Artists' quality pastels contain the best pigments available and a higher ratio of pigment to binder. This means that artists' colors are stronger and more intense. They also have high permanence ratings, which means that they won't fade over time.
Professional artists will only use specific pastel brands like Rembrandt, Sennelier, or Schmincke, that are trusted and well known for their lightfastness, color quality, and vibrancy. Student-grade pastels are intended to be used by beginners or students learning pastels.
Best Oil Pastels Reviewed In 2020
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Best for Kids: Sakura Cray-Pas Junior Artist Oil Pastels
While they are kid-friendly and made for junior artists, these aren't just for kids—they're one of the best pastel sets for beginners, too.
It all comes down to the type of binder, or ingredient that holds the pigment into stick form, when it comes to classifying something as either a soft pastel or a chalk pastel. The short answer to whether a soft pastel is a chalk pastel is yes, soft pastels are the same as chalk pastels.
Soft pastels feel drier, whereas oil pastels can feel greasy, slick and waxy. Oil pastels have a tendency to be more durable and less likely to break and crumble. Pastels made with oils are non-siccative, which means that they never fully dry.
Oil pastel is unlike oil paint in that it never dries. The drawing/painting will always be smudge-able and can attract dust to the surface. Oil pastel drawings are always framed behind glass to protect them.
Most soft pastels come in sticks – long to short, fat to thin, round to square. Hard Pastels – are drawing sticks made of pigment, water and chalk. Hard pastels create sharp, bright lines on light and dark papers.
If the tone of the paper/surface plays a major visual role in the final appearance of the artwork, it is a drawing. If the paper/surface is completely covered with pastel, it is considered a painting.
Pastel is a medium that straddles the line between painting and drawing. The finished pieces can look just as luscious and luminescent as paintings, yet the process to create them resembles drawing more than painting.
Soft Pastels (a.k.a Chalk Pastels)
Soft or “French” pastels are much chalkier in consistency than oil pastels. They are made by combining dry pigments with binders and setting the formula into sticks. Kaolin clay is a popular binder for high quality artists' pastels.
Even though their ability to adhere is limited, pastels cannot be completely erased. Just one word of advice: Go-light-ly! Applying too much pressure will immediately make the intrusive mark look more pronounced.
For very fine detail, harder pastels are more suitable, however. The softest pastels are often higher priced, due to their high qualitative pigment load. Popular brands are Sennelier, Unison and Terry Ludwig. Medium soft pastels are the best of both worlds.
Soft pastels, the most commonly used pastel, are made with a combination of white chalk, pigment and gum arabic, which gives it a drier matte finish. Soft pastels do not adhere to the surface, allowing it to be brushed off. Oil pastels on the other hand, are similar to oil paints but don't dry out or harden completely.
By some measures, chalk might be the ultimate art supply. It's affordable, erasable, non-toxic, and it's easy to use.
Most often, artists just draw on the canvas with the pastel. The soft, waxy texture of the oil pastel can provide interesting texture to the drawing. However, soft and hard pastels are also used on canvas at times.