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Oil Pastels vs Soft Pastels

Posted on June 08 2021

Oil pastels and soft pastels

Oil Pastels vs Soft Pastels Comparison

Pastels are a unique medium. Pigment packed, pastels deliver vibrant colors to a blank art paper or canvas. They are widely loved because they are an independent art medium. Feeling inspired? All you need is your creativity, your pastels, and a surface to create on. (Although we do know some great oil pastel and soft pastel techniques.) While all pastels are used for drawing and painting artwork full of vivid pigment, they have qualities that make them very different from each other. Learn the difference between oil and soft pastels and what makes each one unique.

Oil Pastels with pastel painting

Oil Pastels

Faber-Castell brings you oil pastels in 36 vibrant colors. Their mix of oil and pigment give the pastels a crayon-like texture with a creamy laydown while their cylindrical shape allow artists to create various lines. The soft consistency of oil pastels allows for easy blending with other pastel colors and different media. A foam blender, a blending stump, or even a finger work best when trying to blend pastels. Use a spatula to break up the pastels to mix with other colors or to cover larger areas. Beyond blending, oil pastels are great to use with techniques such as sgraffito, encaustic, adding oil, or mixing with other media such as watercolor. The consistency of oil pastels makes them extremely lightfast with pigments of the pastels sitting on top of the paper adding extra dimension.

Soft Pastels with soft pastel painting

Soft Pastels

Faber-Castell Soft Pastels set themselves apart from our oil pastels with 70 colors in the form of standard and mini rectangular sticks. Pigment mixed with minimal binders and compression are what give soft pastels their gentle smooth laydown. With these pastels you can be casual and spontaneous with your art. Soft pastels create unparalleled flowing and soft gradients compared to other drawing or painting mediums. The rectangular shape of the pastels offer many different ways that they can be used. Use the tip and edges to draw fine to medium lines or use the wide side of the pastel to cover larger areas. The chalk-like texture of soft pastels makes them incredibly easy to blend and mix. Easily use your finger, a blending stump, or a rag to blend. A sealant is recommended when finished working with soft pastels.

Paper with oil pastels

The Best Paper for Your Pastels

Oil pastels and soft pastels work well with a wide range of surfaces. We advise beginner artists to keep it simple at first. Soft pastel and oil pastel paper will allow you to get more familiar with the qualities of the pastels before advancing to different surfaces.

Oil pastels work great with colored paper, card stock, painting cardboard, canvas, wood, glass, leather, polystyrene, and even plastic. Textured, rough-grained paper that allows pigments to stick well work best for soft pastels. Watercolor paper, canvas, pasteboard, or wood surfaces also work well with soft pastels with more experience. Take both soft and oil pastels to another level and use them on colored paper. The contrast will further bring your vibrant pigments to life. Artist’s tip: always make sure your surface is acid-free.

Faber-Castell Oil Pastels and Soft Pastels alike are great for beginners, novices, and professionals. If you are just getting started with pastels, learn more by reading “Soft Pastels for Beginners” and “Oil Pastels for Beginners” at the link.

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