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The Best Pastel Pencils for 2021

best pastel pencils

Are you looking for an art medium that combines the ease of use of color pencils with the bright colors of pastels? If you are, then you need to check out the best pastel pencils.

As the name suggests, oil pastel-colored pencils are among the types of color pencils. However, instead of a wax lead, they use pastels. This provides the same amount of control that you get from color pencils with the color intensity and versatility of pastels. With that, you can create crisp outlines while having the ability to blend and fade colors.

This article will teach you about what you need to look for when you are out shopping for the most outstanding pastel pencils brand. Keep in mind that these can be quite expensive, so you should know how to spot the best ones so you will not waste your money on inferior products.

Best Pastel Pencil Reviews

1. Faber-Castel FC112136 Pitt Pastel Pencils

faber-castel fc112136 pitt pastel pencils

The thing that I liked the most about the Faber-Castell Pitt pastel pencils is the highly pigmented leads in every pencil. Every line comes out clearly and you can see the colors. These are great when partnered with traditional pastels and even with mixed media.

Unlike traditional stick pastels, these pastel pencils have a fine point, making them suitable for detailed drawing. However, you can still blend the colors just like other kinds of pastels.

This set of pastel coloring pencils contain 36 colors, which is already quite a lot. I discovered that these 36 color choices are more than enough. However, if you are a professional artist who needs more than three dozen colors, fret not because you can buy individual colors here. You can keep adding to your collection until you are satisfied.

Another nice thing about these pastel pencils is that they do not leave as much residue as other pastel pencils. I have used several other brands of pastel pencils, and some of them leave so much residue that I had to clear the paper often to not smudge them into the drawing accidentally.

The pencils themselves are nice. However, I do have a bit of an issue with the included tin case. Even though the case is tin, it is very flimsy. There have been many times when the case just opened on its own while I am carrying it in my bag, causing the pencils to fall inside my bag. Re-organizing afterward was quite a pain.

Pros
  • Comes with highly pigmented leads
  • Does not leave as much residue compared to other similar products
  • Fine point for detail works, but can still blend the colors
  • This set comes in 36 colors but you can also purchase them separately
  • Works well with traditional pastels
Cons
  • The tin case that comes with the set is quite flimsy

Although this set of pastel pencils is somewhat expensive, just like other Faber-Castell products, these pencils are high-quality. This makes them among the best soft pastel pencils. Also, if you feel that this set does not contain some colors that you need, you can buy them individually until your set is complete.

2. MISULOVE Charcoal Pro Soft Pastel Pencils

misulove charcoal pro soft pastel pencils

If you like drawing portraits or if you usually have human figures as the focal point of your drawings, then you will love this set of color charcoal pencils. The MISULOVE charcoal pencil set contains 12 colors, most of which are various skin tones. This means you can virtually recreate any skin tone in existence.

I also like that the leads in these chalk pastel-colored pencils are thicker than those of other charcoal pencils. At 0.4mm in diameter, these leads can last a very long time if you use them carefully. I have been using my set of pencils for a couple of months and I still have not gone through a third of the pencils’ lengths.

Speaking of the leads, they are soft and do not require a lot of pressure to lay down a clear mark on the paper. This will usually depend on the quality of the paper you are using. However, I have generally been impressed with these pencils. I have tried different kinds of drawing paper and these pencils worked consistently.

Also, the colors are lightfast. This means that they will not fade much even when exposed to light. You will be getting archive-quality charcoal pencils at an affordable price, which is always a good thing. If you like to frame and display your work, these pencils will be great for that purpose.

The biggest issue that I have with these pencils is that the leads are extremely fragile. If you accidentally drop these from your table, there is a good chance that the lead inside them has shattered into hundreds of pieces. They are so brittle that you need to use a utility knife to sharpen them.

Pros
  • The set contains all the skin tones one needs to make portraits
  • The leads are 0.4mm thick, allowing the pencils to last longer
  • Soft leads that are capable of laying color down evenly
  • Affordable, making it a great choice for beginners
  • Colors are lightfast – They will last virtually forever with a good fixative
Cons
  • The leads are extremely fragile

If you will be extremely careful with the way you use these pastel chalk pencils, then you will have a lot of fun with them. However, do keep in mind that this set is primarily for drawing portraits, so the range of colors will be limited to earth tones.

3. General Pencil 4401-24A Multi Pastel Pencils

general pencil 4401-24a multi pastel pencils

The leads of these pastel pencils are quite soft, which makes them easy to blend and smudge. This also promotes ease in layering over other layers of pastel. However, I advise against using these pencils for coloring large areas. For those purposes, I highly advise you to use regular stick pastels.

Thanks to the fine points of these pencils, you can draw the finer details in your drawings much easier. Before I used these pastel pencils, I used to sharpen my pastels to draw small details, which was quite wasteful. These pencils help my pastels last much longer than usual.

As I mentioned earlier, these pencils have leads that are actual pastels. This means that they can adhere to other pastel layers. This is the best when drawing with pastel pencils over underpainted backgrounds because they stick on the surfaces nicely.

Another thing I liked about these pencils is that their leads are not as brittle compared to other pastel pencil brands. The leads of these pencils are almost as sturdy as those of graphite pencils. This means that you can use a regular sharpener on them.

The hardness of the leads can sometimes be an issue, though. According to more than one general’s pastel chalk pencils review, some color leads are harder than the others. There are even instances when they scratch the paper. In addition, some of the lighter colors with hard leads are almost invisible on the paper unless you press on them hard.

Pros
  • Easy to blend colors
  • Fine point lets you draw tiny details
  • The soft consistency allows pigments to layer evenly
  • The lead is not so soft, making it easy to sharpen
  • Does not leave a lot of residues
Cons
  • Some of the colors are scratchy

For the price, you cannot say that you were cheated. The reason is that the pencils are rather decent. However, you do have to compromise in terms of ease of use since some of the harder leads can scratch the paper. This is ideal for beginners or those who want to practice using pastel pencils.

4. Axus MARCO Pastel Neon Color Pencils

axus marco pastel neon color pencils

First off, these are not actual pastel pencils. I noticed that they are color pencils that come in pastel colors. These are ideal for when you are drawing something that needs soft yet still vibrant colors. Aside from pastels, this set of color pencils also contains neon-colored ones that are also hard to find.

These pencils are professional-grade in quality. They have highly pigmented wax leads, allowing them to write smoothly on almost all kinds of drawing paper. Most of the pencils have rather soft wax cores, allowing them to write clearly without applying too much pressure.

Because the wax leads are quite soft, these color pencils are easy to blend. I often use just the tip of my fingers or a piece of tissue paper. However, if I want them to blend smoother, I use an alcohol blending pen and they work together quite well.

The best thing about this set of color pencils is the fact that it is relatively affordable compared to other brands. There are only a handful of other brands that carry the same colors that are at the same price point. The usual brands that you will find are costlier per set.

I do have a bit of an issue with how brittle the leads are. If you are using these pencils for a large drawing, expect the leads to break at least two times before you finish.

Pros
  • The set comes with pastel and neon-colored pencils
  • Feature wax-based leads that write smoothly
  • Easy to blend colors
  • Affordable, which makes it ideal for amateurs and beginners
  • Good addition to any color pencil collection
Cons
  • The leads tend to break easily

Although these are not real pastel pencils, they are just pastel-colored, I can still say that they are great additions to your art supplies. You will have a hard time finding these colors without having to spend a lot of money. This is what makes it ideal for beginner pastel pencil artists who are just starting to build their collections.

5. Marco Chroma Manga Pastel Colored Pencils

marco chroma manga pastel colored pencils

If you are looking for pastel pencils, then I think these colored pencils would suffice. Note that these are colored pencils that come in pastel colors. With that out of the way, they are quite decent. The cores are soft but they are not as brittle as other brands of colored pencils with leads that tend to shatter if you accidentally drop them.

Another thing I liked about this set of colored pencils is the carrying case that they came in. Unlike other pencils that come in plastic cases, they come in a robust tin carrying case. The case does a good job of protecting the pencils and keeping them organized.

Speaking of organization, you need to keep these pencils in order because you will be dealing with 24 different colors. You may think that this number of colors is not enough.

However, you will be surprised at just how many colors you will be using for drawing. I bet that you will be deliberately adding some colors to your compositions just for the sake of using them.

These pencils also have nice designs. The pencil bodies are all hexagonal, so they will not roll off your table and so they are comfortable to hold. In addition, I liked that each pencil has a clear label. The labels have the color names and numbers, thereby helping with the organization.

However, even though the pencils have soft cores, you will need to put a bit of pressure on the tips to make a mark on the paper. Not all the colors are like this, though. You will notice this only in most of the lighter shades.

Pros
  • Soft cores but not brittle
  • Comes in a convenient and protective tin case
  • Ergonomic design, making it easy to hold
  • Comes in 24 vibrant colors
  • Clearly labeled pencil
Cons
  • Needs a bit of pressure to leave a visible mark

These are not the best color pencils but they are also far from the worst. I find them great as the first set for beginners. However, if you are a professional artist, note that others are far superior to these pencils. Also, if you are looking for pastel pencils, these are not the same. Again, note that they are just colored pencils with pastel colors.

6. STABILO CarbOthello Chalk-Pastel Pencil

stabilo carbothello chalk-pastel pencil

The first thing that I noticed about this set of colored pencils is the wooden carrying case. You know that you are getting high-quality pastel pencils when they come in a fancy and functional wooden box. This box also has layers, so you can see the entire set without needing to lift several trays of pencils.

If you are a beginner, you can consider this set of pastel pencils as an investment. This is especially true considering the fact that you will be getting a set of 60 colors. Having these many colors to choose from means you do not need to buy additional ones. My set has been with me for a couple of months, and I haven’t even used half of the set yet.

The pencils are among the best that I have used so far. The cores are made of real pastels. They are not your regular colored pencils. This means you can use these pencils alongside stick pastels to create gorgeous pastel pencils art. You can use the sticks to create the base and the pencils for rendering the finer details.

One issue I have with pastel pencils is that they are hard to sharpen to a point because of how brittle their leads are. This set comes with a special sharpener that carefully sharpens the pencils without damaging the wood casing and the leads. However, you should still be careful when sharpening. Avoid rushing.

There is absolutely nothing to complain about regarding this set of pastel pencils. You will need to be extremely picky to find anything of worth to find an issue with. Regarding the price, you will be getting more than your money’s worth.

Pros
  • Comes with a nice-looking and very functional wooden case
  • The soft pastel cores have the same consistency as stick pastels
  • Comes with a sharpener that does not break the leads
  • The set contains 60 different colors
  • Easy to blend using dry or wet methods
Cons
  • Nothing unless you are extremely picky

These pastel pencils are among the best that money can buy. Regardless if you are a beginner or an artist with years of experience, if you have room in your budget, you need to get these pastel pencils. Don’t worry as you will be getting what you paid for, and more.

7. PANDAFLY Professional Pastel Chalk Pencils

pandafly professional pastel chalk pencils

Pandafly made this set of colored charcoal pencils specifically for drawing portraits. These pencils just have four colors – black, white, brown, and tan. Having just 4 colors might seem like too few, but you would be surprised at what you can do using just them.

As mentioned earlier, this set of pencils come with three black and three white pencils. The reason being is that they come in varying hardness. I find this convenient because I do not need to push on the pencils too hard to make legible marks.

Anyway, the cores are quite sturdy, so breaking them in a non-deliberate manner is very unlikely. The leads are 4mm in diameter, so even the softer ones are highly durable. I use these pencils quite a lot and usually on large drawings. There have only been a handful of times when the tip broke on me.

Another thing I liked about these pencils is that because they are charcoal, blending and fading are easy to do. If you want to do a soft and flowing drawing, you can certainly do that using these pens.

I have no complaints about these pencils, especially since I knew what I was getting when I bought them. However, some people who use other media for drawing may have a bit of trouble. For instance, if you like using wood as a base for your art, then these pencils may not work the way you hope they would.

Pros
  • Made specifically for portraits and monotone drawings
  • The white and black pencils come in varying hardness
  • The cores are sturdy and easy to sharpen to a point
  • Easy to blend and fade
  • The browns and whites contrast easily on a black background
Cons
  • Does not work that well when used on surfaces other than paper

These pencils are some of the best that I have used for portraits. I also used them for monochrome drawings. The issue with drawing surfaces is not that big of a deal (to me at least) since I usually only work with paper. If you are thinking of starting with charcoal pencils, I highly recommend this set.

8. Dainayw Skin Tone Pastel Pencils

dainayw skin tone pastel pencils

Getting skin tones right using a regular set of pastel pencils can be difficult, but it does not have to be that way. I bought these pastel pencils because I got tired of constantly mixing different colors to match a person’s skin tone. With these pencils, I just need to pick one and then decide if I need to darken or lighten it.

Another nice thing about these pencils is that they have 5mm thick leads. What I like about them is that they still feel like you are using stick pastels, but you have more control. In addition, 5mm is not that thick. It still allows me to draw finer details with ease.

The leads are also soft enough that I can lay down a considerable amount of pigment on the paper just by applying a bit of pressure on the pencil. With that said, you need to have a very light hand when using them as the leads do tend to break easily.

These pencils are also ideal for beginners because they are affordable. If you are a beginner who is just starting to build up his pastel pencil collection, you will love the fact that these are quite cheap. If your collection is still lacking skin tone pencils, then I think they are perfect additions.

As mentioned earlier, the leads of these pencils are so brittle that it takes very little force to break them. This means that you need to have a light hand when using them. Moreover, because of the brittle cores, sharpening these pencils can be quite frustrating.

Pros
  • Contains all the colors that you will need to recreate any skin tone
  • The pencils have 5mm thick leads.
  • The colors are ideal for blending and smudging
  • Lays on thick and evenly
  • More affordable compared to other pastel pencils
Cons
  • Quite brittle leads

You will need to have a lot of patience when you are using these pencils. Also, these pencils are not for the heavy-handed artist, as you will be breaking the leads quite often. On the other hand, if you can learn to use these pencils, they will prove to be a great addition to your arsenal of art supplies.

9. KOH-I-NOOR Artist’s Soft Pastel Pencils

koh-i-noor artist's soft pastel pencils

You will be getting a good deal when you buy this set of pastel pencils. These are above-average when it comes to quality and you will also be getting 48 different colors. I have been using these pencils for a couple of months, and there are still a couple of colors that I have not used yet.

The cores of these pastel pencils are soft enough that you do not have to put too much pressure on them to leave a mark on the paper. The truth is that you should not do it. Just the weight of your hand should be more than enough to make these pencils write on paper. Doing any more and you risk breaking the leads.

Also, because the leads are so soft, they are quite easy to work with. When I use these pencils, I usually only use the tips of my fingers to smudge and blend colors. This is unlike other colored pencils wherein you still need a blending pen to mix colors.

Because these pencils have the same texture and consistency as stick pastels, I was able to use the items alongside them. I use the stick pastels to draw most of the piece, and then I would use these pencils for the details and outlines of figures.

Just like most of the pastel pencils in the market today, they also have quite fragile leads. They are probably some of the most fragile I have ever used, though. Just sharpening these pencils using a hobby knife like you are supposed to is an exercise in patience.

Pros
  • The set contains 48 colors
  • The soft pastels lay down easily and evenly
  • Comes with easy to work with colors
  • Same texture and consistency of stick pastels
  • Comes in a durable tin carrying case
Cons
  • Quite fragile leads

These are some of the most beneficial pastel pencils in their price point. If you are a struggling artist or you just don’t want to splurge too much money on pastel pencils, then I am sure you will love these products. They are not perfect but they are also far from being the worst.

10. Derwent Pastel Pencils

derwent pastel pencils

These pencils have nice 4.5mm thick cores, which makes you feel like you are still using stick pastels. However, even though the lines are considerably thicker than a colored pencil, they are still thinner than a stick pastel. This is the reason why I like using them for drawing details and outlines.

Since the cores are also made from pastels, they are also easy to work with. They can write over layers of pastels, which is why I like using them when giving my drawings lots of details. With that said, you should not use these pencils when coloring in large spaces. The leads will always break if you do.

Speaking of colors, this set contains 24 colors. You might think that this number of colors would not be enough. However, you would be surprised at how many colors you will be using when you draw. For me, I do not use more than 6 colors at a time, give or take a couple of shades.

If you are a stickler for organizing like me, then you will like how every pencil is color-coded and labeled. The labels include the color name and numerical code. This makes it easier to pick the right colors and shades. Also, for organizational purposes, a neatly arranged row of colored pencils is always beautiful.

The problem that most people have with these pencils is that they are difficult to sharpen if the point gets broken, which often happens according to more than one Derwent pastel pencils review.

You cannot use a regular sharpener for these pencils. You have to shave off the wooden casing carefully using a utility or craft knife. Even with this method, there is no guarantee that the leads will not shatter.

Pros
  • These pencils have 4.5mm thick cores
  • Soft and easy to work with cores
  • Contains 24 vibrant colored pastel pencils
  • Comes in a convenient tin carrying case
  • Color-coded and labeled pencils
Cons
  • Hard to sharpen – The leads are too brittle for regular sharpeners

Despite being hard to sharpen, these pastel pencils are above-average. It also helped a lot that these pencils are quite affordable. This makes it the perfect choice for those who want to try pastel pencils but are not willing to spend too much on an expensive set. You might even want to stick to these pencils once you start to take on art seriously.

What to Look For When Buying a Pastel Pencil

best pastel pencils brand

Beginner artists might not even be aware that pastel pencils exist and there is nothing wrong with that. If you haven’t heard about them before now, then you probably do not know how to shop for them. To help you out, here are some of the factors that you need to consider when you are shopping for your first set of pastel pencils.

Color Vibrancy

Of course, the pastel pencils you should use are the ones that have vibrant colors. Some brands have colors that are so dull that you need to layer them several times so you can see them. Choose pencils that have highly-pigmented cores and those that can lay a readily visible layer.

Number of Colors

This will depend on what kinds of drawings you like to make. If you like drawing portraits, then get a set of pencils that contain mostly earth and skin tones. If you like to draw colorful landscapes, then you need a set that contains lots of brilliant colors.

Lead Consistency

Ideally, the leads of pastel pencils should be the same as stick pastels. These pencils usually add tiny details in stick pastel drawings. Also, leads that have the same consistency will be able to write over them. Softer leads also mean that blending and smudging the colors will be a lot easier.

Lead Durability

Some pastel pencils contain leads that are so fragile that falling from a desk will be enough to shatter them in several places. You should get a pastel pencil set with leads that are durable enough that you can sharpen them easily.

Price

Of course, you should also consider how much the pencils cost because some brands can cost hundreds of dollars per set. If you are looking for a set that you can practice with, start with the affordable ones that provide passable results.

You can consider getting the more expensive brands once you have a bit more experience using these kinds of pencils.

Frequently Asked Questions

best soft pastel pencils

Which Brand of Pastel Pencils is Best?

This will be purely subjective because some people think that the more expensive the pencils are, the better they are compared to others. However, that is not always the case. I have used a lot of cheap pastel pencils and they work just as well as those that cost a lot of money.

Are Pastel Pencils Good for Beginners?

Pastel pencils are somewhat like colored pencils but they have a steeper learning curve. For beginners who have no experience with any kind of art media, it might not be a good idea to start with pastel pencils.

Conclusion

The nice thing about pastel pencils is that you can use them to add more depth to your pastel drawings. Because of their finer points, you can add more details to your already nice-looking drawing. However, the best pastel pencils are also quite tricky to use, so you should get as much practice using them as you can.

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