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Oil Pastel: 9 Best Papers for Oil Pastels in 2023 | Reviews + Guide

Oil pastels are one of the easiest mediums to work with since they don’t require extra work to get started. 

Best Paper for Oil Pastels

If we think about paint mediums that are great for a number of surfaces, oil pastels are one of them. With good preparation on a fine platform, these mediums can give any surface a colorful and rich appealing look regardless you are using canvas or other heavy-weight papers. And in the case of paper surfaces, oil pastels give out exceptional results even though it depends on the type and quality of the paper. 

Finding the best paper surface for oil pastels artwork can be tricky especially when you’re a beginner and not certain which one will best meet your expectations. There are many good brands out there that offer a wide range of papers for oil paints. Speaking of which, we have a list of 9 paper surfaces that we personally find to be the best in the market. 

Listed below are the best papers for oil pastels:

  • Strathmore Assorted Pastel Paper Pad: The Strathmore pastel paper has an 80 lb paper weight, acid-free composition, and different size options. Its light surface texture is less capable of enabling thick layers of oil pastels compared to Faber-Castell's smoother texture.
  • Faber-Castell Black Oil Paper Pad: A paper that shines with a unique black canvas that boasts a 74 lb paper weight and a smooth texture, excellent for bringing out bright colors. The tooth is very shallow, unlike the Canson Mi-Tientes, limiting the creation of effects and textures.
  • U.S. Art Supply's Premium Pastel Paper Pad: The U.S. Art Supply pastel paper pad has a paper weight of 80 lb and offers a medium texture. Its requirement for fixatives for long-term paint preservation is a weak point compared to other options.
  • Canson Mi-Teintes Pad for Pastels: The Canson Mi-Tientes is a pastel paper with a 98 lb weight that excels in versatility, catering to both dry and wet medium artists. It's more expensive than most other options.
  • Hahnemuhle Bugra Oil Pastel Paper: Hahnemuhle Bugra oil pastel paper is crafted in Germany. With an 88 lb weight, it's notable for its high lightfastness and acid-free features. It needs fixatives like the U.S. Art Supply pastel paper for paint durability, which is a drawback.

1. Strathmore Assorted Pastel Paper Pad - Best for Budget-friendly Versatility

Strathmore is a brand that has been around for 100 years and above and is very popular among students. It would be a rare case if any dedicated art student has not heard of the brand before. Their products are available in most art stores. 

The reason they are widely used by students and art schools is the price of their products - and it’s no exception with the Assorted Pastel Paper Pad as well. 


One might think that because the price is reduced, the quality is also compromised. No doubt, it would drop by a certain extent since the price is meant to be affordable for students. But the fact stands that these pastels still produce amazing pieces. 

We find the availability of these pastel pads in almost every local art store very convenient. 

First of all, it saves the artist a lot of time from hunting for decent papers all over, especially if it’s someone with a tight schedule. 

Secondly, we don’t personally prefer to buy art supplies online because then we get to inspect the products firsthand before purchasing unless, of course, the items are not available anywhere else besides online. 

This is because sometimes the products you expect are nowhere near the real ones. So, we find the Strathmore pastel pads to be very useful for artists with similar preferences. 

Besides the availability, these pads are also wallet-friendly and great for artists who like to try out papers with other colors for their artwork. The colors of the papers inside this pad are medium brown, green, blue, pink, cream, and white. 

The feature we love most about paper pads is their versatility. Although they work wonders with oil pastels, they are also great for other mediums such as soft pastels, chalk pastels, and even crayons. 

Besides that, they can take some liquid paints too except for heavy watercolor projects since these papers are more on the lightweight side. 

They are also available in three different sizes, which leaves us with more options to choose from. 

But given these are light paper pads, we find there is only a little amount of tooth. Nonetheless, there are many artists who prefer light teeth when working with a few layers of oil pastels. 

All in all, the Strathmore 400 Series pastel papers are great for archival purposes because they are acid-free. 

Paper Weight: 80 lb | Texture: Medium | Acid-free: Yes | Size Options: 9 x 12 inches, 11 x 14 inches, 18 x 24 inches

2. Faber-Castell Black Oil Paper Pad - Best for Highlighting Bright Colors

In the world of art, any form of creativity is always welcomed. And today we have the Faber-Castell Black Paper Pad which as the name suggests, is black in color. 

This may not seem like the traditional paper one would look for but with the thought of getting totally different results, you might just love the idea of having this in your collection of oil pastel surfaces. 


First off, this is perfect for all those bright colors we’ve always kept aside for a long time. The black background just enhances those shades which would normally go unnoticed on regular white paper. 

Although it totally depends on your preferred techniques, this truly brings out the unique appeal which you don’t get with bright-colored papers. 

We also noticed that this paper is quite versatile with other mediums besides pastels because of its thickness and color itself. Media such as crayons, gel sticks, and metallic pencils can be used on this surface. Even when it comes to papers for crafts, this also makes a great pick for fancy DIY projects. 

We would recommend keeping liquid mediums away from them as much as possible. Since they are meant for oil pastels, it is not expected that they can’t take any kind of liquid paint. However, through research and experiments, we found these papers can take acrylic paints given that they are not too watery. 

But overall, we like that the papers are not that expensive which means they are great for students and artists who are on a budget. Not only that, but they are also ideal for young artists and children to practice on. 

Since it is a black paper pad, it is already obvious that it will not highlight dark colors as it does with bright colors. However, we can say that the only setback we found with this paper is that it has a very shallow tooth which is not ideal when working on effects and textures. 

But keeping that aside, the paper’s quality is amazing for archival purposes. 

Paper Weight: 74 lb | Texture: Smooth | Acid-free: Yes | Size Options: 9 x 12 inches

3. U. S. Art Supply Premium Oil Pastel Paper Pad - Best for Mixed Media Enthusiasts

Similar to Strathmore, U. S. Art Supply is a brand that is easily available mostly everywhere. From its great quality and high-performance products to its affordable prices, the brand has become very popular among students and learning artists. 

Their Premium Pastel Paper Pad in Natural Tone Colors is great for both professionals and beginners because it is easy to use and delivers good-quality artwork. 


We will first look into the natural tones of the papers. They include light beige, cream white, beige grey, and eggshell white.

We find every single color perfect for doing beautiful landscape pieces. All these colored papers make great backgrounds for such portraits. Apart from that, they also work well with other preferred concepts.

The quality of these papers is smooth, yet still, has enough thickness in terms of mixing paint mediums. They can actually accept mixed mediums in case the artist wants to try out different effects.

You can tell from the touch of the sheet how much moisture it can accept because if the paint is too runny, it can cripple and damage the paper. We would suggest having a separate page for testing the consistency if you are unsure while using mixed mediums. 

Keep in mind that liquid mediums such as acrylic paints can be used while watercolors can pose a risk to the paper. 

As we have mentioned earlier, the paper has a perfect combination of texture/tooth and smoothness which makes it easy and pleasurable to use throughout the painting.

But the papers require the use of fixatives if we plan to keep the pieces in the long run.

Overall, the sheets are very affordable and great for self-taught beginners and art students.  

Paper Weight: 80 lb | Texture: Medium | Acid-free: Yes | Size Options: 9 x 12 inches

4. Canson Mi-Teintes Pad for Pastels

Being one of the popular brands that produce quality art supplies, Canson is a name that we’re sure everyone in the art world knows. 

Because they have been focusing on this line for about 450 years now, you can be sure the pastel sketchpad too is of the best quality. 

It not only serves oil pastels but markers, soft pastels, colored pencils, charcoal, and crayons as well. 


We can’t help but appreciate the versatile feature of this paper. Unlike other oil pastel papers, with this one, we can actually venture into using a wider range of mediums. Because it is made from cotton with just the right level of thickness, it also receives liquid paints such as oils and watercolors.

This helps save the artist a few bucks to purchase surfaces for each and every media they own. In fact, they can use this with almost any kind of paint medium.

Furthermore, what sets this sketchpad apart from the rest is the papers that come in delicate colors such as moonstone, buff, champagne, eggshell white, light blue, and steel gray.

In addition to its wide versatility, we can also use these colored papers for our DIY crafts which saves us time looking for some. 

From a lot of reviews and research, this paper earns a gold standard in quality and performance when working with oil pastels. 

We hardly need to rely on the paints because this paper is truly magnificent in highlighting and enhancing even the most average mediums.

With a more than enough deep tooth, the artist can manipulate the effects as much as they want with no unnecessary concerns about the pigments wearing off too soon or the binder popping up to the surface.

Working with oil pastels, we always tend to focus on layering bit by bit. And with a tooth like this, there is no problem adding multiple layers to our piece.

Coming to a very similar feature, the paper excels in providing texture as well. On one side of the sheet, we have a rough texture while on the other, a fine one.

This is an aspect that most of the other papers don’t offer. If you want to work on different surfaces every now and then, this would be a great choice since this and many other features are included.

They are also available in two different sizes which gives us a choice to pick out one that best suits our requirements. Besides, we can always cut them into our preferred sizes.

And the best part of this pad is that it contains sheets with 50 different tones so you can choose the one that is best for the artwork every time.

Finally, the papers are available for purchase both in a pad and individually. This way, if you ever run out of your favorite tone, there is no need to buy the whole pad anymore instead, you pay only for the desired one.

It would be no surprise if the price of this sketchpad costs more than most of the other pads out there given its variety of great features. However, we would recommend this if you are looking for a worthy investment.

Paper Weight: 98 lb | Texture: Medium | Acid-free: Yes | Size Options: 9 x 12 inches, 12 x 16 inches, 16 x 20 inches

5. Hahnemuhle Bugra Oil Pastel Paper

Here is a paper that is crafted in Germany. 

The Hahnemuhle Bugra Pastel Paper is dual-sided and is entirely made up of alpha-cellulose. Similar to the Mi-Teintes Pad, this sheet also has one side with a rough texture and a fine one on the other. 

Although it is made of color charcoal and pastels, it also works pretty well with graphite, pencils, and other dry mediums. 


We like that these sheets are highly lightfast because most of the time, papers with poor composition face degradation as years pass by.

The good news is these papers contain pigments that resist UV light for a long period of time. Therefore, our paintings remain good as new for years to come.

Along with that, we can say these papers aim to last for a very long time because they are acid-free as well. There is no need to worry about discoloration or brittles as long as the papers are assured to have a normal pH balance.

We also find the size to be pretty much convenient for normal-sized artwork with just the right thickness to use oil pastels.

The amount of tooth and fine binder makes the process of creating effects very simple and easy. Other artists find that they have more control over the texture.

One downside would be that the surface is not able to hold the paints for long without the help of both workable and final fixatives.

All in all, we would highly recommend this for oil pastels if you’re searching for long-lasting papers.

Paper Weight: 88 lb | Texture: Medium | Acid-free: Yes | Size Options: 33 x 41 inches

6. Sennelier Oil Pastel Card Pads

Sennelier is a French-based high-end brand that produces one of the best art supplies. From research, we found that many famous artists like Picasso and Van Gogh used art products by Sennelier. 

And coming to pastel papers, we know exactly the kind of quality we expect from them. 

The Sennelier Oil Pastel Card Pads is a perfect substitute for the Canson Mi-Teintes except that it’s more expensive. 


We can list down many reasons why this paper is favored by artists all over.

First of all, the sheets come in 4 different sizes to meet the normal requirements of the artist. This already provides us with more options than most papers would.

Before we move further, the pad only contains 12 sheets in white color which are too less compared to the price tag.

But keeping those aside, there are more advantages to these sheets. For instance, the pad is not glued but spiral bound which is good to preserve for future use.

With glue, there is always a chance of the chemicals or acids interfering with the quality of the paper in the long run, but that is not the case with spiral binding. Another advantage of this particular binding is that they are relatively strong.

But the best part about the pad is the glassine paper. If you have not heard of it before, it is a glossy and smooth paper sheet that is used by laying it on the artwork to prevent pigments from transferring to the immediate sheet while the work is paused.

Glassine also acts as an alternative protection layer to fixatives whose price is much higher.

To sum it up, all the paper’s features - from the spiral binding to the glassine - are made to serve the artist who loves to work and travel. Also, the papers are thick enough to resist wear and tear while hitting the road.

Paper Weight: 160 lb | Texture: Medium | Acid-free: Yes | Size Options: 11.75 x 15 inches

7. Art Spectrum Colourfix Coated Pastel Paper

Art Spectrum is an Australian brand whose product quality is very similar to that of UArt, which we shall review in a minute. 

This is a sanded paper which is good for both beginners and intermediates since the price of each sheet is only $2.69. Along with that, they also provide discounts for purchasing in bulk. 


With their inexpensive price tag and high-quality sheets, we would absolutely recommend these for any artist who is looking for a steal deal.

There are 20 sheets in total, each with a different tone. Although the colors seem less than other papers we reviewed, we find that they complement any kind of desired artwork with the right application of oil pastels. And the results this pad delivers are excellent and stunning.

Since Art Spectrum uses high-quality binders, the papers have a strong grip over the oil pastels, as well as they are acid-free. We love this aspect because it is perfect for archival purposes, allowing the piece to stay fresh for years to come without any yellowing issues.

One of the most preferable features of these papers is that they are sanded in medium-coarse grit type. This is the reason why oil pastels can stay on paper for a long time without cracking.

These are available in two sizes: 9” x 12” and 5” x 27.5”. For normal pieces, these two will work out perfectly, otherwise, we would suggest looking at other brands for larger sizes.

We find that the tooth is fine and deep enough to allow the artist to manipulate the outcome as much as possible. While layering can be tough with other inferior-quality binders, these papers make the process seem simple and easy.

Most importantly, both intermediate artists and beginners love using these papers because they meet all the requirements one has while learning the art of oil pastel work. But rather than buying one sheet after another, it is better to get them in bulk quantities since the price would be lesser.

Paper Weight: 140 lb | Texture: Coarse | Acid-free: Yes | Size Options: 9 x 12 inches

8. UArt Premium Sanded Paper Drawing Pad

Within the period of time spent searching for the best oil pastel surfaces, we found that UArt is one of the most highly-rated companies that produce art supplies. 

Among many of their endless list of products is the Premium Sanded Paper. 


This is another sanded paper that we find perfect for oil pastel artworks because of its ability to cover all the requirements that we look for in our oil pastel surface.

But the first thing worth mentioning is that out of all the other papers we have seen, UArt offers its papers in 6 different sizes. That is more than enough options to match our basic intentions.

On top of this, every paper has unique grit options which make these papers even better when it comes to versatility. If our artworks call for a moderate or a fine grit size, we can choose any one of these papers without any hassle.

However, the only setback is that the papers come only in two colors: dark and natural. Although the natural tone will undoubtedly go with any art concept, it still won’t serve artists who like to explore other creative ideas for their pieces.

On the other hand, the dark-tone paper will be perfect when working with bright oil pastels since it serves as a perfect background.

But what most artists usually would look for in an oil paper surface is its texture or tooth. With this paper, we are not even a tad worried about the tooth since it is deep enough to let the artist work smoothly and has full control over the effects.

Therefore, if you are looking for a fine tooth that can grab the paints tightly without having to worry about them flaking or peeling off, we would recommend going for this option and not getting disappointed.

Paper Weight: 400 lb | Texture: Coarse | Acid-free: Yes | Size Options: 9 x 12 inches

9. Arches Watercolor 140 lb Hot Press Papers

So far, we only discussed surfaces that are made for oil pastels purposes.

But like the Arches Watercolor 140 lb Hot Press Paper, there are many surfaces out there that are not meant for this sole purpose but surprisingly fill the position very well. 

Hence, we find this paper to be highly versatile and we are sure you will too. 


As the name suggests, these are originally made for watercolor projects but we cannot deny that it works magic when it comes to oil pastels as well.

In case you’re wondering about its versatility, this paper can be used for printmaking, calligraphy, and digital printing as well. It is a multipurpose paper and it saves us from spending money.

The reason we find this perfect for oil pastels is because of so many reasons. Firstly, besides the multipurpose aspect, the papers come with the most amount of surfaces, grits, and textures on this list.

If you do not like the idea of having to look for other brands frequently in order to find the right paper size or texture, then this is the best pick we found.

Secondly, knowing that they are also acid-free ensures that our artworks will stay safe and fresh for a very long time, and not worry about the improper aging process.

Since this is not an oil pastel paper surface, we’re not surprised if it does not include all the features of oil pastels. One of them being the paper is only available in the color ‘Natural White’ which limits the artist to work with only suitable projects.

But if you want to save a decent sum of money and look for an inexpensive oil pastel as well as a multipurpose paper, we would suggest giving the Arches Watercolor 300lb Hot-Press Paper a try.

Paper Weight: 140 lb | Texture: Smooth | Acid-free: Yes | Size Options: 9 x 12 inches

What is the Best Paper for Oil Pastels?

If you're looking for the best papers for oil pastels, listed below is a table that compares paper weight in pounds, texture, whether it's acid-free, and available size options measured in inches.

ProductPaper WeightTextureAcid-freeSize Options
Strathmore Assorted Pastel Paper Pad80 lbMediumYes9 x 12 inches, 11 x 14 inches, 18 x 24 inches
Faber-Castell Black Oil Paper Pad74 lbSmoothYes9 x 12 inches
U. S. Art Supply Premium Oil Pastel Paper Pad80 lbMediumYes9 x 12 inches
CANSON Mi-Teintes Pad for Pastels98 lbMediumYes9 x 12 inches, 12 x 16 inches, 16 x 20 inches
Hahnemuhle Bugra Oil Pastel Paper88 lbMediumYes33 x 41 inches
Sennelier Oil Pastel Card Pads160 lbMediumYes11.75 x 15 inches
Art Spectrum Colourfix Coated Pastel Paper140 lbCoarseYes9 x 12 inches
UArt Premium Sanded Paper Drawing Pad400 lbCoarseYes9 x 12 inches
Arches Watercolor 300lb Hot-Press Papers140 lbSmoothYes9 x 12 inches

Buying Guide for the Best Paper for Oil Pastels

Before getting oil pastel paper surfaces, there are a few things that require some considerations to ensure the surface is right for you and your artwork. 


The tone is nothing different from the wash you create with liquid paints - it highlights the painting. So, always make sure the tone you get will go along well with any concept, or find one that is perfect for your piece. 

Type of Paper Surfaces

For oil pastels, papers are available in the form of pads, sheets, or sanded. 

Because papers can come either as an individual or a pad, you would want to purchase them in bulk quantity so that you can get a lot of discount with it. 

Sanded paper, on the other hand, is harder and stronger than the two. A single unit will also cost higher. But we still recommend buying them in bulk for a pretty good discount. 

Texture and Tooth

As we have stated, the top features most artists would first look for is the tooth or texture of the paper. The final look of the piece depends on how much control the artist has over it. 

Also keep in mind that with a fine or deep tooth, the paint will stay firmly onto it, preventing them from cracking. But most importantly, artists get to create different effects and textures with a good tooth. 


If you’re on a tight budget, finding versatile papers can really help. Although it does not have to be as versatile as the Arches Hot-Pressed paper (unless you own a printing studio as well), one that works for other mediums is more than enough. 

Interestingly, we find that the thickness or weight of a paper is pretty responsible for making it versatile. For example, if the paper is too thin, it will not work with wet mediums. So, we advise looking for one that is about 160 gsm. 

Can I use regular paper for oil pastels?

While you can use regular paper for oil pastels, it's not typically recommended because regular paper lacks the necessary tooth or grain for the pastels to adhere properly, and it may not hold up well to the oil content in the pastels. Specialized pastel paper or canvas, which has a textured surface for better pigment grip and is more durable, is generally a better choice for oil pastel artwork.

What is the difference between sanded paper and pastel paper?

The difference between sanded paper and pastel paper lies primarily in their texture and durability. Sanded paper has a gritty surface that holds more layers of pastel and can withstand erasing or heavy application of pastels without getting damaged. Pastel paper, on the other hand, has less grain and a lighter texture, which might not hold as many layers of pastel but provides a delicate touch for lighter pastel works.

Can I use watercolor paper for oil pastels?

Yes, you can use watercolor paper for oil pastels. Watercolor paper, particularly rough or cold-pressed variants, have a textured surface that can hold the oil pastel quite well. Due to the oil content of pastels, some artists prefer to use a barrier such as a pastel ground or gesso to prevent the oil from seeping into the paper over time.

How do I choose the right paper for oil pastels?

Choosing the right paper for oil pastels involves considering the paper's texture and its weight. Paper with a texture or 'tooth' will allow the pastels to adhere better, leading to richer color application. Heavier weight paper (like cardstock) or specially designed pastel paper is preferable as oil pastels can be heavy and regular paper might tear. The choice may also depend on your personal style and the intended effects of your artwork.

Can I use acrylic paint on oil pastel paper?

Yes, you can use acrylic paint on oil pastel paper. Oil pastel paper typically has a texture that can hold paint well, and its heavier weight can withstand the water in acrylics without warping. That being said, you should still consider using a primer, such as gesso, to seal the paper and stop the paint from soaking in and causing the paper to degrade over time.

How do I prevent oil pastels from smudging on paper?

To prevent oil pastels from smudging on paper, artists often use a fixative spray. This substance is lightly sprayed onto the completed artwork and forms a protective layer that helps keep the pastel pigments in place, reducing smudging. Another method is to place a piece of glassine paper, a smooth, inert paper, over the artwork to protect it from being disturbed.

Thank you for taking the time to explore our comprehensive article on some of the best papers for oil pastels. We are confident that you found the information valuable, and now have a better understanding of what to look for when purchasing oil pastel papers. Now that you're equipped with this valuable knowledge, you're ready to create beautiful masterpieces with your favorite oil pastels.

Out of these 9 best papers for oil pastel, here are our top three recommendations:

  1. Strathmore Assorted Pastel Paper Pad is an ideal option for artists on a budget in search of a versatile and easily available paper. It works well with different mediums, offering convenience and variety.
  2. Faber-Castell Black Oil Paper Pad is a good option for artists looking to highlight bright colors and experiment with unconventional backgrounds. This affordable paper works best with dry mediums and can be effectively used for fancy DIY projects.
  3. U. S. Art Supply Premium Oil Pastel Paper Pad is the right choice for those who appreciate a perfect balance of smoothness and tooth in their pastel paper. It works well with mixed media and is suitable for students and beginners.

With these recommendations, we trust that you will have an exciting and exhilarating time creating vibrant and unique artwork on your chosen oil pastel papers. So, go ahead, unleash your creativity, and let your imagination soar with every stroke of oil pastel on these incredible papers. Happy painting!