease of use. Try them out if budget is not an issue for you.
What pastels don t smudge?
Oil pastels do not smudge like soft pastels, making them a great option for artists who want to avoid smudging and airborne dust. They also produce bright, intense colors without requiring a fixative.
Why should I invest in premium soft pastels?
You should invest in premium soft pastels because they offer top-notch quality, richer and more vibrant colors, a smooth consistency, and higher lightfastness, all of which enhance the overall art experience. The quality of pigments directly impacts the vibrancy and longevity of the colors on paper.