Pastel Pencils are a popular medium in their own right as well as being used to add intricate, controlled detail to conventional soft pastel paintings. Pastel pencils are watersoluble so colour can be blended to appear flatter, and less chalky and textured than when applied dry. Pastel Pencils have the advtange of being wood cased so that you do not get dusty fingers, which helps to avoid smudging and marking work inadvertently. Colours can be blended with one another by layering and using a colour shaper, brush or your finger. The pastel pencils available at Jackson’s Art Supplies are all relatively comparable in terms of quality, although there are differences in colour range and consistency – for example, the Pitt Pastel pencils from Faber Castell are thought to be a little harder than the others. Different consistencies suit different artists – here’s a guide to each range available at Jackson’s Art Supplies.
The Softest, Most Powdery Pencils for maximum colour saturation and expressive marks:
Caran d’Ache Pastel Pencils
Caran d’Ache seek the advice of practicing professional artists in order to manufacture the highest possible quality art materials, and these pastel pencils are highly regarded and incredibly popular. There are 84 colours in the range. The texture of these pastel pencils is soft and powdery thanks to ultra fine pigments being used, lending them to effective blending and good colour dispersion. Colours appear bold and saturated, and can easily be ‘knocked back’ with a blender or colour shaper.
Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencils
Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencils are a little harder than the Caran d’Ache pastel pencils, but are soft enough to be incredibly versatile and popular among professional artists. The colours in the range are very strong with good covering power. Their saturation makes it easy to put down intricate lines that still show the colour strength of these pencils. Lightfast ness ratings are excellent across the whole range. Stabilo CarbOthello pastel pencils are particularly well suited to working with water. Sets are available as well as 60 individual colours.
Derwent Pastel Pencils
Another soft consistency pastel pencil which is powdery and with the ability to create expressive and bold marks. 72 lightfast, blendable colours in the range.
Slightly harder consistency pastel pencils for maximum control and fine lines:
Conte Pastel Pencils
Conte pastel pencils should not be confused with Conte crayons; these are pastel pencils that offer an effective tool for adding fine lines to a soft pastel painting. They have a slightly harder consistency than conventional soft pastels. Conte pastels are not designed to be layered or blended one another – they are best used as pure individual colour. If colours need to be blended then a hatching technique is suggested for the best results, as this will avoid any dulling in your colours.
Conte Sketching Pencils – Black Pastel, White, Sanguine, Sepia
These are very useful sketching pencils for expressive life drawing, and other monotone drawings. They are traditional hues that can easily be blended with one another. The Sanguine hue is a rich, terracotta colour and is made with a transparent pigment, so marks allow the texture of the paper to show in order to get the best from your art materials. Mix the Sanguine with the white pencil and you will find a sensitive flesh-like hue. The sepia pencil is a darker pencil akin to burnt umber, and is ideal for rough sketches both indoors and outdoors. The white pencil is perfect for use on dark paper, or as a means of lightening the other pencils in the range and blending.
Faber Castell Pitt Pastel Pencils
The Pitt Pastel Pencil range consists of 60 shades. They are a little harder than the Caran d’Ache pastel pencils and so some artists find them difficult to use, but they are still blendable as well as being useful for hatching and detail. The leads are compacted in order to achieve the highest pigment saturation.