How to Draw with Oil Pastels for Beginners

Oil Pastels and pastel drawings

Oil pastel techniques and tips to get you started!

Oil Pastels are a unique medium with features unlike any other artistic tool. Pick up oil pastels and you have the ability create with vibrant highly pigmented colors with a smooth creamy laydown. Faber-Castell Oil Pastels were specifically created for students and aspiring artists. High-quality and easy to use, oil pastels inspire artists to push their creative boundaries and explore the different styles of art that they have to offer. New to using oil pastels? Here are some tips and tricks to get you started.

Creating Line Variety:

Varying oil pastel lines

The cylindrical shape of oil pastels gives artists the opportunity to utilize the different angles and sides to create a variety of lines and patterns. Create a variation in pastel lines by turning, pressing, and altering the angle of inclination. To create wider lines, cut off a side of the pastel to flatten the surface. Take it a step further and cut off pieces of the pastel and use a spatula to crush the pastel to create expressive areas of unusual texture.


Oil pastel fish

One of the great qualities of oil pastels are their easily smudgeable soft consistency. We recommend using a blending stump to smudge but you can also use a cloth or even your finger. It is important to note that different pastel colors have more or less ability to smudge. Add a layer of white oil pastel under a colored pastel to improve the smudge-ability.

Mixing Colors:

Mixed oil pastel colors

Mix oil pastels directly on your paper through a few different techniques. Layer colors on top of each other to create a gradient of different shades for a simple mixing technique or blur colors together by applying thin layers of one color on top of the other and blend together using a blending stump, cloth, or your finger. We recommend using a fixative between layers for best results. Mixing colors can also be achieved by utilizing simple patterns to create optical mixtures such as layered squiggles, dots, and hatching.

Pastel squiggle art

Brighten and Darken:

We know that you can darken a pastel color by using black or grey, but did you know you can also use a complementary color as well? Refer to the color wheel to find your complementary color opposite on the wheel. Layer these colors to achieve the darker shade of grey you desire. You can also blend or overlay a color with white to lighten the color or use lighter shades of the same color.

Color wheel

These techniques just touch the surface on what you can achieve with oil pastels. Other slightly advanced techniques include painting with oil, sgraffito, encaustic, and working with templates. Faber-Castell Oil Pastels are available in boxes of 36, 24, or 12. Learn more about our oil pastels here. Coming soon neon and metallic oil pastels!


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