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Best Soft Pastels – How to Find the Best Soft Pastels for Your Art

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A traditional and popular form of pastel, soft pastels can help you transform your ideas into vibrant and highly engaging works of art. Soft pastels are created using a powdered pigment and the least possible amount of binder, contain a high concentration of pure pigments that gives them an appearance similar to that of putty. Their selling point is the high concentration of pigment which can enable you to achieve a lively look as compared to other mediums. While they offer great painterly effects, soft pastels are delicate and can break easily.



Soft Pastels Explained

Pastels come in different forms including oil, hard, pencil, pans, and soft pastels. Soft pastels are considered the most traditional and popular pastels. They are composed of a color pigment in powder form and a small amount of binder. Owing to this, soft pastels have a high amount of pigment which enables them to produce intense colors and vibrant works of arts or crafts. However, this also means that soft pastels are delicate. They can easily crumble and thus require you to be careful when using them.

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Our Top Six Recommended Soft Pastels

With a wide range of soft pastels available on the market, choosing the perfect product can be daunting. Whether you are working on a school project, artwork, or any other crafty idea, the types of colors you prefer working with, how many shades you want in your kit, and your budget will all have a bearing on the type of pastel you choose. This article provides the perfect guide for you to choose the best and most affordable product.


REMBRANDT Soft Pastel Traditional Box Set

A product of Royal Talens, a Dutch manufacturer, Rembrandt soft pastels have been in existence for over 100 years. They are made from kaolin clay which adds a slightly firmer finish for users to get a secure grip and control. The two most prominent features of these pastels are their rich pigmentation and high resistance to fading. This 45-piece set contains a general selection of colors and shades.

With the Rembrandt soft pastels, you are guaranteed luster for a very long time. They also have no hard bits or sharp edges, allowing for smooth strokes on the surface and optimal quality. However, the disadvantages of using Rembrandt pastels are that they can break if not used properly and can be a tad expensive for students and beginners.

REMBRANDT Soft Pastel Traditional Box Set
  • Professional-quality soft pastel sticks
  • A full 45 piece set with a diverse range of colors
  • High-quality pigments for beautiful color release and toning
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  • Rich and pigmented color
  • Easy to blend
  • Wide range of colors
  • No sharp edges (which can lead to scratches)
  • Not poisonous and safe for all ages


  • Can break if not handled carefully

SCHMINCKE Extra Soft Pastel

Schmincke’s extra soft pastels are some of the finest and softest on the market. With a range of 400 colors, these German-made pastels have an amazingly soft and buttery texture that is perfect for painterly artworks and effects. It has rich pigmentation and a high range of lightfastness. Finding the perfect color can be challenging, especially as there are 400 different colors to choose from.

Another advantage of Schmincke is that it provides a detailed color chart that you can use to guide your color selection. In addition, you can buy any of the single pastels and try them before purchasing an entire set. As a very soft pastel, some users have indicated that the texture of these pastels are rather too soft and can be challenging to use.

SCHMINCKE Finest Extra-Soft Artist Pastels
  • A huge set of 400 pastels in a wide range of shades
  • Only the finest pure pigments used
  • The set is packed in a beautiful walnut box
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  • Easy to blend and mix
  • High quality of pigmentation
  • High range of lightfastness
  • Available in a wide range of colors
  • Broad and unique color spectrum


  • Extremely soft and easily breakable


MUNGYO Soft Pastel Square Chalk

Unlike the previous pastels we have discussed, Mungyo soft pastel square chalk is very affordable and suitable for beginners and students alike. It offers a wide range of hues and can add texture and a shadow illusion by using darker to lighter tones. This pastel also works well on textured and smooth paper, is easy to blend, and produces low dust. Some of the disadvantages of this product include poor packaging and their small size, which means that they can run out quickly.

MUNGYO Gallery Soft Pastel Squares
  • A versatile set of 48 assorted colors
  • Artist quality square soft pastels
  • Excellent value for money considering the quality and size
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  • Affordable
  • Wide range of hues
  • Blends well
  • Low dust
  • Works well on textured and smooth paper


  • Pastels come in small sizes


SENNELIER Half Stick Set

Riding on over 100 years of providing art and craft, Sennelier can offer you a wide range of color options. It is a well renowned and expensive brand that is often used by professionals. The extra soft Sennelier half stick set contains a pure and undiluted pigment that results in each half-stick being rich, vibrant, and extra soft. It has rich pigmentation and a high range of lightfastness, as evidenced by existing works done by famous pastel artist Picasso, who used Sennelier products. The downside of the Sennelier half stick set is that it is expensive and is therefore not suitable for students or beginners.

SENNELIER Wood Box Pastel Set
  • A vibrant set of 60 half pastels
  • Soft and buttery pastels with the finest color pigments
  • The set comes in a convenient wooden box
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  • Professional-grade pastels
  • Offers a wide range of colors
  • Has pure pigment and no clay
  • Used by renowned artists
  • High range of lightfastness


  • It is pricey


FABER-CASTELL Creative Studio Soft Pastel Crayons

Faber-Castell’s soft pastels can be used by both students and professionals. The pastels are renowned for their consistency and can be used on various surfaces including wood, paper, stone, and card-like surfaces. Another advantage is that its square design offers great precision and control. They are ideal for lots of shading or for drawing fine details and can be wiped away with ease by using your finger or a paper wipe. This product is also a lot more affordable, making it more suited to students and beginners.

FABER-CASTEL Creative Studio Soft Pastel Set
  • The set contains 72 different soft pastel colors
  • Extremely soft, intense, and vivid colors
  • The set comes in a travel-friendly sturdy box
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  • Suitable for various surfaces
  • Can be used by students and professionals
  • Offers a wide range of colors
  • Offers precision and control
  • Affordable


  • Not sold individually, which makes restocking a challenge
  • Information on lightfastness not available


PANPASTEL Ultra Soft Artist Pastel

PanPastel ultra-soft artist pastels are unique in that they can be blended and applied as though you were applying paint. They can be used for drawing, painting, as well as mixed media. The pastels come with a package that is equipped with a sponge for application purposes. PanPastel pastels can produce color intensity and can be easily blended. They are also erasable and are suitable for use on most surfaces. This product is a great choice for both professionals and beginners alike.

PANPASTEL Ultra Soft Artist Pastel 20 Color Set
  • Highly pigmented and ultra-soft artists pastels
  • No preparation or drying time required
  • A full set of 20 different pure colors included
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  • Is versatile and can be used on various surfaces
  • Easy to blend
  • Can be erased
  • Ideal for beginners and professionals
  • Can produce color intensity


  • Requires applicators



What to Look Out for When Buying Pastels

Now that we have listed the six best soft pastels you can choose to use for your project, below are some of the things you need to look out for when selecting your product. All of these factors need to be taken into consideration before making your purchase.

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When buying a soft pastel, you need to ensure that you conduct thorough research in order to select a quality brand that will suit your needs. Quality is very important as it determines the outcome of your work. When selecting your soft pastel, you need to avoid chalk-like pastels that crumble easily. You also need to consider the range of lightfastness of a product, as some brands like the Rembrandt brand’s soft pastels can last for up to 100 years.



One of the crucial elements that will determine the kind of soft pastel you can purchase is the cost. Generally, professional-quality pastels such as the Sennelier pastels are more expensive than student- or beginner-quality pastels.

If you are still a beginner operating on a tight budget, you might want to buy beginner’s soft pastel quality, which uses imitation pigments to mimic certain colors. On the other hand, as a professional artist or expert, you may need to purchase high-quality pastels, as these offer more pigmentation and are resistant to fading.



When it comes to soft pastels, it is always best to have a wide range of colors as opposed to blending or mixing existing colors, as the latter can take away vibrancy. Soft pastels often come in a wide variety of color choices, and you can also choose to buy individual sticks or to purchase an entire set. One crucial thing to look out for when buying soft pastels is the color chart. It enables you to view what colors will look like on a surface, while also providing vital information that can help in assisting the quality of the pastel, lightfastness, permanence, and pigmentation purity.


Pastel size

Soft pastel sticks are available in two sizes, being a full 2-inch stick and a half 1-inch stick. Your personal choice can inform the kind of stick you choose to purchase. It can also depend on your hand size and what you can work with comfortably.



Some soft pastels may contain dust, which is a major health hazard. If dust is inhaled, it can cause serious health conditions like lung cancer. Therefore, it is important to wear protective clothing when using pastels, such as a face mask or face shield.

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How to Use Soft Pastels

There are many ways in which soft pastels can be used. One of the most used techniques is feathering. This technique involves the addition of pastels in a linear from. The lines that are created may create some form of illusion or can overlap or cross each other.

Another technique is stippling. This can allow you to create areas of light and shadow using nothing but dots. In in order to achieve this, you apply a large number of dots close together to create areas that are darker, whereas you would use fewer dots spaced farther apart for increasingly lighter areas.

soft pastels artwork



Frequently Asked Questions


Can Soft Pastels Be Used with Oil Pastels?

Soft pastels and oil pastels are not compatible. Soft pastels are powdery whereas oil pastels can be described as sticky. Using the two can result in a lumpy paste.


What Are the Best Soft Pastel Brands?

There are many types of pastels available on the market, both for professionals and beginners. It is important to choose the perfect brand which will suit your needs. Some of the brands we consider to be trustworthy include Rembrandt, Faber Castell, Mungyo, Terry Ludwig, Prismacolor, Art Spectrum, Sargent Art, Color Block, and Reeves.


Are Soft Pastels and Chalk Pastels the Same?

Students often confuse soft pastels and chalk pastels when purchasing their art materials. The major difference between soft pastels and chalk pastels is that soft pastels are made of binders and pigment while chalk pastels are enriched with water.

best soft pastels


How Do Hard and Soft Pastels Differ?

A soft pastel contains less binder and more pigmentation, while a hard pastel contains less pure pigmentation and more binders. Soft pastels are therefore brighter and less durable while hard pastels are more durable and less bright.


What is the Best Paper for Soft Pastels?

Soft pastels can be used nearly on all surfaces including boards, sandpaper, and canvas. While some artists may prefer to use pastel paper, others are quite happy to use normal drawing paper as well.


Soft pastels are an exciting medium to use for creating really unique and beautiful effects. If you are looking for the best soft pastels for your art, then be sure to try out our recommendations above. You won’t be disappointed!


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