How To Use Oil Pastels


Oil Pastels are made up of a pigment which is held together by linseed oil. They work in a similar way to traditional soft pastels, but also have some similarities of a crayon. 

Many Artist choose to use oil pastels over other types of colour media, due to there unique characteristics. They have a unique oily consistency, but due to the nature of the oil pastels, they allow artists to work them in a similar way to painting. 

Oil Pastel Techniques


Blending is a popular technique in which artists use a lot. You can either use a blending tool or your finger, to rub the shades together to form another colour – remember not to leave visible harsh lines. 

There is two main types of blending. 

  1. Heavy Pressure Blending – heavily apply the oil pastels in one direction onto your paper. To create a deeper and richer look, layer additional colours on top of each other. 
  2. Light Pressure Blending – lightly add little pressure on the paper with the oil pastels. 


Overlaying is the process of working on a base layer and then you start forming layers on top of it. This technique forms a sheet effect covering the colours underneath, and it also thickens the shades. 


It is also known as sgraffito. This is when you use the oil pastels dry and you overlap two thick layers of different pastel colours on your surface. Then scratch or scrape away lines, to reveal the colours underneath. 


You achieve this technique by using small strokes, that create a stippled effect on your surface. You can also layer additional colours for depth. 

Different Surfaces for Oil Pastels

There are a variety of different surfaces that Artists may chose to work on, such as, paper, cardboard, or canvas. Paper, especially textured paper is most commonly used when working with oil pastels. 

Many factors can affect the finish result but when it comes to surfaces, the most important is the texture of your surface. If the texture of rougher this can create a grainy finished, where as a smoother texture creates a more sharper finish. 

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