Surfaces for painting on with soft pastels, hard pastels or pastel pencils require a bit of tooth for the pastel pigment to adhere to. So while pastel papers will come in a variety of surfaces, there will always be some amount of texture. It can be a softer texture like the laid surface of fine stationery where it is just a bit of a grid indented in the paper (this is called Ingres paper), or have a bit more uneven, dimpled texture similar to rough watercolour paper or a honeycomb grid of dimples. Further along the texture scale brings you to the fluffy velour surface, then to gritty surfaces of ground cork and very fine velvety sand, and finally to the grittiest sandy surfaces similar to rough sandpaper (but on archival paper with waterproof glue). Having more tooth on the surface allows more pastel colour to be built up, with the most textured papers allowing more than 30 layers of pastel to adhere.
At Jackson’s Art Supplies we currently stock 18 varieties of pastel paper.
They can be grouped into three basic types: toothy, Ingres and dimpled.
See the key to the sample sheets at the bottom of the article.
Toothy Surface on Card
- Canson Mi-tientes Touch
Lovely surface of fine sand. (same sanded surface available in card or board) 14 colours
- Hahnemuhle Velour
This plush paper has many 5-star reviews on our website! Only available in pads with a selection of 9 colours. Doesn’t like wet media.
- Clairefontaine Pastelmat
My personal favourite surface! It is a very fine gritty surface that holds a lot of layers of colour. Available in pads in 2 colour selections or white and in full sheets in 8 colours.
- Fisher 400
Full sheets of card in two colours, but they say it can be tinted with acrylics before you use it as it is waterproof. This is the grittiest texture we do, similar to Wallis Professional Pastel Paper. (If you blend with your finger tips you may find this is painful.)
(has a grid of lines like fine laid stationery, a bit crisper feel than the dimpled papers)
- Clairefontaine Ingres
Only available in pads – with two different selections of 8 colours. Glue-bound has neutral colours, spiral-bound has bright colours. (The pages are not interleaved with glassine in the glued pads, but they are interleaved with glassine in the spiral pads.)
- Daler-Rowney Ingres
Available in 2 different pads: 6 colours or shades of white with interleaving sheets.
- Fabriano Ingres
Available in 4 colours in full sheets.
- Hahnemuhle Ingres
Only available in pads – with a selection of 9 colours. Lightweight paper.
- Sennelier Pastel Paper
Mid grey paper, only in pads, with interleaving.
- Strathmore 500 Charcoal Paper
Unusual because it is our only 100% cotton coloured paper, the 500 series is very high quality. Available in pads of tints or whites and full sheets in 12 colours.
(usually smoother on the reverse side, a soft paper)
- Fabriano Tiziano
Available in 2 pads of 6 colours and full sheets of 25 colours. Has 6 colours of flecked, heathered paper.
- Daler-Rowney Murano
Available in pads of 6 colours in 3 groups: cool, warm or neutral and full sheets in 28 colours.
- Winsor & Newton Tints
Only available in a pad of 6 colours.
- Strathmore Pastel Paper
Only in pads with a selection of colours.
- Derwent Pastel
This one doesn’t fit perfectly in this group as it is grey card, nearly smooth (but fits here better than the other groups). The hard, nearly smooth surface is surprising because it isn’t as smooth as it looks but is still smooth enough that pastel pencils can make fine marks on it, they say it is the best paper for pastel pencils and it does seem to be. Available in 1 colour, mid grey, in pads.
Sample Sheets Key
I made up a sheet shown above to help show each pastel paper’s texture.
To show how the texture holds:
- heavy pastel
- light stroke of pastel
- pastel pencil
- how many layers will it hold before no more pastel will adhere
- how does it do with water
- and I show the back of the paper.
Still to Come
I am working on two more bits of info I will add to this article when they are ready:
- Does toothy paper mean no fixing? (does ‘pressure fixing’ help?)
- This report will be updated with lightfastness of papers when my fade tests are done.
Fixatives for Pastels
Click on the underlined link to go to the Pastel Surfaces Department on the Jackson’s Art Supplies website.
Postage on orders shipped standard to mainland UK addresses is free for orders of £39 or more.