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6 Best Pastel Pencils for Professionals in 2022

6 Best Pastel Pencils for Professionals in 2022

Source: Freepik

Same age-old concern, there are so many options, so how can you select your suited pastel pencils? Should you be struggling, this ultimate updated guide will assist you in picking the best pastel pencils. I found during my research that the choices mentioned below are highly pigmented, translating to vibrant outcomes. Also, they have excellent lightfastness ratings, blend with ease, and boast the appropriate lead diameter. You can likewise use them easily under colored pencils and make great mat backgrounds.

The 6 Best Pastel Pencils in 2022 are:


What To Consider Before Buying Pastel Pencils

Caran d'Ache pastel pencils are one of the best of the best pastel pencils today that practically tick all the boxes.

1. Color Variety

While you can blend pastel colors, they do not mix as nicely as paints. Having said that, they come with an assortment of colors as a compromise. Artists who have worked with pastels before and grasp their drawing methods would do well with various colors. For novices, it is a good idea to start with a couple of colors to get the hang of the technique and see the differences between pastels and other art mediums. For example, the Stabilo Carbothello pastel pencils have enough color selections for both beginners and veterans to ace their work.

2. Consistency

Typically pastel pencils are water-soluble. That is why their color blending is smoother and they are not as rough and chalky as soft pastels or hard pastels. You get to layer hues and combine tools using a blending tool. You can use pastel paint brushes to blend pastels as well. The texture of some pastel pencils is powdery and soft, ideal for the color distribution, layering, and shading. Meanwhile, creating fine details with hard “pitt” pencils such as Faber-Castell pastel pencils is the best. It is also worth mentioning that some artists like protecting their final art piece with a fixative.

3. Hard/ Soft Pastel Sticks vs. Pastel Pencils

Sharp Point & Detail

Your best pastel pencils should be sharpened without much difficulty and can hold a sharp point. This is particularly helpful for fine details. Nevertheless, for painting plenty of pastels on a canvas or paper at once, you may like using soft pastels better. 

Cleaner & Reduced Smudging

It is more convenient to draw with pastel pencils than soft or hard pastel sticks because they are cleaner to use in your drawing and do not produce smudges on the surface.

All in all, artists tend to use a collaboration of pastel pencils and oil pastels/ hard/ soft pastels in the same artwork. That is why selecting one or the other is unnecessary. Just make sure that you know the main differences between them, for example. oil pastels vs soft pastels, to use them the right way.

4. Price

Undoubtedly, you should likewise think about the price of the pencils. Should you be searching for a set to practice with, go with the cheap and cheerful ones that give passable results. Once you have gained some more experience using this type of pencil, consider relying on the more premier brands.


6 Best Pastel Pencils To Buy in 2022

1. Caran d'Ache Pastel Pencils: Best Overall 

Caran d'Ache Pastel Set of 20 Pencils

This brand is special in that it designs its art supplies subject to artist feedback. As such, they can create one of the best pastel pencils out there and among the most superb pigments accessible. Because these Caran d'Ache pastel pencils have powdery and hard consistency, they are ideal for layering. Vibrant, color-packed pigments aside, this selection is water-resistant and lightfast.


  • Pure pigment used
  • The brand offers clear information on the lightfastness rating of each color
  • Great blending
  • You can tone down vibrancy using a blending stump
  • Simple to sharpen and hold a fine point
  • Do not generate wax bloom
  • Attractive packaging



  • Fall into the premium price range, but it is well worth the cost. Should you wish to take your art to a whole new level and can afford to support it, I cannot recommend the Caran d'Ache pastel pencils enough.


2. Stabilo Carbothello Pastel Pencils: Best for Beginners 

Stabilo Carbothello Pastel Pencils 60-Color Set

Artists seeking the best soft pastel pencils for newbies will not be let down by the price, variety, and quality of this option. The set of 60 gives ample color variety to master layering and highlight methods. On the one hand, the consistency of these Stabilo Carbothello pastel pencils is chalky. But on the other hand, they do not leave too many powdery residues that possibly smudge pieces. You may also like the rich color choices and the ease of layering them for brighter pigments.


  • Good price
  • Easy to blend 
  • Cool for use under colored pencils and making wonderful mat backgrounds
  • Vivid color



  • Sharpening them may be relatively hard because of their softcore .  It is best to use a handheld sharpener and one that you can change the blades because pastel grit dulls the blades faster. Therefore, if the lead keeps breaking while sharpening, change blades.


3. Derwent Pastel Pencils: Best for Professionals

The artwork achieves a smooth velvet finish thanks to the soft powdery texture of these pencils.

Professionals cannot get enough of the variety of diverse and bold colors of up to 72 Derwent pastel pencils. Colors include various blues, greens, and browns, ideal for adding details and highlights to your work. Being powdery and soft, the pastels can produce an even consistency on well-toothed drawing paper. Better yet, the core of 4.0mm to 4.5mm is an appropriate balance between size and still being adequately small to enable ample control for details. One thing to note is that you should lightly tap the chalky residue into the garbage instead of blowing it left on your paper.


  • These best pastel pencils come in a large variety of colors for various applications
  • Vibrant colors
  • Their vibrant pigments get particularly highlighted on black paper
  • Optimized core size



  • A few colors are harder to sharpen than others


4. Faber-Castell Pastel Pencils: Best for Fine Details

Faber-Castell Pitt Pastel Pencil, a tin of 60

Using pastels to create fine details can be difficult, yet this brand makes light work  thanks to the Pitt cores. Because these are 100% oil and wax-free, sharpening them without breaking the lead is simple and they can hold a point. Likewise, the Faber-Castell pastel pencils are lightfast and boast vibrant pigments. They are also one of the most trusted pastel pencils for portraits with their range of hair and skin tones. Generally speaking, this brand is among the favorites of professional artists because of its museum quality. 


  • Impressive for fine details
  • Non-toxic and in compliance with ASTM safety standards
  • Simple to sharpen
  • Leave little or no powdery residue
  • Attractive packaging



  • Tin is not fantastic for traveling


5. General's Multi-Pastel Pencils: Best value for money

General's MultiPastel Chalk Pencils, 36 Assorted Colours

These best pastel pencils’ fine points enable you to do the finer details in your piece of art more easily. Before I used this product, I had to sharpen my pastels when working on small details, which was somehow wasteful. My pastels last far longer after I added the General's Multi-Pastel Pencils to my projects. Moreover, their leads are actual pastels, implying that they boast the capability of adhering to other pastel layers. This is great when you work with pastel pencils on top of under-painted backgrounds, as they do a good job of sticking on the surfaces. Another cool thing about them is that their leads are nearly as sturdy as graphite pencils’. In other words, you can sharpen them in a breeze. In addition to making fine lines, these pencils can blend quite seamlessly.


  • Simple to blend colors
  • The soft consistency enables pigments to layer evenly
  • The fine point allows you to create small details
  • Do not leave plenty of residues
  • Sharpening the lead is easy because it is not too soft
  • Good price



  • A few colors are scratchy


6. Prismacolor Nupastel Sticks: A Two-for-One Deal

Prismacolor NuPastel Single Sticks

These Prismacolor sticks are among the best pastel pencils for creative art projects such as fine illustrations since their vivid colors are tougher and not as messy as traditional powdery pastels. Unlike soft pastels, it is not easy for them to break. At the same time, they stay adequately creamy, allowing you to do blending and shading. You likewise have the choice to use the Prismacolor Nupastel Sticks dry or wet. For example, generate cool effects by creating a mixture of them with odorless mineral spirits or water. It is also significant that  it does not matter whether you or your children use these sticks, and whatever methods you use them, they will do no harm to your health. Further, even following a large project, you do not have to sweat over the amount of effort and time needed for cleanup. Considering their breakage resistance and little dusting, they are quick to use and effortless to clean.


  • Tough compared to traditional powdery pastels
  • Non-toxic for children and grown-ups
  • Usable in both dry and wet ways
  • You can sharpen them with ease to get a finer point
  • Have breakage resistance for quicker use and cleaning



  • Glued on wraps


Related Questions

1. What is the best paper for pastels?

Should you desire to use museum-quality paper for your pastels, find the one described as acid-free, cotton, or rag. The paper is available on a pad or  separate sheets. A decent choice is Strathmore 500 Series Heavyweight Mixed Media Pads. They are 100% cotton and acid-free and suitable for not only pastels but also other wonderful mediums. If you would like more information, be sure to reference this updated list of best pastel paper options.

2. Should I use pastel pencils only by themselves?

Yes, if you feel more comfortable to start with. But once you can work in this medium with more confidence, you may want to make use of blending pumps, tortillon, and fixatives (for preservation aside from layering). By adding new tools like tortillon, you will achieve more even gradients in pieces and learn about new fantastic drawing methods.

3. How should I sharpen my pastel pencils?

It can be relatively tricky to sharpen this kind of pencil. Usually, a traditional pencil sharpener gives a frustrating experience to use. As soon as the pastel pencil is about to reach a fine point, it downright breaks. Thus, I suggest opting for a pastel pencil sharpener because it will work relatively better with the pencils whose lead is softer. Or else, you can consider getting a sanding block which should enable you to hone the pencil tip to a fine one.

4. By the way, how do you use soft pastels?

These soft pastel drawing techniques should help you evolve your craft and create the best work possible:

  • Making lines with the pastel edge
  • Using the soft pastel side 
  • Hatching and cross-hatching
  • Blending
  • Scumbling for visually stimulating effects
  • Layering

For further clarification about these techniques, please check out this ultimate guide.