View Full Version : Making pastels at home... what hues?

06-06-2014, 06:16 AM
Soft pastels seem to be significantly more expensive than other media, and I always get stuck midway for lack of hues or values... so thinking of making some at home. Definitely more difficult than making watercolors, which went very successfully for me. Getting pigments inexpensively is not at all a problem where I live (for most hues; and I have many of them already), so here goes...

These are the hues I can come up with, am I missing anything major? Mostly for landscape, but who knows... I might suddenly figure out how to draw faces... someday. Probably will do 3 to 4 values of each if I go ahead with this. Bright and dull refer to chroma, each will have its set of values. Planning to make shades with complementary colors. No toxic pigments (no cadmium, possibly no cobalt, will try for no chromium).

cool yellow (hansa lemon PY3)
middle yellow (undecided; could not find a dealer for PY97, PY151, PY154)
bright warm yellow (yellow deep PY83)
dull warm yellow (Yellow iron oxide)
brown (burnt umber; PG7 + red iron oxide)
orange (undecided)
dull orange (orange iron oxide)
scarlet (pyrrole PR254)
dull red (red iron oxide)
dull purple red (deep red iron oxide)
rose (quinacridone PV19)
magenta (quinacridone PR122)
violet (diox purple PV23)
warm blue (UMB)
middle blue (phthalocyanine, prussian)
cool blue (phthalo 15:3)
bluish turquoise
greenish turquoise
bright middle green (phthalo PG7)
bright yellow green
olive (chromium oxide green, PG17)
white (blanc fixe, titanium dioxide, calcium carbonate ?)

A giant undertaking, and am not sure yet if I will be doing this, but if I do, is the list fairly complete?

06-06-2014, 06:58 AM
Definitely a giant undertaking! And it takes time away from painting...

Is it very expensive for you to order pastels from Europe or the USA? (It can be, for me, getting sticks from the USA doubles the cost.)

From my experiments, I can say that it is very difficult to make the modern pigments to form sticks that are soft enough. Diox Purple became rock hard. (But I probably made mistakes.) It made me decide to buy sticks.

Some tints can be made by crushing pastel sticks, and mixing the powder. Add water, form the paste into sticks. That is very easy to do, and very messy -- but it works.

06-06-2014, 09:51 AM
Quinacridones,pb15,pg7 and py3 in recipe what i know form one people who made handmade ones makes hard sticks. but prusssian blue and ultramarine blue dont make. but he must use ivory black prussian blue to stablise it somehow i dont know details.also pv23 is clearly harder.

06-06-2014, 11:29 AM
Thank you for the responses so far!

Charlie : Shipping with international tracking from the US is rather pricey (to put it mildly). From the UK is slightly better. But the pastels themselves cost so much! It's not like watercolor where just a few tubes will do. I'm realizing that sets below 60 are difficult to work from. Just cant rub the white on paper and make tints :(

JPQ : Seems like the fine grained organic pigments become rocks. Maybe the calcium carbonate and talc ratio is different for those? It may be possible to experiment with a cheap phthalo blue to figure out the ratio... Even in watercolor, these organic pigments require more gum arabic, more dispersant/alcohol and much more glycerin to stay moist. But, once done properly, are an absolute pleasure to work with!

As I see it, (to fix mistakes) the worst that can happen is I'll have to add more white and end up with a tint one shade lighter.

06-07-2014, 07:21 PM
I somehow lost the reply I started but the essence of it was to say that I read that some pigments require less binder (gum tragacanth)
I learned a lot by reading posts on WC and also by Googling.
I also read somewhere that the secret to making very soft pastels is 2 parts chalk to 1 part talc. I'm going to try making some, adding a bit of pumice because I like the Diane Townsend Terrages. Which reminds me of a question I have. Does anyone know the secret ingredient the Girault pastels must have to give them their distinctive feel and texture? It's almost waxy but not like a crayon. I only have one Girault, a medium green, but it just feels different and goes on beautifully.
Good luck with your venture!

06-12-2014, 05:11 PM
For this talc etc ratios i say he who recipes i have they have indeed different amounts other stuff than pigments. and earths dont need binder maybe not all i dont fully remember. and my recipes what i know are here:
(link for book)
ps. i saddly i cannot itself made pastels i have few colour ideas.