View Full Version : Soft pastel brand issues

09-26-2016, 04:48 PM
Recently I thought I'd try Blick's brand of soft pastels. They crumbled into slivers upon use. A waste of my $. I wanted to see how a mid-priced pastel would perform.

Does anyone suggest a mid-priced soft pastel that is not over-coated like Rembrandt, or crumbly, like Blick?

I've had wonderful experience with Mungyo, and Faber Castell. Should I stick with the cheap brands?


09-26-2016, 08:43 PM
Mungyo may be considerably less expensive, but Jerrys Artarama has two lines that are considered professional grade. Look for the somewhat harder Gallery line ( softer than Rembrandt) or the top of their line Gallery Handmade line. The first line is about the size of Rembrandt, and the top of the line is about the size and consistency of Unison.
Faber Castel are student grade; nice student grade, but definitely not professional grade.

09-26-2016, 09:53 PM
Here is a chart that gives a relative softness to brands.


Faber Castell is listed as hard

Rembrandt as medium

Dick Blicks appears to be possibly be DALER-ROWNEY colors color names and numbering are very very similar .

When you get into the softer side of the scale they can break very easy with minimal pressure . You need a very light hand with the softest ones.

What I would suggest is buy an assortment in a sampler like Dakota and Fineart store Then you get a cross section of the brands . I have heard Blicks and Jerrys will send samples havent tried asking.


Art Spectrum is similar to Rembrandt dont recall any slickness to them . Just use a little bit of fine sandpaper on those slick ones.

09-27-2016, 08:23 AM
I recently moved overseas with my big box of pastels and unfortunately it opened in my suitcase (I didn't want to tape it in case it was inspected) so several pastels turned to dust and cracked in the wrappers. Most of the pastels were Mungyo Extra Fine which are their midrange pastel to compete with Sennelier and Rembrandt. They fared really quite well. The Sennelier are famously soft and several did break quite a lot in the wrappers. Unison fared well as did Mungyo Handmade (their top range). Mount Vision and Great American weren't great (the pastels to use are excellent but they did break a bit). The Rembrandt did seem fine.

I really would recommend Mungyo Extra Fine. They are softer than Rembrandt I think but don't break that easily and they seem to be fine to use straight away, Check Jerrys for deals as I got 200 in a wooden box for I think $170 or so.

SAS Designs
09-27-2016, 10:05 AM
I still really love the Rembrandt as the "work horse." Important to use a soft sand paper to remove the outer coating - really worth the effort to do it. Makes such a difference.

09-27-2016, 06:25 PM
Thanks everyone! I'm gonna explore.

09-28-2016, 11:54 PM
Mount vision are fairly soft but the don't break, mine came to Australia for US and arrived in good condition,

09-29-2016, 10:29 AM
Mount Vision pastels are very versatile and they are huge compared to Rembrandt and Dick Blick pastels. They aren't as hard as the other two brands, but I use them throughout an entire painting. I also have some Rembrandt pastels and tend to just use them at the beginning stage of a painting.


Judy Manuche
10-02-2016, 01:06 PM
My main pastels are Rembrandts. They are soft enough and yet firm enough to do any job. I have some hand made Myungyos that I am not really excited about. They are good for backgrounds, but I don't use them often. I have a few Senneliers that I bought on sale, they were very crumbly, but if they held together, very soft. I have a large collection of giraults, they are softer than the Rembrandts, and I love them. They are expensive, though. I just purchased a set of half sticks from Dakota - the surprise set of Schmeinkes, they are beautiful, I have yet to use them. The chart referenced about from Dakota is pretty accurate. I suggest you go to an art store, purchase a few sticks from many makers (Blick has several types open stock) and try them out. I look for used sets on craigslist, I just picked up a 90 piece set of rembrandts for $50. Lots of on-line companies have test kits or open stock sticks. I know Dakota pastels has a sample kit of several different pastel brands. You don't get to choose color, but they will send you a set of full-sized testers. Great to try out without spending lots of money.

11-06-2016, 01:07 PM
You seem interested in the mid-soft category, so these recommendations will focus on that.

The Mungyo Gallery Handmade set is really smooth and wonderful. I love them for the texture, and they are a very good value.

A brand that is slightly grittier but also has great value (and size!) for the price is Mount Vision. They have fantastic colors that you may want to consider no matter what other brands you invest in - the Thunderstorm Gray set is gorgeous.

If you want to invest a little more $, then Unison is a really beautiful brand with wonderful, rich colors and a smooth texture. I've been fortunate enough to find some of their sets on sale, as I otherwise might not have any. I absolutely adore them.

Happy exploring!
(Editing to add that, though the coating on Rembrandts is annoying, and it is a pain to sand it off, we artists have to do some tedious things to prepare sometimes :angel:. Once the coating is sanded off, they are really nice, and they turned out to be softer than I thought they were. I definitely recommend biting the bullet and sanding. Once the deed is done, you have a great set of pastels available to use not only from the tip, but also on the sides. This is some of the best advice I got here on WC, so I'm just passing it on!)

11-06-2016, 05:46 PM
Yeah. You'll find the Rembrandt coating on other brands of soft extruded pastels.

As mentioned by several, Mount Vision are a good brand. They're hand rolled and huge, color's strong, beautiful big pastels with a lovely texture.

For a mid-texture like Rembrandt, try Art Spectrum pastels. They don't have as much of a coating problem as the Winsor Newtons or Rembrandts. WN have been discontinued but were similar and do need sanding too. Art Spectrum are heavy in the hand, pigment rich, lovely texture, very good quality pastels with some gorgeous unique darks.

Watch for sales on the artist grade brands, especially on sets or half sticks sets. Sennelier half sticks are thicker than the full sticks and while still fragile, are a bit less crumbly. Handle those with care as they are super soft and that's some of the crumbliness.

Unison, Gallery Mungyo Hand Rolled and Mount Vision are all pretty sturdy and have a different texture, no "hand rolled" type gets that Rembrandt coating and all of them lay down well.

That's what I'd recommend with what you're talking about. Also consider Richeson Hand Rolled. Those are available as half sticks too. Palette has some gaps but the price isn't that bad for a hand rolled pastel. You don't get that "coating" on any hand rolled ones.