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Techniques Used in Pastel Painting

Shashank Nakate
Different techniques like scumbling, stippling, hatching, etc., help in creating beautiful effects with pastels. Read on to understand what exactly do they mean and how to bring out the best in your painting using them and many other techniques as well.
A painting which uses a blend of powdered pigment and binder in the form of sticks, is known as pastel painting. The binder used to prepare pastels has a neutral color, whereas the pigments are same as the ones used in other coloring media.
Pastels are easy to use in a sense that one doesn't need to mix or blend them in a palette. They are just laid on paper without using water.
Pastels can be a good medium of painting, provided that you learn the proper techniques and modes of application. One can create many different effects and shades in watercolor painting even with oil pastels. The problem, however, with pastel colors is that the powder pigment once applied to the paper has to be protected from falling off.
The material used for oil pastels, in fact, lasts longer than watercolor; it is just about retaining the pastel color on the paper. It is generally done by protecting (not preserving) the pastel layers beneath glass.


Variation in Pressure

The application of varying amounts of pressure with pastels helps in bringing out different effects. The technique is similar to pencil shading.

Creating Contours

The edges of pastel sticks are used to draw sharp lines. These lines are rubbed off to create contours. One can use pencil pastels instead of pastel sticks to make sharp lines. There is one more technique to create contours, i.e., to lay masking tapes on the paper leaving a gap to draw lines.


This technique is used to create the effect of smoke, fog, etc. It is done in such a manner that the paper is colored with two colors in layers (one above the other).
The upper layer is light in shade. The upper (light shaded) layer is created by using the side (flat) portion of pastels. Apart from atmospheric effects like fog, the scumbling effect can also be used to draw shadows.


The technique of hatching can be simply described as the practice of laying down a series of lines. The purpose of using this technique is either highlighting, shading, or modeling.
Cross-hatching is a variation of hatching, where the lines are laid close to each other except that they are at different angles. The benefit of using this technique is that the painting attains depth and it becomes rich in terms of colors.


This technique is slightly different from hatching in the sense that dots are used instead of lines. The dots used for stippling could be of the same or different colors. A transition from one phase to other is depicted through the stippling technique. Stippling is similar to an impressionistic technique called pointillism.
Oil pastels are equally good for painting when compared to regular pastels. The oil pastel techniques provided here would prove helpful for the beginners.


It is the technique in which white papers are given a wash of oil pastel colors to remove white flecks. A rich color can be applied to the paper with this technique.


The blending technique is used for mixing different oil pastels on a palette. Creating smooth gradients is the objective here.
Hope that the techniques provided here helped you in making the activity enjoyable and fun-filled.