Best Soft Pastels
Looking for the best soft pastels for your next piece of artwork?
Check out my top picks below:
Soft pastels are a great medium for pastel painting due to the nature of the materials that are used in manufacturing pastel sticks. The sticks are made suitable so that you can either use them as ‘pencil’ pastels or you can look to try other techniques.
The guide will include some of the best soft pastel sets you can find on the market without the hassle of you going through an extensive and painful amount of trial and error.
The guide additionally will cover selections from student-grade pastels to professional-grade pastels ensuring the review is appropriate for both amateurs and seasoned veterans.
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01) Honsell Gallery Artists’ Handmade Soft Pastels
Set of 200 Wooden Suitcases -Hand Rolled Pastels – Soft Consistency
- Set of 200 hand-rolled pastels
- Comes in an elegant wooden case
- Versatile colour selection
The Honsell Gallery Artists’ hand-made soft pastels have some of the best soft pastels as the sticks are hand-rolled to keep the soft textures throughout the pack of sticks.
The brand of Honsel soft pastels is not as popular as blick artists’ soft pastels but give quality assurance similar to the more popular brand making it a very reliable alternative.
The Honsell soft pastel collection contains 200 hand-rolled pastels that are great for professional artists. The pastels are easy to blend for subtle blends.
Overall, a great purchase for anybody who is looking for a versatile set for subtle blends and fine details.
02) Schmincke– Pastels
Set of 100 colours, 77 100 097, Wooden box with 100 pastels, handmade pastels, brilliant, velvet matt, highest lightfast colours
- Set of 100
- Comes in a fancy wooden box
- No chalk pastels
The Schminke set contains a collection of 100 of the best soft pastels that are great for both professional and amateur artists. Each stick has an incredibly rich pigment concentration for vibrant and vivid colours.
The pastel paint is easily blendable and that attributes to create fine details which are great among all art mediums like most soft pastels very much like Rembrandt soft pastels.
The Schminke brand makes some of the best soft pastel sets akin to Rembrandt soft pastels for artists to use. The collection avoids using chalk pastels for the soft pastel sticks which is great for use on pastel paper among other surfaces.
All things considered, when buying soft pastels the final verdict of this collection of soft pastel sticks is that it contains a great deal of value within the box.
The soft pastel collection is definitely worth the price if you can get your hands on them.
03) Unison Colour Soft Pastels
Hand Made Landscape 72 Set
- Collection of 72 hand-made soft pastel
- Smooth buttery consistency
- Irregular round shapes indicate handcrafters
- Extremely lightfast
The Unison colour soft pastels set features a variety of 72 colour sticks hand-made to retain their softness. Each stick has an irregular shape which may not be ideal for drawing fine lines, however, great for drawing fine details if blended with the right thinner.
Each half stick contains a decent amount of pigment while retaining as little binder as possible unlike hard pastels to avoid muddiness while mixing the soft colour deposit.
The Unison colour soft pastels feature a whole pack of half-stick pastels which will fulfil your soft pastels’ needs without ever needing to resort to any hard pastel collections.
Overall, a great purchase for soft pastels if you have the extra budget lying around. A personal favorite.
I very much like this set of 72 soft pastels collection and believe these will give a great deal of satisfaction when you get to experience the quality they contain.
04) Sennelier Black Box Half
Soft Pastel Box 120
- 120 half stick pastels
- Features a chic black box for carrying
- Soft and water-soluble
The Sennelier pastels set features a whopping 120 half stick collection that is great for any artist ranging from amateur to seasoned veteran. The sticks provide an experience similar to watercolour painting due to the nature of the sticks being water-soluble.
Sennelier pastels collection features reputable quality akin to Faber Castell creative studio amongst artists for oil pastels and normal pastels in general.
The Sennelier soft pastels brand carries a reputation for being a great supplier for oil pastels and soft pastels like many other pastel brands like Rembrandt pastels and Castell Creative studio soft pastels making them a tremendously easy to trust brand for your needs.
The overall verdict for this set is that you may reliably and blindly trust this brand for your artistic needs.
The set contains a very versatile selection of half-stick pastel paints which will satisfy every need while you’re working on your art projects.
05) Schmincke – Pastels
Set of 60 colours, 77 260 097, wooden box with 60 pastels, handmade pastels, brilliant, velvet matt and highly lightfast colours
- Set of 60 soft pastels
- Intense colour pigmentation
- Velvety smooth consistency
The Schmincke soft pastels collection has a diverse selection of 60 sticks of pastels which covers a great deal of the colour spectrum without having to reach out to other collections.
The collection features soft pastels that are high quality and maintain a lightfast finish which is optimal for any lighting condition without being affected.
The collection of colour block soft pastels featured in the Schmincke set contains a very diverse selection of pastel sticks with minimal binding making it a great set if you are interested in blending colours and such.
The budgeting is not as inexpensive as Rembrandt pastels however still provide great value for money.
I highly recommend this set due to the fact that it has just the right amount of colour collection without overwhelming the user while being of exceptional quality.
General Information About Soft / Oil and Chalk Pastels
The medium of soft pastels come in many brands and sets. Generally, each pack contains a great number of shades and colours to ensure you have access to every colour in the spectrum for your art projects.
Soft pastels are easy to work with as the thinning agents used are conventional and easily accessible for anybody while some may even be thinned and blended with water as per mentioned in the guide.
Soft pastels are made like other pastels, with the addition of oil and wax. This makes them easier to blend because the oils allow the colors to mix. When you draw with soft pastels on different papers, you can see some differences in effect depending on which paper is used.
For example, a toned paper will subtly affect the colors that go on top of it, producing different effects. This means that soft pastels are more versatile and can be used for many art techniques, such as drawing, sketching and painting.
Oil pastels are made by mixing pigment with an oil binder, such as wax or petroleum jelly. The result is a crayon that can be used on paper, canvas, wood and other porous surfaces to create brilliant effects of color. There are many different brands of oil pastels available, so there’s definitely one out there for every artist.
Almost all oil pastels are made of a mixture of wax and oil, with pigment mixed in. Oil pastels are suitable for many different surfaces because they don’t easily break down or dissolve as soft pastels do.
However, they can melt if you leave them out in the sun for too long, so it’s best to store them at room temperature (about 70 degrees Fahrenheit) or below.
Oil pastels are more difficult to blend than soft pastels because the oil separates between colors. Oil pastel blending can be done using a tool known as an “oil stump.”
Chalk pastels are hard, dry sticks made of pigment mixed with chalk. The colors are matte and usually quite faint once applied to paper or other surfaces. They are ideal for creating soft backgrounds in portraits, pastel drawings, sketches, etc.
Chalk pastels are also good for applying color over other media where you want the original mark to show through slightly.
Conclusion / Roundup
Soft pastels are a great medium to practice your crafts and explore new techniques to add to your arsenal of skills. Each brand may or may not be your cup of tea but a great deal of consideration and open-mindedness is required to find the right fit.
Once you’ve found your feet as such, pastel painting is a tremendously rewarding method of painting for all artists.
Are oil pastels and soft pastels the same?
Oil pastels have a different adhesive to keep the pigment together, resulting in their distinct behavior. To summarise, oil pastels are creamier and more greasy in texture and have a satin sheen to them. Soft pastels create dust; whereas oil pastels do not and are powdery rather than oily.
Are chalk pastels and soft pastels the same?
Soft pastels are not the same as chalks. They seldom include chalk and are unlike blackboard or pavement chalks save for the form and feel.
Soft pastels, like any other art material, are composed of pigment and a binder to keep it in a specific form.
What are the best quality soft pastels?
There are a great number of super reputable brands that have the best quality soft pastels. Faber Castell, a household name for artists and Creative Studio soft pastel is also an amazing consideration for your soft pastel needs.
However, finding the best fit for your needs may take a decent amount of trial and error and this review guide lists some of the most reliable brands you can consider as a start.
What are the softest pastels?
A lot of soft pastels are of great consistency and have a velvety smooth consistency, however, an easy indicator of the softest pastels can be given in the features sections. The keyword to look for to find some of the softest pastels for your need are the ones that are handmade.
They are crafted and wrapped individually by the human hand giving the ultimate experience of the softest pastels right out of the box.
Which pastel is best for beginners?
Rembrandt, Sennelier soft pastels and Creative Studio soft pastel collections have a selection of the best pigmented and softest pastels for any artist.
The beginners might get a kick out of the quality they are being provided at the inexpensive budget given for these products.
Trying out the budget options are a great start for any beginner.
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Written By Adam Rushton
Adam has made a name for himself in the illustration industry and is a passionate blogger and writer on the subject of art, illustration and graphic design.
His artwork has been featured in countless publications and used for very well-known media projects. As a professional illustrator for over 20 years, Adams media outlets, a wealth of knowledge, and experience enable him to consult and advise artists and illustrators in this country (from York and Manchester to Southampton and London) and all over the world.