Best Pencils for Oil Pastels – Top Picks & Tips

  • By: Michael Smith
  • Time to read: 14 min.
Michael Smith
I'm Michael Smith, the founder and creative director of Art and Drawing. With over a decade of experience in the art and design industry, my keen eye for detail and passion for creating inspiring artwork drive my work. I'm dedicated to capturing the world's beauty through vibrant, expressive pieces that spark imagination and emotion.

When it comes to creating stunning oil pastel artwork, choosing the right pencils is crucial. The compatibility of the pencil with oil pastels, its blending capabilities, and the brand and type of pencil you select can greatly impact the outcome of your artwork. In this article, we will explore the best pencils for oil pastels, providing you with top picks and essential tips to enhance your drawing experience.

Oil pastel pencil compatibility is an important consideration when choosing your tools. Look for pencils specifically designed for use with oil pastels, as they are formulated to work harmoniously with the medium. These pencils have a unique composition that allows for smooth application and vibrant color payoff, enhancing the overall quality of your artwork.

When it comes to blending oil pastels, not all pencils are created equal. Look for pencils that have a soft and creamy texture, as they will allow you to easily blend and layer colors. Pencils with a high pigment concentration are also ideal for achieving rich and intense color vibrancy.

There are several renowned pencil brands that are highly recommended for oil pastel artwork. Brands such as Caran d’Ache, Faber Castell, and Koh-I-Noor offer a wide range of pencils specifically created for working with oil pastels. These brands are known for their exceptional quality, durability, and color selection, making them ideal choices for artists.

Key Takeaways:

  • Choose pencils that are specifically designed for use with oil pastels for better compatibility.
  • Look for pencils with soft and creamy textures for easy blending and layering.
  • Opt for pencils with a high pigment concentration for vibrant and intense colors.
  • Consider reputable brands like Caran d’Ache, Faber Castell, and Koh-I-Noor for top-quality pencils.
  • Experiment with different pencil types to find the ideal fit for your oil pastel artwork.

Understanding Pastel Pencils

Pastel pencils are a unique art supply that combines the vibrant colors and blending capabilities of pastels with the precision and control of pencils. These pencils have a pastel core encased in wood, similar to traditional colored pencils. However, there are key differences between pastel pencils and colored pencils.

The pastel core of pastel pencils contains pigment and binders, such as chalk, which give them their distinct properties. This composition allows pastel pencils to produce rich and intense colors, enabling artists to create bold and expressive artwork. On the other hand, colored pencils use wax as a binding agent, resulting in a smoother application and a different color texture.

Pastel pencils offer artists the versatility to work with a wide range of techniques. They allow for easy blending, enabling smooth transitions between colors and the creation of soft gradients. With pastel pencils, artists can achieve a variety of effects, from detailed line work to delicate shading. Whether used for sketching, drawing, or mixed media projects, pastel pencils provide the artist with enhanced control and precision, making them a valuable tool in the creation of stunning artwork.

With their combination of vibrant colors, blending capabilities, and precise control, pastel pencils are a must-have for artists of all skill levels. Whether you are a beginner exploring new techniques or an experienced artist looking to expand your range of tools, pastel pencils offer endless possibilities for creative expression.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Pastel Pencils

When selecting pastel pencils for your artwork, there are several factors to consider. These factors include the softness of the pencil, blending capabilities, ease of sharpening, and lightfastness. Each of these factors contributes to the overall performance and quality of the pastel pencils.

Softness of Pastel Pencils: The softness of a pastel pencil determines its ease of blending and the intensity of color it can produce. Softer pastel pencils are ideal for blending and creating smooth transitions between colors. They allow you to achieve a softer and more painterly effect in your artwork. On the other hand, harder pastel pencils are better suited for detailed work and creating crisp lines.

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Blending Capabilities: Pastel pencils with good blending capabilities are essential for creating seamless transitions and gradients in your artwork. Look for pastel pencils that have a soft and creamy consistency, as they will blend more easily on the paper. The ability to blend well is especially important if you want to achieve a realistic or soft-focus effect in your drawings.

Ease of Sharpening: Pastel pencils have delicate cores that can break if not sharpened properly. It is important to choose pastel pencils that are easy to sharpen without the risk of breakage. Look for pencils with a sturdy wood casing that holds the core securely. This will ensure that you can sharpen the pencil to a fine point without worrying about it crumbling or breaking.

Lightfastness: Lightfastness refers to the ability of a pastel pencil to resist fading when exposed to light over time. It is important to choose pastel pencils with high lightfastness ratings to ensure that your artwork remains vibrant and does not fade or discolor. Look for pastel pencils that are labeled as lightfast or have a high level of pigment concentration.

Tips for Choosing Pastel Pencils:

  • Consider your artistic style and preferred techniques. Different softness levels and blending capabilities will suit different drawing styles.
  • Test the pastel pencils by trying them out on a scrap piece of paper or a swatch to see how well they blend and how intense the colors are.
  • Read reviews and seek recommendations from fellow artists or art communities to gather insights and opinions about different pastel pencil brands and their performance.
  • Take into account your budget and the cost of the pastel pencils. Some brands may offer better value for money while still providing good quality and performance.

By considering these factors and following these tips, you can make an informed decision when choosing pastel pencils for your artwork. The right choice of pastel pencils will enhance your artistic expression and help you achieve the desired effects in your drawings.

Top Picks for Professional Artists

For professional artists, investing in the best pastel pencils is crucial to achieve exceptional results in their artwork. These top-quality pencils offer exceptional performance and quality, making them the preferred choice for professionals in the field.

Caran d’Ache Pastel Pencils

Caran d’Ache is a renowned brand known for producing high-quality art supplies, and their pastel pencils are no exception. These pencils feature a thick core and highly pigmented colors, allowing artists to create dense and vibrant applications of color. Caran d’Ache Pastel Pencils are favored by professionals for their outstanding performance and durability.

Cretacolor Pastel Pencils

Cretacolor Pastel Pencils are highly regarded for their ability to produce fine details and smooth application. These pencils are perfect for artists who specialize in intricate work and require high precision. The blendability of Cretacolor Pastel Pencils makes them suitable for achieving subtle shading and blending effects in artwork.

Koh-I-Noor Gioconda Soft Pastel Pencils

Koh-I-Noor Gioconda Soft Pastel Pencils offer a wide range of colors and excellent blending capabilities. These pencils are favored by professional artists who value versatility in their artwork. The softness of the pastel core allows for smooth blending, making it easy to create seamless transitions and gradients.

Stablio CarbOthello Pencils

Stablio CarbOthello pencils strike a perfect balance between intense color and easy blending. These pastel pencils are ideal for artists who want vibrant colors that can be easily blended and layered. The high pigment concentration ensures that the colors remain vivid and true on paper.

Faber Castell Pitt Pastels

Faber Castell Pitt Pastels are known for their versatility and performance across a range of artistic styles. These pastel pencils are favored by professionals for their excellent color vibrancy, blendability, and ability to create both fine details and bold strokes. Faber Castell Pitt Pastels are a reliable choice for artists looking to create captivating artwork.

When professional artists need the best pastel pencils, they turn to Caran d’Ache Pastel Pencils, Cretacolor Pastel Pencils, Koh-I-Noor Gioconda Soft Pastel Pencils, Stablio CarbOthello, and Faber Castell Pitt Pastels. These top-quality pencils offer exceptional performance, durability, and versatility, making them essential tools for achieving outstanding results in professional artwork.

Pencil Brand Key Features
Caran d’Ache Pastel Pencils Thick core, highly pigmented
Cretacolor Pastel Pencils Fine details, smooth application
Koh-I-Noor Gioconda Soft Pastel Pencils Wide range of colors, excellent blending
Stablio CarbOthello Pencils Intense color, easy blending
Faber Castell Pitt Pastels Versatile, vibrant colors, fine details

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Intermediate Level Options

For artists at an intermediate level, Derwent Pastel Pencils are a popular choice. These pencils have a slightly chalky feel and blend readily, making them suitable for a range of drawing styles. The round wood binding of the pencils is smooth and easy to work with. While the range of colors is not as extensive as some professional-grade options, Derwent Pastel Pencils still offer enough variety for most artists.

Why Choose Derwent Pastel Pencils?

Derwent Pastel Pencils are specifically designed to cater to the needs of intermediate artists. Here are some key reasons why they are a reliable choice:

  • Blending: Derwent Pastel Pencils blend effortlessly, enabling artists to create smooth transitions and achieve the desired effects.
  • Control: The slightly chalky texture of these pencils allows for precise control and easy manipulation, making them suitable for detailed work.
  • Range of Colors: While the color range may not be as extensive as professional-grade options, Derwent Pastel Pencils still offer a good selection of hues to bring your artwork to life.

“Derwent Pastel Pencils have been a game-changer for my art. I love how easily they blend and the control they offer. They are perfect for adding that extra touch to my intermediate-level artwork.”

Whether you’re working on landscapes, portraits, or still life, Derwent Pastel Pencils provide a versatile option that can help you take your artwork to the next level. Their ease of use and ability to achieve beautiful blending effects make them a favorite among intermediate artists.

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Budget-Friendly Pencil Options

Are you an artist on a budget? Don’t worry, you can still find quality pastel pencils without breaking the bank. One great option for budget-conscious artists is the Faber Castell Pitt Pastels. These pencils offer excellent value for their price, providing a smooth application and decent pigmentation. While you may need to apply slightly more pressure for intense color, these pencils perform exceptionally well considering their affordability.

What makes Faber Castell Pitt Pastels a versatile choice is their balanced hardness and softness, allowing you to use them for various techniques. Whether you’re creating detailed lines or blending colors, these pencils deliver consistent results without compromising quality.

So, if you’re looking for the best value pastel pencils that are affordable and perfect for your budget, consider giving Faber Castell Pitt Pastels a try. You’ll be amazed at what you can create without spending a fortune!

Pencil Brand Price Range Application Pigmentation Overall Performance
Faber Castell Pitt Pastels Affordable Smooth Decent Good

Tips for Choosing the Right Pencil

Choosing the right pastel pencil for your oil pastel artwork requires careful consideration of several factors. By taking into account your working style, softness vs. firmness, ease of sharpening, and pigment content, you can select the perfect pencil to bring your creative vision to life.

Your Working Style

The first step in choosing the right pastel pencil is understanding your unique working style. Consider the techniques and effects you want to achieve in your artwork. Do you prefer smooth gradients and blending, or do you aim for precise details and crisp lines? Your working style will dictate the level of softness or firmness that is best suited for your needs.

Softness vs. Firmness

Softness and firmness are key considerations in pastel pencils. Soft pastel pencils are ideal for blending and creating smooth gradients, allowing you to achieve seamless transitions between colors. They are perfect for artists who want to create depth and texture in their artwork. On the other hand, firm pastel pencils excel at creating precise lines and intricate details. They are essential for artists who prioritize meticulous and controlled drawing.

Ease of Sharpening

Pastel pencils have delicate cores that can break if not handled properly during sharpening. It is important to choose pencils that are easy to sharpen without compromising the integrity of the core. Look for pencils with sturdy wood casings and a smooth sharpening experience to ensure that you can maintain a sharp point without wasting precious pigment.

Pigment Content

The pigment content of pastel pencils directly affects the vibrancy and lightfastness of your artwork. Higher pigment content results in brighter colors that resist fading over time. When selecting pastel pencils, opt for brands and colors with a reputation for high pigment content. This will ensure that your artwork remains vivid and true to your vision for years to come.

Pencil Softness/Firmness Ease of Sharpening Pigment Content
Brand A Soft Easy High
Brand B Firm Moderate Medium
Brand C Soft Difficult Low

By considering your working style, softness vs. firmness, ease of sharpening, and pigment content, you can confidently choose the right pastel pencil for your oil pastel artwork. Keep experimenting with different pencils to find the perfect match that brings your artistic vision to life.

Testing and Evaluating Pastel Pencils

To determine the performance and suitability of various pastel pencils, thorough testing and evaluation are essential. When evaluating pastel pencils, there are several factors that artists consider to ensure they make the right choice for their artwork.

Binding

One important factor to consider is the binding of the pencil. Binding refers to how well the pigment adheres to the surface of the paper or canvas. A strong binding ensures the longevity and durability of the artwork, preventing the pigment from flaking or smudging over time.

Application

The ease of application is another crucial aspect when testing pastel pencils. Artists want a pencil that transfers color smoothly from the pencil to the paper, allowing for effortless drawing and blending. The application should be consistent and even, enabling the artist to achieve the desired effects.

Lightfastness

Lightfastness is an essential consideration for any artist. It refers to the pencil’s ability to resist fading when exposed to light over time. Artists want their artwork to remain vibrant and true to its original colors, even after years of display.

By conducting tests and evaluations based on these factors, artists can gain valuable insights into the characteristics and quality of different pastel pencils. Thorough testing ensures that artists can confidently select the pencils that best meet their artistic needs and preferences.

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Factors to Consider Testing Criteria
Binding Check for adherence and resistance to flaking or smudging
Application Test for smooth and consistent color transfer
Lightfastness Assess the resistance to fading when exposed to light

Comparison of Graphite Grades in Pastel Pencils

Pastel pencils offer artists a range of graphite grades, each providing a unique tonal quality to their artwork. The grading scale for graphite pencils spans from hard (H) to soft (B), with HB as the midpoint. The hardness of the pencil determines the darkness or lightness of the marks it produces. Harder pencils create lighter marks, while softer pencils generate darker, richer tones.

It’s important to note that the darkness or lightness of each pencil grade can vary between different brands, as there is no standardized industry scale. Companies may apply the grading system differently, resulting in variations in tonal range.

To aid in your selection of pastel pencils, understanding the tonal qualities of different brands is essential. Below is a comparison table of the graphite grades and their tonal range for popular pastel pencil brands:

Pencil Brand Graphite Grades Tonal Range
Brand A H, HB, B, 2B, 4B Light to Dark
Brand B F, HB, B, 3B, 5B Light to Dark
Brand C 2H, H, HB, 2B, 4B Light to Dark
Brand D H, B, 2B, 3B, 4B Light to Dark

As seen in the table above, different pastel pencil brands offer various combinations of graphite grades, allowing artists to achieve a range of tonal effects in their artwork.

By considering the graphite grades and tonal ranges available, artists can select the pastel pencils that best align with their desired artistic vision and style.

Conclusion

Choosing the best pencils for oil pastels is a personal decision that depends on your individual preferences and artistic needs. After thorough research and expert opinions, we have compiled a list of the top recommendations for professionals. These include Caran d’Ache Pastel Pencils, Cretacolor Pastel Pencils, Koh-I-Noor Gioconda Soft Pastel Pencils, Stablio CarbOthello, and Faber Castell Pitt Pastels.

For intermediate artists, a great option to consider is Derwent Pastel Pencils, which offer a slightly chalky feel and blend readily for versatile drawing styles. If you’re on a budget, Faber Castell Pitt Pastels provide good value with their smooth application and decent pigment quality.

When choosing pastel pencils, factors like softness, blending capabilities, ease of sharpening, and pigment content should be considered. Keep in mind that testing different pencils can help you find the perfect tool to enhance your oil pastel artwork. By understanding these factors and exploring various options, you can make an informed decision and create stunning oil pastel masterpieces.

FAQ

What are the best pencils for oil pastels?

The best pencils for oil pastels include Caran d’Ache Pastel Pencils, Cretacolor Pastel Pencils, Koh-I-Noor Gioconda Soft Pastel Pencils, Stablio CarbOthello, and Faber Castell Pitt Pastels.

Are pastel pencils compatible with oil pastels?

Yes, pastel pencils are compatible with oil pastels. They offer the versatility of pastels and the precision of pencils, making them a great tool for oil pastel artwork.

What factors should I consider when choosing pastel pencils?

When choosing pastel pencils, consider factors such as the softness of the pencil, blending capabilities, ease of sharpening, and the pigment content for vibrant and lightfast colors.

Which pencil brand is ideal for blending oil pastels?

Pencils such as Caran d’Ache Pastel Pencils, Cretacolor Pastel Pencils, and Koh-I-Noor Gioconda Soft Pastel Pencils are known for their blending capabilities with oil pastels.

What are some budget-friendly options for pastel pencils?

Faber Castell Pitt Pastels offer good value for their price, making them a budget-friendly option for artists looking to work with pastel pencils.

How do I choose the right pencil for oil pastels?

When choosing the right pencil for oil pastels, consider factors such as your working style, the softness or firmness of the pencil, ease of sharpening, and pigment content to suit your desired effects.

What are the important factors to consider when testing and evaluating pastel pencils?

When testing and evaluating pastel pencils, consider factors such as binding (how well the pigment adheres to the surface), application (ease of transferring color), and lightfastness (ability to resist fading over time).

What is the difference between pastel pencils and colored pencils?

Pastel pencils have a pastel core encased in wood, while colored pencils use wax as a binding agent. Pastel pencils offer the vibrant colors and blending capabilities of pastels, with the control and precision of drawing with a pencil.

What are the graphite grades in pastel pencils?

Pastel pencils often come in a range of graphite grades, from hard (H) to soft (B), with the HB grade being the middle point. The softer pencils create darker tones, while the harder ones produce lighter marks.

How do I determine the tonal range of different pastel pencil brands?

The tonal range of different pastel pencil brands can vary. It is beneficial to understand the overall tonal qualities of each brand, as some may have a wider range of tones than others.