View Full Version : Fine Detail With Pastels

02-05-2015, 11:39 AM
I love to paint with soft pastels, and pastel pencils, but don't particularly like impressionistic style painting. What is the secret to photo realism style painting? methods, tools, etc?

02-05-2015, 12:45 PM
Depends on the subject really. I have an easier time achieving a high degree of realism with portraits, but landscapes give me a heck of a time. Typically I just use a variety of pastels that range in hardness, blending with my fingers and a color shaper tool, which is sorta soft and rubbery. Beyond that, pastel pencils give you a nice hard line, and pan pastels are great for covering large areas and getting very painterly effects. You can probably find some videos on youtube that can give you an idea of techniques (much better than words). I learned to do portraiture from watching Bogra Studios videos on youtube.

water girl
02-05-2015, 01:45 PM
My first response would be to closely examine the paintings of those who paint photo realistically. They pay close attention to details and to value among other things. Most of all you need the patience it takes to put hours and hours into the process and to practice. There is a group on FB, Contemporary Realism, that you may enjoy following.

02-05-2015, 05:57 PM
Hi - I am moving this to Soft Pastel Talk as it not about a specific picture...but don't worry, I'll leave a redirect, just in case!:wave:

Barbara WC
02-05-2015, 07:44 PM
Brand of pastel and brand of paper can influence the style of painting.

Firmer pastels allow one to achieve fine lines, particularly for beginners. Softer pastels are good for large strokes of color, and can be easier for some (like me) who are going for a more expressionistic style. This is not an absolute, especially with more practice.

02-05-2015, 07:58 PM
Im not sure if my work qualifies as "photo realistic" but i think its more 'realism than impressionism' so it might answer some of your questions.

Examples of my style:


I work on a smoothish paper (the smooth or back side of Canson Mi-Teintes) I find the colour is less important, although I ALWAYS choose a medium tone (ie about 35 - 60% dark so that both black and white show up on there as I like to build up my darks and my lights as I go)

I usually work the under painting in semihard pastels (i like mungyo) and pastel pencil (Conte and Bruynzeel).

Then my next layer is rembrandt (and some mungyo artist round).

I will do the final layer (usually only the last 10% or so) with schminke, mungyo handmade and sennelier.

Hope that helps or is found useful.

02-05-2015, 08:33 PM
I agree that paper and the pastel itself play a part. Method certainly has its part not to mention hours of practise. Getting to know the subject really well helps too.

I answer a few questions in my WIP topic here - http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1371374
Hope that helps :)

02-07-2015, 08:14 PM
Hard pastels and pastel pencils can be used to do detail areas like eyes on portraits and wildlife. But so can square shaped softer ones. Round extruded ones can be broken and the sharp edges used to get very fine lines and dots. Another way is to work inward toward the details, put down a larger mark than needed and use the opacity of pastels to work inward over it leaving a smaller detail. It depends on what the details are.

Dianne Ponting aka ponting on WetCanvas has some demos that are extreme realism in the Soft Pastels Learning Center, check those out. She often does still life subjects like candy dishes with great refinement and detail.

SAS Designs
02-08-2015, 01:57 PM
Interesting question. I bought some pastel pencils to put finer details in landscape paintings, and found that by the time I used them, they were scraping away more pastel then they were creating.
Those were the Faber Castell pastel pencils. Looking now to find a "softer" pastel pencil to see if that will help.

02-09-2015, 12:56 AM
Suzy, in landscapes if you want detail over thick layer of pastels the corners of square soft pastels like Terry Ludwigs or Great Americans are more effective. You can get very soft marks with them. Blue Earth are also soft enough for finishing details.

If I want small details with pastel pencils I reserve the area and do that separately then work over its edges with the softer pastels to unify it.