Disclaimer | This article may contain affiliate links, this means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for qualifying purchases.
The first thing which comes to mind when we hear ‘pastels’ is that no preparation is needed.
Most mediums out there require some time for preparation before starting the painting process but pastels are ready for use anytime we feel like getting creative.
The second important feature of these colorful sticks is that they are portable. This is an outcome of them being ready-to-use anytime. Moreover, they are handy and most of the time will come in a tightly secured box.
However, being easily available does not necessarily mean they are easy to use as well.
In fact, pastels are slightly harder to work with as compared to other mediums due to the fact that we have to apply them directly on to the surface. But with practice, the process will eventually become easy for creating something beautiful.
In today’s article, we will review 7 of the best oil pastels used by artists worldwide. Apart from that, we will also share basic information that you will want to know about these mediums.
Difference Between Pastels
Before we move forward with the reviews, let’s take a quick look at how oil-based pastels are different from those pastels with different compositions.
If you are an advanced artist who is already familiar with the differences, we’d suggest skipping this part. But if you are new to pastels and want to purchase a set, you might want to go through this brief guide.
From the name itself, you can tell that these sticks produce rich pigments. They are perfect for creating really bright and luminous paintings.
Because they are soft in form, it makes them pretty delicate and fragile to work with. However, this does not mean that one should refrain from using them since you get one of the best results by using them.
However, keep in mind there are certain types of soft pastels that are toxic like those with cadmium pigments. Therefore, we would recommend looking for non-toxic soft pastels if you have children around by going through the labels first.
Contrary to soft pastels, pencil pastels are usually hard-structured and are slightly tough to blend. However, what they are perfect for is that they can create fine and accurate lines. They are also good for highlighting and small details.
And unlike soft pastels, these are pointed and rigid, which makes them unbreakable when using.
They can actually be used as a separate medium for minor details to complement and complete your oil pastel painting.
As the name suggests, these sticks are pretty hard and deliver lesser pigments to your paintings.
But like the pencil pastels, they do a good job when you need to create precise outlines and extra highlights. Besides that, many artists use them for creating backgrounds.
Also, if you are a traveling artist, these will come very handy in your creative journeys because they are not fragile.
Finally, let’s look at oil pastels and see why they are favored by most artists to create beautiful artworks.
Oil pastels have a different composition altogether. They are made of wax and contain mineral or linseed oil. This gives them a reason to produce vibrant colors. They are also soft which makes them pleasant to hold while painting.
But the only drawback of this pastel type is that it can get too tough to blend when working on rough textures due to their thickness.
Keeping that in mind, the one thing that makes oil pastels stand out from the rest is they have no requirement for a preserving medium or a fixative.
While other types of pastels depend on a spray to prevent discoloration, oil pastels only require to be stored away from direct heat.
The second striking difference is that oil pastels can be mixed with certain chemicals to thin them down for creating various effects.
Note: Remember that oil sticks and oil pastels are not the same. The former one can dry out after some time, while the latter does not.
Best Oil Pastels
Take a moment and have a look at this list of the 7 best oil pastels we’ve carefully selected to meet any of your creative requirements.
From an endless collection of Sakura Cray-Pas oil pastels, we chose to start off with this pack for a lot of reasons which you will see in a minute.
The pack contains 50 non-toxic sticks of different shades that are very rich in pigments. It also comes with a color chart which can be handy for beginners.
- Cray pas expressionist assorted color oil pastel set
- Extra fine quality pigment formulation
- Suitable for many surfaces paper, cardboard, canvas and wood
- Easy to compose portraits, landscapes, still-life,...
One of the features which make the Sakura Cray-Pas Oil Pastels very dear to users is that it is beginner-friendly.
Firstly, the fact that it comes with a color chart to guide learners makes it easy to use. We also like that the chart shows the pigments as they really are when applied.
We find that using this pack to guide younger artists does not raise any concerns because they are non-toxic.
If there are children, you will understand the worries that come with having colors lying either in the studio or around the house.
But that is not the case with these pastels because you can go anywhere and be worry-free, except for them ruining the precious sticks, of course.
However, we think the best aspect of these pastels is they can be sold individually as well. We tend to run out of blue or yellow every so often when doing landscape paintings and this is where the option to buy a single stick can be very helpful.
Besides, they are inexpensive as each pastel costs $0.67. For those starting out with a single art concept, it would be a waste to purchase the whole set at once.
But a collection of 50 colors is still too less to choose from. We have to rely on mixing/blending in order to get the desired shades for our paintings.
Nonetheless, we notice the pastels provide very tight texture which is what artists would look for to achieve full coverage. Along with that, they also deliver a smooth outlook with an opaque touch to it.
All in all, we would suggest getting this pack to those artists who are looking for quality over quantity.
Pentel has been around for about 70 years and above. To say that they produce great-quality art supplies throughout the years would be a correct statement.
Because the brand focuses on delivering art supplies for students, the products are also highly affordable – and the pastels are no exception. Their retail price is mostly under $10 for a number of 50 pastel sticks.
No products found.
We can’t help but mention the price tag first. 50 sticks of pastels for under $10 is like a steal. Not only are we impressed by the quantity but we also loved how the results turn out.
No doubt, the pigments are as rich as those of high-end brands but they do produce perfect strokes on a surface. What is also not compromised is the blend and binder which these pastels are capable of delivering.
Because they are relatively cheaper, it makes them suitable for children to use as well. It would be heartbreaking to give expensive pastels to kids when they are liable to break them, especially if we are on a tight budget.
The only disadvantage we find with these pastels is that they are not available for buying individually.
If we run out of a couple of colors, we have to turn to other brands which provide individual purchase. And buying a whole new box of these would be a waste if we rarely use the other colors.
We would say that the pastels are great if you’re just starting out or perhaps to purchase for young artists.
Also, if you are on a restricted budget for purchasing high-end brands but want to buy quality sticks anyway, we will highly recommend this option that won’t leave you disappointed.
Here are pastel sticks which fall between student and artist grade in terms of classification and ratings.
The Caran d’Ache Neopastels is great for artists who are on the journey of mastering oil pastels as a painting medium. Learners too can go for these pastels if they want to take on another level of pastels.
- Oil pastel. I use the pigment of high quality, purity of...
- Quality Art Products
What we really admire about the Caran d’Ache Neopastels is its consistency. It delivers soft and creamy texture while working.
We can understand why many artists would prefer this option if they’re looking for easy and smooth blending. And because the pastels are really soft, they are rich in pigments and that can produce vibrant results which anyone would want for their artwork.
The pack comes with a color chart which is very different from the one we get with the Sakura Cray-Pas pastels. In the chart, you’ll see a more detailed explanation to give artists a visual guide before mixing colors.
The chart specifies includes everything one needs to know about the pastels – from their unique names to pigments and lightfastness. So if you’re a self-taught beginner, this would be a good pick to get yourself familiar with mixing colors.
We took it from different artists who said that the pastels are a great investment and that there is a wide range of colors within the pack. Sure enough, we didn’t get disappointed since they do justice to our work.
If you’re wondering, the overall online rating of these pastels is 4.7 from 5.0. With an affordable price and brilliant quality, we feel these are indeed worth investing in.
Among one of their best features is they are available separately too. Imagine running out of a few shades and not having to spend money on a whole box of pastels over time and again – that is in itself a great deal.
But sometimes the quality of the pigments can differ with each stick. At times, we find some shades to be too dry to work with.
All in all, we would suggest going for this option if you want to shift the focus from your previous pastels to a pack of superior quality ones.
One of the high-end brands is Holbein. It is likely you will know this if you have been around art supplies for a while.
These Japan-based pastels are decently hard and rectangular in shape, which makes them perfect when working on outlining and small details.
What makes this stand out from the rest of oil pastels is their chalky composition.
- Holbein Artists’ Oil Pastel feels and moves like a fine...
- Easy to handle, blend and clean
- Will not readily break or crumble .
- may be used on virtually any surface
We really like how these pastels provide full coverage when working with backgrounds. Moreover, they are pretty easy and quick to blend because of the chalk and oil combination. They hardly spread over the painting nor are they messy.
Because their structure leans a bit to the hard side, we find them to be great for working with minor details in the artwork. This is also because they are not easily breakable as soft pastels are.
The rectangular shape of the pastels also has a part to play with the texture of the painting. it really gives a fine gradient touch when toning the surface.
But what surpasses every aspect of the pastels is that the pack contains up to 225 colors which make our work pretty easy since there is no need to blend colors to get the desired shade.
This also saves us a lot of money which we could have spent trying to find a box with different other shades.
The pastels are available in a set as well as individually. In case we used up a shade, it will be pretty easy to order one right away.
If you’re wondering if the price is a major drawback, you’re right. Even though they are available to buy separately, each pastel costs $3.29 and that can be too much for artists with a tight budget.
But to be on the safe side, you can always try out a few shades before deciding if these pastels will meet your requirements.
Besides, you can always get only a few of these and mix them with other brands to get a completely unique piece.
You probably have come across this brand while watching tutorials every now and then. Mungyo is very popular in the world of oil pastels currently.
While the quality is very much like that of Sennelier’s, these come at a more affordable price, however.
These oil pastels have a smooth and buttery touch to them which makes them highly preferable.
- Mungyo Gallery Artists' Oil Pastels are of professional...
- Their intense colors and high covering power are ideal for...
- Smoothness and low-residue allow neat and accurate works.
- Mungyo Gallery Artist' Oil Pastels, meeting the requirements...
As we have stated before, they are high-quality pastels that come at a very affordable price of $25 per set. This is one of the reasons why we are drawn to these colorful sticks.
Although the number of pastels is limited to only 48 sticks in one set, we love the consistency it delivers to the paintings. More importantly, the coverage is compact and smooth.
The best feature when it comes to these pastels is that they offer extraordinary results while highlighting since they are very vibrant and rich in pigment.
If you’re looking for pastels which are easy to use, we highly recommend these for their amazing composition as a whole. Both texture and consistency make these a perfect choice for the complete beginner who just started out with the basics of oil pastels.
But unlike most of the good pastels we’ve reviewed, these do not come with a color chart. On top of this, we also found that they are not available for buying separately. It leaves us no choice but to look at other brands and find a similar shade to the one we used up from this set.
Overall, we can say these are ideal for learners who want to explore good-quality oil pastels without having to spend too much money on them. Also, they can compare to see the difference between average pastels and these that hold superior quality.
Whether you’re into paintings or not, it would be a lie if you have not heard of Crayola before.
At some point of time, you probably have come across this brand, especially as a kid when art class was necessary to enhance our creative minds.
There are many reasons why we included this on the list – one of them is they make cleaning up very easy.
- Crayola oil pastels: this oil pastel collection features 336...
- Oil pastel colors: red, pink, orange, peach, yellow, yellow...
- School supplies: prepare classrooms and craft rooms with...
- Safe and nontoxic: safe for ages 4 & up.
We will first begin by stating the comfort of holding these large size oil sticks.
Whenever we paint or sketch with most oil pastels, we have to keep in mind to always be extra careful not to break them. But working with the Crayola oil pastels reduces those worries since they are thick, which makes them less susceptible to breakage.
Of course, that is the reason why these are perfect for children and young artists because they can get quite reckless at times.
But that is not only ideal for youngsters since we also find this structure beneficial for certain uses. For instance, when having to work on filling the background or creating sharp outlines, we can do so with ease and there’s no tension behind it.
The sharpened tip is also one of their best features required for the painting process. With a sharp tip like this, creating precise lines is not an issue.
However, the quality of these pastels is nowhere near that of high-end brands. But that does not come as a surprise since these come at a pretty affordable price because they are meant for children.
Keeping that aside, if you are looking for oil pastels that can serve both you and the kids, we would suggest going for this option.
Final on the list, we have a high-end brand which most artists would know.
The French-based brand Sennelier has been around for a long time and had served great artists such as Picasso.
You can just imagine the kind of quality Sennelier would provide when it comes to oil pastels. This particular set is undeniably great for delivering marvelous results.
- 48 original colors designed for best results - Oferred at...
- 48 Artist quality oil pastels
- Usable on wood, paper, canvas and metal
- Chosen by Cézanne, Gauguin, Monet, Bonnard, Soutine,...
We discussed some brands which offer oil pastels with high consistency and smoothness, but the same features that Sennelier pastels have are unbeatable.
We can tell the difference when comparing a similar test painting using Sennelier oil pastels and inexpensive sticks. The vibrancy which the former delivers is classic and rich. Also, working with these pastels allow us to have more control over the sticks.
The set contains 120 unique colors which can fulfill any artist’s desired shade, either directly or through blending.
This is a great aspect which we would look for in our oil pastels because we don’t have to go to other brands in search of a single intended shade. And unlike liquid paints, blending oil pastels is a bit harder, therefore, the wide range of colors reduces that tension as well.
Along with that, the price of this set is already high enough for artists with a limited budget. So, settling for this alone already solved most of our shade-hunting problem.
Artists who wonder what the color chart is like would be glad to know that it contains the list of colors and details on opacity and their lightfastness. Beginners would also find this feature beneficial while learning about oil pastels.
The pastels can also be bought individually as well as a set, which again prevents us from going through the shade-hunting process all over again.
But as we have mentioned, the price of these high-end pastels is very high and might not be reasonable for students and budget artists.
Buyer’s Guide Oil Pastels
Before purchasing a set of oil pastels, there are a few things you might want to first take into consideration.
Like other art supplies, oil pastels also come in two different grades: Artist and Student. Deciding which one is for you requires knowing where you and your skills stand. Take a quick look at the two options for a better understanding.
The reason why you see some oil pastels are termed as artist grade is that they have superior quality in performance and pigments. In fact, if we look at every aspect, artist grade pastels surpass others.
Moreover, artist quality oil pastels are resistant to oxidation. They contain more oil than wax in their composition.
Caran d’Ache Neopastels, Holbein Artist, Sennelier, and Sakura Cray-Pas are some examples of artist grade pastels.
On the other hand, student grade oil pastels have lesser pigments. They also contain more wax and less oil in the composition.
This is the reason why they are more affordable so that students or artists on a budget can have access to them financially.
But not all student grade pastels have compromised quality to a large extent. There are brands such as Mungyo Gallery and Van Gogh which offer the best kind of student grade oil pastels.
Lightfastness means the amount of light that can affect the pigments of these paints. We all have some idea about how different colors reflect and absorb light.
This information is available mostly on the color chart which comes with the set. Therefore, when buying oil pastels for serious paintings, we suggest looking for those with a color chart.
The consistency of pastels entirely depends on your preferences. If you are going for a vibrant and luminous look, then those with a creamy recipe will work for you.
But if you’re looking for kid-friendly and good for outlines, you will want to look for options that lean more towards the hard side.
Individual or Set
By now, you would already know the importance of buying from a brand which offers both individual and sets.
The reason this is very important is that it will save you a lot of money and time, especially when working on a larger artwork. The fact of having to replace the same color time and again will not be convenient if you can’t purchase it individually.
However, if you’re a beginner working on smaller projects, a set would be the ideal pick for you.
Tools and supplies for oil pastels
A tortillon is a tool useful for blending pastels. It is nothing fancy but a paper which is tightly rolled up so that it forms a tip at the end which can assist the artist with blending the colors smoothly.
A palette knife is a versatile tool. It can be used to blend liquid paints but for pastels, it can help in the process of scraping off any excess paints to create sharp and clean edges.
Turpentine or other mineral spirits are used for blending colors as well. These solutions help make the colors creamy and soft to blend.
They also help remove any pastel stains which are left on the surface after scraping off the excess paints.
If you use them for blending, you can use a brush and dip it in the turpentine. Wipe off the excess liquid and apply it to the area where you need to blend. It will soften the wax in the oil pastels and make it better for the process of blending.
In case there is a need to clean the areas where the paints are spreading, use a small piece of cloth.
Another one of the blending tools is the color shaper. It is perfect for use with oil pastels because its shape is very similar to that of a brush.
However, the tip does not have any bristles but instead has either a silicone or a plastic end which is great to blend detailed areas in an oil pastel painting.
A primer is a necessity in the world of paintings as a whole. If you are an experienced artist, you will know the striking difference between paintings with and without a primer. The primer plays a role in the outcome of a painting.
Without it, your painting will be very hard to manage throughout the entire process. It will create issues when trying to blend colors or working with strokes for that matter.
But if you prime the surface before starting, the results will be completely different. You will see it is smoother to work on and the finished painting will be very alluring.
While liquid paints dry out eventually, oil pastels are not the same whatsoever.
Made with oils that do not dry, oil pastels are vulnerable to heat and other elements. This leaves the artist with two options to preserve the painting: framing or use fixatives.
While framing sounds like a perfect idea, not everybody can afford to frame each and every piece of their collection. This is where fixatives come in.
If you want to preserve your oil pastel artworks, use a decent fixative which is made for oil pastels. That will prevent the painting from dust and discoloration in the long run, keeping it fresh.
That is all we have on oil pastels today! We hope this was useful in helping you make a better decision before buying the right oil pastels.
See you again soon! Happy painting!