View Full Version : Pastel tools

05-31-2012, 07:03 PM
Hi everyone,

I am in the process of doing my first ever pastel.

Luckily for me it mainly consists of large blocks of colour which I have been able to blend with my fingers.

However as I was working I was thinking how to blend very small areas if I were to do finer work.

What tools do you find most beneficial in doing fine detail work, and what do you use to blend colours in fine detailed work??


water girl
05-31-2012, 08:08 PM
For really tight spots, I use one of those pointed or chiseled rubber color shapers.

06-01-2012, 03:25 AM
Taiko...as this is not a picture, but a discussion on tools... I've moved it to our talk section, but I have left you a redirect....just in case you get lost trying to find it.:D

06-01-2012, 08:29 AM
As you are new to pastels, I just wanted to point out that blending is not always essential as a technique with pastels. Very often, "newbies" to pastels think that it is the only way to use them. Please take a look at the pictures in my signature line. I have used very little blending in these images; I prefer to use pastels in a more direct fashion. I really recommend that you practice using your pastels to find out what kinds of techniques you can employ as well as blending, so that you have a huge variety of techniques at your fingertips (sorry about the pun!) when you come to create your paintings.

It is worth looking at the work of established painters, both artists of old, like Degas and Toulouse Lautrec, as well as modern-day professionals such as Richard McKinley, Harley Brown, Doug Dawson, and Albert Handel, amongst many others. Many of them use very little blending at all.


06-01-2012, 11:53 AM
As a very general statement, blending will dull and soften the pastel marks and areas of color, so, as Jackie has mentioned, the amount of blending that many folks do is often practically none. One of the attributes of pastel is its "sparkle" - the very intense color that pastel can create, so it is best to use that to your advantege and not blend all the sparkle away.

That being said, I blend quite a bit - especially if I am doing portraits and figures. In those cases, the color that I apply is usually too intense and needs to be dulled and softened. However, the final touches and details are usually left alone so the they retain their sparkle and harder edges. So, in the case of small detailed areas, I wouldn't normally blend. Most of my blending would take place in the early going - and often just to help fill in larger areas. In those cases, I just use my hand and fingers. In fact, in over 30 years of doing pastels, I have never used a tool of any kind, so I would have to say that using no special tools is definitely an option.

So rather than just blend automatically, think of blending as one of your options. Do you need to dull a color or soften an edge? Perhaps a slight touch of blending will be what you need.

In many cases, blending is done by layering different colors of pastel. Rather than blend with your finger or tool, just take another pastel - usually the harder pastels work well for this (at least for me) and gently apply a few light pastel strokes. They will blend the pastel that is already there.

If you are still looking for tools, you might check out tortillons - which are essentially a thin piece of paper rolled to a point. They are sold in art stores, altough it seems you could make your own.

Hope this helps.


06-02-2012, 07:17 PM
Thank you for your ideas and guidance everyone.

I must admit as a kid I had pastels and never used them, but I am now thoroughly enjoying them.
I am having to totally adjust my thoughts as to what is do-able with them.

I am very lucky to live in Australia with such strong colours, and the sparkle you speak of Don will be in its element in Australia!

Again, thanks for all the feedback, so very appreciated.


06-03-2012, 05:48 PM
here is one pastellist's very unique approach ;


this is from the Content Area in the dark blue bar -> top of page ,
in the drop-down menu -> Article Index ,
scroll down to ' Pastels ' for more pastel topics .

there are several animal artists who present here ;
go back thru the pages of the Soft Pastel Studio and Gallery
to find their recent threads .

enjoy !

Ed :}

06-03-2012, 06:21 PM
I have something called Colour Shapers. I have this set (http://www.aswexpress.com/discount-art-supplies/pastels-and-accessories/accessories/blenders/colour-shaper/colour-shaper-pastel-blending-set-size-6.html), though I find I don't use it too often. When I do need to soften an edge in a small space they work well for my style. The need might arise while painting a portrait as features and proportions are critical. Sometimes these can give me a bit more control, but like I said I rarely use them. But, they're nice to have around when the need arises. For every other subject I just blend with other sticks of pastel, I find that using tools to blend usually deadens the colors.

06-04-2012, 10:04 AM
One of my favorite pastel painters is Don Williams. He is just one artist who uses a kneaded eraser that you can mold to a nice point and use for blending. This is what I like to use. Google image Don Williams pastels when you can.


06-04-2012, 12:46 PM
One of my favorite pastel painters is Don Williams. He is just one artist who uses a kneaded eraser that you can mold to a nice point and use for blending. This is what I like to use. Google image Don Williams pastels when you can.


Thanks for the heads up Derek. I'd never heard of Don Williams. When I found his website I immediately put it into my favorites. Georgous work.

06-05-2012, 06:54 AM
Thanks for the Don Williams page Derek. Quite incredible what he can do!