Best Pastel Pencils

If you’re looking for a great and easy way to add some color and life to your latest masterpiece, getting some pastel pencils is highly recommended. Pastel pencils are incredibly easy to use, more so than pastel sticks.

You will be pleased to know that there are plenty of incredible pastel pencils on the market. The only question is what set will be the best for you when there’s so much choice out there?

Thankfully, we’re here to help. Read on for our picks of some of the best pastel pencils. We’ve also written a nifty buyer’s guide to help you to narrow down your decision.

OUR TOP PICK

General Pencil Assorted Colors MultiPastel (R) Chalk Pencils 36/Pkg, Count (Pack of 1)

General’s has a reputation for making fantastic charcoal pencils, but you may be surprised to know that their pastel pencils are equally as good. In fact, they are especially ideal for beginners and amateurs just looking to experiment with colors. This particular set is incredibly affordable too - perfect if you’re just starting out. 

You’ll be pleased to know that this pencil set is incredibly durable and sturdy. Sharpening your pastel pencils no longer needs to be a thing that will make you anxious. You can sharpen them without any problems and there’s no need to worry about crumbling lead. They feel smooth and glide across even rough paper, and they work incredibly well on larger artworks that don’t require a great deal of detail. 

One of the best things about this particular set is that you’re getting so much quality for a very affordable price. With that being said, this set isn’t without its problems. Namely, its not ideal for doing small details or anything particularly precise. It’s still ideal for beginners, however.

Pros

  • Great for beginners
  • Durable
  • Ideal for larger paintings

Cons

Not a great choice for fine details

EDITORS CHOICE

STABILO Carbothello Pastel Pencil, 60-Color Set, 1-pack (1460-6)

The Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencils are some of the best pencils out there to date. These pencils are incredibly simple to use, whether you’re a beginner or a professional. There are also a range of different variations of this set on the market designed to fit with the artist’s needs. 

The pencils are very affordable, so if you’re looking for a great set on a budget then this may be a good choice for you. The pencils even have their own lightfastness rating which is pretty rare in a standard model.

You can simply check the star on the barrel of the pencil to see the rating. What’s especially handy is that it’s possible to buy pencils individually which is ideal if you end up running out of a certain shade. There’s no need to keep buying the same set over and over again.

The set features pencils with a 4.4mm lead diameter, and this means that they are well suited to more detailed work. They’re incredibly vibrant and can work well both for beginners and professionals. The sets are somewhat limited in terms of colors however, which may not be ideal for all users. 

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Lightfastness ratings
  • Small lead width ideal for small, detailed works

Cons

  • Not a great deal of color variety

BEST VALUE

Derwent Pastel Pencils, 4mm Core, Metal Tin, 72 Count (32996)

The Derwent Pastel Pencils are a great choice whether you’re a beginner or a professional. This large set has a wide variety of colors available that you’re sure to appreciate.

In total the set comes with 72 color variations, and they come inside of a tin and wooden box. This helps to keep them safe and also makes them ideal for people that like to work on their art when they’re on the go. The pencils are vibrant and their performance is unparalleled.

If you are running out of a certain shade then you need not worry, as each pencil has a product number on the barrel that you can refer to when buying replacements. It should be noted, however, that this isn’t the most durable set of pastel pencils. Unfortunately the lead can crumble if they are put under rigorous use for a while. You should remember this if you plan on using them for finer small scale pieces.

Pros

  • Ideal for beginners or professionals
  • Lots of color options
  • Highly portable

Cons

  • Not the most durable lead

RUNNER UP

Koh-I-Noor Gioconda Soft Pastel Pencil Set, 48/Each Packed in Tin, Assorted Colored Pencils (FA8828.48)

This particular pastel pencil set has been designed especially for beginners, so if you’re just getting started with creating colorful art pieces then this is the choice for you.

The set comes with 48 color options in total. In fact, it even comes with a separate color chart that can be rather useful. The pencils have a lead diameter of 3.8mm and this is pretty small, allowing you to create a large amount of detail if that’s what you’re looking for. It’s a great choice for students, and every pencil comes with a lightfastness rating on the barrel.

The set does have some minor issues though, and it mainly comes down to color selection. It only has 48 colors in total, and it’s not possible to buy the shades separately either. This means that if you end up running out of colors then you may need to purchase an entire set to replace the color you no longer have,

Pros

  • Comes with a color chart
  • Ideal for detailed work
  • Great for beginners and students

Cons

  • Not a great deal of color variety

RUNNER UP

Faber-Castel FC112160 Pitt Pastel Pencils in A Metal Tin (60 Pack), Assorted

Faber is well known for making fantastic art supplies. The Pitt Pastel range of pastel pencils is particularly revered for its versatility and budget friendly nature.

The pencils are a great choice for newbies and professionals alike. While the price is low, the performance is still incredibly high. The pencils are consistent and smooth to use. In addition, if you want to create a watercolor effect on your work you can actually do so with these pencils as they have a water solvent binding. All you need is a wet sponge or a damp brush and you’re good to go.

In addition to this the Faber Castell website will give you a color chart for further reference. This is especially handy if you want more information about the different color variants for more detailed pieces of work. Unfortunately the set only comes with around 60 pencils, which may not be suitable for people looking to create particularly vibrant pieces of work.

Pros

  • Ideal for detailed work and for large works
  • Can work well for amateurs and for professionals
  • Affordable
  • Color chart is handy for understanding color variations

Cons

  • There aren’t enough pencils for very vibrant pieces of work. There are not enough shades available

Best Pastel Pencils Buying Guide

Why Should You Use Pastel Pencils?

It can be somewhat tricky to get used to using pastel sticks, whether they are hard or soft. On the contrary, many of us have been using pencils to some degree since we were children, meaning that it can take less time to get used to using pastel pencils. In essence, you get the benefits you would usually expect with a pastel except you have more control with a pencil. This allows you to work possibly in even more detail. They’re perfect whether you’re just starting out with making your own creations or if you’re an expert, so they’re certainly worth investing in.

Things to Consider

If you’re never bought pastel pencils before it can be hard to know what you should choose. After all, not every option is the same and there are going to be some options that are better than others. If you’re stuck on which set of pastel pencils you should buy, read on for some of the things that you should think about before you make your purchase. 

Color Range

One of the first things that many artists think about when they’re buying colored pencils is the amount of colors that are available. It’s certainly possible to buy individual colors as you would with certain paints, but if you are going to be working with a range of different shades, strokes and lines then it’s vest to get a set that has a wide range of different colors available. Thankfully it’s not too hard to find sets that can provide you with 12, 24, 36, 48, 72 and more colors in just one set.

Of course, it’s not just the quantity that counts - you also need to think about the shades that you think you are most likely to use. For instance, there are some sets that will give you warm and cool versions of neutral colors - these are best for people that prefer to create portraits or for those that will need to use a number of different natural skin tone colors. Alternatively you could get a set with a range of different colors, such as the key paste colors or you could get some bigger sets that will give you an even larger range of colors.

At the end of the day, it comes down to your own personal preference. With that being said, it’s important that you consider a set with colors that you are likely to use pretty frequently to truly get the best value for money. You should also think about your experience levels with building colors and layering. Making these kinds of considerations will help you to make the best decision for you. 

Having too much selection may feel a little bit overwhelming if you’re just getting started, so it’s often best to opt for a set with just the primary shades and then gradually build up to using more shades as you improve. 

Variants and Different Textures

To the untrained eye, pastel pencils can all look exactly the same. With that being said, made pencils can differ depending on their texture and other properties. For instance, some pencils are much softer, while others are hard. There are pros and cons of all different kinds of pencils. 

Pencils with softer textures tend to feel easy and smooth when you are working. They tend to be a little easier to blend. Unfortunately they can also be quite fragile and the tip can crumble when it’s being sharpened.

Harder pencils can be a little more durable and easier to control. However they aren’t always very easy to smudge. Ultimately what you get will depend on your needs, and some brands may differ from others. It’s also worth looking at the lightfastness rating as this will tell you how much the color is likely to fade.

Versatility

You need to think about how versatile your pastel pencils are before you buy them. Think about what materials you’re going to be working on, as not all pencils will be compatible with certain materials. Some pencils can also be good for other purposes, such as making outlines for watercolor, oil pastel or acrylic works. This can take your work to a whole new level. 

Quality

There are so many different pastel pencils on the market, which can make it especially challenging to find the perfect set for you. It can be even more challenging if you’re new to the craft or you want the pencils just to do some coloring. If you are in doubt about quality, it’s best to look for some of the better known, well established brands. They are usually experienced with making fantastic products so you can be sure that you will get high quality.

Budget

When you’re buying your pastel pencils it’s very important to think about your budget. You can end up spending a lot more money on a pencil set than you actually need to if you aren’t careful. If you’re on a budget there are many great options out there. The chances are that the more colors you get the more you’re going to be paying for them.

If you want to spend less money then consider an option that has fewer colors, or you can opt for student level pencils. Ultimately though, just make sure you aren’t getting low quality pencils otherwise you’re just wasting your money. You can check online reviews to see any complaints about quality that other customers may have. 

Lead Diameter

Diameter is an important thing to consider when buying your pencils. The lead diameter of your pastel pencil basically determines how much control you’re going to have over the pencil. If you don’t have control then you may not get the results that you are hoping for. If you’re going to be creating a lot of pieces that require a lot of control then you will need a pastel pencil that has a narrow diameter.

Ultimately if you have a pencil with a larger diameter then you won’t be able to control the pencil as well. It is beneficial to have a larger diameter when you need to color larger areas quickly, however. A bigger diameter thus works better for larger pieces of work.

You should also consider the fact that a pencil with a larger diameter is ultimately going to cost more money than a narrow standard sized pencil. If you aren’t quite sure what diameter will be best for you then you can get a pencil that’s somewhere in the middle and experiment with it. 

Portability

It’s worth remembering that you won’t always find a set that comes with a neat box to keep your pencils in. If you use your pencils on the go rather than in a specific studio at home then you will be better suited to a set of pencils that is more portable. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should buy pastel pencils?

One of the best things about pastel pencils is that basically anyone and everyone can use them. Whether you’re looking to experiment with color and shading or you’re a professional artist, these pencils are ideal for you. They’re even suitable for children.

How should I sharpen my pastel pencils?

The answer to this ultimately depends on the quality of the pencil. There are a lot of brands on the market that you can use with a standard pencil sharpener and they won’t break super easily. Unfortunately though there are also many options that can’t be sharpened with a normal sharpener. You will need to buy a specific pencil for your pencil brand in this case, or you could use a knife or sandpaper to sharpen the pencil.

It’s worth remembering that pastel pencils are delicate, so it’s important to be extra careful when you are sharpening. You don’t want them to break! Keep a close eye on the durability of your pencils.

Do I need to do any maintenance on my pastel pencils?

Thankfully there’s no need to do a lot of maintenance on your pencils, and there’s not a lot of cleaning required either. It’s simply just a case of keeping them in a container where they will be safe to make sure that the lead and tip doesn’t breakeasily. You will also need to sharpen them on occasion using the correct tools. That’s all there is to it!

WonderStreet is not affiliated with any of the brands mentioned in this article. However, we sometimes receive a referral fee from online retailers when our readers buy on their website after clicking from our website to theirs. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases, which supports the operation of our blog and helps to keep all our content free for everyone. In any case, when we conduct our analysis, our intention and focus is to remain objective and unbiased at all times.

What’s your favourite Pastel Pencil? We’d love to hear from you... Please leave your comments below.

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