Best Soft Pastels For Professional & Student Artists

Michael Daly
Written by
Last update:

So, you’ve decided to be an artist and to pursue a career in the arts?

That’s wonderful!

As you take your first few steps on you’re path to becoming a professional artist, there is one thing you absolutely need to get right from the get go, and that is buying the right art supplies for your style.

Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as you might think to know what art supplies can help you to develop your skill set and to progress in your passion for art.

Because art is so varied, it is also hard to know which of the many products and tools are best suited to the type of art you want to do.

In this article, I will share with you the right types of art products for you to start out with and the basics you need to know before you buy.

You’ll also find my own recommendations for some of the top soft pastels on the market.

NameCategoryProduct
Faber-Castel FC128272 Creative Studio Soft Pastel CrayonsBest OverallFaber-Castel FC128272 Creative Studio Soft Pastel Crayons
Mungyo Non Toxic Square ChalkBudget PickMungyo Non Toxic Square Chalk
Savoir-Faire Sennelier Soft Pastels Half Stick Set 120/Pkg-ParisUpgrade PickSavoir-Faire Sennelier Soft Pastels Half Stick Set 120/Pkg-Paris

1. Faber-Castel FC128272 Creative Studio Soft Pastel Crayons

Our rating: 9 / 10

Faber-Castel FC128272 Creative Studio Soft Pastel Crayons

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Matching their colors
  • Plenty of colors
  • Convenient packaging
  • Hard crayon top prevents color from coming out
  • Faber-Castel company is well established and reputable

Cons:

  • Available only in 72 pack. Not a good value for some
  • Due to softness, may break in transit

If you’re looking for soft pastels, then you should probably buy this one from Faber-Castel. These crayons are great for beginners because they are really soft and easy to use. The manufacturer recommends using these when you are still honing your skills in art.

Your purchase includes 72 pastels, which is a lot and you’ll be able wear them out as you hone your drawing skills.

They’re made from excellent pigments that will last you a really long time. The serving size is of a crayon is around 2 grams, so one pack is as great as 72 for your professional or students use.

2. Rembrandt Soft Pastels Basic 30 Half Stick Set 300C30.5

Our rating: 9 / 10

Rembrandt Soft Pastels Basic 30 Half Stick Set 300C30.5

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Soft and buttery texture
  • Richly pigmented colors
  • Ready-to-use
  • Both professional artists and children can use these
  • Medium-hard that is neither brittle nor crumbly
  • Easily blendable
  • Non-toxic
  • Creamy colors
  • Clean and smooth application

Cons:

  • A little expensive
  • Not suitable for detail work

Rembrandt pastels are suitable for both children and professional artists alike because they are easy to blend and create soft, vibrant colors. The pastels come in a variety of different colors including blues, greys, browns, yellows, neutral colors, neutrals, reds, and earth tones.

These pastels are available in round wooden sticks in a convenient 24-pack.

3. Mungyo Non Toxic Square Chalk

Our rating: 9 / 10

Mungyo Non Toxic Square Chalk

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Non-toxic and odorless chalk
  • High lightfastness
  • Portable
  • Affordable price

Cons:

  • Doesn’t get hard as other pastels
  • Softer and stickier chalk

We have been looking for a wonderful colored chalk that can suit our needs. We’ve found that among the variety of brands on the market, MuNgyo is one of our most favored. MuNgyo has a variety of pastel colors to offer.

Personally, we have been using this brand for a long time. It has been our go-to chalk because of its bright colors. It’s high-quality chalk that can be transported anywhere. Our only complaint would be that it can get quite messy with its crumbs but no other problem.

Overall, we highly recommend the MuNgyo brand among all the other brands on the market.

4. Savoir-Faire Sennelier Soft Pastels Half Stick Set 120/Pkg-Paris

Our rating: 8 / 10

Savoir-Faire Sennelier Soft Pastels Half Stick Set 120/Pkg-Paris

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Available in many colors
  • Made with high-quality ingredients
  • Available in many packages
  • Long-lasting and fade resistance
  • Easily blendable
  • High-quality contour lines
  • Professional pastels
  • Different sets
  • Long-lasting, high-quality colors

The Sennelier 125 half stick set comes in a beautiful wooden box with 120 soft pastels in Paris, Parisian Sky. A full number of strip is 50 sticks and half strip is 25. You can find them in various quantities from 10 to 500 pieces. The set is suitable for 1st to 5th grade art students and professional artists for practice, classes, and studios.

5. Mungyo Soft Pastel 64 Color Set Square Chalk

Our rating: 7 / 10

Mungyo Soft Pastel 64 Color Set Square Chalk

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Available in different sizes
  • Perfect for drawing, sketching, and painting
  • Great for students and professionals

In our opinion, Mungyo soft pastels are one of the best soft pastel sets on the market due to their high-quality and versatility. These are great for students and professionals.

This set is great because it has 64 different colors, so it can be used to create a wide variety of color blends. And each soft pastel contains a different amount of softness, so you can use them to get the perfect pastel blend.

The softness or hardness of the pastels can be altered by applying pressure to the pastel. We recommend these soft pastels for artists who want to create a proper wash.

6. Loew-Cornell Soft Half Pastels

Our rating: 6 / 10

Loew-Cornell Soft Half Pastels

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Variety associated with two dozen of soft pastels
  • Natural pigments

If you’re a serious artist looking to get a hold of some of the best soft pastels, look no further. These are affordable flagship items from Loew-Cornell that have been trusted by artists since the first box rolled off the assembly line. It’s such a fan favorite that it garnered over 2,900 positive reviews on Amazon at the time of this writing.

We love the 12 colors provided. They include burnt sienna, cerulean blue, cadmium yellow, hansa yellow medium, lemon yellow light, light yellow, orange, peach, permanent red, quinacridone red, viridian, and white. What’s so special about this set is the attention to detail that they give to the pastel box.

Specifically, it comes in a plastic box with a snap lid so you can keep the colors protected when not in use. The box can hold nearly double the colors if you get a second box.

7. Schmincke Half-Stick Extra-Soft Artist Pastel Set #2

Our rating: 5 / 10

Schmincke Half-Stick Extra-Soft Artist Pastel Set #2

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Paint doesn’t smudge as much
  • Made with premium quality ingredients
  • Pigments are extremely soft
  • Colors are vibrant
  • Available in sets
  • Reasonably priced
  • Soft wax consistency
  • Blends well
  • Suitable for various techniques, including stippling
  • Mixes well with other brands

Cons:

  • Harder to obtain
  • Colors may not be as vivid
  • Loses its color quickly in the sun

If you are an artist who likes to make large sketches, then soft pastels are the perfect choice for you. Although artists have been using this medium for centuries, it still has not lost any of its popularity. If you are planning to buy some soft pastels in the near future, then we’d love to share with you our Buying Guide.

With the wide variety of soft pastels in the market today, it can be quite challenging to choose the ones that would be best for you. With so many colors and brands to choose from, how can one possibly choose the one that’s best for him?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best brand of soft pastels?

There are many brands available but many of them do not have very good color quality and they tend to break easily. Our recommendation is Cheap Joe’s Studio pastels. They are relatively inexpensive when compared to other brands but the quality is excellent. The colored sticks are softer and they are of high quality. There is no tendency for them to crumble like some other comparable soft pastels. Cheap Joe’s Studio pastels come in a wide range of colors. You can get some basic colors or you can purchase color sets. They also have sets that are suitable for drawing, painting, and landscaping. So whichever set you choose, you can be sure of a high-quality soft pastel paint.

Which is better oil pastels or soft pastels?

That question is not an easy one to answer. I have spent time trying to research and find the answer to it as well. I have concluded my research with the fact that there is so much more to choosing between oil pastels and soft pastels than just how they look.

One thing my research did reveal however, is that oil pastels and soft pastels definitely have their own advantages, depending on the artist and the project. It is true that soft pastels do come off easier, but they can be more difficult to work with. Oil pastels, on the other hand, are easier to work with, but they do not come off as easily.

Pastel artists of different experience levels will see the advantages of both. Advanced artists will definitely benefit from the more intense colors that oil pastels produce. However, for students that are just mastering the skill of using pastels, soft pastels can ease them into learning and understanding the use of pastels.

Which paper is best for soft pastels?

The most common types of paper made for the purpose of drawing/painting with pastels include Bristol board, illustration board, and hard board. Bristol board is the most popular and works well with a pastel, however, artists are limited with how many layers of pastel they can put down as this can cause the paper to break or tear.

Illustration board can hold more layers of pastel than brisboard, but it is still not as good as the hard board in terms of a manageable texture and thickness that allows for more layers of soft pastel. This is because illustration board, and brik board, although it is more durable than illustration board, are not meant for the purpose of a hard medium like hard board is. Hard board is the best for drawing and painting with pastels.

What is the difference between soft pastels and chalk pastels?

Soft pastels are made of pigment and a binding substance. Chalk pastels are made of pigment, chalk, and a wax binder. Soft pastels are made from a mixture of pigment, a binding substance, and a filler (typically clay, chalk, etc.). Soft pastels are similar in shape and texture to chalk pastels, but whereas chalk pastels are harder, compressed chalk sticks, soft pastels are malleable and tend to be softer. Regardless of the difference in the surface of the sticks, your finger may need to be used to slightly soften the pastel to shade your artwork. Yet, this is not a common issue, and the softness of the medium makes the use of fingers unnecessary.

Conclusion

The best soft pastels for professional and student artists are formulated to provide a range of techniques needed to create the ideal work of art.

Understandably, the most expensive brands of pastels in soft form are not necessarily going to be the best, so we set about to compare some of the cheaper brands that promised high pigment and softness. One of the keys to finding the best soft pastels is to balance cost with quality.

We first tested the Faber-Castel brand, which was highly coveted, but was given a lower score because in the end the pigment tended to break easily during use. Next we tested the much cheaper brands that were advertised as top products.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Faber-Castel FC128272 Creative Studio Soft Pastel CrayonsBest OverallFaber-Castel FC128272 Creative Studio Soft Pastel Crayons
Mungyo Non Toxic Square ChalkBudget PickMungyo Non Toxic Square Chalk
Savoir-Faire Sennelier Soft Pastels Half Stick Set 120/Pkg-ParisUpgrade PickSavoir-Faire Sennelier Soft Pastels Half Stick Set 120/Pkg-Paris