There are a lot of different options for artists when it comes to pastels but the traditional form that it takes place in is the soft pastel. As a rule of thumb, most artists do their best to master the art of pastel art at least once in their career.
This ultimately led to the development of a cult following on soft pastels. Constantly, artists always seem to be on the hunt for the next best soft pastels! Part of what makes soft pastel amazing is its extra high pigment concentration accompanied by the tiniest amount of gum binder.
I know, there are a lot of other art materials that can be used, but somehow, most of us just keep on coming back to soft pastels. Because of this, I decided to take on the challenge and figure out the soft pastel that performs the best!
Are you interested to know the best soft pastel brands of 2021? Read on to know more!
- Best Soft Pastel Reviews
- 1. HASHI Non Toxic Soft Pastels
- 2. Mungyo Soft Pastels
- 3. Faber-Castel FC128224 Soft Pastels
- 4. Quartet Alphacolor Soft Pastels
- 5. Colour Block 100pc Soft Pastels
- 6. PanPastel 30203 Ultra Soft Artist Pastels
- 7. Rembrandt Soft Pastels
- 8. Honsell Gallery Artists Soft Pastels
- 9. Artist’s Loft Fundamentals Soft Pastels
- 10. Savoir Faire Sennelier Soft Pastels
- 11. Sennelier 40 Half Pastels
- 12. SoHo Urban Artist Soft Pastels
- What to Look for When Buying a Soft Pastel
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Soft Pastel Reviews
1. HASHI Non Toxic Soft Pastels
Because of my passion for soft pastels, I came across this product from HASHI. This set is mainly targeted for professional artists. But at the same time, I love how it can also be used by amateur artists, students, and even adults who just find pleasure in making art! It is completely easy to use and not complicated at all.
This cheap soft pastels really shows its colors beautifully. Each pastel is extremely pigmented! I am in awe of its vibrant contrast. A little bit goes such a long way because of the vivid colors that they provide. This is great because I was quite hesitant about its size.
The soft pastels are on the smaller, thinner side but thanks to its amazing pigmentation, I only needed to use the least amount of pressure. Because of this, I’m pretty sure that I would not run out of the colors easily!
Another reason why I am in love with this set is because despite its alluring pigmentation, I did not have a hard time blending them with each other! It is quite tough to find pigmented soft pastels that jell well with one another, so I was completely surprised by this!
It is also not as oily as other soft pastels that I have tried in the past. I find it comforting to know that it won’t damage the paper or canvas that I plan to use as a medium! I love that the company decided to formulate this set without excessive amounts of oil because sometimes, the oil is sucked out by the paper which totally ruins an artwork.
2. Mungyo Soft Pastels
Upon receiving these mungyo soft pastels, I immediately used them to test them out. Well, first of all, I cannot believe that this set is so cheap! I love how there are 48 different colors inside this set and each pastel performs heavenly! When it comes to being budget-friendly, this set is probably one of the best!
These pastels are non-toxic which means that they do not pose any harm to our health. This is good news because, let’s face it; sometimes, children and pets get their hands on our art materials and they end up ingesting them! But because this set is non-toxic, it is somehow comforting because it won’t present any harmful health effect.
Upon using them, I can tell that they apply beautifully on paper. But for me, these soft pastels will work best on hard mediums such as concrete and wood because it is quite hard. Although the toughness can be an issue for some, I can safely say that these would work amazingly for street art!
I greatly appreciate how durable they are. As an artist, I tend to use a heavy hand when I am working on my projects. I love how each stick does not break easily! This goes to show that the company knows how to produce soft pastels without making them too soft.
Also, I am so glad that it has a tough consistency that provides artists like me with better control of the color and pigment distribution! Unlike other soft pastels that are too pigmented that even from a light touch it already gives off a lot of color, this one can be manually modified. I can make it as light or as vivid as I want each color to be, I only have to control the pressure when I use them!
3. Faber-Castel FC128224 Soft Pastels
This faber castell soft pastel review is all about its amazing quality! To be honest, I already had high expectations on this product because it is from such an infamous company known for the great art materials that they provide for us, artists. Surprisingly, this set exceeded my expectations!
First of all, I love how each pastel has the perfect size. It is such a beautiful set that beginners and professionals will surely enjoy. It is thankfully easy to hold as it settles in the hand quite comfortably.
I also appreciate how these pastels are soft but not too soft nor are they too hard. It has the best consistency that I have ever come across with! It really feels as if each stick was made perfectly for my hand.
As the icing to the cake, it also has an amazing wiping ability. It is easy to move around and it provides a great room for error. Also, it is not as dusty as compared to other soft pastels that I can find in the market!
The only downside is probably the lack of natural colors within the selection. Yes, the set is composed of vivid and pigmented shades but it would have been nice to have a couple of muted and natural colors in the bunch so that artists like me could create a more natural tone.
But other than that, I cannot see any other reason to stop using this product!
4. Quartet Alphacolor Soft Pastels
When I received this set from QUARTET ALPHACOLOR, I was so excited because I was really looking forward to trying out charcoal soft pastel sticks. It is quite uncommon to find pastel sets that only provide a single color, so using this became a privilege, if you must say!
I love how for every pack, I got 3 pieces of high-quality charcoal soft pastels! Upon trying them out, I was taken aback by its surprisingly rich glide for every single stroke that I applied onto the canvas! Indeed, this set provides velvety smooth pastels. For the set’s price, this product is really such a steal!
This product performs amazingly. I have used it for detailing, quick sketches, and even as a preparation before painting. I appreciate that I can use it for different forms of art despite it being marketed as a soft pastel. All that I could say is that it is such a multi-performing product!
Based on my experience in using this product, I can safely say that it is best used for creating portraits. I believe that it provides such a detailed presentation of objects, and the charcoal can give an infinite range of shades and tones!
I am very happy because despite its slight chalkiness which could be easily fixed by using a damp bristle brush or simply by blowing it off the canvass, it provides such an excellent application and blending quality that I still have not found in colored-soft pastels.
5. Colour Block 100pc Soft Pastels
First of all, I would like to commend COLOUR BLOCK for providing a free container because I really needed it! The container ensures proper maintenance, and it also has foam inserts that make organizing these beautiful soft pastels easier and quicker.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room – the 100 shades that this set has! With the wide range of color selection that this offers, this is probably one of the best soft pastels for beginners! The extensive color variety and its price will really attract aspiring artists and I’m sure that they will have a great time using this set.
For 10 dozen different shades, I really love that the shades are different from each other. They have different tones, hues, and contrast that separates them from one another. I love how the company did this instead of creating the same shades over and over.
Although they might get overwhelmed by the humongous number of colors, rest assured that every beginner will be inspired to create more art and who knows, maybe they will dive deeper into the world of soft pastels!
I often get uncomfortable after holding soft pastels for a while but because of this product’s ribbed texture, I did not have any uneasy experience while making a project! It provides an amazing grip and honestly, I really wish that more companies would do this because it really helps us, artists, in getting comfortable as we do what we love most.
Lastly, the colors are to die for! These are honestly some of the most pigmented soft pastels that I have ever used. I especially love how there is no visible dust at all even though each stick is extremely vivid.
6. PanPastel 30203 Ultra Soft Artist Pastels
I am so pleased by this set because its professional quality is such a compelling feature! After using it, I was so surprised because my artwork kind of looked like a painting because of its rich and creamy consistency that ultimately led to a seamless creation.
Honestly, I am so in love with the fact that these pastels can be used for drawing, coloring, shading, and painting. I believe that it can be considered as one of the best soft pastels for artists!
Other than that, these soft pastels also perform incredibly well when used in collaboration with other forms of media such as color pencils, markers, and paint. I love how it does not disrupt the performance of other art materials that it comes in contact with!
I also appreciate the fact that even though there are only 20 shades that come in one set, the pastels blend like paint, making for an endless number of shades that can be created by the artist! Honestly, I can just take 3 colors and create an amazing artwork with different shades and color combinations because of how easy it is to blend and mix with one another.
I also deeply appreciate that these soft pastels have natural and vivid colors, unlike other sets that only contain bright and loud colors. This means that any artis would find it easier to create artworks that look more real and natural – perfect for realism!
Another reason to love this product is that it has a sponge under each pastel for mixing colors. I appreciate this because instead of getting a brush or a cotton, I can just use it instead. Just make sure to clean it after every use to avoid mixing it with your future blending needs!
7. Rembrandt Soft Pastels
After using these rembrandt soft pastels for a while, I can totally see that these soft pastel colors are made of high quality materials! The way that it glides on the paper is so magical and I can’t believe how smooth it is.
For starters, each pack contains 5 shades within the same color family. I love this set-up because at least, artists will have the choice to only pick the colors that they want instead of buying a whole set just for specific shades that caught their attention. It is a great way to save money and conserve sets that are more appreciated by other artists!
I was surprised to know that every stick of soft pastel has some weight to it! I was kind of hesitant to purchase this because I thought that it might be a little too soft, but I was wrong! I love how it does not crumble easily upon use, I can tell that it will last me quite a while because of its consistency.
Each shade shows up beautifully even without using more pressure.I love how even just the tiniest bit of pressure can already do justice for the color pay-off that these soft pastel sticks have!
Even though the photos online can be misleading, I still think that the quality is in line with its price. I think that artists who prefer to buy shades individually will benefit from this product the most!
8. Honsell Gallery Artists Soft Pastels
This set is composed of 100 different shades and tones that completely surprised me! Just by looking at it, I immediately fell in love because of its luxurious feel and chic look. I appreciate how the company really took their time in creating each stick because they are all handmade!
Because of their attention to detail, I received a perfectly created set that is filled with quality pastels. I find it charming because the softness, richness, and blendability of these soft pastel sticks are top-notch.
One of the best things that I love about this product is that it can withstand all sorts of soft pastel techniques. I was able to use it nicely for drawing sharp lines, for coloring a wide area using its soft side, for mixing colors, layering different colors over one another, and also shading. I appreciate how the pastels do not cling onto the color that they are mixed with!
I am such a huge fan of its creamy and buttery texture. Thanks to its softness, my hand does not have to work as hard as it usually has to whenever I use these for my soft pastels artwork! I am so glad to have this in my possession because I have never felt a soft pastel that’s as good as this one!
As you all know, soft pastels, once they are on a canvas, have the tendency to fade after some time. But with this, I can tell that the pastels stayed true to their original colors despite being stored for a couple of weeks! I did not use any finisher because I wanted to test the vibrance of the pastels and I can safely say that they passed!
Because of the endless shades that you can create with the wide variety of tone selection that this product offers, you will never go wrong with it! My only concern is that some of the shades seem to perform better than the others, so the inconsistency in the formulation may affect the quality of your artwork.
9. Artist’s Loft Fundamentals Soft Pastels
Oh wow! I cannot believe how easy to use this product is! First of all, I am in awe because it really is pigmented but does not come off too strongly. For the first time, I am pleased because it would really work wonders for artists who do not want too much color pay-off on their initial application!
Also, this set is composed of sturdy soft pastels that are really perfect for beginners who are still struggling with pastels that are too fragile and expensive to practice their art with. I love this for those artists who are still learning the techniques that soft pastel art requires because it mimics the quality of a high-end set without having to spend a lot of money!
Even though these have wax coating over the actual soft pastel, I was able to get rid of most by swatching them. The true colors are revealed and they are bright and adorable! They glide exceptionally on any form of paper.
An added bonus that this product offers is that they can be used for mixed media art! Whether you want to use them for shading, mixing colors for your background, or whatever; I’m sure that it will perform glamorously!
These soft pastels also work very well for street and wall art. Because of its sturdy consistency, it will apply seamlessly on hard surfaces. It can also be used for repainting dolls! I am so pleased by its ability to adapt to different art forms and because of that, I am completely sold!
I personally use these soft pastel sticks for my projects’ backgrounds. For me, they work best in this situation because they look so clean and seamless when they are blended together. I especially appreciate them the most when I put them on top of a black paper because their colors shine so vividly!
10. Savoir Faire Sennelier Soft Pastels
This set of sennelier soft pastels is extremely gorgeous for making portraits because it has natural tones that are perfect for the face, hair, eyes, lips, and skin color. I love that this company provides artists with warm and earth tones for creating natural looks because sometimes, companies are too focused on having vivid colors to the point where they only produce unnaturally bright shades.
Unlike the other soft pastels mentioned here, this set are oil pastels. That only means that they can be applied on most mediums in the likes of canvas, paper, wood, concrete, metal, glass, and even stone! Because of its endless possibilities, you can create art on almost anything!
I also appreciate that these soft pastels come with a free container! It has a foam where each pastel is safely inserted. I love this because it ensures that storing my pastels will be hassle-free and if ever I lose one of them, I will know it immediately!
Take note that these are half sticks, kind of like the trial version of soft pastels. This is perfect for those who are looking to try out the shades and quality of this set. Because it is not the full version, it is not as expensive but you still get the same quality.
Even though these do not have any paper wrapper, I still prefer using this over other brands. I can just use gloves to avoid staining my fingers but other than that, I have no other complaints!
I am feeling extra positive about these soft pastels because not only are the shades beautiful, they also apply and blend significantly better than most soft pastels! Unlike other brands of soft pastels that leave traces despite the artist’s effort to blend, these are so seamless and smooth to the point where it almost looks like a painting!
11. Sennelier 40 Half Pastels
For the second time, I have tried another set from Sennelier. This set is almost as amazing as the first one that I have tried! These sennelier soft pastels perform magnificently, I especially love that they are made of natural pigments. Because of that, the shades are more concentrated and pure.
I appreciate its rich consistency – it is on the softer side. I love how smooth it glides onto the paper! I am so happy with its creamy texture because it makes it easier to blend and layer colors on top of each other. True enough, another marvelous purchase from Sennelier!
I fell in love with it because of its pigment. It is so intense and vivid while still natural and soft at the same time. It can be as strong or as light as I want it to be! I can safely say that this set from Sennelier is such a joy to work with. It makes blending feel like a walk in the park. I am so happy because it only took me little to no effort to blend the colors altogether!
To be completely honest, I prefer the lighter colors over the darker ones because the darker shades tend to crumble easier. But still, these soft pastels are a delight to use. Maybe it’s because lighter shades are easier to make unlike darker ones which require extra attention and care.
This set is marketed as soft pastels for artists who are already pros in terms of using pastel in their art. But honestly, I think that this will also be a great investment for beginners because it is not expensive at all. For the quality that I got, I can’t believe that it is so cheap!
Lastly, I am so happy to see that Sennelier is giving artists like me the option to purchase half-sticks instead of the full-sized version. I cannot stress enough how important it is for artists to try out a certain art material before fully committing to it – and this company is slowly starting to listen to our woes!
12. SoHo Urban Artist Soft Pastels
Indeed an amazingly shaped soft pastel set! I love that each stick is shaped like a square. Its unique form makes it easier to hold and manipulate. It does not slip off my fingers, unlike round soft pastels.
I like the fact that compared to other soft pastels, this one from SoHu has visibly lesser dust! We all know how annoying it is to wipe off a lot of dust from our work and we have endured that for a long time already. Now, we are given the chance to have lesser dust, which is such great news!
As I used this set more and more, I realized that it goes well with almost all materials. It blends perfectly well with markers and pencils even though they are not as soft as other pastels. It has a harder consistency which I personally prefer. Because of this, I can control how pigmented I want my strokes to be.
I am so glad that in this set, there are two blacks and two whites! I appreciate that the company thought of how artists use these 2 colors for our projects. It is such a great addition because personally, I use these two to lighten and darken specific areas of the project that I am working on.
Speaking of colors, I love each shade! The selection in this set is a mixture of muted and loud colors. It really is the perfect balance between bright and natural which is a perfectly good deal for us, artists!
However, it seems that some of the sticks are harder than the rest. This could be a moisture issue or it might be because of the formulation. It seems a little more chalky than it should be, but I’m willing to look past it because I love how it applies!
These are nice soft pastels for beginners because it is not expensive and the quality is nice. There is nothing complicated about these soft pastels. They are pretty straightforward; they are pigmented, squared, and amazing.
What to Look for When Buying a Soft Pastel
All About Soft Pastels
First of all, there are different types of pastels. They are oil, hard, and soft. Each of these have their own purpose and defining characteristics.
Soft pastels are known for their smooth and creamy consistency. It is quite fragile and it has a powdery texture that makes them great mediums for blending, layering, and mimicking a painting-like effect. It can also be used for defining lines, but a hard pastel is more suitable for doing so because they do not smudge as much as soft pastels do.
There are a lot of different shades that soft pastels are available in. Some offer 50s, 75s, and 100s. Typically, soft pastels are cylindrical sticks that have paper wrapping over it. This is done to prevent the pastel from staining the artist’s hands.
It is important to know that each brand produces slightly different soft pastels because of the differences between their formulations. Some are powdery, some are more sturdy, some are creamier, while some crumble easily.
Balance Between Loud and Muted Colors
For starters, it is important for you to purchase a soft pastel set that contains a balanced shade range. Don’t settle for a set that only contains muted and natural colors because you will need bright colors to create a lively artwork. Likewise, don’t settle for a set that only contains bright and loud colors because you will need muted colors to make your artwork more natural.
Not Too Fragile, not Too Stiff
Before buying a set, it would be best if you can test them out first. You have to find the perfect combination of softness and hardness because if your soft pastel is too fragile, it will easily crumble to pieces. If you get a stiff soft pastel, however, it will be hard to get enough pigment to achieve the style that you want to create.
Good Color Pay-Off
A soft pastel that gives a nice and smooth color pay-off will really help with your blending technique. It will also improve your skills in using soft pastels because it will enhance your performance as well.
As much as possible, it would be best if you could get your hands on a soft pastel set that produces little to no dust. If your soft pastel is too dusty, it will consume your time because you will have to constantly clean it off your paper.
Also, there is a chance for the dust to smudge on the paper, which will stain your artwork and completely ruin it!
Not Too Expensive
Believe me, there are a lot of soft pastel colors out there that can provide the same quality as high-end soft pastels. Remember, a good brand name does not always mean good quality!
Quality Over Quantity
If you’re to choose between a high quality set of twenty-five pieces and a sub-par quality set of a hundred pieces, what would you choose? If you chose the high quality set of twenty-five pieces, you chose the correct answer!
What would you do with one hundred soft pastels that underperform? They will only give you headaches. So choose the twenty-five soft pastels that perform amazingly! You’ll get to create new shades if you combine the twenty-five pieces anyway, so don’t worry if it seems few.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is This for?
Soft pastels are mainly used by artists who want to improve and explore their abilities in using soft pastels as their medium. It is also used by nail artists, doll re-painters, as well as students and adults who enjoy creating art for their entertainment.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Soft Pastels?
Amazing for Blending – Soft pastel’s main reason for formulation is to aid in artist’s blending and seamless color transitions. Because of this, artists are able to create artworks that look like paintings even though they are primarily made of soft pastels.
Can be Smudged – Unlike markers, soft pastels have the ability to be moved around. This type of pastel has a creamy texture which easily smudges with the use of fingers, cottons, sponges, or brushes. Thanks to its movable consistency, artists can create amazing shadings.
Pigmented and Smooth – Unlike hard pastels that are tough, soft pastels are extra pigmented and smooth. It applies like a dream and the colors are more vivid.
Can Crumble Easily – Because soft pastels use a minimum amount of binders and a higher concentration of pigment, they have the tendency to crumble easier as compared to hard pastels and oil pastels.
Not that Great for Detailing – A Soft pastel is not an ideal medium for details because they are easily smudged. If you need to create a defined detail, opt for a hard pastel instead.
Need Fixative Spray – For a soft pastel project to resist smudging and fading, a fixative spray is needed. It will prevent the soft pastel from crumbling, getting too dry, and separating.
What are the Different Types of Soft Pastels?
There are three specific forms that pastel may present itself: hard pastel, soft pastel, and oil pastel.
Hard Pastel – less pigment, more gum binder
Soft Pastel – more pigment, less gum binder
Oil Pastel – uses oil and wax as binder
What are the Most Popular Soft Pastel Brands?
The top 5 most popular soft pastel brands are:
- Rembrandt soft pastels
- Schmincke soft pastels
- Unison soft pastels
- Sennelier soft pastels
- Faber Castell Soft Pastels
Which is Better: Oil Pastels or Soft Pastels?
It depends on what you will use them for because they have different textures and purposes.
Soft pastels are more known and more used. It has a dry and matte finish when compared to an oil pastel’s finish which is soft and shiny.
Both soft and oil pastels leave dust; but soft pastel’s dusts are easier to get rid of because they do not adhere to the surface, compared to oil pastel’s dusts that can cling onto the paper and leave traces of pigment. The artist may opt for soft pastel if they want a more forgiving medium because it is easier to work with.
How to Use Soft Pastels?
First of all, you have to choose the proper surface to use your soft pastel on. The best type of surface for soft pastels are textured papers because their “tooth” allows the pigment to adhere to it better.
However, there are a lot of different surfaces where you can use soft pastels on. You may use it on roads, walls, concrete, and stones. Some people even use it for repainting their dolls.
Now that you already know where to make your art, it’s time to know the different techniques in handling a soft pastel.
The most common technique is feathering. To do this, you have to layer different colors on a straight line. It’s best to use the best soft pastels for blending when doing this method because feathering gives the artist the choice and freedom to get creative with the lines that they make. This technique aims to give depth and boldness to details.
Another method is called stippling. All you have to do is create tiny dots to create more shade. It depends on you whether you want to add multiple layers until you reach your desired texture and darkness.
Lastly, scumbling is a great technique to use. It is quick to do because you only have to apply several light layers of soft pastel until you achieve the deepness and color value that you prefer. It depends on you whether you want to add this on top of an already colored area or if you want to do this on a fresh canvas.
Soft, creamy, pigmented, and seamless; these are some of the many words that are commonly used to describe a soft pastel. So it is important for you to remember those 4 words when you shop for your next soft pastel set.
This list contains all of the best soft pastels that I have ever tried and tested. I am sure that you will not go wrong if you decide to purchase one or two sets from the ones on this list because they are extremely great! Have you decided on what you purchase? Go and pick your next soft pastels now!