View Full Version : How the **** do I sharpen these things?

02-26-2007, 10:25 AM
I'm about ready to scream. I'm trying to do fur, which requires a lot of strokes with a very fine point. It seems that the only way I can get a sharp edge is to sacrifice half of my stick and then in four strokes I need to do it again.

Anyone got any advice?

Also - how exactly does one sharpen pastels? How much do you shave off with a razor and how? And how do you use a sandpaper block (other than the obvious of rubbing the stick on it!)? I must be doing something wrong here.

Stiffled scream.

Mary Brigid
02-26-2007, 10:31 AM
Cloxie they only way I know how to do it is with a sharp stanly knife. I cut it straight down and then as I am using the pastel for fine lines I keep turning the pastel for the sharp edge. ........ then its cut again...... and again .... and again :rolleyes: as the edge gets worn down. Would love to know if there is a better way also. But you know I really don't mind as I find it is all part of painting with pastels....
Mary Brigid

02-26-2007, 10:41 AM
I do the same as Mary :)
I've even made a video about how I do. I hope it can help you.

Lisa M
02-26-2007, 11:13 AM
Cloxie--Here's a crazy thing to try: Close your eyes with the pastel close to your paper, and try to do some practice strokes as you do with fur--lots of tiny ones near one another. I'm no expert, but I've not ever sharpened any of my pastels except for the pencils. You can get a feel for where the edge is even if it's somewhere on a rather bluntish end. Saves on time and pastels. Good luck!!

02-26-2007, 07:51 PM
I agree with you-- there's no way I could do fur without pastel pencils (or at least hard pastels, which you can break to get a sharp edge). If you're talking the real soft pastels no wonder you're going nuts! (But I haven't seen the video mentioned above yet-- maybe it holds the secret!)

Susan Borgas
02-26-2007, 09:13 PM
I have to admit I break quite a few of my pastels but also I have learned to use my pastels over the larger areas directly on the end of the stick. It sharpens that edge once more, which I then can use to make some finer marks in my grasses. In saying that I have never used pastels for fur so I will leave that one to the experts in that field.

What do you do with your small bits of pastel and any that you shave off? I have several dishes that I sort my small pieces and pastel dust into. Once I have enough, I grind it down, add the tiniest amount of water or alcohol rub (evaporates quicker) to the mix and kneed to a pliable dough. Roll my new sticks out and let dry on a piece of newspaper. They are ready to use when they don't feel cold.

Because I do this I am not so worried about how many sticks I now break up. Also it is a good way to create that colour that you can't find in your pastel box ;)

02-26-2007, 09:32 PM
I just finished a very furry piece and I use the sticks whole...but I use the edge of them. however, for final detail fur I definately use pastel pencils!

-- Linda

02-26-2007, 10:42 PM
For fur I tend to use the square hard pastels on their edges and just sharpen on sand paper when they blunt, I do waste a bit so I should catch it and roll to make new pastels with the dust. Sometimes I use pastel pencils, but I prefer the hard pastel as they have more pigment than the pencils and you can get very fine lines with them. I'm more likely to use the pencils if I'm working on colourfix or canson, not for velour. Soft pastel isn't much good for fur with fine lines. I don't know a better way...

02-27-2007, 08:31 AM
Hi there,

i don't use any pencils,

i use unison and shminke and never sharpen them, i've attached my attempt at fur.

last year i went on a ponting workshop and she descibed the same technique as i use.

use the end of your pastel and as you use it it gets lots of small angles on it, when you need a fine line very gently place the pastel on the paper and you get a dot, then you can see which face/point is touching the paper and where and place accordinly.

didn't explain it very well but i tried.

i also think it looks more realistic if the fur is only finished off with some carefully placed fine hairs, irl you wouldn't be able to see the individual hairs unless you are doing a super closeup, imho

i could never sharpen my soft pastels, couldn't bear the waste!!

02-27-2007, 10:31 AM
Thank you, thank you, thank you! Some excellent advice.

Does anyone have any advice on which pastel pencils are softer or harder? I don't seem to get good results with a hard pencil over the top of a soft undercolour. Would a softer pencil make the same difference that a softer pastel over the top of a harder pastel make?

02-27-2007, 12:08 PM
I use tons of different pastel pencil brands-- and while they do vary a bit in hardness I can't tell it makes a huge difference. However, I do often go back over the pencil marks with a related soft pastel to make them less harsh and noticeable-- keeping the very detailed strokes only where I want them. Hope that helps <G>

03-03-2007, 05:22 PM
Never waste pastel by sharpening.

Try those Color Shapers.
They come in sets. They work wonders, not only for "pulling out" fine hair lines, but for blending.