Closeup of a pastel drawing with box of pastels and few pastels lying on the drawing

Beginners Tips to Create Pastel Drawing

You’ve always wanted to try drawing and have been eyeing pastels at the art store. But you’re unsure where to start and don’t want to make a mess.

People often find it challenging to start drawing with pastels because they don’t know how to start. Additionally, many people hesitate to use pastels because they fear making a mess. Also, people often struggle with getting the right color and texture when using pastels.

Despite all these, pastels are a great way to start drawing. They’re also fun; you can create beautiful pictures with them. Plus, you won’t make too much mess if you’re careful.

It seems easy enough; pick up a pastel stick and start drawing, right? Not so fast.

There’s more to it than that. The following are some pointers for getting started with pastel drawing:

What are Pastels, and What are they used for?

Pastels are a drawing medium of pigment and chalk usually applied to a paper surface. You can use them for creating various art types, such as portraits, landscapes, and sketches.

Pastels have a few unique qualities that set them apart from other drawing mediums. They have a velvety texture that gives them a distinctive look, and they produce brilliant colors that are rich and distinct.

Additionally, they can be used for various effects, from painterly to sketches. Pastels also have a long history, dating back to the 15th century. Some of the most notable artists to use pastels include Leonardo da Vinci, Jean-Baptiste Perronneau, and Édouard Manet.

Why Do Artists Use Pastels?

Pastels are a type of pigment that consists of fine, dry powder. Unlike other types of pigment, pastels are not bound together with a binder such as gum, Arabic or oil.

It makes them ideal for art, as they can be applied directly to the surface without smudging or smearing. As a result, pastels are often used for quick sketches or adding final details to a painting. In addition, pastels offer a wide range of colors and shades, giving pastel artists great flexibility when creating their work. Ultimately, pastels are a versatile and convenient medium that You can use to create stunning works of art.

Pastels are Easy to Use

An artist hand picking up pastels to draw and different color pastels lying on the floor near a pastel drawing
Pastel Drawing Easy to Draw

For artists, pastels offer a unique combination of convenience and flexibility. Unlike other painting mediums, such as oils or watercolors, pastels do not require special equipment or techniques.

Pastels also offer various effects, from soft and delicate to bold and vibrant. And because they are dry, they are easy to transport and store. It would be best to have a piece of paper and a set of pastels ready to start creating.

For these reasons, pastels are a favorite choice of artists who enjoy working outdoors or on the go.

Pastels Create a Soft Look

Pastels produce a look that is different from other types of drawing media. Their soft texture and vibrant colors give paintings and sketches a delicate, almost ethereal quality. This soft texture and vibrant colors make them well-suited for portraits and landscapes.

Also, pastels are applied in a dry medium, so they often appear lighter than other paints. It gives artists a greater range of tones and can create a subtle and striking effect.

Pastels can be Blended Easily.

One of the significant advantages of pastels is that you can blend them easily. This blending property allows artists to create delicate gradations of color and achieve a level of detail that would be difficult with other mediums.

To create unique effects, you can mix pastels with other types of pigment, such as oils or acrylics. This ability to blend and mix makes pastels a versatile medium that you can use for various styles and techniques.

Pastels Can Be Used On Different Surfaces

Unlike other types of pigment, an artist can use pastels on various surfaces. This flexibility allows artists to choose the surface that best suits their needs.

Some common surfaces on which pastels include paper, canvas, wood, and metal. Use them on smooth or rough paper, canvas, or wood textures. This variety of surfaces gives artists great flexibility in their work.

Pastels Offer a Broad Range of Colors

As mentioned earlier, pastels offer a wide range of colors and shades. This broad range allows artists to create paintings and sketches with great detail and nuance.

In addition, pastels come in warm and cool colors, giving artists a range of options for their work. This range of colors also makes them well-suited for portraits and landscapes.

Because of these benefits, artists choose pastel mediums to express their creative skills. With these 15 tips, you can create beautiful pieces with this versatile medium. Thanks for reading!

Materials needed for Pastel Drawings

When beginning a pastel drawing, you will need a few supplies to create your artwork. In addition to a set of pastels, you will need paper, a blending stump, and a dust brush.

The type of paper you use is essential, as it will affect the finished product. You should use a paper designed explicitly for pastel drawings, as it will have a smooth and absorbent surface.

The blending stump is used to smooth out the colors and create a gradual transition from one color to another. The dust brush cleans any excess pigment off the drawing surface.

Pastel Pencils lying on a beautiful Pastel Drawing
Pastel Pencils on Pastel Drawing

Pastel Surfaces

You can use Pastels on other surfaces in addition to paper. Some common surfaces include canvas, wood, and metal. Each surface will give the artwork a different look and feel.

You can also use pastels on various textures, such as smooth or rough paper, canvas, or wood. This variety of surfaces gives artists great flexibility in their work.

Pastel Colors

As mentioned earlier, pastels come in a broad range of colors. This wide range allows artists to create detailed and nuanced paintings and sketches.

You can also find pastels in both warm and cool colors, giving you even more options for your work. With a wide range of colors, you can create any artwork you desire.

Pastel Binders

Pastel binders are used to attach the pastels to the paper. There are two types of binders: water-soluble and oil-soluble.

Water-soluble binders are the most common type and can be dissolved in water. This property allows artists to create washes with their pastels.

Oil-soluble binders are not as common as water-soluble binders. They are made with an oil that dissolves in mineral spirits. This property allows artists to create glazes with their pastels.

Which binder you choose is a personal preference and will depend on the type of artwork you plan to create.

Pastel Fixatives

Pastel fixative sprays are used to protect the artwork from smudging and fading. Fixatives come in both water- and oil-based varieties.

Water-based fixatives are the most common type and can be sprayed on the finished artwork. It will protect it from smudging and fading.

Oil-based fixatives are not as common as water-based fixatives. They are sprayed on the artwork before the pastels are applied. This fixative will protect it from smudging and fading.

Which fixative you choose is a personal preference and will depend on the type of artwork you plan to create.

Pastel Erasers

Pastel erasers are used to erase the pastels from the paper. There are two types of erasers: kneaded and plastic.

Kneaded erasers are made of a soft material that can be molded into any shape. This eraser is excellent for removing small amounts of Pastel from the surface.

Plastic erasers are made of a hard material that can remove large amounts of Pastel from the surface. This type of eraser is excellent for correcting mistakes.

Removing Pastels from Surfaces

If you commit a mistake while drawing with pastels, you can remove them from the surface. This correction is done using a solvent such as turpentine or mineral spirits.

Solvents are applied to a cloth and then wiped away the Pastel. You should test the solvent on an inconspicuous surface area to ensure it does not damage the finish.

These are the few art supplies required for your pastel drawing.

How to use Pastels in your artwork?

Pastels are made of dry powdered pigments. It gives them a unique creamy texture that they can use to create both soft and vibrant colors.

Artists often apply the pigment directly to their working surface when using pastels. An artist can do this with a brush or rub the pastel stick against the paper.

You can also blend pastels to create new colors or soften the edges of existing colors. There is no correct way to use pastels or any other art medium. Experimentation is key to finding the pastel technique that works best for you.

An artist hand drawing a bird using pastel
An artist showing how to do Pastel drawing

How to Hold a Pastel?

When you learn how to hold a Pastel, it’s essential to ensure that you have the correct grip. Learning how to hold will allow you to obtain precision for your artwork.

The first step is to hold the Pastel between your thumb and index finger. Next, you’ll need to use your middle finger to apply pressure on the Pastel as you move it across the paper.

It’s also important to use gentle pressure when doing this. If you apply too much pressure, the Pastel will break. Remember also to keep your wrist straight when holding the Pastel.

It will give you more control over the movement of the Pastel and ultimately produce a better result. Finally, don’t forget to hold the Pastel at an angle to see what you’re doing efficiently.

How to Make a Basic Stroke with Pastel?

Once you’ve got the hold down, it’s time to learn how to make a basic stroke with Pastel.

You’ll need to hold the Pastel at a 45-degree angle and use light pressure to move it across the paper. Start by making short strokes and then gradually increasing the stroke’s length.

You can also experiment with the direction of the stroke. Be sure to use a steady hand and keep your wrist straight.

If you’re having trouble keeping the Pastel in place, try using a sandpaper block to help you get the desired results.

How to Create Layers of Color?

One of the exciting aspects of pastels is that you can easily create layers of color. It will give your artwork a more vibrant look.

To create layers of color, start adding a light layer of pastel color to your paper. Next, add a darker color over the top. You can continue adding pastel color layers until you’re happy with the results.

It would be best to remember that you can always add more color or change your already used colors. The exciting thing about pastels is that they are a very forgiving medium.

How to Shade with Pastels?

Shading is an essential skill when it comes to pastels. It will allow you to create more realistic-looking artwork.

A blending stump or tortillon is the best way to shade with pastels. Start by adding the lightest shade of color to the area you want to shade. Next, add a darker shade of color over the top.

You can then continue to add additional layers of color until you’re happy with the results. Use a light hand when shading, and always blend in the direction of the hair or fur.

While shading, you can always add more color if needed.

How to Mix Colors in Pastel Drawings?

An artist hand mixing the color pastels
An artist trying to mix color pastels

You’ll need to learn how to mix colors to create more complex color schemes in your pastel drawings.

It would be best to start your color mixing by adding a small amount of the primary color to the area you want to shade. Next, add a small amount of the secondary color to the same area. Finally, use a blending stump or tortillon to blend the colors.

It would be best to experiment with multiple color combinations to see what works best for you. Just remember to be patient and take your time when mixing colors.

Creating Pastel drawings is an art form in itself. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to create beautiful pieces of art that will impress everyone who sees them.

How to Fix an Error on Pastel Drawing?

If you make an error while drawing with pastels, don’t worry. You can quickly fix it.

The first step is to use an eraser to remove the unwanted color. Next, add a light layer of color over the area you want to fix. Finally, blend the new and existing colors with a blending stump or tortillon.

Remember, never try to fix an error by adding more color. It will only make the problem worse.

What are the Different Types of Pastels?

There are three main pastels: soft pastels, oil pastels, and chalk pastels.

Soft Pastels

These are the most commonly used type of Pastels. They are made from powdered pigment sticks and a binder such as wax or gum Arabic. They have a velvety texture and are easy to blend. They are also the most fragile type of Pastel and can be easily damaged.

Oil Pastels

Oil pastels are colors made from oil and pigment. They are less fragile than soft pastels and can be used on various surfaces. However, they are not as easy to blend as soft pastels.

Chalk Pastels

Chalk pastels are made from chalk and pigment. They are the most durable type of Pastel but have the least amount of color intensity.

What fixative to use for Your Pastel Drawing?

You can use a few different types of fixative for your pastel drawing: spray fixative, liquid fixative, and paste fixative. Each fixative has pros and cons, so choosing the one that will work best for your artwork is essential.

Spray Fixative

A spray fixative is a quick and easy way to fix your pastel drawing. This type of fixative is excellent for large pieces, as it will quickly and evenly cover the entire surface. However, it can also be messy, and avoiding getting the fixative in your eyes is essential. Spray Fixatives comes in an aerosol can and are sprayed directly on the artwork.

Liquid Fixative

A liquid fixative is also a quick and easy way to fix your pastel drawing. It comes in a bottle and is applied with a brush. This type of fixative is excellent for smaller pieces, as it’s more precise than a spray. However, it can be more time-consuming than a spray, and ensuring the entire surface is coated is essential.

Paste Fixative

Paste fixative is the most time-consuming but provides the most protection for your artwork. It comes in a jar and is applied with a brush. This type of fixative takes a while to dry, so it’s not recommended for large pieces. However, it is the best option for protecting your artwork from fading and yellowing.

No matter which type of fixative you choose, following the manufacturer’s instructions for use is essential. Test the fixative on a small section of your artwork to ensure it doesn’t cause unwanted effects.

How to Frame a Pastel Drawing?

A man placing a patel drawing and a lady smiling at him.
Frame a Pastel Drawing

Framing a pastel drawing can be tricky, as the delicate nature of the medium requires a specific type of framing. Using a frame specifically for pastels is important, as regular frames can damage the artwork.

There are two main types of pastel frames: mat and foamboard. A mat frame is a traditional frame with a mat or border around the edge of the artwork. A foam board frame is a newer frame made from foam with a plastic cover on the front.

Both frames are available in various sizes and colors, so you can choose the one that best suits your artwork. Be sure to select a frame about 1-2 inches larger than your artwork, giving you room to mount the artwork on the frame.

Where to Store Your Pastels?

Pastels are a delicate medium and should be stored in a cool, dry place. It’s essential to keep them away from direct sunlight and humidity, which can cause the pastels to fade and become brittle.

A good option for storing your pastels is in a pastel box. This particular box is designed to store pastels and protect them from damage. The box has several compartments that hold the pastels in place and a lid to keep them dust-free.

Another option for storing your pastels is in a drawer. However, you’ll need to ensure the drawer is lined with cardboard or another protective material to prevent the pastels from being damaged.

Pros and Cons of Using Pastels for Artwork

Every art medium has its pros and cons, and Pastel has some.


1. Pastels offer a wide range of colors you can mix to create a variety of hues.

2. Pastels’ velvety texture gives the artwork a rich look.

3. Pastels are easy to blend to create subtle shading and color transitions.

4. Pastels are relatively easy to use and don’t require a lot of training or practice to achieve good results.

5. The dust generated by pastel work is not as harmful as the dust created by other art mediums such as oils or acrylics.


1. The downside of the velvety texture of pastels is that they can be difficult to erase or correct mistakes.

2. Pastel colors are less vibrant than other mediums like oils or acrylics.

3. The rich color of pastels can make them prone to fading over time.

4. Pastels are not waterproof, so you should not use them on surfaces that may be damaged by water.

5. The powdery dust created by working with pastels can be a nuisance, and it is necessary to take precautions to avoid breathing it in.


Pastels are versatile mediums that you can use for different purposes. They are often used for portraits and landscapes, but you can also use them for still lifes and abstracts.

The different types of pastels allow for different effects, and the color range is extensive. Although many techniques are involved in pastels, it is an accessible medium to learn and use immediately.

With suitable materials, you can start your pastel drawings today.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is Pastel a Drawing or Painting?

    Pastel is a great art form that combines both painting and drawing techniques. It’s made up of vivid pigments mixed with a binder, similar to paint but applied dry to the surface, like when using graphite or charcoal. Thanks to its ability to blend colors and create unique textures, traditional drafters and painters can use it in diverse ways, making it an extremely versatile medium.

  2. Is Pastel the Same as Chalk?

    Although they might appear similar, pastels and chalk are two distinct art mediums. Pastel is composed of powdered pigments mixed with a binding agent to create vibrant colors that can be blended seamlessly for various shades and hues. Chalk, however, is crafted out of compressed calcium carbonate, producing textures more suitable for quick sketches rather than detailed works like those achievable with pastels.

  3. Can I use Pencils with Pastels?

    Artists can use pencils to add creative detail and finesse to their pastel artistry by doing “underdrawing.” This technique is employed before adding any of the vibrant layers of pastels. With a light touch and good quality pencil, you can create fine lines that may otherwise prove difficult with just the pastels alone without smudging any of your hard-worked hues.

  4. Are Pastels Just Crayons?

    Pastels aren’t just crayons but an exquisite medium used by master painters for centuries. Composed of pigments mixed with either gum Arabic or kaolin clay, they can be applied to paper and blended or layered to create beautiful textures and effects, something you cannot get from musty old wax-based crayons.

  5. Do Real Artists Use Pastels?

    Pastels are your go-to medium if you’re an artist searching for dynamic artistic expression. With these sticks of color, the imagination can wander and explore a wide range of hues, from soft and muted to bold or dramatic shades that can be easily blended or layered for intricate nuance. Countless renowned painters, including Edgar Degas, have relied on pastels to achieve their masterpieces; thus, if it’s the creative inspiration you seek, pastels provide.

  6. Can you use Brushes with Pastels?

    You can utilize a brush when working with pastels, yet you must be extra cautious due to the fragility of soft pastels. For this purpose, choosing a soft, flat brush made from natural fibers such as sable or squirrel hair is best to apply your medium onto surfaces without causing harm. Moreover, ensure you use light strokes with your chosen bristles for captivating results and lasting preservation of your pastel sticks.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top
Inspiring Art Quotes from Famous Artists Art Animation: Breathing Life and Movement into Artworks How to Get Motivation to Draw