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.

01) SCHMINCKE Finest Extra-Soft Artist Pastels

Set of 400 (77400097)

SCHMINCKE Finest Extra-Soft Artist Pastels main image


  • Extra soft pastel stick collection
  • Pure medium with fine ground artist pigments
  • Set of 400
  • Great looking walnut box for storage


The Schmincke soft pastels contain some of the best soft pastels collections in the market which packs a whopping 400 selections of colours of soft pastels that will get you started on pastel painting in no time.

The pack contains extra soft pastels that just feel great to use and the selection of colours ensures you never have to look too hard for any colour outside of the collection itself.

  • Versatile selection of colours
  • Pure pigments
  • Vibrant colors
  • The collection may be overwhelming for some users
  • Many users may not be a fan of the pastel dust


The set is a great pick-up for someone who is looking to be loaded with some of the best soft and pure pigments in one go. The collection features great quality sticks for pastel artists.

Overall a great purchase for pastel artists that need the extra amount of sticks and some of the best soft feeling pastels for their art supplies.

02) Unison Complete Set

374 Handmade Soft Pastels

Unison Complete Set main image


  • Handmade
  • Set of 374
  • The pure pigment used in each stick to ensure mixtures don’t get muddied
  • Rich smooth consistency


The Unison Complete set features a total of 374 sticks which is more than adequate for any artist.

The sticks contain only pure pigments of related hues that don’t require the user to add any black or white to the pigment concentration which allows an unmuddied finish on the pastels.

  • Pure pigments
  • Minimal binder
  • Smooth and soft texture
  • Expensive
  • May have some availability issues


The Unison set features a collection of high-quality artist-grade pastels that enable the user to use pastel techniques, native to the artist without compromising the consistency of the pastel due to the nature of the sticks being close to natural and pure.

The sticks contain more pigment concentration ensuring an unmuddied finish to a velvety texture that is smooth and satisfying.

Overall making it a great buy no matter how expensive.

03) Sennelier Soft Pastel Set

Wood Box Set of 175 Full Sticks

Sennelier Soft Pastel Set main image


  • 175 Full sticks of artist-grade pastels
  • Comes with an attractive wooden box
  • Rich colours with minimal binding
  • High-quality pure pigment


The Sennelier soft pastels set comes with a total of 175 total full sticks for your oil pastels collection ensuring you have a wide array of colours while also having enough of each colour without having to worry about running low on any colour within your art supplies.

Sennelier soft pastels have a reputation among many artists as being one of the more reputable pastel brands.

The brand always provides quality buttery pastels better than most other pastels.

  • High-quality artist grade soft pastels
  • Versatile colours
  • Soft pastel medium that is not prone to crumble
  • Highly reputable among pastel brands
  • Difficult to achieve final detailing due to vibrancy issues


The Sennelier soft pastels set contain a variety of options when it comes to colour and has some of the best soft pastels on a budget making it an optimal solution for artists that are starting.

Overall as a final verdict, there’s not much to say about the Sennelier pastel brand as the features speak for themselves.

The set is a steal and a half considering the price and the value you are getting per stick.

Wood Box Set of 200 – Assorted Colours

Mungyo Gallery Extra-Fine Soft Paste main image


  • Fancy carry case
  • Assorted selection of 200 colours
  • Each pastel stick made from the finest pigment
  • Lightfast colours
  • Half-sticks in length


The Mungyo soft pastel set contains a selection of 200 assorted colours of stick pastels with vivid colours that are great for both amateur and professional artists. The buttery texture ensures smooth application on most surfaces.

The set additionally features sticks that are made with calcium carbonate which gives a chalky consistency to the pastels.

The sticks however are round as opposed to square pastels or rectangular pastels for better holding in the fingers.

  • Versatile selection of vivid colours
  • Extra soft pastels that ensure smooth application
  • Chalk pastels
  • The volume of each stick may not be enough for long-term use


The Mungyo set contains some of the best soft pastels you can find for the budget it’s being offered at making this set an amazing value for budget selection.

Overall a great purchase if you are tight on budget and can’t wait to get started with some of the best soft pastels that you can afford.

05) SAA Artists’ Soft Pastel

Set of 48

SAA Artists' Soft Pastel  main image


  • 48 selections of colours
  • Each stick hand made
  • Medium soft textures


The SAA set contains a selection of 48 handmade colours which fit into a fit for purpose, sturdy cardboard box. SAA creates and manufactures many art supplies for professional artists and beginner artists alike.

  • Easy to blend from the get-go without thinners
  • Suitable for application on many surfaces
  • The pastel sticks contain some of the finest pigments for a smooth velvety texture
  • Hand-rolled to keep the softness
  • May break in transit unlike other pastels


The SAA collection of pastels contains some of the softest pastels for your art project and might could easily become your favorite set of colours. Unlike most medium-soft pastels that contain expensive natural pigments, this collection of colors has extreme value for money.

Overall, a very worthy buy if you want to experiment with different art mediums and soft pastel sets.

The set will contain all you need on a budget and will give most equally placed competitor brands a run for their money.

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:

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:

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:

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.