View Full Version : Pastel Painting Step-by-Step

05-17-2015, 05:50 PM
A week or so ago, someone posted a message about the book "Pastel Painting Step-by-Step." (Rob: You posted a reply) and now I can't find the thread.

I have the same book and am in a quandary as to what soft pastels to use. All 3 authors suggest colors in tints and hues, but nothing concrete as to which brand offers these colors. I am curious what the lady who posted about this book uses.

Is someone able to point me to the original thread? I know it was this month.

05-18-2015, 09:01 AM
Barbara, I can't help with finding the original thread. The only way I know of to do so is patiently page back again and again looking at all the thread titles until I find it. That can take a while. I've done that a few times to find Having a BALL with Pan Pastels but happily that's bounced up to the front page again. I'm not sure if there's a search function. You might, if you started it, be able to find it by going up to your own account and look at threads you started. Shorter list than all the threads posted since anyone last posted on the one you want.

Oh duh if it was this month, just page back till you see it. That's not hundreds of pages, maybe a dozen or so at most.

But what to say about Tints and Hues in pastels?

HUES - the actual color it is. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Violet. Possibly Warm and Cool versions of each, which means get two sticks each of which leans toward a different neighbor on the color wheel.

TINTS - the lighter versions of those colors made by adding white in the process of making them. Cool Red is a purplish red or magenta. Hot Pink or ligher magenta is a tint. Light Pink that's still purplish is a light tint. Get two or three Tints of each main Hue or color.

SHADES are darks usually made by adding black, having a few of them is good too for having good values in a painting. Smaller sets just give you black. Quite small sets have just colors and white and black usually.

This won't help you choose a brand, but all brands usually have tints and hues in their general assortment. My best suggestion is to get some half sticks - the biggest half sticks set you can afford. Rembrandts are medium firm artist grade, a good general workhorse. Sennelier are super soft. Both brands have 120 half sticks fo an awesome range, a good complete range for studio use with warm and cool versions of the colors and plenty of tints and darks. Deep Violet is really useful. So is lavender.

For textures it's good to have some hard pastels - sometimes called semi-hard - and some medium soft and some super soft. Going from firmer to softer means you can add final details after the paper tooth is filled. So I'd suggest at least 24 hard sticks, color Conte crayons or Nupastel or Cretacolor Pastels Carre, then a big set of medium soft extruded sticks or hand rolled like Unisons, then a small to big set of really soft ones like Sennelier.

Richeson makes a starter set with all three textures.

General assortments seem to be better than portrait or landscape ones for having all the hues and tints. This can be important unless you're only going to do portraits or only specific types of landscapes. 60 colors usually has them all. Maggie Price Basics in Terry Ludwig is another choice for super soft pastels.

If you want to try different brands, contact Dick Blick by email and ask for samples of the artist grade ones they keep in open stock. They'll send samples in random colors and the samples are never all the same color. Dakota Pastels and FineArtStore online carry sampler sets with one of each of lots of brands in a color group.

Depending on budget I'd recommend one of the less expensive artist grade brands in as large a half sticks set as possible. It's easier for a new pastelist to have more sticks to choose from and not have to do as many color substitutions to get the value right. Though some people have mentioned that a lot of colors is confusing. Also a small half sticks set can be really useful for going out plein air.

I've got 60 Rembrandt half sticks and that set was just about right for plein air. At home I have 120 Unison half sticks and OMG about 1,200+ unique sticks in many other brands that I rotate, some in sets and some just open stock or gifts from friends all mixed together. I'm a big-palette guy that likes having LOTS to choose from and then only using 20 to 30 within a given painting. Often I choose brand for texture and that's why so many redundant pastels. Biggest set I have is 200 Winsor & Newtons, that just about covers all the hues. Though deep down I still lust after the 525 Senneliers wood box someday and probably always will.

05-18-2015, 04:36 PM
I haven't been able to find the thread, but I will re-iterate what Robert has mentioned. Almost every brand of pastel groups their pastels into a hue with tints and shades (usually more tints). When I buy pastels, I try to buy open stock so I can choose the hue (pure color) and a couple of the pastels in the same family.

I hope this addresses your question.


05-18-2015, 10:09 PM
In the book, Peter Coombs is the one who lists the colors like this:

And this is from his own book Painting with Pastels


I just did a bit of digging (I love a challenge LOL) and found Coombs was a demonstrator for Winsor and Newton, so I searched some more and found them on Dakota Pastels:
Example 726.5 Winsor Red
317.1 Indian Red and 317.2 Indian Red

I'm glad I found them because I'm so new at this I don't have much confidence.

So anyway, thanks!

Edited to add: I don't think they are available any longer. Bummer

05-19-2015, 09:11 AM
Alas, Winsor and Newton no longer make soft pastels. I would suggest just googling some soft pastel color charts. You will see the pastels grouped by hue and the tints and shades.

Here are a few color charts that may help you along:



Daler Rowney:


Mount Visions: (Not a color chart, but photos of the pastels in their groups)


When I have bought pastels, I might not buy the entire group, but might skip some of the intermediate tints or shades (depending on my budget). If I liked this group from Mount Vision, I might buy the 1st, 3rd and 5th, rather than all of them.


I have chosen the charts of some of the middle hardness pastels which I think is the easiest place to start. If you are more interested in the softer brands, you can probably find similar charts for Schmincke or Sennelier or any other brand.

Hope this helps,


05-19-2015, 02:17 PM
was it this thread (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1378612&highlight=step) by any chance?

05-19-2015, 06:37 PM
stapeliad: That's not the one. :-( The lady who wrote said she was going through the demos in the book (maybe she'd been away for a while? Rob commented that it souded like she was having fun with the demos. A couple of days later I realized *I* had that book, too.

Of course, I could have dreamed it all. :rolleyes:

05-19-2015, 06:38 PM
Don: THAT helps a great deal! Thank you.:thumbsup: