Oil Pastels vs Soft Pastels: Which One is Best?

Posted in Blog on February 8, 2019
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Oil Pastels vs Soft Pastels_crayons

When you think of pastels, a number of different art supplies come to mind.

Primarily, people use two different kinds of them.

There is a constant debate about which one to go for when it comes to oil pastels vs soft pastels.

All kinds of pastels are made by mixing dry pigment (the color of the medium) with some chalk and then a binder that forms a paste.

Oil Pastels vs Soft Pastels

This paste is then molded into sticks, which are allowed to dry and take their shape. So far so good?

In the oil pastels vs soft pastels debate, the difference is mainly in how they are made.

I will give you some details on the matter of oil pastels vs soft pastels so you can better understand the difference between them.

They are similar art supplies with some unique characteristics.

Soft Pastels

When you consider the oil pastels vs soft pastels subject, soft pastels are the more traditional form of pastels.

They have been around longer and are still used most commonly.

They have a high concentration of pigment, which is held together with as little gum binder as possible.

A disadvantage of this is that they crumble very easily.

That being said, it also presents an advantage: their color is very intense.

Their fragility makes them suitable for more delicate use in blending and layering.

Their softness makes it almost impossible to make fine lines.

That’s why people use hard pastels or pastel pencils for detailed pastel work.

Oil Pastels

If you are someone that loves the texture of oil paints and the versatility that they offer but hate the turpentine and linseed oils, you will love oil pastels.

This medium is made using pigments just like soft pastels are but the pigment is bound together using wax and oil, not gum binder.

Seems like an insignificant difference, right?

Well, in the matter of oil pastels vs soft pencils, this means everything to differentiate between the two.

The consistency of oil pastels as compared to all other kinds of pastels is otherworldly in terms of art mediums.

Oil pastels do not crumble, smudge or release any airborne dust (you can release airborne dust if you use soft pastels eccentrically).

At the same time, oil pastels contain a very high concentration of pigments, which allow them to produce very intense and bright colors.

They have a waxy consistency like crayons but never confuse the two.

Oil pastels can spread and mix on oil paint to create strong and buttery strokes.

If you have no issues with oil painting, you can use oil pastels to really accentuate your oil painting.

You can use turpentine oil to create glazes or washes and even use them to create beautiful impasto effects on your oil painting.

Oil Pastels vs Soft Pastels – The Final Verdict

In the matter of oil pastels vs soft pastels, oil pastels are more stable and versatile.

You can use them on their own and combined with oil paints, if you want.

While you cannot blend oil paints as well as soft pastels, you will find that they are a lot more stable than soft pastels.

This means you don’t need to apply fixative to hold your work in place.

At the end of the day, the matter really is about personal preference but if you are a beginner, you should try out both.

Oil pastels will be a lot easier for you to use.

Soft pastels present a challenge but they have plenty to offer as well.

Choose a good set of art supplies below to begin your artistic journey.

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