pastel pencil drawing

Best Pastel Pencils – What You Need to Know About Pastel Pencil Art

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Pastel pencils are a wonderful choice of medium when it comes to brilliant shades and hues. These pencils produce unique coloring effects and are very enjoyable to work with. All kinds of artists can enjoy pastel pencils. They are also very convenient to carry around with you and draw whenever inspiration strikes. These are quite different from pastel sticks though, and they do not leave residue or dust. So, what is all the buzz about pastel pencils? We will find out in our guide below on everything you need to know about the best pastel pencils.



Types of Pastel Pencils

These pencils come in a variety of colors and shades depending on the set you choose. The best pastel pencils come in various different forms to suit particular artistic tastes and methods. Below is a guide to help you understand these different styles of pastel-colored pencils to help you find the best pastel pencils for your project.

soft pastel pencils


Soft Pastel Pencils

These pastel pencils are made from thick pastels that are encased in wood. These pencils come in a variety of bright colors. Soft pastel pencils offer a smooth finish that does not leave any mess or residue. They are the most popular group of pastel pencils that offer depth and tone. They are great for smudging and blending thanks to their softness, but this also makes them difficult to sharpen.

Soft pastel pencils can add a smooth texture to your artwork. Soft pastel pencil drawings are also good for including more details in the artwork. These are high-quality pencils because of their ability to create tones and blends. You can also use a fixative to maintain all your artwork when you are done with your projects.


Best Soft Pastel Pencils: KOH-I-NOOR Gioconda Pastel Pencils

These soft pencils come from a recognizable brand and are top-rated by many artists and professionals. These pencils are of the professional type due to their high levels of pigment. Other pencils contain more filler compared to pigmentation.

They have a smooth consistency and are long-lasting. Their drawings will maintain their appeal for a long time. This pastel pencil set is also suitable for beginners because the pencils are very responsive and easy to use. You can also play around with the colors by adding them to water or watercolor paintings. The case is manufactured from the beautiful cedar wood that is found in California. It comes with a tin to protect the pencils. This is useful because the pencils are soft and they tend to break or crumble.

KOH-I-NOOR Artist's Soft Pastel Pencils Set
  • A full set of 24 different colored pastel pencils
  • The set is packed in a convenient case
  • Highly-quality pigments and colors used
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  • High-quality professional brand
  • They have a high color pigmentation
  • Resistant to fading
  • Easy storage features


  • Quite hard to sharpen
  • Best used with an electric sharpener


Chalk Pastel Pencils

These chalk pencils can be used in a variety of projects because they possess the same features as traditional pastels. They are dry-blendable and suitable for most beginners. If you are using them together with acrylic paint, you can just use a wet cloth for wiping.

This group of chalk pencils comes in a variety of colors and they have a dry texture compared to other pastel mediums. You can also enhance the texture and colors of these pencils by using a brush with water because the pencils are water-soluble. The brush and water can be used to thin and alter the shades and colors while leaving the lines visible. You can use a fixative to preserve any artwork that you make using chalk pastel pencils.

oil pastel pencils


Best Chalk Pastel Pencils: STABILO CarbOthello Chalk-Pastel Colored Pencil Set

This brand of pastel pencils comes with a set of colors that have darker shades. They last longer and you can use a fixative to avoid smudges. Chalk pastel pencils have a high color pigmentation, and they work well on thinner papers. The Stabilo set comes in a variety of 12 different colors. They are quite easy to blend and work with. You can easily use your tools or fingers to work with them.

These chalk pastel colors can be erased easily if you wish to. You can also go the extra mile by mixing these chalk pastel colors with water. These mediums can bring out incredible colorful hues from the color mixtures.

STABILO CarbOthello Chalk-Pastel Colored Pencils
  • A huge set of 60 chalk pastel colored pencils
  • Premium, highly pigmented colors for wet or dry use
  • The set comes in a beautiful wooden storage box
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  • Can be used wet or dry
  • A very wide range of colors
  • Easy to clean
  • Can be used with other mediums
  • Suitable for all levels of artists
  • Comes in a quality wooden box
  • High-quality, vivid color pigments


  • A more expensive set of pencils


Oil Pastel Pencils

These pencils have a deep texture, and the colors are quite rich. They look similar to traditional oil paints and pastels. They are the best choice to use when you want to add more detail and different color accents. They do not break or crumble easily like other types of pencils. These pastel pencils do not need a fixative. Oil pastel pencils come in a range of intense colors.

chalk pastel pencils


Best Oil Pastel Pencils: SCHPIRERR FARBEN Professional Oil-Based Pastel Pencils

This is a very large set with 96 different colors to choose from. This is a wide variety of colors suitable for use by most artists. The pencils also come with break-resistant leads that enable you to do a mixture of colors and texture layouts.

The 96 colors come in a set that has four layers. For easy color recognition, each pencil has its number and color name. They are quite easy to use and they do not leave any residues. The rich design and oil make-up enable you to have a better grip on the pencil when doing your projects.

SCHPIRERR FARBEN 96 Color Professional Pencil Set
  • A set of 96 oil-based soft core pencils
  • Richly saturated, artist-quality pencils
  • Non-toxic, safe, and packed in a convenient travel case
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  • A huge range of colors available
  • Highest-quality artist pencils with rich pigments
  • Arranged neatly in a beautiful travel case
  • Lead is break-resistant
  • Non-toxic and safe to use
  • The colors are well arranged and coded
  • Suitable for all kinds of artists and projects


  • An expensive set
  • Not the first choice of sets for beginners


Pastel Colored Pencils

You do not have to add a lot of filler to get beautiful colors when using these pastel-colored pencils. They feel softer and come in a range of pastel shades. However, they do not have the same composition as normal pastel pencils. They do not leave the same effects, even when used for blending, smudging, and so on.

how to use pastel pencils


Best Pastel Colored Pencils: MARCO Neon Pastel Colored Pencils

You can use these colored pencils for many types of projects due to their versatile nature. They are a great choice for shading because they can create serious depth and incredible tones. The range includes 24 beautiful neon-colored pencils.

They are smooth on paper because they are made from a soft cure of oil. Marco’s pencils have a slightly different design from other pastel pencils which prevents them from breaking easily. You can also use these pastel-colored pencils with acrylics and watercolors, which allows them to blend and create softer finishes.

MARCO 24 Pastel Color Pencil Set
  • A set of 24 different pastel and neon-colored pencils
  • Professional pencils made from premium grade wood
  • The pastel colors offer uniform and smooth coloring/blending
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  • An affordable pencil set
  • Highly versatile pencils
  • Produces a smooth finish
  • Suitable for blending and shading
  • Incredible range of neon colors


  • Not suitable for lighter paper



How to Use Pastel Pencils

Pastel pencils are easy to use, you can use them the same way as normal colored pencils. However, to get the best results when using these pastel pencils, you must use a few tips. For example, you will need tips when creating heavy and thick lines. The point of the pastel pencil can produce controlled and defined lines for more detailed and delicate work.

You will have to sweat a little bit if you want to achieve more layers – making the process of blending a little bit more difficult. You can also use these pastel pencils with other mediums. You can alter their colors or enhance them according to your preferences. You can also apply them in shades layered differently on top of each other which forms incredible hues.

The pressure you apply when working with your pastel pencils affects the outcome. This pressure will determine the technique and tones you use. If you want to make any corrections and alterations, then you should have a softer approach. Later, you can use a steady and firmer hand to add highlights and tones. This will enable you to control the different features, as well as delicate and detailed outlines. This technique will make your work look realistic and more defined.

Note: Pastel pencils tend to produce less reside, or powder, on the page and air. This makes these pencils safer to use and less messy.

The following are some helpful tips you can follow when holding a pastel pencil for the first time:

  • Hold your pastel pencil the same way you do as an ordinary pencil.
  • Make sure the pastel pencil is sharp enough before you start using it on your artwork. Be cautious with needle-like points because they tend to break easily.
  • Position your pastel pencil at a slight angle so that you can work on delicate and fine details of your artwork. At the slight angle position, you will be able to make more strokes and lines.
  • Place your fingers closer to the lead so that you can shade better. This position will also help you to get a better grip on the pastel pencil.
  • Use a diameter point to cover a larger surface area.

best pastel pencil



How to Sharpen Pastel Pencils

Lead diameters of pencils come in different sizes and this is the most important feature you must look for when deciding on the type of pencil to buy. Diameter determines how much control you will have when handling the pencil. Large diameters can be uncomfortable and you might not have total control over your pencil.

Bigger pencils are more suitable for background work. You can also use a bigger pencil to shade large areas. Pencils with narrower diameters are suitable for delicate and accurate drawings and artwork. Most of the pastel pencils do not fit in normal pencil sharpeners. You might have to use a sharp blade on your pastel pencil. However, make sure that you do not damage the lead when cutting away the wood of the pastel pencil. Be cautious when doing this process because pastel centers tend to be soft than the ones for normal pencils.

When you are done cutting away as much wood as you think is necessary, sharpen your pastel pencil using sandpaper. Never use a blunt pastel pencil as this might damage them in the future. This also goes for using over-sharpened pastel pencils. Safely store your pastel pencils when not in use to protect the leads from breaking and from any other form of damage.

sharpening pastel colored pencils



Surfaces Suitable for Pastel Pencils

Pastel pencils are suitable to use on a variety of surfaces. Even if you can use them on a variety of surfaces, this does not mean you will get the same results. These pencils are most suited for heavily textured materials because they have better absorption properties.

If you are looking for a professional art look, you should opt for a material that is of high-quality. High-quality materials include acid-free material.



Considerations for the Best Pastel Pencils

There are a few factors to consider when you go shopping for the best pastel pencils Though we have listed a few best brands to look at, the most important thing is to consider specific features of the pastel pencil to provide the best for your artwork.



You need to understand and know the different colors you will need for your pastel projects before you decide on the brand to buy. Every pastel medium comes with its color variations. For example, earth colors will be suitable for someone who enjoys wildlife. This means that brighter tones will not be necessary for their collection of pastel pencils.

Color limitations can turn people off certain sets. However, buying single pastel pencils can be quite expensive compared to getting a whole new set. Single pastel pencils will not last for a long time.

pastel pencil drawing


Variants and Textures

Pastel pencils offer different textures since they come from different mediums. Chalk pastel pencils are firm on the surface and produce more controlled lines compared to soft pastel pencils. When it comes to oil paints, it’s all about smoothness all over your surface. Oil paints allow you to blend and do layers with your colors.

The softness of the leads also affects the final outlook of your work. This is because pastel pencils are quite difficult to sharpen without breaking them. Thicker leads are the best to use because they are much more stable, and they seem harder. Although, a harder medium can prevent you from blending your colors more easily.



Pastel pencils can be used together with other mediums. So mediums play an important role in molding your buying choices. If you enjoy watercolors, then you can mix your pencils with water to achieve this effect.


Brand Reputation and Quality

It is quite difficult to choose the best brand and the process can be quite confusing. It is advisable to go for popular and well-known brands. This means that you should go for products with the most customer reviews. Start by buying small packs, playing with different colors until you find your best brand that you can stick to.



This is the most important factor to consider before anything else. How deep is your pocket? When it comes to the best pastel pencils, you get what you pay for.  This should also depend on your level of experience. Basically, the more expensive the set, the higher-quality the pigments are.



Frequently Asked Questions


Are Soft Pastel Pencils Oil-Based?

No, soft pastel pencils cannot be categorized as oil-based. Their soft formula does not contain oil. Soft pastel pencils are made from chalk, gum, and pigments. All of these components produce a matte finish.


Where Can I Use Chalk Pastel Pencils?

You can use these pastel pencils the same way you would use any other pastel medium. You can use them on various surfaces like paper, boards, canvas, and so on. You can also use them on chalkboards with your pens and markers.


Is it Possible to Sharpen Pastel Pencils?

You do need to sharpen these pencils. However, pastel pencils tend to crumble and break when you sharpen them. This is because of their soft consistency. Moreover, if you use the wrong sharpener, you can damage your pencils and they will not last long. You can opt for pastel pencil sets that come with their own special sharpeners or you can purchase an electric sharpener. You can also use the traditional method of cutting the wood then sanding it to your desired point.


What are the Best Pastel Pencils?

The best pastel pencil depends on what you want to use it for. If the one you choose works for you, then that is your best. You can use soft pastel pencils for doing layers, blending, for textures and tones, and so on. On the other hand, oil-based pencils will give you a smooth feel and they are easy to blend. Follow our guide above on our top picks for the best pastel pencil sets.


Are There Any Differences Between Colored Pencils and Pastel Pencils?

Pastel pencils contain different formulas compared to regular colored pencils. Pastel pencils do not include wax, and this makes their consistency more oily and dry. On the other hand, colored pencils contain wax and have different layering and blending effects.


Whether for professional artists or kids learning to draw, the best pastel pencils will open up a beautiful and fun world of artistic opportunity. We hope that our guide above has enlightened you on pastel pencil drawing and how to find the best pastel pencil set for your needs. We hope you have lots of fun creating art with this delightful medium!


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