9 Best Pastel Pencils for Artists in 2023 Reviewed

The Faber Castell Pitt Pastel Coloring Pencils are the best choice, thanks to their variety and blendability. Likewise, the Stabilo CarbOthello is the best chalk pastel pencil set that offers good color variety and quality. And the Conté à Paris Pastel Pencils are the best pick for shading and detailing tasks.

Pastel is one of the most popular coloring media available for beginners and experts.

However, mastering the pastel medium can be tricky, especially considering its fragile design and the nature of the materials used. This is why pastel pencils have been developed since they are easier to use than traditional pastels.

Unfortunately, many people face trouble while purchasing pastel pencils due to the number of choices available and the technical aspects of this coloring medium. That’s why we have reviewed some of the best options for your convenience. Read on!

Best Pastel Pencils

1. Faber Castell Pitt Pastel Coloring Pencils – Best Color Variety And Blendability

Faber Castell is arguably one of the oldest and most renowned brands in the domain of art supplies. It manufactures high-quality artistic equipment for everyone ranging from school-going children to professional artists. And the Faber Castell Pitt pastel Coloring Pencils set is one of its most popular offerings, especially among hobbyists and DIY artists.

This set of coloring pastels includes 60 assorted shades that should be enough for a wide range of art projects. We noticed that the wooden coloring pencils have a thick lead that produces clearly defined lines for detailing. Each pencil contains a high concentration of coloring pigment, which also helps in this regard.

The pigments used in the Faber Castell Pitt Pastel pencils are free from wax and oil. This pastel set comes with ASTM D4236 certification, which means that the pencils are entirely safe for use by adults as well as children. 

On top of that, the high-quality pigments can be easily smudged, which allows you to mix different colors to create vivid artwork. Besides, the pigments require minimal fixing, and they have superior light-fastness, ensuring that the colors retain their brilliance for a long time.

These colored pencils come in a convenient metal tin that makes them easy to store. The only issue with this option is that you need to apply more pressure than usual to use the colors. Because of that, it may take some time to get used to.

Number of pencils: 60 | Lead Diameter: 4.3mm | Material: Wood | Shades: Multicolor | Consistency: Hard

2. Stabilo CarbOthello Chalk-Pastel Pencils – Best Chalk Pastel Pencil Set

The CarbOthello Chalk-Pastel Pencil set by Stabilo is a pretty popular choice among seasoned artists. As you can guess from the name, it is a set of chalk pastel coloring pencils, which give a unique charcoal-like texture to your pastel drawings.

Each set contains 60 distinct shades, which offers a good amount of versatility for your art projects. What’s more, the Stabilo CarbOthello pastel pencils use high-quality pigments that deliver rich and vibrant colors. In particular, we noticed that the color pigments produce great results on dark or toned surfaces.

The pigments can be easily smudged with a blending stump or your fingers to create even more colors and unique artistic effects. These chalk pastel pencils can also be used with water and a brush, which further improves their versatility. 

Each wooden pencil has a relatively thick lead with a diameter of 4.4 millimeters. Thanks to that, you can easily highlight areas or darken outlines to create intricate detailing. On top of that, the highly-pigmented colors offer good light fastness, and you can employ a fixative after you are done painting. Because of these aspects, the brightness of the colors will not fade easily.

However, since these pencils have a chalky feel, we found that they generate quite a bit of dust. Therefore, you may need to clean up the workspace after you are done, and that can be annoying for some users.

Number of pencils: 60 | Lead Diameter: 4.4 mm | Material: Wood | Shades: Multicolor | Consistency: Chalky

3. Conté À Paris Pastel Pencils – Best For Shading And Detailing

Conté à Paris is a French brand that specializes in manufacturing coloring pencils and sketching supplies. That’s why we included the Conté à Paris Pastel Pencils on our list. This set of coloring pencils has a wide lead diameter of five millimeters, which delivers a smooth and seamless coloring experience.

The pastel pencils in this set are particularly great for shading and detailing tasks, and they can create stunning effects when applied on darker surfaces. What’s more, the lead is slightly harder than other pastel pencils, and it contains a lower concentration of pigments. 

For some people, the above features may seem like drawbacks at first, but they are actually not. Thanks to them, you can use these pencils to complement a soft pastel or crayon set perfectly. Besides, the hard lead allows you to use these pencils freely without any fear of breakage. In fact, you can use them for marking different types of surfaces, such as wood.

With that being said, using these pastel pencils on their own can be a disappointing experience, especially if you wish to create colorful drawings. That is because the set contains only two pastel pencils, and both come in a similar shade of black. There are other shades available, but those need to be purchased separately.

Number of pencils: 2 | Lead Diameter: 5 mm | Material: Wood | Shades: Black | Consistency: Hard

4. General’s Pastel Chalk Pencils – Best Handcrafted Pastel Pencils

The General Pencil Company is a US-based manufacturer of coloring pencils and other art supplies. On that note, the General’s Pastel Chalk Pencils set is a premium-quality, handcrafted option that uses the brand’s traditional formula. Thanks to that, you get a unique and natural coloring experience with these pencils.

Each set contains 12 assorted pencil colors, and each pencil comes with a rear eraser. It is a nifty design feature that sets it apart from other pastel pencil sets. Also, you get a pencil sharpener with this set, which further improves user convenience.

As for the quality, we found that the pigment can produce vibrant colors on paper. It gives a rich color tone on darker surfaces as well, which improves its versatility. And since it is a chalk pencil, the pigment offers a charcoal-like texture. Because of that, you can use these pencils for chalking, shading, lettering, and creating outlines, among other tasks.

The pigment-rich formula used in these pencils is free from oil or acid, which makes the set safe for both adults and children. They are easy to blend, allowing you to create more shades whenever necessary. Our only complaint is that some of the shades feel a bit scratchy and inconsistent, which causes problems while coloring.

Number of pencils: 12 | Lead Diameter: Not specified | Material: Wood | Shades: Multicolor | Consistency: Chalky

5. Dainayw Skin Tone Pastel Pencils – Best For Portrait Paintings

For those artists who prefer to draw portraits of people, the Dainayw Skin Tone Pastel Pencils set is the perfect choice. This particular option contains 12 coloring pencils, with all of them having different skin tone shades. Because of that, you can create realistic portraits and natural skin tones on your drawings with ease.

The exterior body of each pencil is made from natural linden wood, while the inner lead core is made from high-quality color pigments. Likewise, the diameter of the pastel lead is five millimeters, which produces a smooth and bold finish. Not only that, but it also offers a good degree of coloring freedom so that you can create detailed and vibrant portraits.

These pigments are easy to blend, and they can be smudged with the finger or a blending stick to create new shades or beautiful artistic effects. In addition to that, the pigments have great light-fastness properties, which means that the colors will not fade or lose brightness when exposed to light. 

If you wish to display your artwork in the open, we would suggest treating it with a fixative after you are finished drawing. That way, the artwork will retain its color quality for a long time. On the downside, the skin tone shades are not very versatile for creating other types of artwork. 

Number of pencils: 12 | Lead Diameter: 5 mm | Material: Wood | Shades: Skin tone | Consistency: Soft

6. Kalour Pro Pastel Chalk Colored Pencils – Best Color Quality And Variety For Beginners

Kalour is another renowned brand that manufactures and sells art supplies. The brand’s Pro Pastel Chalk Colored Pencils set is a popular choice among professional artists, hobbyists, and students. That’s because it offers good color quality and variety at an affordable price.

This set includes 50 assorted shades, which is great for tackling a wide variety of art projects. What’s more, the colors can be dry blended or smudged with ease, thereby allowing you to create more shades and stunning color effects.

The soft lead core of the pencil is made from professional quality pigments that offer rich color quality. Moreover, the high level of pigmentation makes it well-suited for creating professional sketches, adding details, and drawing portraits.

These pigments are free from any harmful oil and wax, which makes the pencils safe and non-toxic. They have good light fastness, ensuring long-lasting color brightness. 

Also, the metal tin box makes the pencils easy to store. We noticed a detailed color chart on the inside of the box, which makes it convenient to use for beginners.

However, these soft pastel pencils cannot be sharpened with a regular sharpener. If you do that, the lead might break easily. So, you will need to use a utility knife to sharpen the pencils, which can be slightly troublesome.

Number of pencils: 50 | Lead Diameter: 3.8 mm | Material: Wood | Shades: Multicolor | Consistency: Chalky

7. Derwent Pastel Collection – Best Packaging

When it comes to high-quality art products, Derwent is one of the first names that come to mind. Because of that, many professional artists tend to use Derwent pencils for creating their artwork. It is a big reason why we included the brand’s Pastel Collection on our list as well.

This particular set includes 24 different color shades packaged in a convenient tin box. One unique feature of this option is that it includes two different coloring media in a single package, which provides increased flexibility of usage. With it, you get a set of 14 pastel pencils along with a set of eight traditional pastel sticks.

Additionally, the packaging includes a kneadable eraser and a sharpener that you can use to sharpen the pastel pencils. Both the Derwent pastel pencils and sticks have a firm build and can produce broad strokes of rich, chunky color that adheres to most paper surfaces.

Furthermore, we found that the colors are fairly easy to blend with fingers or a blending tool. You can also use the colorless white pastel to blend the colors without affecting the color density. 

On top of that, the pastel sticks are water-soluble, which means that you can apply them with a wet brush. That said, since the pastels and pencils have a hard build, sharpening them can be a bit difficult, which is the only drawback we noticed.

Number of pencils: 24 | Lead Diameter: 4 mm | Material: Wood | Shades: Multicolor | Consistency: Chalky

8. Conté À Paris Pastel Pencils – Best For Detailing Small Or Medium-Sized Formats

For this review, we have selected the Conté à Paris Pastel Pencils, which is a set of 24 assorted pastel shades. It is a great set to use alongside soft pastels and crayons since it has a slightly harder core and a lower pigment concentration than other similar pastel pencil sets.

The diameter of the lead core is around five millimeters, which provides a rich coloring experience. You will notice that the pencils are quite useful for creating fine details, especially in small or medium-sized drawing formats.

We noticed that despite having a firm core, the color application process with these pencils is fairly smooth and seamless. In other words, you don’t have to apply too much pressure to get a uniform color. The colors can be easily blended as well, which means that you can create additional hues and coloring effects effortlessly.

These pencils come packaged in a tin container for easy storage. They can be conveniently sharpened with a pastel pencil sharpener. Also, if you treat the pigments with a suitable fixative, you can retain the color quality and brightness for a long time. However, we noticed that the exterior pencil body is a bit weak and can easily break if used carelessly.

Number of pencils: 24 | Lead Diameter: 5 mm | Material: Wood | Shades: Multicolor | Consistency: Hard

9. Cretacolor Fine Art Pastel Pencil Set – Best Durable Build

Cretacolor is a brand that manufactures professional quality art supplies, and that has made it a fairly well-known brand among seasoned artists. On that note, the Cretacolor Fine Art Pastel Pencil Set is especially popular for its durable build quality and easy blendability.

The set contains 12 pastel pencils of assorted shades packaged in a compact tin box. All the pencils have highly pigmented colors, and therefore, they can be used to produce vivid artwork. They can be easily used in combination with hard pastels and other mixed media.

We noticed that these pastel pencils provide the best color quality on grained, tinted, and velvet paper. The pigments are made from oil-free, non-toxic materials, and they conform to ASTM 4236 standards. Besides, they have superior light-fastness and can retain their color vibrance for a long time.

The exterior body of the pencil is made from premium-quality cedar wood, which makes them tough to break. In addition to that, the core can be sharpened to a fine point without fear of breakage. As such, the pencils are highly suitable for fine detailing tasks.

On the flip side, we found that the tin box is not particularly durable for extensive use. So, if you are a heavy user, you should consider storing the pencils somewhere else.

Number of pencils: 12 | Lead Diameter: Not specified | Material: Wood | Shades: Multicolor | Consistency: Soft

Top Pastel Pencils Comparison Table

Product Number of pencils Lead Diameter Material Shades Consistency
Faber Castell Pitt Pastel Coloring Pencils 60 4.3 Wood Multicolor Hard
Stabilo CarbOthello Chalk-Pastel Pencils 60 4.4 Wood Multicolor Chalky
Conté À Paris Pastel Pencils 2 5 Wood Black Hard
General’s Pastel Chalk Pencils 12 Not specified Wood Multicolor Chalky
Dainayw Skin Tone Pastel Pencils 12 5 Wood Skin tone Soft
Kalour Pro Pastel Chalk Colored Pencils 50 3.8 Wood Multicolor Chalky
Derwent Pastel Collection 24 4 Wood Multicolor Chalky
Conté À Paris Pastel Pencils 24 5 Wood Multicolor Hard
Cretacolor Fine Art Pastel Pencil Set 12 Not specified Wood Multicolor Soft

Pastel Pencil Buyer’s Guide

It may seem like a straightforward task, but buying the best pastel pencils is not as simple as you may think. Unless you are a veteran artist with years of experience in this coloring medium, you are bound to come across troubles during the purchase.

That’s why we have prepared this buyer’s guide discussing some of the most important aspects to keep in mind. By going through this section, you will get a better understanding of pastel pencils that will help you make a clear decision.

1. Color Variety

When purchasing a pastel pencil set, one of the first things that you need to check is the color variety. The color variety is determined by the number of pencil shades present in the set.

Typically, professional pastel pencils come with a large number of pencils, thereby providing a good color range. They often have 30 or more shades so that the artist can use them to create different types of artwork. Unfortunately, such pastel pencil sets are often expensive to purchase.

However, if you are a beginner or a student, you may not require such a high color variety. In that situation, you may find it more feasible to purchase smaller sets with a decent color variety. And unless you have specific artistic needs, try not to go with an option that has less than 10 colors, as that can reduce the versatility of the set.

Speaking of specific needs, you can find color sets that follow a certain theme for a particular usage case. The Dainayw Pastel Pencils we have reviewed are one such example, as it includes only skin tone shades suitable for portraits. 

2. Blendability

Blendability is another important aspect to consider, especially for those who are unable to afford a pastel pencil set that has a good variety. If the pigments are easy to blend, you can mix the existing colors to create additional shades, thereby addressing the issue of low color range.

In that context, most pastel pencils for artists have a good degree of blendability. You can dry blend these colors with your fingers or a smudging tool. Some sets, such as the Derwent Pastel Collection, come with white blending pastels that can make it easier to blend the colors.

3. Material

The material helps to determine the durability, usability, and safety of the pastel pencil. Most pastels are made from materials like chalk, oil, or water-soluble pigments. Chalk pastel pencils have a powdery texture and can produce a charcoal-like consistency when used. However, they are soft and brittle in most cases, which means that you need to use them carefully.

Oil pastels are harder and produce a dense color texture, but they can take longer to get used to. Also, the oil material used in the pigments may not be safe for children. And lastly, there are water-soluble pastel pencils, which use pigments that can be easily dissolved in water before application. These options are safe to use since there are no added chemicals or oil used in them.

How Are Pastel Pencils Different From Traditional Pastels?

The fundamental difference between a traditional pastel stick and a pastel pencil is the design. In a traditional pastel, the color pigments are compacted in the form of a stick, which is then used for coloring. 

Pastel pencils, on the other hand, use an exterior body or “casing” made of wood, similar to regular coloring pencils. However, the core is made from the same pigments used in making conventional pastels. The outer casing protects the soft core of pastel pigment and prevents it from breaking.

How To Sharpen Pastel Pencils?

Since pastel pencils have a design similar to that of a conventional coloring pencil, they can be sharpened with a regular pencil sharpener. Many manufacturers provide sharpeners as a part of the packaging to make it convenient for users. And if there are no sharpeners included, you can purchase one separately for this purpose.

However, there are some pastel pencil sets that cannot be sharpened this way. For those pencils, you will have to use a utility knife or an artist’s knife to sharpen the tips. In this regard, we recommend sharpening the pencil carefully. Avoid sharpening it to a fine point, or else it may break.

What Are The Best Drawing Surfaces For Pastel Pencils?

Pastel pencils provide the best results when used on textured paper, similar to regular pastels. The texture or “tooth” of the paper determines the consistency of color. Due to the nature of pastel pigments, a slight texture will produce uniform consistency. And while you can use them on smooth paper, we would not recommend it since the color consistency will be negatively affected.

That said, you should not use a very rough surface either since it will wear out the pastel quicker and generate a lot of dust. Also, using slightly tinted paper can help maintain better color harmony.

What Are The Best Pastel Pencil Brands?

All the brands that we have mentioned on our list have fairly good quality. However, if you wish to go with highly reputed brands, then you can use Derwent, Stabilo, or Faber Castell pastel pencils.

Of course, there are many other renowned brands in addition to the ones we have mentioned. Koh-i-noor and Caran d’Ache pastel pencils are some of them. As long as the pencils meet your artistic requirements and budget, you can pick whichever brand you wish.


Now that we have arrived at the end of this detailed review-based guide, we hope that your mind has been made up about which option you want.

We loved the Faber Castell Pitt Pastel Coloring Pencils since it has great color variety and superb blendability. The colors last for a long time as well, which makes it a well-rounded option for beginners and experts.

Our second favorite choice is the Stabilo CarbOthello Chalk Pastel Pencils set, which is the best chalk-based pencils we have used. It has a good color variety and produces a charcoal-like consistency that makes it a great choice for different kinds of art projects.

However, if you want a better pencil set for shading and detailing tasks, you can go with the Conté à Paris Pastel Pencils. Even though it has a poor color variety, we found it a great choice for using with other pastels and on different types of surfaces.

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