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Fantasy Art Tutorials in the FARP Section


Coloring with Pastels - part 1: Introduction to pastels in Art

By :-) Ric Sattler.

This Tutorial was written because of the many questions, which were asked by visitors of my art galleries in the internet. I hope I can give some answers with this tutorial. And I also hope that you will understand my bad english (I will appreciate corrections) ; -)

Everyone knows pastel drawings of street painters, who make (within minutes) portraits of people that are passing by. Pastels are also often used within pictures of animals, still lives or flowers.

In contrast to that, pastels are used rather rarely in fantasy art. Pencil, ink, acrylics, airbrush and oil are more common. The reason for the rare use of pastels in fantasy art is, that it seems to be a problem to draw fine details with pastels, since the chalk supply " always " granular results:


1: Soft pastel

2: Square pastel (medium soft)

3: Pastel pencil (hard)

4: Pastel pencil (hard, water soluble)

5: Colored pencil (hard)

6: Pencil (2B)

7: Felt-tip pen

8: Ink pen

The goal of this tutorial is to show the fact, that one can paint nevertheless interesting and fastidious fantasy pictures with pastels.


The first chalks were used in cave paintings. Later Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) used pastels, but in the art they were used mainly starting from the 17th Century and reached their bloom time in the 18th century. Here are some examples of the old masters:

The Education of Achilles

The training of Achilles (1862)

Eugène De Lacroix

Pastels on paper, approx. 30,6cm x 41,9cm

Maria Frederike van Reede-Athlone at seven

Maria Frederike van Reede Reede-Athlone at seven (1755)

Jean Étienne Liotard

pastels on parchment, approx. 57cm x 47cm

Gabriel Bernard de Rieux

Gabriel Bernard de Rieux (1741)

Maurice Quentin de la Tour

pastels and gouache on paper, approx. 200cm x 150cm

Portrait of the Marquise de Pompadour

Portrait of the Marquise de Pompadour (1755)

Maurice Quentin de la Tour

pastels on paper, approx. 177,5cm x 131cm

Although Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) used pastels, they are not on the mainstream of art today.

My own pastel paintings are not comparable with those of the old masters, but they show that pastels can be used also for fantasy pictures:


Centauress (1999)

Ric Sattler

pastels on velours paper, approx. 69cm x 99cm

Gold, bronze and a red cloth (2001)

Gold, bronze and a red cloth (2001)

Ric Sattler

pastels on velours paper, approx. 80cm x 80cm

Lost Properties II.

Lost Properties II. (2001)

Ric Sattler

pastels, water color and ink on Ingres-paper, approx. 50cm x 70cm

back to the woods

Back to the woods (2001)

Ric Sattler

pastels on velours paper, approx. 50cm x 80cm

Jey and Musheera

Jey and Musheera (2002)

Ric Sattler

pastels on velours paper, approx. 48cm x 64cm

By these examples you can see that pastel paintings are mostly larger than comparable pictures in oil or acrylics.

Within Elfwood you will find many examples of fantasy pictures with pastels or oilpastels. In addition there is also a "Guided Tour" available.

Painting or drawing?

Before it leads to confusion: I always use the terms "paint" or "painting" in this text, if it concerns pastels, although the normal term for a "dry" technology would be "drawing". However, I describe techniques in this text, that lead to results that look more like typical paintings than drawings.

Who should read this tutorial?

In this tutorial I will not explain how to draw e.g. humans, dragons or perspectively correct buildings. For all these basic techniques are better guidance in FARP and in other places of the Internet.

I will not announce generally " wisdoms " here, because there are always several ways to paint, and everyone constantly learns additional methods. I would only like to give you some assistance, to facilitate the startup and show some tips from my point of view.

This Tutorial should therefore read by all those, who

  • are new to the pastel way of art,
  • already have some experiences with black-and-white techniques such as pencil or india ink and search for a simple way to the colored painting, without having to change to canvas, brush and liquid colors, or
  • are looking for a medium, which has no need of mixing colors, cleaning of brushes, purchase of new clothes and renovation of the studio ;-)

Most of the methods used for pencils can completely or partly be further used with pastels.

Part 1| Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

FARP Article Guestbook

21 Nov 201145 Anon.
Very informative! Can’t wait for the portrait (people) study chapter. I’m very new to the art process figured I’d start here.
Thank you!
25 Nov 201145 Bob
I was fascinated with this type of medium__pastel painting. Although my favorite is oil. I wish to learn more and copy this lesson and pass to my students. I’m engaged in Art workshop tutorial.
25 Nov 201145 Bob
Would you kindly sent me some techniques in portrait painting with pastel ? I have problems with fine details and the paper or board to use. What can you suggest ?
29 Nov 201145 Ric
@Bob: feel free to use the tutorial. But I will not have the time to write more in the next months, sorry
10 Apr 201245 Sean
very nice tutorial explaining the benefits of chalk pastels. id really love to see.morenon hownto produce fine details. thanks!
12 Apr 2012:-) Rhonda rspaints bamberger
I have only been painting w/ pastels for a few months, but I have read many, many books and articles. Just wanted to say that I find your site and info most helpful and clear, with much info I had not found elsewhere (ie--differences in paper textures and comparison use with various pastels. Your art is also quite good...even beside the "old masters". One comment: I cannot easily read your "Tip" sections due to the dark blue background---black letters do not appear clearly, are very dim and hard to read. Looking forward to more info from you re skin, animals, metals, etc. Thanks so much....rspaintspastels
30 Jun 201245 Anon.
I enjoyed your thoughts on pastel painting very much. I have used the medium for forty years and am often disappointed to see only three types of pastel paintings in exhibits; landscape, portrait and still life. Pastel is a wonderful medium for fantasy art. Thanks for spreading the word and sharing your own beautiful paintings.
16 Oct 201245 Anon.
im in class 6 altough we havent staeted yet2222222222 the thinghat my pastels are quite is t
1 Nov 201245 Anon.
Hi: I think I overworked an area and it will no longer accept my pastel. Is it ruined or can it be fixed? Thank you very much
4 Nov 201245 Anon.
normaly there is no way to fix areas that are overused
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