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The Best Oil Pastels

Littlewitz/Shutterstock.com
🕚 Updated March 2022

Oil pastels offer artists an easy, convenient way to mix, build, and blend colors, covering surface area quickly without much mess and any dry time. If you're looking for a set to get started, here are some of our recommendations.

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  Best Value Best for Kids Premium Choice Best Large Box Set Best Soft Oil Choice
 
  Pentel
Arts Oil Pastels
Crayola
Oil Pastels
SENNELIER Store
Oil Pastel Set
Sunnyglade
Deluxe Art Set
MUNGYO
Gallery Soft Oil Pastels
 
Our SummaryThis package of oil pastels blends smoothly and is great for all ages.Rich and creamy oil pastels in a hexagonal shape. Creamy pastels rich in pigment and lightfastness. A deluxe wooden case containing 145 pieces of art tools including 24 oil pastels. Professional quality oil pastels with outstanding smooth touch and consistent colors.
ProsBright and vivid colors, smooth application, great for all ages.Rich colors, creamy application and blending, hexagonal design, nontoxic.
Luxurious set, high-quality pigment, blends easily, no mess left behind.
Wooden case with drawer, nontoxic, versatile range of mediums.Professional quality, smooth to the touch, great for techniques.
ConsWaxy make may be difficult to blend, leaves spotty coverage.May have strong order and be crumbly in consistency.Soft and must be handled with care.Box may break due to weight.Not very blendable without a brush.
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The Best Oil Pastels

A set of colorful oil pastels.
Littlewitz/Shutterstock.com

Buying Guide for Oil Pastels

Simple kids hands drawing with precision on a huge canvas using oil pastels, coloring detail, closeup.
tomeqs/Shutterstock.com

Why buy oil pastels?

Oil pastels are known for their versatility as an art tool, particularly because this product won’t smudge, crumble or release dust. You can take them with you on the go, which is great for artists who like to be out and about while painting. Their waxy consistency will spread easily on the page, and it’s a suitable project for larger, less detailed work. They also have excellent drawing properties and can be combined with other media, like watercolor, soft pastels, or oil paint.

What should you look for when buying oil pastels?

  • Pigment Load: In a lower quality pastel, inexpensive filler material dyed with chemical dyes is usually the main ingredient rather than the more expensive artist pigments. Pastels with an actual colored material as a significant component of the mixture will give you a better vibrance and intensity of color.
  • Binders and Oils: Binders and oils will determine how soft or firm an oil pastel is. Firm brands are better for early layers, fine details, and control. Softer products can be used when blending is the top priority. You don’t want an oil that bleeds into your surface.
  • Toxicity: Look carefully at the ingredients. Some acceptable or manageable components for adults may not be usable for children.
  • Lightfastness:  Pigments are sensitive to light and can be altered when exposed. Each oil pastel brand will have a different lightfastness rating of which colors are more likely to fade rapidly easily. Oil pastels should be kept away from direct sunlight as much as possible.

What’s the best way to clean oil pastels from fabric?

You will want to scrape off as much oil pastel as possible from the fabric. One method is to use an ice cube to chill the oil pastel, making it hard and easier to scrap away. Take a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol to the fabric and blot the stained area. If the stain remains, rub gentle soap on the area and wash.

Our Picks for the Best Oil Pastels

Best Value

Pentel Arts Oil Pastels

This package of oil pastels blends smoothly and is great for all ages.

Pros: This oil pastel set includes brilliantly colored pastels that apply smoothly and blend easily for subtle shades. It is easy to use for all ages, and the pastels are acid-free. They work best on paper, board, or canvas and are more vivid than chalk pastels. These pastels are more resistant to humidity and will last longer.

Cons: Because of its waxy make, it isn’t easy to blend these pastels when painting. The coverage can be slightly spotty.

Bottom Line: The Pentel brand is well-known for the quality products that it has been making for over 60 years. This particular package of oil pastels is versatile and can be used to create and mix any color you want.

 

Best for Kids

Crayola Oil Pastels

Rich and creamy oil pastels in a hexagonal shape.

Pros: This set of 28 Crayola oil pastels come in rich colors and are creamy and easy to blend for detailed drawings. The pastels are designed in a hexagonal shape, so they are easy to hold and won’t roll off surfaces.

Cons: These may have a strong odor, and the pastel quality is crumbly.

Bottom Line: Crayola is a kid-friendly brand, and these oil pastels are fitting for young doodlers. This set is a great way to keep kids engaged with fun, easy, and colorful projects.

 

Premium Choice

Sennelier Oil Pastel Set

Creamy pastels rich in pigment and lightfastness.

Pros: This luxurious set of oil pastels has high-quality pigment and lightfastness. The colors blend easily on your canvas, and the finish takes on a paint-like appearance. This set is easy to clean up as it leaves behind no mess.

Cons: These pastels are soft and must be handled with care not to crush them.

Bottom Line: These acid-free pastels are great for mixed media artwork, and they add a nice finishing touch to any work of art. While this set is pricier than other pastels, the quality is better than the quantity.

 

Best Large Box Set

Sunnyglade Deluxe Art Set

A deluxe wooden case containing 145 pieces of art tools including 24 oil pastels.

Pros: This deluxe art wooden case comes with a removable drawer to conveniently store your art supplies and keep them organized. The set is excellent for adults and kids, as all the products inside are nontoxic. The versatility of this art set includes tools you need for drawing and painting, including crayons, colored pencils, oil pastels, watercolor cakes, palettes, sketch pencils, paintbrushes, painting papers, pencil sharpener, ruler, and an eraser.

Cons: The box is heavy, so the latch is prone to break.

Bottom Line: This set is an all-around wonderful starter package for most artists. It contains more than just oil pastels—it has the tools you need for ultimate creativity.

 

Best Soft Oil Choice

Mungyo Gallery Soft Oil Pastels

Professional quality oil pastels with outstanding smooth touch and consistent colors.

Pros: This set of professional quality oil pastels has intense colors with high-coverage power. The pastels are smooth to the touch and are ideal for neat and accurate work and techniques such as impasto and scraping. This set is of great value for adults beginning to dabble in pastels.

Cons: These pastels are thick and require a brush to blend, considering most artists typically blend with their fingers.

Bottom Line: These creamy pastels blend like a dream and are an excellent value for the price and color assortment. The consistency of these pastels makes them great for beginners.

Final Thoughts

Using the best tools will help you create magnificent artwork. Oil pastels are a unique option for those looking to create with highly pigmented colors. The sticks are buttery smooth and easy to work with, making them an excellent medium to enjoy and create art with.

Lisa Walenceus Lisa Walenceus
Lisa Walenceus has 20 years of research and writing experience as an educator, news reporter, and freelancer. She writes to learn and digs deep to find how things work. Read Full Bio »
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