How To Use Oil Pastel Crayons

Oil pastel crayons are one of the most affordable mediums that both beginners and professional artists can enjoy.

Using oil pastel crayons is pretty straightforward. It’s just like a crayon, except it’s more buttery and blends with other colors. It can also produce a painterly-like output when used with the proper techniques.

There are a lot of easy and non-complicated techniques for using oil pastel crayons that make it beginner and child-friendly. Here are some:

#1 Apply consistent pressure

When you are using oil pastels, make sure you are using consistent pressure. This is especially true for coloring an area with a single color.

Make sure is that there are no white spots left uncovered on your paper. However, if you are trying to create a blended effect with multiple colors, there are also techniques that may require you to apply less pressure.

The hardness or lightness of the pressure that you need to use depends on the texture of the paper that you are using. The softness or hardness of your oil pastel, and the look of the output you want to create.

#2 Test the hardness or softness of your oil pastel crayons

Since the hardness or softness of oil pastel crayons varies per brand, it’s up to you to gauge how hard you can push your oil pastel without breaking them into half.

With harder oil pastels, it might be a bit rigid and harder to blend colors since it requires you to use more pressure. However, it also allows you to create more precise and finer lines.

Softer oil pastels have a creamier and lipstick-like texture that requires less pressure to use and is easier to blend. However, you also need to be more careful not to break it when using it.

#3 Consider the surface you’ll be coloring on

Unlike other mediums, oil pastels aren’t limited to use with a specific kind of paper which means you have a lot more choices. You can use it on any kind of paper, cardboard, or even on plastics or wood.

Remember that the more textured the paper, the harder the pressure you will have to apply on the paper since there may be a lot of tooth that the colors can be distributed to.

However, I wouldn’t recommend very smooth surfaces either because the colors wouldn’t have anything to grip onto and the colors might look very patchy.

What I would recommend for oil pastels is paper with medium texture, just enough tooth for the colors to grip onto, especially when blending multiple colors together.

#4 Keep a paper towel or spare cloth near you

Oil pastels tend to pick up other colors onto their sticks when you use them over another color. Make sure to wipe off these excess colors from your oil pastel crayon so it doesn’t stain your drawing when used.

Oil pastels also tend to stain your hands and fingers while you are using them. Make sure you have something to wipe your hands on from time to time so the stains don’t transfer onto your artwork.

#5 Put paper between your hands and the colored areas

Oil pastels don’t “dry” out and they are very prone to smudging. It might be unavoidable to rest your hands or palms over the colored areas when you are coloring other areas, especially with large artworks. To avoid smudging colors within your artwork, you can place a folded paper between your hands and colored areas.

How Do You Blend Oil Pastel Crayons?

There are numerous techniques that you can use when blending oil pastel crayons. Compared to other mediums such as colored pencils and alcohol markers, most of them are fairly easy, and perfect for beginners and young artists.

#1 Overlaying

Start this technique by choosing one lighter, and one darker color.

  • Use your darker color first and color it over the intended area by using harder pressure in the starting area and gradually lessening the pressure up to the end of your intended area.
  • Then, use your lighter color and layer it over the colored area. This time, start at the portion where the darker color was applied with less pressure and work your way onto the portion where the dark color is more prominent.
  • You are essentially using your lighter color to blend the two colors. It’s best to use a circular swirling motion while blending so it creates a smooth blended look.

You can also use this technique to blend multiple colors together in a gradient-like effect.

If you have a third color to use, the second color should be used by gradually softening its pressure up to the point where you want to blend the third and second colors together. Then, the third color will be used to blend them together starting from the point where the second color left off. The same process goes for multiple colors.

#2 Scrumbling

Scrumbling is done by drawing controlled scribble marks across your intended area using two or more colors. This is perfect if you want a blended look with a bit more interesting texture or look to it.

  • Start scrumbling by scribbling one color and gradually using fewer scribbles toward the portion of the area where you want another color to appear more prominent.
  • Then use your second color and scribble it over your colored area, covering the white spots left, and blending the colors together with the way you want them to.
  • If you have a third or more colors to use, just keep on scribbling them over each other to blend them until there are no white spots left.

#3 Using a paper stump or paper tissue

You can use a paper stump or paper tissue to blend colors on your paper. If you don’t have a paper stump, you can roll your tissue paper to make it look like one.

  • Make sure you already have a thick layer of your colors on your paper. They should be overlapped or almost overlapped with each other.
  • Then, simply take your paper stump, or your paper tissue and use it over the colors with medium to hard pressure, in a swirling motion.

This technique lifts off a lot of the pigment and leaves a less pigmented, smoothly blended output, which some artists may desire.

You may also use your fingers to blend the colors together, but of course, it’s best to use a paper stump or paper tissue to achieve the same effects without getting your hands dirty.

#4 Using baby oil

You can use baby oil to blend colors together smoothly. You can do this technique by using a q-tip dipped in baby oil as a paintbrush and blending your oil pastels on your paper. It melts your oil pastel colors and allows them to incorporate with each other.

However, this technique might be a bit messy so you need to use it with caution. It’s also best to use this technique only when you are using thick paper. It might also take a while for your oil to dry, or it might not dry at all, so the risk of smudging around your artwork gets higher.

Other Techniques For Using Oil Pastels

#1 Stippling

Although you’re not really “blending” colors together when stippling, it can create an effect wherein the colors look as if they are blended together.

Stippling is done by creating small dots and putting them closer to each other depending on how dark or light you want the color to be.

It’s not that complicated to do, just simply fill your area with dots of the different colors you want to appear together.

If you want a lighter output, create more dots with the lighter color. If you want a darker output, create more dots with the darker color. Essentially, just create more dots with the color you want to be prominent.

You can even create a gradient-like effect by gradually increasing the number of dots of the darker color towards a specific area.

#2 Sgraffito

This technique is an interesting way to make use of your oil pastel crayons and create artworks. You need to prepare a thin, mildly sharp object such as a toothpick, a paper clip, or the edge of a ruler for this technique.

  • Start this technique by coloring in a bunch of colors in an area, it doesn’t need to be too thick, just enough where there are no white spots left to see.
  • Then, cover the entire colored area with a much darker color, such as black, in a thick layer.
  • Once the darker color has covered up everything, use the thin, sharp object to etch a drawing on the colored area. This will remove the darker color on top and reveal the colors you’ve put in under.

You can create different patterns, or different objects to create a unique artwork.

If you want to see these techniques in action, you can check out this video to see how these techniques are applied.

You may also review this article for more information about oil pastels: How to Use Oil Pastels – A Guide on the Best Oil Pastel Techniques

About the author: My name is Marcus, I am a lawyer (LL.M.) and the founder of this website. Besides sometimes doing lawyer stuff, I like to draw and improve my skills as a “digital artist”, and I write about what I learn on this website. If you want to know more about me or reach out, then you can click here.

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