Header that says Elise's Easel.


Picture I drew of butterflies with pastels.
A piece I drew with pastels of colored butterflies.

Adding Color

Pastels are typically an artist's first stab at utilizing color. Color can give your pieces a whole new depth. Pastels work very similarly to charcoal – they are very soft and blend easily. This is great because it allows you to create pieces with multiple tones and blend them together.

Colored pastels
A large set of colored pastels.

Pastel Sets

Pastel sets come in different variety packs. Some come with a basic set of 8 or 12 colors, while others offer much more variety. You, as the artist, should choose whatever set you feel most comfortable with. While the larger packs may offer more variety, you may be able to achieve a similar level of variety by blending fewer colors. Sets can be purchased at any art supply store.


Much like charcoal, the best surfaces to work on when utilizing pastels are smooth surfaces. Individual sheets of paper can be purchased at an art supply store or you can go for a more economical art pad.

Starting Out

Usually, when artists are starting a piece with pastels, they will create a rough outline of what their finished piece will look like. You will want to do this with a light, non intrusive color like yellow or a soft beige. This way, when you go over these areas later, the original pastel color you used to outline will no show through.

Blend Blend Blend

If you have dabbled with charcoal, you are likely already familiar with the art of blending. Blending is essential when utilizing pastels. This tactic will allow you to create realistic pieces with colors that flow into each other, rather than pieces with fragmented colors.