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The Best Oil Pastels for 2021

best oil pastels

Oil pastels are among the most versatile art media that you can buy. Even if you are a complete beginner, you can use the best oil pastels to make great-looking artwork. Oil pastels are less messy to use compared to oil pastels. They are also easier to blend compared to colored pencils and crayons.

Finding the absolute best of all the oil pastels in the market will be almost impossible, especially since different people have their preferences. However, you can do what other artists do and mix and match different brands so that they can get the results that they want.

In this article, you will learn how to pick good-quality oil pastels that will suit your art style. You will also get a couple of reviews and recommendations to help you get started.

Best Oil Pastels Reviews

1. Sakura XCJP12 Cray-Pas Chubbies Oil Pastel

sakura xcjp12 cray-pas chubbies oil pastel

As the name implies, these oil pastels are much thicker than the usual ones that you see in most art supply stores. Their size makes it easier for young kids to hold and use. However, even older folks, particularly those who have trouble with their grip strength, find these oil pastels a lot more comfortable and easier to use.

Another reason why this is great for kids to use is that they are non-toxic. These oil pastels also do not have any foul smells that some of the other brands have. In addition, this product does not contain any of the most common allergens that you usually find in art supplies.

This set of professional oil pastels come with 12 different vibrant shades. This might not seem that many, but for beginners, this is more than enough. Sakura did market this product primarily for use by young children, so twelve is just the right number of colors. Even experienced artists would rarely use more than a dozen colors in any one piece.

Another nice thing I liked about this product is that it is soft enough that you can blend it easily using your fingers. However, they are still firm enough that kids will not be accidentally breaking them on their first use. I did find that using a bit of sunflower oil will make the colors blend easier.

You must remember that these oil pastels are student-grade. They are not quite the artist-quality oil pastels, so they will not have the same bold colors as a professional-grade set. Most professional artists may not be fully satisfied with this set but beginners will find them satisfactory.

Pros
  • Perfect size for young kids to use
  • Non-toxic and hypoallergenic
  • Comes in 12 vibrant colors
  • Firm enough to not break easily while still easily blending colors
  • Ideal for beginners, not just kids
Cons
  • Not as vibrantly colored as the other Sakura oil pastel products

Although Sakura marketed these oil pastels for use by young students, that does not mean adults can’t have fun with them. Even if you are a professional artist, you will still discover that using these oil pastels is quite enjoyable.

2. Mungyo Gallery Soft Oil Pastels

mungyo gallery soft oil pastels

As the name indicates, these oil pastels are significantly softer compared to other oil pastels. What this means is that it takes little effort to blend the colors. I am quite impressed with this product. I noticed that it only takes a little pressure to leave a clear mark. I don’t even need to use oil when blending.

The colors are also bright. These oil pastels are chock-full with pigment that they can contrast well on a dark background. In addition, when you use them for underpainting, you will instantly realize that they spread out easily while ensuring that their colors remain consistent.

Speaking of spreading them out, these oil pastels have great coverage, which makes them one of the top oil pastel brands. If ever you need to fill in a large space with the same color, you will just need a bit of these oil pastels. In addition, I found out that these oil pastels work well with oils to make them spread much better.

If you are like me, then you will love the fact that this set comes with a lot of color options. This set contains 48 different colors, including several variant shades of each primary color. I rarely need to combine colors anymore since I started using this set.

It is a good thing that this set of oil pastels comes with a lot of colors because you will be going through them quite fast. Because these oil pastels are so soft, you will be grinding them into short nubs in no time. I have been using my set for a little over a month and I already finished off around 5 to 6 colors.

Pros
  • Soft enough that you can blend them easily using just your fingers
  • Bright and consistent colors
  • Has great coverage
  • You will get 48 different colors in the set
  • Same quality as top brands but at a lower price
Cons
  • Tend to run out fast due to their softness

If you are a complete beginner when it comes to oil pastels, then this set is an inexpensive way to find out if you will like this medium or not. Even if you already have a bit of experience in using oil pastels, you will still find this set interesting.

3. Crayola Neon Oil Pastels

crayola neon oil pastels

If you have young kids, they would love all the bright neon colors that come with this set. Alternatively, you can also use them yourself. Fun has no age limit anyway. These are the the most suitable oil pastels for beginners. When it comes to making fun designs on black paper, they contrast well. If you have a black light, you can make the colors glow.

Crayola made these oil pastels for young kids and you can tell just that by the size of each piece. These oil pastels are quite chunky, which is the perfect size for small kids who do not have enough handgrip strength and control yet.

If you have hand strength problems, like rheumatism, these oil pastels will be easy to use. The same experience is also possible if you are just recovering from a broken hand.

These oil pastels are also quite soft, which makes laying down a thick line easy. To make the neon colors pop, you will need to lay down a rather thick coating of pigment. You can easily do that when you are using these oil pastels. In addition, because of their softness, blending colors will be a lot easier.

Although most professional artists may not use neon-colored oil pastels that much, it is nice to know that you have them in case you will ever need them. The only times when I use these oil pastels exclusively is when I draw Dias de Los Muertos skulls. However, I still use them from time to time when I need bright highlights.

With that said, I mostly use these colors just for fun and I think you will find yourself not using these colors quite as often as you thought you would. Unless you have young kids, you will not be pulling out these oil pastels from your art supply chest that often.

Pros
  • Comes in vibrant neon colors – It contrasts well against black paper
  • Chunky size perfect for kids’ hands
  • Lays on thick and blends nicely
  • Fun colors, making them a big hit for the kids and even the adults
  • Neon colors are hard to find in other brands
Cons
  • These oil pastels on their own are mostly just for fun and not for serious artworks

Although these oil pastels are mostly for kids to use, you can still use them in conjunction with other traditional colors to create unique effects. Your imagination is your only limitation.

4. Pentel Arts Oil Pastels

pentel arts oil pastels

Pentel has always made quality art supplies and their oil pastels are not an exception. These oil pastel sticks write smoothly on almost all drawing surfaces. They are also soft, which makes them easy to blend. I usually use folded-up paper towels but fingertips can work just as well.

You will be getting 12 different colors in this set of oil pastels. Some artists may think that this is not enough. However, if you are a beginner at using oil pastels, 12 is more than enough. As mentioned earlier, these oil pastels are soft enough that you can easily combine them to make any color that you need.

Another characteristic of this oil pastel that I liked is that it is not as waxy as other brands. This is what makes these oil pastels easy to combine. Other oil pastels are so waxy that they tend to separate when one color is layered on top of another.

The best thing about these oil pastels is that even though they are quite high quality, they are affordable. You will be getting near-professional levels of quality at just a fraction of the price. This means that even if you are a budding artist who does not have a substantial budget for top-brand oil pastels, you can afford this product.

Now, you will need to compromise a bit in exchange for the low cost of these oil pastels because they have a strong chemical smell. So, if you are the type who gets nauseated easily, you better open the windows before you start using these oil pastels.

Pros
  • Applies smoothly and blends easily
  • Comes in a wide variety of colors
  • Not as waxy as other oil pastels
  • Affordable while still being high in quality
  • Long-lasting and does not fade easily
Cons
  • Has a strong chemical smell

For the budding artist who does not have much in terms of a budget for art supplies, this set of oil pastels can be a great starter kit. However, it is not highly recommended for young kids. Not only do they break easily but these oil pastels also have a strong chemical smell.

5. Paul Rubens Artist Oil Pastels

paul rubens artist oil pastels

These oil pastels are some of the softest that I have ever had the pleasure of using. When using these products, you barely have to apply pressure to leave a decent amount of color on the paper. This also means that blending colors is so easy. I usually use a bit of sunflower oil to loosen the pastels but I do not need to do that with this set.

Another neat thing about this set of oil pastels is that it contains 50 colors. This is more than enough for most artists’ use. I have been using this set on and off for the past couple of months, and I have yet to touch at least a third of the colors. This set also comes with three white colors for blending and highlighting.

These oil pastels are also ideal for kids. These are great for the older kids who want to transition from crayons into a medium that is more “mature”. You do not need to worry about your kids using this product as it is non-toxic and it is also hypoallergenic. With that, it is definitely suitable for artists of all ages.

The best thing about these oil pastels, in my honest opinion, is that they came close in terms of quality as those of Sennelier’s. It is the top brand when it comes to oil pastels. The good news is that you can buy these at just a fraction of the cost. This is an example of getting more than what you paid for.

However, since these oil pastels are so soft, you should take care not to expose them to direct sunlight or else they will melt. In addition, your body temperature is also enough to make these pastels melt in your hand. I recommend that you use an oil pastel holder to prevent this from happening.

Pros
  • Soft texture, which promotes ease in applying and blending
  • Comes with 50 different colors of oil pastels
  • Has 3 extra whites for blending and highlights
  • Made of non-toxic ingredients
  • Inexpensive alternative to more expensive brands
Cons
  • A bit too soft – It easily melts when exposed to a bit of direct sunlight

If you want to upgrade your oil pastels to the top brand ones, but you cannot afford them yet, these oil pastels are great alternatives. They come at a fraction of the price but have comparable quality to that of the top brands.

6. Faber-Castell Blendable Oil Pastels

faber-castell blendable oil pastels

Don’t get me wrong, the oil pastels are also excellent, but the thing that I liked the most about this set is the carrying case. The plastic case that these oil pastels came in was so nice that I took them out and placed my more expensive Senneliers in their place.

These are some of the top oil pastels for students, which means they are meant mostly for first-time users or older kids who want to move up from crayons. These oil pastels are a bit on the chunky side, promoting ease for young kids to grip. These are also hexagon-shaped, which prevents them from rolling off drawing desks.

Faber-Castell has always been one of the brands to beat when it comes to art media, and this set of oil pastels is not an exception. They contain a lot of pigments so much that you do not need to put too much pressure on the tip to leave a mark on your drawing surface. This also makes the colors easy to blend.

Speaking of colors, this set contains 12 different colors. This may not seem like much but because these oil pastels are quite soft, it will be easy to combine colors.

I do not have much to complain about but if I have to be nit-picky, I would say that I did not like the paper wrapper used for the oil pastels because they are loose. A couple of the sticks in my set no longer have their wrapper as they were quite hard to put back in place.

Pros
  • Comes in a durable plastic carrying case
  • Hexagon-shaped to prevent them from rolling off the desk
  • The set has 12 vibrant and opaque colors
  • Offers great coverage and does not require a lot of pressure to write
  • Comes in a perfect size and shape for kids’ hands
Cons
  • The paper wrapping is a bit loose

Although Faber-Castell marketed these oil pastels as being for kids, quite a lot of experienced artists found them useful. However, even though they blend to a certain degree, they are not as soft as I would have wanted them to be. If you have young kids who want to level up their art game from crayons, I highly recommend this.

7. Savoir-Faire Sennelier Oil Pastels

savoir-faire sennelier oil pastels

If you are planning to make a piece that you will be proudly displaying, or if you are doing art commissions, you should consider these oil pastels. Unlike most of the other brands, the Sennelier oil pastels are lightfast, meaning their colors will not fade even when exposed to light.

These oil pastels have creamy textures. This means that you do not even need to push on the paper too hard to leave a mark. You can just let the weight of the stick do all the work for you. It will take all of your strength to keep yourself from putting on too much.

Because these pastels are so soft, you can use them to write on any surface if you need to. I would not even dream about using my set for drawing on anything other than paper, but it is nice to know that these could do just that should the need arise.

These iridescent colors are great for adding extra dimensions to your art. You may not be using them quite as often as the regular colors. However, it is comforting to know that they are there when you need them and there will come a time when you do.

The only issue that I have with all the oil pastels from Sennelier is that they are sometimes too soft, so I tend to go through them rather quickly. This is a huge problem as these oil pastels are on the expensive side. I suggest using an oil pastel holder so you will have better control over the pressure you put on the pastels.

Pros
  • Highly resistant to fading
  • Blends well and applies thick
  • Compatible with almost all drawing surfaces
  • Does not pile on easily nor create dust
  • The iridescent colors are excellent for adding more depth to drawings
Cons
  • Too soft – It will run out quickly if you use them for large drawings

The Sennelier oil pastels are among the most trustworthy oil pastels in the market today. Even though they are a bit expensive, they are much worth the money. I can’t recommend it for beginners, though, as they are so soft. It is almost like you are using paints.

8. HASHI Non Toxic Soft Professional Oil Pastels

hashi non toxic soft professional oil pastels

Whenever I go shopping for oil pastels, I always go for the ones that are a bit soft. These are the ones that provide ample coverage and are easier to feather out and blend. The Hashi oil pastels have just the right consistency, making them easy to put on paper.

However, they are still sturdy enough that they will not break into two pieces while you are using them.

This set also contains 48 vibrant colors. Although I am content with using fewer colors, having 4 dozen colors to choose from is nice, too. One advantage, in my opinion, about having these many oil pastel choices is that you do not need to blend colors as often. This means that you will be saving quite a lot of material.

Having a lot of oil pastels to choose from will not be as nice as it should be if they are not easy to organize after every use. These oil pastels come with paper sleeves that have individual color names and numbers printed on them. This makes returning each one and keeping them organized much easier.

It is also nice that this product is affordable because it is much better than the other brands marketed as “student” grade. If you are thinking of trying out oil pastels for the first time, I highly recommend this set.

Although I have mostly praise for this product, it is kind of annoying how much residue this creates on the surface of the paper. I suggest that you use a soft-bristled brush to sweep away the residue if you notice them piling up too much. This will prevent accidentally smudging the colors.

Pros
  • The soft texture makes them ideal for blending
  • The set comes in 48 vibrant colors
  • Every piece has proper labels with the color name and number on them
  • Ideal for beginners, but much better than the ones made for kids
  • Nicely packaged – It prevents the oil pastels from breaking during transit
Cons
  • They leave a bit of residue on the paper that you need to brush off

These oil pastels are among the best for beginners at using this art media. They have the right balance of softness but are still firm that they do not break easily. On the other hand, even if you are an experienced artist, you will still like using them for their ease of use and the wide selection of colors.

9. KUPTOOL Professional Oil Pastel

kuptool professional oil pastel

This set of oil pastels is the best choice for novice artists who want to try their hands at the medium. They are quite soft, which makes them easy to sketch and color with. If you like blending colors on paper or canvas, you can do that, too. I like to use light sunflower oil when I am working with these oil pastels. It makes it easier to mix the colors.

Even though it is soft, it still has enough hardness to resist breaking in half while you are using it. Many beginner artists sometimes lose control of the amount of pressure they are putting on oil pastels, causing them to break in two. This will not be the case with the Kuptool oil pastels. The reason is that these things are solid.

I have tried a couple of oil pastels that were great to draw with, but they produced an awful smell. It made drawing with them a nauseating experience. That is not the case with this set of oil pastels. They are non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and do not have any awful smells at all.

Probably the best thing about this product is that it is one of the most affordable oil pastel sets in the market right now. Even though they are quite affordable, their quality is comparable to some of the more expensive brands. These oil pastels do have a couple of issues, but the price makes up for them.

One of the issues that I have is that they pile easily, leaving a lot of “dust” on the paper. This is the result of the pastels not being soft enough. This is not that big of an issue though. You just have to brush away the debris and you are good to go again.

Pros
  • Beginner-friendly – It lays on thick and blends somewhat easily
  • Semi-soft, but still sturdy enough that they do not get broken easily
  • Non-toxic and has no strong odors
  • Very affordable, perfect for those who want to try oil pastels
  • Can draw on different kinds of surfaces
Cons
  • Produces a lot of residues that you need to brush off the page

If you are looking for an inexpensive way to try out oil pastels, this set just might be the one you need. The pastels are soft enough for easy blending, but still sturdy and will not easily break even if you use too much pressure.

10. DOMS Oil Pastels

doms oil pastels

These are among the most affordable oil pastels that you can buy today, which makes them the perfect choice for kids who want to graduate from regular crayons. Although these are not as great as professional-grade oil pastels, you will at least get a taste of what it is like to use them.

Even though the oil pastels themselves are decent, I kind of liked this set just for the carrying case alone. The case is made of hard plastic and has a handy hook for easier storage. I took out the contents of the case and put the oil pastels in another pouch, and I used this for carrying my more expensive supplies.

Aside from the case, another accessory that I liked is the handy plastic scraper. This has different edges that allow the user to create all sorts of effects using the oil pastels. I use this tool regularly when I am making scratch-resist drawings and it works great.

These oil pastels are very affordable. It is almost the same price as regular crayons, but they are still quite passable oil pastels. This makes them the ideal choice for teaching young kids how to properly use this medium. The kids get an upgrade from crayons and you do not need to spend a lot of money.

You need to keep in mind that these oil pastels are student-grade, so the quality will not be the same as the ones that artists use. I do not particularly use these oil pastels other than for background painting or coloring a large space with a single shade.

Pros
  • Highly affordable
  • Comes with a handy plastic scraper
  • The plastic case is handy to use
  • Great for kids who want to learn how to use oil pastels
  • The set contains 50 different colors
Cons
  • Not as soft as I would have wanted it to be – It is just a bit softer than crayons

This might be good for introducing young kids to the medium, but for serious artists, these oil pastels may be a bit disappointing. Despite that, I could still argue that these would work great for laying down base colors and then going over them with the more expensive stuff.

What to Look For When Buying a Oil Pastels

artist quality oil pastels

There are lots of oil pastel brands in the market today, which makes shopping for a good set difficult. However, you can make this task a bit easier by knowing what qualities you need to look for. Among the most important ones are:

Soft Consistency

Oil pastels need to be soft because this is what gives their drawings the signature look. You need to buy oil pastels that do not need too much pressure to draw onto the paper. They should also be easy to smudge, blend, and fade.

On the other hand, if you will be getting them for young kids, the consistency should still be soft, but not so soft that they are easy to break. Get them oil pastels that are just a bit softer compared to crayons. They will feel familiar, but they have more vibrant colors.

Safety

This is even more important if you will be giving the oil pastels to young kids. You need to get non-toxic oil pastels. If your kids have allergies, find the ones that do not contain allergens.

Also, the oil pastels you buy should not have any bad odors. Some brands of oil pastels have a strong chemical smell to them. Sometimes, it is even strong enough to make the user nauseated.

The Number of Colors

Although a good artist can make do with just 12 or so colors, for beginners and young users, having lots of colors to choose from is better. Having different shades of oil pastels will make blending colors easier. This will also help the oil pastels last longer as you will mostly not be using one color too often.

Cost

This will be subjective since some people will be able to afford the expensive brands, so you just need to choose oil pastels based on your spending capacity. Although you will indeed get what you paid for, many oil pastel brands work almost like the top brands, but at a fraction of the price.

Another factor you have to consider is the age of the person using them. If you will be the one using the oil pastels, then you can get the most expensive set that you can afford. However, if it will be for kids to use, then you should get oil pastels that are a bit more affordable.

Frequently Asked Questions

best oil pastels for beginners

Which Oil Pastels are Best for Beginners?

If you will be buying oil pastels for beginners, it is best to not splurge on the most expensive brands. For instance, instead of getting Senneliers, a beginner should get oil pastels from Faber-Castell or other brands that are in the middle or upper-middle price range.

Which oil Pastels are Best for Blending?

If you will be blending oil pastels, choose the ones that are soft and have a creamy texture. These oil pastels are the ones that have somewhat the same texture and consistency as lipstick. They are soft and creamy but still hard enough that you can use them for drawing.

Conclusion

Oil pastels may look like crayons, but they are a bit trickier to use and can provide dazzling results. In the hands of a master, an oil pastel drawing can look like an oil painting. In addition, unlike crayons, you can blend the colors of oil pastels easily.

Regardless of your skill level, you can find a set of high-quality pastels that will fit all your needs and wants perfectly. You just need to take your time shopping and don’t focus too much on the price. You will find plenty of the best oil pastels in the market today that can rival the expensive brands.

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