PanPastel, Pastels, Tips & Techniques

Revolutionising Pastel Painting with PanPastel Soft Pastels

Reinvent your pastel painting technique with PanPastel Soft Pastels. A recent addition to our website, these soft pastel colours offer a fantastic way to get hands on with the medium and work with painterly strokes and techniques you’d usually associate with acrylics and oils. We took a look at some of the sets and tools on offer to see how they can expand your creative practice.

Three PanPastels in Primary Colours Red Blue and Yellow used to mix colour

PanPastel Soft Pastel Colours are a fantastically versatile medium loved by soft pastel artists, mixed media painters and creatives of all kinds. And, although they’re a fairly new format, it’s not hard to see why they’ve gained such massive popularity. PanPastels look a little like a make-up compact, made from pastel pigment compressed into a metal pan. These pastels have a super smooth consistency when you compare them to traditional dry pastels. And, unlike pastel sticks, you can apply these pastels with a range of special sponges and knives.

We’ve recently updated our shop with a range of PanPastel colour sets and accessories, and wanted to give you a rundown of what’s available.

What are PanPastels?

PanPastels are a professional grade soft pastel colour. Unlike the soft pastel sticks you’ll likely have come across, PanPastels come in an unusual pan form. They look similar to a make-up compact and feature a disc of compacted, pigment-based colour. Each cake has a lovely soft, velvety texture that makes it remarkably easy to laydown rich colours. They also contain exceptionally high levels of pigment. In fact, their recipe uses very little binder at all – so you’ll experience pure pigment in every stroke. Each pan has the equivalent to 40% more than your average pastel stick. Because of this high pigmentation, PanPastels offer fantastic coverage and exceptional lightfastness – in fact their coverage is 4 to 5 times better than sticks!

Grayscale PanPastel Soft Pastels and drawing materials with a detailed drawing of a leopard on black paper

The pan format allows you to work with and apply colour in ways that would be difficult with a traditional stick. The large flat surface allows you to easily pick up colour with a number of tools. This gives you the freedom to apply colour in bold, painterly marks that you’d more commonly associate with fluid colours. Owing to the pigmentation and soft texture, the application smooth and effortless. These qualities also make it easy to cover large areas quickly. Plus, PanPastels are much less dusty than traditional pastels, and they don’t require the use of fixative!

PanPastel Sets

Assorted PanPastel Sets and Accessories

We currently offer PanPastels in a variety of assorted sets. There’s a perfect set for all kinds of artists whether you’re looking for a starter kit to get you going, or want a specific range of colours suited to landscapes and shadows. Each PanPastel set offers between five and twenty colours, complemented by a small selection of Sofft pastel painting tools.

Starter Sets

PanPastel Painting Starter Set of 5
PanPastel Painting Starter Set of 5
PanPastel Painting Starter Set of 10 Colours
PanPastel Painting Starter Set of 10 Colours

Our starter sets are available in sets of either five or ten colours and include a good selection of colours to get you started. The smaller set includes one of each of the primary colours, plus black and white. The larger starter set expands on this selection with a couple of secondary colours plus some earth tones. Either set is great for artists’ new to the format who are looking to experiment with colour mixing.

Tints and Shades

PanPastel Permanent Red in a variety of tints and shades
An example of a dark, shade, mass tone and tint in Permanent Red

For every ‘mass tone’ available in the PanPastel range there is a selection of complementary tints, shades and darks. Tints mix the original mass tone with white, to lighten the colour. On the other hand, shades mix in a touch of black, making them darker. Darks contain even more black, so make the mass tone even darker still. Using these premixed colours makes colour mixing and shading much easier. Each of the tints, shades and darks sets includes 5 variations of the 5 basic colours; Hansa Yellow, Permanent Red, Violet, Ultramarine Blue Shade and Chromium Oxide Green. There are additional sets for extra dark shadow and earth colours.

Additional Colours

PanPastel Blues Set of 5
PanPastel Blues Set of 5
PanPastel Greens Set of 10
PanPastel Greens Set of 10

For artists who have heavy use of certain colour groups, we also offer sets of additional colours in greens, blues and greys. Available in sets of 5 or 10 colours, these collections are perfect for artists that need to supplement a starter set with further colours for landscape or seascape paintings.

Large Sets

PanPastel Painting Set of 20 Colours
Painting Set of 20 Colours
PanPastel Landscape Set of 20 Colours
Landscape Set of 20 Colours
PanPastel Portrait Set of 20 Colours
Portrait Set of 20 Colours

For PanPastel enthusiasts we stock three larger sets of 20 colours – a general Painting Set, Landscape Set and a Portrait Set. As their names suggest, the Painting set includes a broad range of colours perfect for all kinds of subjects, while the Landscape set includes a range of natural hues perfect for landscape painting.

Each of the pans in the sets stack and interlock for easy storage, or you can pop the colours in one of our PanPastel trays so they’re ready to go whenever your creativity strikes.

Sofft Pastel Painting Accessories

An Assortment of Sofft Tools for PanPastel Soft Pastel Painting

PanPastel’s Sofft Pastel Painting Accessories let you work with soft pastel colours in innovative new ways. We offer pastel painting tools in a couple of variations; sofft sponges and sofft knives. Sofft Sponges look and feel similar to a make-up sponge, only they are made with a specially formulated micropore material. Just one sweep across your PanPastels and the sponge will be loaded with rich, vibrant colour.

Artist using a purple PanPastel Soft Pastel with a Sofft Sponge Applicator
Artist using a Sofft Knife to apply a stroke of magenta PanPastel soft pastel

Sofft Knives look and feel like a painter’s knife, only they’re finished with a sponge tip. This tip is made from the same micropore sponge as other Sofft tools, so it’s wonderfully easy to load them up with colour. These knives and sponges make it easy to lay down colour with smooth consistency. Additionally, their unique shapes make it easy to work with soft pastel in a loose, expressive and painterly manner. Plus they’re easy to remove and clean!

What is the difference between PanPastel Soft Pastels and traditional dry pastels?

Artist using a Sofft Sponge to apply Blue PanPastel

The main difference between PanPastel Soft Pastels and traditional dry pastels is their form and consistency. Traditional dry pastels are made by mixing dry pigment with a binder, resulting in a stick-shaped pastel that can be applied directly to a surface. PanPastels, on the other hand, are made using a unique manufacturing process that compresses the pigment into a soft, velvety cake that is applied to a surface using special tools like sponges or brushes. Additionally, PanPastels have a much smoother consistency than traditional pastels, making them easier to blend and layer. The pigment load of PanPastel is much higher plus they’re much less dusty and don’t require the use of fixative.

How do I use PanPastels?

You can use PanPastels as you would any other soft pastel colours, but their shape brings them much more versatility. Sweep a Sofft sponge over the surface of your pan to load it with colour, then apply directly to your surface. This technique allows you to work with loose, expressive strokes or fine, delicate marks depending on the Sofft tool you choose.

Because PanPastels are so smooth and velvety, colour mixing is easy. You can apply colours directly to your surface and blend them directly to make intermediate colours. Alternatively, you can left multiple colours with the same tool and blend directly on the sponge.

Red, Blue and Yellow PanPastels Blended with an Oval Sofft Sponge

PanPastels are very easy to control, allowing you to achieve a variety of marks and layers. You can apply thin layers of colour to create transparent glazes. Or work in heavier layers on textured papers for more opaque effects. They’re also compatible with water, so you can work them into washes.

PanPastels work exceptionally well on professional pastel surfaces like Clairefontaine Pastelmat and Mi-Tientes Touch. However, they are compatible with all your favourite pastel painting surfaces – from the toothiest sanded papers to smoother velour-like cards.

You can use them alone or combine with traditional soft pastel sticks or pastel pencils. They also work brilliantly with mixed media techniques alongside coloured pencils, watercolour and more.

Mixed Media Painting with PanPastels

Revolutionise Your Practice with PanPastels!

Assorted PanPastels and other drawing materials

PanPastel Soft Pastels offer a revolutionary way for soft pastel artists and mixed media painters to elevate their creative practice. With their unique pan format, highly pigmented colours and velvety texture, PanPastels open up a world of possibilities for experimenting with painterly strokes and techniques akin to acrylics and oils. If you’re ready to inject something fresh into your artwork, head to our website to browse the PanPastel range and start your creative journey today!

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Tanith is a Fine Art Graduate with a passion for drawing and watercolour. Her love of art extends beyond her own practice, as she regularly researches and tests new materials for the Bromleys blog. Through collaboration with suppliers, she gains the technical know-how to help troubleshoot artistic challenges, aiding fellow artists in refining their craft. While she specializes in watercolour, her articles span various topics, inspiring artists of every skill level to explore the world of art.
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