View Full Version : To smudge or not to smudge....

09-17-2015, 10:45 AM
Do you smudge your pastel paintings or keep them as they are? I personally hate smudging with my fingers (think nails on a chalkboard feeling *shudder*) but using my smudge stick removes too much of the pastel.... Plus I quite like the way this particular portrait looks without smudging.... (Can't upload for some reason as on iPhone and it doesn't want to work)
This is my first time using pastel pencils (faber castell Pitt) and normally I'm a graphite pencil person and I do smudge when using those...
So what are you opinions? Do you smudge or not?

09-17-2015, 11:24 AM
You need to have at least 2 posts I believe before you can post a picture. I rarely smudge (usually referred to as blending) preferring instead to use another pastel to blend where necessary.

09-17-2015, 11:28 AM
Ahhh! That might be why then! ☺️ Good, as that's what I've been doing- often using my white pencil or lighter colours to blend in the dark.

09-17-2015, 03:43 PM
Whether to blend or not (and how) is very much a personal preference - plus it depends on what I am painting and what stage of the painting I am working on. I will almost always blend the initial layer as i am trying to cover the paper while using the thinnest application of pastels. I will always blend areas that need soft edges. I will blend a lot when doing portraits and figures. Not so much for landscapes. Often I will let the strokes show on the final layer. So, in other words, it depends!


09-17-2015, 07:30 PM
Like Don, I'm primarily interested in blending only in the first layer, to push pastel into the paper & create an underpainting. There are many items that can be used to do that, my favorite is a half inch piece of that black foam pipe insulation when I'm not doing a wet wash. Tried packing peanuts, cosmetic sponges, Q tips, all work but I like the foam best. After that I blend with other sticks.

09-17-2015, 07:44 PM
Using a harder pastel gently is one nice way to do blending workout using your fingers. Since you are using pastel pencils, which are already very hard, I'd recommend using another pencil and a very light touch! You can also try the rubber-tipped blending sticks, which tend to push pastel around rather than remove it like paper stump blenders do.

09-17-2015, 07:55 PM
Rubber tip blending sticks = Colour Shapers. For soft pastel you want medium (gray) tips or white (soft) tips. Dark gray Clay Shapers are best for oil pastels.

I blend when I want an area to push back and be muted and less important. It will lose some sparkle and be duller. I use that effect deliberately and in important areas or focal elements will blend with sticks. Blending with another pastel can be done in various ways, an intermediate color gives a beautiful effect.

Blending a dry underpainting with my fingers is verycommon. But if you don't like doing that, try a 70% rubbing alcohol wash. That liquefies the underpainting, dries faster than water and sets it solidly with the same effect that paper tooth is completely restored for later layers. Alcohol or water wash underpaintings can be left open too. A loose painted looking background with more pastel and more detail as you approach the focal area can be gorgeous!

Side strokes of broken color in masses are best for a wet or dry underpainting. Scribbled lines may remain if they're too distinct or heavy.

09-18-2015, 12:18 AM
Whether to blend or not (and how) is very much a personal preference - plus it depends on what I am painting

This. I dont blend on every painting, and those i do, i often only blend parts of it. In short, it really depends. I will often use the blending to soften hard lines more than anything.

09-18-2015, 03:59 AM
Thank you so much for your help everyone! I've completed more of this portrait and ive done a small amount of blending but so far seem to prefer to use another pencil. I'll try and upload a pic although I'm struggling with the uploader and don't have access to non Apple products right now..

Really loving the vibrancy of colours that im getting with the pastels compared to prismacolour pencils that I've used in the past for colour work.