Pastel is a painting medium in the form of a stick, consisting of pure powdered pigment and a binder. The pigments used in pastels are the same as those used to produce all colored art media, including oil paints; the binder is of a neutral hue and low saturation. Pastel also refer to a picture or sketch drawn with this type of crayon.

Four major types of pastel are soft pastels, hard pastels, oil pastels and pastel pencils.

Soft pastels

Soft pastels are great for filling in large areas of color and are usually larger than hard pastels. They’re quite fragile as well.

Hard pastels

Hard pastels are more often used for detail work or for preliminary sketching. They are more dense than soft pastels.

Oil pastels

Oil pastels are made with an oil binder and can produce thick lines and smooth paintings, without any powder. Oil pastels offer beginning artists an easy way to paint landscapes outside, without the mess of oil painting that requires solvents.

Pastel pencils

Pastel pencils are used just like hard pastels and can be sharpened into fine points just like a regular pencil. The casing also makes them clean to work with unlike soft or even hard pastel types.

Pastel paint

A pastel paint offers the beginning artist more control over the color, they can be sharpened and they are sturdy.