What do you love the most when working with oil pastels? It is probably the rich and vibrant colors they present every time you create decorative details or produce a wide range of shades. Perhaps, the smooth textures they deliver because of their waxy consistency.
With their exceptional features, there’s no wonder many artists consider them as one of their favorite art media. And if you’re a beginner or a professional artist looking for the best oil pastels for your next project or to add to your art collection, I’ll help you understand the features you should find.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the roundup of the top oil pastel reviews along with a detailed buying guideline to help you choose the best options.
- Best Oil Pastel Reviews
- 1. Pentel Arts Oil Pastels
- 2. Sakura Cray-Pas Junior Artist Oil Pastels
- 3. Mungyo Gallery Soft Oil Pastels
- 4. Crayola Portfolio Series Oil Pastels
- 5. Faber-Castell Blendable Oil Pastels
- 6. DOMS Oil Pastels
- 7. Sennelier Oil Pastels
- 8. PENTRISTA Oil Pastels
- 9. Lasten Non Toxic Kids Oil Pastels
- 10. LLY Soft Oil Pastels
- 11. Prima Marketing Prima Art Philosophy Oil Pastels
- 12. Strokes Art Supplies Oil Pastels
- What to Look for When Buying an Oil Pastels
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Oil Pastel Reviews
1. Pentel Arts Oil Pastels
If there’s one thing I love about this Pentel Arts Oil Pastels, it’s probably the excellent blendability and versatility of these oil pastels. I think these factors are crucial, especially if you like showcasing various techniques like impasto and gradation in your art.
Aside from that, these pastels’ smooth and creamy texture allows you to blend the colors seamlessly. You can even smoothen them out with your fingers to create artistic effects. You may also use them on paper, board, or canvas since they are acid-free.
They are very workable, making them a great option for young artists or beginners to produce a variety of creative oil pastel arts and crafts without a hitch. Plus, they are non-toxic, which makes them safe to use even for kids!
Another fascinating feature is their rich and deep colors that don’t quickly wear out. Even with just a single pass, you can clearly see the brightness of all the shades. I’ve tried an overlaying technique with these pastels, and impressively, each shade stands out and blends flawlessly on top of the other.
Therefore, if you’re new to this medium and looking for your first set of oil pastels, this won’t be a letdown. The stunning array of colors allows you to combine different shades and create your palette, not to mention the 50 color count, which I think is the right quantity for beginners.
It’s also amazing to see that the pastels are systematically arranged according to each color range’s light and dark shades. With such an organized arrangement, this allows you to identify which shades to combine when you’re painting using different techniques.
The only thing I noticed is the slight roughness at first when you use it. But it just needs a little warming up, and then, you’re all good to go.
2. Sakura Cray-Pas Junior Artist Oil Pastels
One of the things I love about Sakura oil pastels is that they have a lineup of recommended sets for certain groups of artists. And if you’re on the hunt for the best oil pastels for beginners, this 12-piece Cray-Pas Junior Artist oil pastels can be your ideal pick to learn the basics of oil pastels and enhance your techniques.
The highlight of these oil pastels is the versatility. Because of its creamy and soft texture, you can maximize the oil pastel techniques you want to improve. Whether it is layering, embossing, finger blending, or impasto, the consistency and quality of colors will help you achieve artistic effects.
These pastels are highly-pigmented that reveals the impressive quality and vibrancy of their colors. Even if you blend them to produce different depths of colors or use a Sgraffito technique, you can mix and play with colors like a breeze.
Besides the effortless application, these oil pastels don’t leave any messy streaks or residues even when you smoothen them out. All thanks to its excellent texture, you’ll still get the same consistency as you blend the colors.
You should also know that these oil pastels are non-toxic, making them safe to use, especially if you want to let kids use them for their art projects.
The shape and size of these pastels, on the other hand, may seem smaller and slimmer than the ones I’ve tried before. But they’re easy to hold and use, especially if you like using various techniques.
Although this set is one of my favorites, I found a minor setback with its packaging. I wish it came with a partitioned case or tray so the pastels won’t roll out but rather keep them organized.
3. Mungyo Gallery Soft Oil Pastels
For a broader range of colors to practice and work with, you can upgrade your oil pastel collection with this Mungyo Gallery soft oil pastels in 48 assorted colors.
Besides the generous color count, the colors are highly pigmented and, therefore, render intense shades applicable for different techniques. Even if you blend or layer them, you can see the balance of vividness between the colors.
I also want to highlight its impeccable blendability and versatility. The incredibly vibrant shades are workable that even when you smoothen them out or try to smudge or scrape them to produce artistic effects, you’ll find no pastel remnants or dirty smudges.
I had a wrong impression with soft pastels because I thought they would break easily only after several uses. But that wasn’t the case with these soft pastels, and their performance is rather exceptional.
In addition to that, one of its notable features is its smooth texture that glides like butter when applying it. Although deemed to be fragile, these soft oil pastels are surprisingly strong and long-lasting.
What makes this an outstanding choice is that you can have this beautiful set of colors at a reasonable price. It is definitely a treat for beginners apart from its superb performance.
My only concern with these pastels is the unpleasant smell. Although they are non-toxic, it has some kind of strong chemical odor that’s just awful.
4. Crayola Portfolio Series Oil Pastels
If you want to take your skills and oil pastel techniques to the next level, it’s probably time to switch to a massive color selection such as this 300-count Crayola Oil Pastels Portfolio Series. I like how it has 25 pieces for each of the 12 assorted colors, so I’ll always have a backup just in case one of them breaks or is all used up.
While that’s already quite a treat, this pack lets you create artistic oil pastel arts and crafts uniquely because the oil pastels are water-soluble.
This means that you can mix it with water or use it with wet paintbrushes and elevate the art quality to resemble watercolor artworks or drawings. This also makes the painting or artwork look alive and vivid.
This may not seem like any typical oil pastels, but if you like expanding your creative projects with more techniques, these oil pastels’ versatility is incredible. While you can use it with water, you may still use them like any regular oil pastels.
Like most pastels I’ve tried, this one also exhibits seamless and soft textures that aren’t too waxy. They might blend well with water, but they’re surprisingly rigid and do not readily dissolve.
Whether you use them dry or with wet brushes, blending and layering the colors are on point with these oil pastels. You can confidently showcase your work with all sorts of techniques or styles that you know.
Aside from that, the colors are impeccably opaque and beautiful, rendering seamless mixtures even when you layer them or blend them to achieve different depths of colors. If you want to produce dramatic effects, you can easily smudge the pastels with your fingers.
When it comes to its shape and design, I notice that it has pointed tips rather than the usual flat edges. It does look like a regular crayon, but I find this feature useful when coloring narrow areas or producing intricate strokes and details.
The only drawback with these oil pastels is their compatibility with other art media, particularly with other water-soluble crayons. It’s a little bit challenging to use and mix it with these crayons.
5. Faber-Castell Blendable Oil Pastels
There’s no arguing that Faber-Castell is one of the most reputable brands for premium quality art tools such as oil pastels. While it is a preferred choice for many professionals and experienced artists, young ones and kids can also share their creativity with these 12-piece non-toxic blendable oil pastels.
The first thing I noticed about these oil pastels is their shape and design. They don’t have flat edges like most oil pastels do, but instead, they have pointed tips that resemble regular crayons. This allows kids to draw and color easily, even when they create decorative and intricate details.
I also like the hexagon-shaped body because it keeps the pastel from rolling off the desk. And if you hold it in your hand, it actually feels comfortable.
As usual, this brand doesn’t disappoint with its quality. These oil pastels boast their opaque colors and smooth textures that effortlessly glide on paper to produce bright and vivid shades.
The pastels are very pigmented, so when you blend them out or layer them, you will still see the vividness of the colors. They aren’t overly waxy, which is just the right consistency for workable oil pastels.
If you want to explore different oil pastel techniques, it’s easy to showcase your styles and skills with these oil pastels. Although this is intended for kids and young students, amateur artists of all ages will enjoy using this set. Plus, it comes with a guide to help you learn the basic oil pastel techniques.
Furthermore, one of my favorite features of this oil pastel set is the durable storage case. It’s actually partitioned so that every pastel has its spot when you put them away, keeping them neat and organized at all times.
On the other hand, there’s a slight pitfall when it comes to working with mixed media. It’s a bit difficult to blend it with colored pencils and markers.
6. DOMS Oil Pastels
When it comes to excellent blendability, DOMS oil pastels don’t fail to impress with their superb performance. They are soft and smooth, and therefore, if you apply them on paper or your preferred surface, the pastels just glide on effortlessly.
This also renders an advantage when showcasing different kinds of techniques. Apart from its outstanding blendability, the colors’ consistency also allows seamless layering, especially if you want to achieve gradient hues and dramatic effects.
Besides that, these oil pastels provide creamy textures that make them versatile for various applications and applicable to all surfaces. I’ve tried it with impasto, scraping, and Sgraffito, and these oil pastels did deliver without leaving any messy smudges or residues.
With every stroke, you can also tell the stunning quality of colors. They’re incredibly vibrant, smooth, and beautiful, allowing you to embellish your artwork with a wide range of high-quality shades and different depths of colors.
If you want to spruce up your work with watercolor effects, you can use the free watercolor pen that comes with the set. This is definitely a treat for artists of all levels and ages, not to mention the 50-piece oil pastels in assorted opaque colors.
But what’s best about this item is that it comes at an affordable price without compromising its quality. It’s also great that the manufacturer didn’t just put the oil pastels in a flimsy carton box but instead in a sturdy plastic case with organized divisions.
One thing I didn’t like about the pastels is that some colors seem lighter than they’re supposed to. But in that case, I think heavy applications will resolve this.
7. Sennelier Oil Pastels
For advanced or professional artists who love working on a variety of surfaces, you need to invest in high-quality oil pastels such as this set of 48 from Sennelier.
They’re soft but do not easily break even when you use them for heavy applications. You can use them on wood, metal, canvas, stone, and even glass besides paper with such quality. Every pastel is also very pigmented, so if you need to define the details or produce bright and rich hues on your artwork, these oil pastels will do the job.
Moreover, these beautiful pastels give out creamy and smooth textures that deliver seamless blending and layering. You can easily manipulate the shades to achieve different depths and combinations of colors.
Aside from that, these professional quality pastels are all about versatility. While you can use them on your preferred surface, you may use them with your choice of pastel techniques. It’s fascinating to see that you can play with colors without breaking their consistency.
You also won’t have to worry if you often work with mixed media like acrylic or watercolor. These oil pastels are incredibly flexible, so you can elevate your art’s effects and details without leaving awful smudges or dirt.
You may also notice the pointed tips, which are convenient to use when you’re detailing or adding intricate lines or shades to your work.
My only issue with this set is the price. They fall under a higher pricing mark. Apart from that, the pastels look smaller than the usual size.
8. PENTRISTA Oil Pastels
The first thing I really love about these hexagon-shaped oil pastels is the customized sharpeners and holders. I appreciate the idea that PENTRISTA makes sure that these oil pastels would be very convenient to use, particularly for young students, kids, and teachers.
The edges aren’t entirely flat but slightly pointed, reinforcing the comfort when coloring and drawing precise and intricate details. They’re also crafted with an ergonomic size, allowing kids to hold them with ease while coloring and drawing.
This may be a student-grade oil pastel set, but its quality isn’t inferior to other popular oil pastel brands. Surprisingly, they are smooth and highly blendable, which I think are crucial features if you like to mix and play with colors.
These pastels, moreover, are very pigmented that renders brilliant colors to your artwork. Since they blend well, building the colors to achieve different depths of shades work like a breeze.
Therefore, if you want to produce subtle shades or rich and deep color pigments, these oil pastels will let you do so. Plus, you’ll have 50 packs of 6 assorted colors to practice and work with.
One more thing is that you can beautify your work using these oil pastels and other kinds of art media. You may use water or wet paintbrushes so they can also work as watercolor crayons. With such versatility, you can amplify your work with dramatic and artistic watercolor effects.
Apart from that, they are non-toxic, which makes them suitable and perfectly safe to use for both kids and adults.
On a different note, I understand that this is a set for kids and beginners, but I wish there were broader color options.
9. Lasten Non Toxic Kids Oil Pastels
If you’re looking for good quality oil pastels that won’t break your bank, you’ll probably find your ideal pick with these 36-piece Lasten oil pastels. Considering its affordable price, I’m quite impressed by the variety of colors in this set.
Whether you’re making arts and crafts on your own or working together with kids and beginner artists, I find it very convenient to have a vast selection of colors to play with. And since these are non-toxic oil pastels, it is suitable for children and young artists because they’re safe to use.
Another feature I like is that these oil pastels render creamy textures that allow effortless blending and layering and execute common oil pastel techniques. They’re also not overly creamy or oil, which is why it’s easier to hold and control them when drawing or coloring.
The quality of hues is incredibly brilliant, not to mention that they’re also acid-free. This promotes excellent lightfastness, preserving the colors and preventing them from fading out and discoloration in the long run.
These pastels are also very workable, so if you want to mix the colors to achieve soft and subtle shades or intense colors to elevate your artwork, there’s no hassle doing so. Plus, it comes with holders for a better and more comfortable grip. The sharpeners are also a bonus if you ever need to enhance the edges of your oil pastels.
I also notice that when you color or draw on a surface, it doesn’t leave any residues or dust particles from the pastels. I consider this an advantage, especially if you want to smoothen out the colors or build them to produce artistic effects.
One thing I don’t like about these pastels is that some of them break easily.
10. LLY Soft Oil Pastels
My desire to expand my color palette without spending a massive outlay has led me to this 48-piece set of non-toxic oil pastels. But it isn’t just the color count that attracts me the most but also the quality it delivers.
Since I’m new to this brand, I don’t expect so much with the quality. However, it surprised me with its superb versatility and blendability that beginners can practice with. It’s amazing to see how you can easily blend the colors and smoothen them out according to your preferred techniques and effects.
One more thing is that each pastel provides a soft and silky texture that colors and draws effortlessly on surfaces. I like how this allows you to combine the colors or adjust their depths without skipping and leaving smudges and dirt.
The pastels sticks themselves are soft but not too fragile to break easily. You can take advantage of these sturdy oil pastels to execute your coloring styles, whether you’re building heavy shades or keeping them light with subtle hues.
If you also often make a lot of mess, especially when working with kids, you need not worry about stained clothes and hands. You can remove or scrub the oil pastels and they’ll easily come off. Plus, these oil pastels are non-toxic, so they’re suitable for children and very safe to use.
Just so you know, these are oil pastels for kids and would also be a good alternative for oil pastel beginner sets. Therefore, if you’re an artist looking for professional-grade oil pastels, this set may not be it.
11. Prima Marketing Prima Art Philosophy Oil Pastels
My two favorite things about these oil pastels are their vibrant colors and water-soluble properties. These oil pastels render seamless performance with every application and stroke because of their silky and creamy texture.
When you hold them to create various strokes and movements, you could feel they’re soft. Amazingly, they aren’t brittle, so you won’t have to worry when you build heavy layers of colors.
It’s like the ones I’ve used before, but these pastels stand out because of their exceptional quality that can compete with artist-grade oil pastels. The colors are impeccably rich and vivid that you can even create a solid color with just a single stroke.
With such vibrancy and rich pigmentation, you can blend and layer colors seamlessly and get the perfect balance from your preferred color selection.
As mentioned, these oil pastels are water-soluble. This means you can mix it with water to enhance your work or showcase techniques similar to watercolor.
As someone who likes working with mixed media, watercolor, particularly, this feature lends a better edge than ordinary oil pastels because this maximizes its usage.
Another merit of these pastels is that it cleans up easily. Not only does it let you smoothen out the colors to achieve different kinds of effects, but it also allows you to wrap up your artwork with just a tiny bit of mess.
One more feature I want to highlight is the shape of the tips. Unlike conventional oil pastels, these art pastels come with pointed edges rather than flat ones. With such a design, I think it enables you to deliver strokes, draw, or color with better precision.
Other than that, I find this set at a reasonable price. I just wish there were more options for the colors.
12. Strokes Art Supplies Oil Pastels
For a colorful feast of oil pastels that you can add to your art collection, you’ll probably have more than what you need with this 48-piece set from Strokes Art Supplies. The range of colors varies from neutral tones, vibrant reds and browns, and bright blue and green shades.
Besides these eye-candy colors, this set also boasts superb quality that provides rich and highly pigmented colors. Whether you go for subtle hues or apply heavier layers of colors, these oil pastels deliver.
What I also like about it is that they have creamy and sleek textures that allow hassle-free blending. I’ve tried using the colors to produce different mixtures and depths of shades, and impressively, they’ve rendered stunning quality that doesn’t easily wear off.
It’s also fascinating to see how you can expand its use for various oil pastel techniques like scraping, layering, embossing, and Sgraffito.
If you like showcasing your art on different kinds of surfaces, these oil pastels’ versatility isn’t limited to paper. You can also use them on canvas, wood, or clay while maintaining their excellent quality.
Other than that, it has a holder that provides a secure and comfortable grip, allowing you to color or draw comfortably.
These non-toxic pastels also have pointed edges to define intricate details and polish your work. If ever the edge feels rough or dull, you can always sharpen it with the sharpener that comes with it.
My only issue with this is that some of the pastels are a little bit hard to blend.
What to Look for When Buying an Oil Pastels
Oil pastels usually come in sets with six colors as the least count and 50 as the most in some brands. However, some manufacturers expand their collection of colors up to a hundred or more.
One effective way to decide which ranges of colors or sets you should choose is to consider the projects you’re working on. Large scale artworks may require an extensive color palette, but if you just need coloring tools for doodling or practicing, you may settle for fewer colors.
If you’re a beginner, you may consider starting with fewer colors to enhance your skills and blending techniques. On the other hand, professional and experienced artists may go with a larger color selection that they can use for elaborate oil pastel projects or add to their art collection.
Opacity of Colors
Oil pastels are known for their exceptional opacity. They stand out because of their vivid and rich colors that don’t fade out easily or wear out over time. However, when the colors don’t seem to be opaque enough, the results might come out differently from the way they should look like and hence, it’ll affect the quality and beauty of your work.
Therefore, it is imperative to look for oil pastels that deliver solid vibrant hues to make sure you always get the perfect balance of colors when you’re blending, layering, or building them using different kinds of techniques.
Texture and Quality
Contrary to regular crayons, oil pastels lend smooth and creamy textures because of their waxy consistency. This makes them remarkably workable, allowing you to seamlessly blend the colors or render diverse strokes using creative techniques.
Since they’re naturally oily, oil pastels can easily spread or smoothen out without leaving any dust or crumbles. With all these features in mind, make sure you choose oil pastels with silky textures to provide effortless performance no matter what oil pastel painting style or technique you’re going for.
One more thing to consider is the quality of ingredients. If you’re going to use oil pastels with children, you should know whether they’re safe to use or not. Fortunately, there are a lot of brands that offer non-toxic oil pastels.
Aside from their blendability, oil pastels are also known for their versatility. You’ll find oil pastels that you can use on multiple types of surfaces like wood, canvas, board, or metal besides paper.
Some feature versatile properties that allow you to incorporate other types of art media, which is a factor you can consider if you usually work with mixed media. Moreover, some oil pastels are water-soluble, so you can mix them with water to present watercolor effects.
When finding artist quality oil pastels seems to be pretty challenging, one of the first things you can consider is the product brand. If you sift through the market, you’ll find the best oil pastel brands that have been pioneers in the art industry.
Not only are they popular with their selection of premium quality oil pastels but also with their expertise in producing practical and innovative technologies. Some of these brands are Pentel, Crayola, Faber-Castell, Sakura, and Mungyo.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is This for?
It is designed for artists of all levels and ages. Contrary to what some students and beginners believe, these oil pastels aren’t just for professionals but rather vary in qualities and features that will match your skills. Whether you’re a professional or an experienced artist looking to expand your oil pastel collection or an amateur artist who wants to learn the basics or aims to develop better skills in oil pastels, these art tools are definitely for you.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Oil Pastels?
Oil pastels let you showcase different coloring and drawing techniques that you can’t usually do with regular crayons. Working with this type of art medium unravels your creativity and imagination, allowing you to produce vast ranges and depths of colors. They’re also exceptionally vibrant, highly blendable, versatile, and long-lasting.
However, using oil pastels requires a learning curve. They’re nothing like ordinary crayons that you can easily learn in one sitting. You may need to practice a few times before you can get the hang of these oil pastels.
What are the Different Types of Oil Pastels?
There are actually no vast varieties of oil pastels, although we can determine their differences according to their qualities and textures. We can also compare regular oil pastels to soft pastels, another popular variant that some manufacturers also offer.
If you sift through their properties, the opacity, flexibility, textures, and blendability are pretty much the same. I noticed the only significant difference is their durability: soft pastels usually break easily than most oil pastels.
What are the Most Popular Oil Pastels Brands?
Pentel, Crayola, Faber-Castell, Sennelier, Sakura, and Mungyo are some of the selections for the most trusted and best oil pastels brand that offers a vast lineup of high-quality oil pastels for all levels and ages. But if you want to explore other options or you’re on a tight budget, you don’t need to shy away from unfamiliar brands. They may not be as popular as the ones I’ve mentioned but LLY, Lasten, Pentrista, and DOMS are some of the good brands that I’ve tried.
How Long will Oil Pastels Last?
With proper care and storage, oil pastels can last for a long period of time. It can last for years or until you use them up. I’ve had oil pastels that have been with me for over a decade, and the quality hasn’t deteriorated over time. If you wonder whether they have expiration dates, they actually don’t, but some of them may have rough or hard edges over time if not properly stored.
The longevity of oil pastels may also depend on their quality. There are cheap oil pastels that may not be as vibrant after several uses.
How to Use Oil Pastels?
Oil pastels don’t work like regular crayons despite their resemblance in features. Oil pastels have creamy textures and super vibrant colors that may require particular techniques and hand movements or positions to deliver proper applications. If you’re going to use it for the first time, here are some tips you can try:
- Prepare your paper or surface. Make sure it is compatible with your medium.
- Use your forefinger and thumb to hold the oil pastel without letting your palm touch the surface. However, this step will still depend on which hand position you’re more comfortable using.
- Lay down the pastel onto the surface to deliver larger shades.
- If you want to blend the colors, you may start with the dark tones, followed by lighter tones.
- To achieve different depths or ranges of colors, you may try a heavy-pressure blend or light-pressure blend. As the name suggests, a heavy-pressure blend requires harder hand pressure to create heavier shades of colors, typically with darker tones. Light-pressure blends, on the other hand, require otherwise to produce softer tones.
- Among the most common and popular oil pastel techniques is Sgraffito or scraping. You usually need a tool that has a sharp edge or pointed tip to scrape down the combinations of colors.
- Lighter colors are usually underneath darker colors when you scrape them down. This technique allows you to embellish your work with creative designs.
Have you found the best oil pastels yet? The guidelines and reviews we’ve discussed unravel the top picks you’ll find on the market. Although this may narrow down your options, the final decision much depends on your personal preferences.
While you consider your own choices, don’t forget to review the essential factors mentioned above. Besides the availability of colors, always make sure that you’re investing in a premium quality oil pastel set that will exhibit your artwork’s beauty.