Introduction to Pastel Colored Pencils

Pastel Colored Pencils Feature

This post contains affiliate links. We may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you. Read our disclosure to find out more.

In this introduction to pastel colored pencils we will highlight some of the best pastel pencils that you may want to try. A well as answering all of the most common questions we have faced when talking about this particular medium.

Pastel colored pencils are a fun medium that you may enjoy trying. They are more pastel than colored pencil, with a texture that is soft and powdery. This means that they handle very much like small and skinny pastels. This allows you smudge and blend in the creation of vibrant and textured pieces.

The Best Pastel Colored Pencils

Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencils

Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencil Sets - Set of 24

Our first pastel pencil set is from Stabilo. It is the Carbothello set. This is an offering that comes in a variety of piece numbers. Alternatively, these can also be bought as single pencils, which is particularly useful if you go through some colors faster than others. 

The set also comes with a blending stump, kneaded eraser and a pencil sharpener. These are all useful accessories, with the eraser in particular being very effective. The set offers a great range of colors which are all water soluble. This helps when blending, and also offers the opportunity to use them like watercolor pencils. 

The pencils themselves are made of a slightly harder pastel material than some others. This means they are more easily sharpened, allowing users to draw finer details more accurately. 

All in all this is a great option for those looking to get into drawing with pastel pencils. The ability to buy single pencils is hugely useful not only for heavy users, but also for beginners wanting to give it a go. 

Faber-Castell Pitt Pastel Pencils

Faber-Castell Pitt Pastel Pencil Set - Assorted Colors, Tin Box, Set of 24

Faber-Castell also offers a wonderful set for pastel pencils. The largest set comes with 60 pencils packed in a little tin case. The pencils are in two lays, with the first being easily removed.

This set is a stand out due to the wide range of colors it contains. This means that they are well placed for a variety of drawing tasks. The pencils themselves have a different feel to the Carbothellos. They are slightly harder, and more oily feeling. This takes a little getting used to, but has no impact on their blending performance which is superb. The harder pastel also brings some benefits with the Pitt pastel holding its tip remarkable well. This is very useful when drawing fine details. 

The colors also differ somewhat from the Stabilo set. The colors are not quite as vibrant of saturated.

The Pitt pastel pencils are a great option, particularly for those that like to draw with fine details and sharp lines. Well worth a try.

Alternatives 

Although the pastel pencils mentioned above stand out from the crowd. There are also some other good sets from reputable manufacturers that may be worth taking a look at.

The Conté à Paris pastel pencils are a pencil from conte. The set comes with a nice range of colors, with pencils themselves having a nice feel in the hand.

Pastel Pencil FAQ

What are Pastel Colored Pencils?

Pastel pencils are very much like small and hard pastels. They lay down material with a powdery texture that is able to be smudged and blended like patels. This means they handle in a very familiar fashion, with the added benefit of slightly cleaner hands. 

What Paper should you use with Pastel Colored Pencils?

As with many mediums such as watercolor or oil paints. Pastel pencils work best on paper designed for them. This is a material that can hold on to the pastel material effectively as well as enabling the artist to layer and blend colors well.

One great option for paper is Pastelmat paper by Clairfontaine. This is a really thick paper that holds on to pastel material really well. The paper itself comes in various colors, so you can pick something that will best compliment your piece. It also has a texture finish to allow the pastel material to grip to the surface. This means there is minimal deposition of chalky material even if you layer extensively.

The paper pad also comes with interstitial sheets of greaseproof paper. This stops pastel from rubbing onto the next page. This is a great little feature.

If you fancy something else, Fabriano’s Tiziano paper is also a great performer. 

Why draw with Pastel Colored pencils?

Pastel pencils are a fun medium to try. Here are a few reasons why you might enjoy giving them a go.

  1. They blend really easily  – Much like normal pastel, pastel colored pencils blend really easily. This means that they can be used to block fill areas and subsequently blended to a smooth finish. This isn’t something you can do with regular colored pencils
  2. Can build Layers – Due to the way the pastel pencils lay down material it is easy to give your work realistic textures. This works particularly well when drawing things like fur.
  3. Can layer light on dark – Following on from the ability to layer, you can do this with like colours on dark. This opens up a lot of opportunities and gives a lot of flexibility over using conventional colored pencils where artists generally work from light to dark. Making sure to protect the highlights as they go. 
  4. Similar to oil paints – This is quite a niche point. But if you have some experience with oil paint, this could be a good transition medium to pencil drawing. Pastel pencils share a lot of characteristics with oil paints so there should be only a small learning curve.

Why Not Use Pastel Colored Pencils?

As with all there are things that can be frustrating when using pastel pencils. Here are a few.

  1. Difficult to sharpen – Pastel pencils can be really difficult to sharpen. Especially when it comes to softer pencils which are likely to crumble or break. This can make it difficult to draw fine details where one would normally require a sharp tip.

This can be remedied by finding a sharper that works well with your pencil set. This may require some trial and error.

  1. Messy – Being a pastel type medium pastel colored pencils can get a little messy. Be it leaving material on your hands or on reverse of pages in a sketchbook.

You can find sketchbooks with interstitial grease proof paper that helps prevent your art from depositing material everywhere. As for the dirty hand, well that’s part of the charm of pastels. So enjoy it!

Why Should I buy Pastel Colored Pencils?

Our favorite place to shop for most all art supplies is Blick be it in store or online. They offer a great range of products and are art materials specialists. That means they really know what they are on about.

When it comes to convenience you can’t really beat Amazon. The “everything store” also has a great selection of pastel pencils.


This has been an introduction to pastel colored pencils. They are a fun medium that can be used to create vibrant and textureful art. There are also great fun to play around with and trial a method of drawing that’s really different to colored pencils.

So why not give pastel colored pencils a go.

Read These Next