oil pastels artists

Best Oil Pastels – Everything You Need to Know

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Many of you should be familiar with the use of certain pastels or oil crayons, you may have used them in the classroom, at school, or just around the house. These types of pastels are easy to use, however, when it comes to any art medium, it requires practice, technique, and knowledge to become skillful at it. Oil pastels, similar to paints, come in various colors, textures, and forms and all of them have their purpose and use. So, if this is your first time experimenting with pastels, then read on as we will be discussing different techniques you can use as well as some interesting tips. We will also be looking at some of the best oil pastel brands, which will help you to enjoy the art of oil pastel painting.



Oil Pastels for Beginners

The first-ever oil pastels were produced in 1925 and were a blend of color pigment, oil, and wax. Children were using the old wax crayons, so the idea was to make an oil crayon that would be safe for children to use. The very first oil pastel was then formulated.

Today, the formulation is very much the same, consisting of color pigments, wax, and oil like linseed, for example. However, these oil pastels are different from the stick pastels, which use a binder or gum, and ordinary wax crayons that contain only color pigments and wax. Do not worry if this all sounds confusing, as we will be discussing the various kinds of pastel forms that are available.

soft pastels vs oil pastels


Soft Pastels

This type of pastel is readily available and is used extensively by almost everyone. They are manufactured from color pigments, Arabic gum, and white chalk and are made using less binder and more color. This formulation gives them that crumbly effect, as well as those intense shades and colors. The use of white chalk helps to bring out the brightness and richness of the colors.


  • Easily available
  • Rich bright colors
  • The whole family can enjoy them
  • Due to its texture, it is easy to smudge and blend
  • Easy to work with


  • In high temperatures, they could melt
  • Needs a sealing coat to protect your art
  • Rather messy to use
  • You cannot store your art piece incorrectly or leave it unframed
  • A lot of dust or residue remains after use


Hard Pastels

The hard pastels are opposite to the soft pastels, as they contain less pigment and more binder. This formulation produces a harder drawing tool, which helps when you need to draw finer lines or more detailed work, like highlights or around edges, which you could not do using soft pastel. You will find that the hard pastel also has a pointed tip, which helps with those fine lines. Many of the oil pastel artists make use of a combination of pastel types, which helps them produce amazing and unique artworks.


  • Useful when doing background work
  • Very durable and do not break easily
  • Not messy when used
  • Excellent tool for drawing fine detailed work, adding highlights, initial sketching, and drawing outlines


  • Colors are not as rich and bright as the soft pastels
  • Use cannot use it for blending or smudging
  • The range of colors is restricted


Pencil Pastels

Pencil pastels are highly recommended and are regarded as the best oil pastels for use by beginners. They come in a beautiful range of colors very similar to the colored pencil and are very easy to use. The pastel pencil has a pastel lead, this gives you the same effect that you get from the soft pastel. You can easily layer and blend your colors without your hands getting dirty.

All of this sounds great, however, some of the pastel sticks and the pastel pencils may contain some toxic pigments. Do not breathe in any of the toxic pastel dust as it is harmful and may cause damage to your nasal passages as well as your lungs. You do get pastels that are more toxic than others, but when shopping, rather look for non-toxic products. Always try to keep yourself safe when working with any toxic materials.


  • Helps when drawing thin lines and fine details
  • Amazing colors
  • Easy for beginners to use
  • Gives a similar effect to that of soft pastels
  • Hardly any mess
  • Comfortable to hold


  • Toxic if inhaled
  • Rather expensive
  • Takes a lot of time when doing large projects
  • Mainly used for smaller projects


Oil Pastels

Oil pastels usually have a linseed oil base, so they tend to be buttery and soft. However, they also provide richer and glossier colors. Oil pastels, because of their oil base formulation, are easier to use by beginners and kids, providing that smooth finish. Another great characteristic, when left to dry long enough, it becomes permanent when applied to the fabric, the same as when applied to a canvas. All you need to do is draw your design directly onto the fabric. Next, take a sheet of paper and put it over your design. Finally, to set, apply pressure with a hot iron for a few minutes.


  • Does not need a protective sealing coat
  • Can be applied to numerous types of materials
  • Can spread easily by using spirits
  • Amazing colors


  • Are substantially heavier when applied to paper
  • Is more difficult to smudge and blend due to its stickiness
  • Is rather expensive


Which Type of Pastel Should You Use?

So, which type of oil pastel is best when faced with the choice of soft pastels vs oil pastels. Both of these types of pastels will give you all the colors you need. Soft pastels are a lot messier, crumble easily and leave you with a mess on your working surface. You also need to have a sealing coat to protect your artwork. However, oil pastels are very easy to work with; they do not crumble leaving you with a mess, require no protective sealing coat, and leave you with an amazing glossy finish.

When you come to the hard pastel vs the pencil pastel, both can provide you with the outline for your art piece, leaving you to fill in the rest with a softer pastel form. This is particularly true when it comes to the non-toxic range. Also, you can use these two types of pastels by themselves. Now that we have cleared up all the available options, let us further consider the best oil pastel brand on the market.

oil crayon



The Best Oil Pastel Brands

There are numerous best oil pastel brand products on the market, and we will now try to help you discover the best oil pastels. When buying pastel sets, you will find that there are oil pastels for beginners, as well as sets for the professional. There is a marked difference between the quality and price of these sets. This means that you need to buy an oil pastel set that does not compromise quality and is also reasonably priced.  Whether you are a beginner or a long-time professional, your artwork is something that you are proud of. Your art pieces also reflect your talents and skills, therefore, buying a quality oil pastel brand is very important. We will now take you through some of the best oil pastels for beginners and oil pastels for kids.


Best Oil Pastels for Beginners: MUNGYO GALLERY Soft Oil Pastels

The Mungyo Gallery is a soft and creamy set of oil pastels that is ideal for the beginner but is just as good for the professional. They are easy to use and have a smooth consistency and have very high pigmentation levels that provide brilliant colors. The Mungo Gallery oil pastels leave a low deposit of material behind, and as such, are not as messy as many other oil pastels in the same class. This set is only one of the many that Mungyo Gallery produces. The set has 48 vibrant colors and is also reasonably priced in comparison to many other quality pastel sets. If you are looking for a real classy finish, you can blend these pastels with liquid or dry solvents.

Because of the soft consistency of these oil pastels, they are excellent for effects such as blending, scraping, and impasto. They do not crumble, giving you a more accurate and neater work of art. You can use them on canvas or paper, and they will not stick but will leave you with a smooth and bright finish. These oil pastels are also non-toxic, so it is quite safe to let the kids use and play with them. The Mungyo Gallery oil pastel products are highly recommended on numerous social media platforms.

MUNGYO Gallery Soft Oil Pastels Set
  • A set of 48 assorted oil pastels
  • Professional quality with smooth and consistent colors
  • Intense colors with high covering power
View on Amazon


  • Easy to use
  • Assortment of colors
  • Smooth texture
  • Reasonably priced
  • Excellent for use by beginners and kids
  • Does not crumble and is not messy
  • Requires no sealing coat or frame


  • If exposed to direct sunlight or heat it will melt


Best Oil Pastels for Kids: FABER-CASTELL Blendable Oil Pastels

The company Faber- Castell has been a reputable artist supplier for many years, and the Faber-Castell oil pastels for kids provides a smooth texture and bright colors, and are ideal oil pastels for kids. This oil pastel set is not only child-friendly but also excellent for beginners. The pastels offer you a soft texture that is easy to blend and you can cover fairly large areas easily and quickly. They are also produced in hexagonal shape, which allows the child to grip and hold them easily and comfortably.

Allow your imagination to run wild when using these oil pastels to create scratch art, watercolor effects, texture rubbing, and much more. You will also be given a shading, tinting, and blending guide to make your art experience more exciting and fun. The whole set comes in a storage case that will keep all your oil pastels tidy and safe from breaking. These Faber-Castell oil pastel sets are ideal oil pastels for kids as they are acid-free and non-toxic. They can also be cleaned from your clothes as well as from your work surface very easily.

FABER-CASTELL Blendable Oil Pastels for Kids
  • A 24-piece set of vibrant oil pastels
  • Bright, highly pigmented colors with smooth textures
  • The set comes in a durable travel case
View on Amazon


  • Easy to use
  • Safe for use by kids
  • Potable storage case provided
  • Manufactured in hexagonal shape
  • Provided in set blending, shading, and tinting guide
  • Reasonably priced
  • Blends well


  • Not enough colors
  • Professional grade oil pastels are a lot smoother


Affordable Oil Pastel Set: PAUL RUBENS Oil Paste Set

The Paul Rubens set of oil pastels is one of the best brands for use by kids, beginners, students as well as oil pastels artists of all skill levels. This set of oil pastels are non-toxic and safe to use and are manufactured from eco-friendly, high-quality materials. The formulation used by Paul Ruben gives these oil pastels a very smooth and even pigment, prevents the artwork from fading, and also gives the pastels a stronger adhesion to canvas or paper.

The set comes in 36 or 48 amazing and vibrant colors that include three spare whites or extenders. Just the same as oil paints, these pastels can be blended, mixed, and overlayed by using multiple colors which will provide you with some amazing and beautiful designs and textures. This set of oil pastels is perfect for painting, drawing, or coloring and is easy to use leaving you with an endless choice of options.

PAUL RUBENS Oil Pastels 48 Piece Set
  • A full set of 48 vibrant colors and 3 extenders
  • Soft, smooth, and easy blending pastels
  • Eco-friendly oil pastels that are safe and fun for all artists
  View on Amazon


  • Non-toxic
  • Easy to use
  • Bright vibrant colors
  • Same result as with using oil paints
  • No fading
  • Smooth finish
  • Can use pastels to create a texture


  • A limited selection of colors


We have helped you to understand the different types of oil pastels available, as well as what brands are best for your particular use. Now we can go ahead and get started with helping you create your oil pastel project.



How to Use Oil Pastels

If it is your first time using oil pastels, you will notice how different they feel when handling them in comparison to using a paintbrush or a pencil. Some of them are round while others are hexagonal, giving you a better and more comfortable grip. Some of them also come with sharper points to make it easier for you to use them.

When you start to apply the oil pastels to your paper or canvas, you will soon find that it requires a firmer hand and a greater effort. You will also find that it will take time and practice to get used to the feeling and texture, and also the smudging and blending of your artwork project. There is no rush and you will soon be painting like a professional artist. Here are a few steps to help you get started with your first oil pastel project.

  • The first thing you need to organize is a work area where you can work without having to worry about making a mess. We suggest you use some old newspapers or plastic sheeting to cover your work area, and put on an apron to protect the pastels from getting on your clothes
  • When you are mixing or overlapping different colors, try not to do this too much, as it can result in your artwork looking thick and slightly messy
  • If you find that the colors are uneven, you can remove them using your tools and go over the area again with the colors you have chosen
  • When it comes to smudging and blending, oil pastels work much better than soft pastels, giving you a glossy shiny finish
  • Make use of hard and pencil pastels when you want to do fine or outline work
  • When using oil pastels keep them in a cool place away from high temperatures, moisture, and direct sunlight to keep them for longer
  • As this medium uses finger techniques, some beginner artists may decide this is not for them as they do not like to feel the oil pastels on their hands. No problem, you can try using gloves, a cotton bud, or tissue when it comes to smudging or blending. Try out these different methods and see which one is best for you
  • Most of the professional oil pastel brands provide good coverage, which means that if you use the wrong color you will be able to go back and remove it by using a painting knife or a scraper. Now you will be able to paint over your mistake with the correct color

best oil pastels



Different Oil Pastel Methods

Oil pastels artists, as well as DIY artists, agree that all forms of art require special techniques to create beautiful results. Likewise, pastels also have certain techniques, that when utilized, bring out those amazing details of any artwork.


Heavy Pressure Blending

This technique uses your pastel in only one direction on the paper, making heavy broad strokes that add layers of colors one on top of the other. This gives you a blended, rich appearance. This technique not only works with various colors, but you can also use white and black pastel colors. This will then give you a highlighted and shadow effect.


Gentle Pressure Blending

This differs from the heavy pressure blending mentioned above, where you now make gentle strokes on the surface using your oil crayon. Create numerous types of tones and highlights by applying more colors.



The stippling technique is when you create lighter and darker shadows on your paper, making use of quick strokes or dots. For darker shadows, you will make more dots or small strokes very close together. In lighter shadows, you will make fewer dots or small strokes and space them further apart. The more colors you use, the greater depth will be seen on your paper. Artists usually use pencils or pens for this effect, but a hard pastel will also give you the same effect. If you have a round or blunt pastel, it will be advisable to sharpen it or just use the side of the tip.



The technique of scumbling is when you apply a layer of old or broken paint and you add it over another color layer. Some parts of the lower layer of paint will then begin to show through. This technique will give your artwork a color variation and added depth, you can also add more colors until you are satisfied with the effect you have created.



For this technique, you need to apply different color pastels in thick layers, one on top of the other. Next, you scratch off certain areas uncovering the different pastel colors underneath, giving you contrasting patterns, textures, and images.



This is a technique to use when you want to spread or thin out your oil pastel colors. Take a cotton swab, soak it in some baby or linseed oil, and spread it over the pastel colors. This will give you a glossier and smoother finish by blending the colors and so completing your design. Allow the artwork to dry properly overnight to avoid any damage or smearing.

With all these amazing and exciting techniques available, we hope that you will become more and more passionately involved in your oil pastel project.

best oil pastel brand



Frequently Asked Questions


How are Oil Pastels Best Utilized?

Oil pastels are used as an alternative to paint, as it is easier to use and dries much quicker, and it is also much easier to carry with you. Oil pastels are often used when painting on canvas as well as on paper, but they can also be used on other materials like glass, wood, and stone.


Is There a Difference Between Crayons and Pastels?

The main difference between these two forms is found in their different ingredients and composition. The ingredient in crayons is mostly wax, whereas pastels contain the wax as well as oil. When these two ingredients are mixed, they produce a brighter and softer wax oil crayon.


Is it a Messy Job Using Oil Pastels?

The soft oil pastel types do tend to be slightly messy, but can easily be wiped off any surface by using linseed oil or thinners. To keep it from getting on your hands, it is recommended you wear gloves to protect your hands and wear an apron to protect your clothes, as it is difficult to remove it from your clothes.


What Should I Use: Soft Pastels vs Oil Pastels?

Soft pastels are an excellent choice when used on paper, as it sticks well because it and does not contain moisture or oil, and can also be easily wiped off.  However, oil pastels are very much like oil paints but will never harden as oil paints do. You can also thin or blend oil pastels, similar to paints, to make them much easier to work with.


Finding the best oil pastels can help you to create beautiful, exciting, and fun works of art. Oil pastels can be used by kids through to experienced artists, so they offer loads of versatility and creative opportunity. We hope our guide has helped you to find the best oil pastels for you to start creating art with.


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