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Step-by-Step Tutorial for Oil Pastel Drawing for Beginners

Oil pastels offer a vibrant and forgiving medium for artistic exploration. Perfect for beginners, they blend beautifully, create stunning textures, and require minimal setup. So, grab your favorite colors and dive into this captivating art form with this comprehensive guide!

Part 1: Gathering Your Supplies

Oil Pastels:

oil pastel drawing

When choosing oil pastels, it’s important to select a set that meets your specific needs and preferences as an artist. A starter set containing 24 to 48 colors can provide a good foundation for both beginners and experienced artists. This range of colors allows for versatility and flexibility in your artwork, offering a diverse palette to work with. When selecting oil pastels, look for soft pastels that blend easily, as this characteristic can greatly enhance your ability to create smooth transitions and vibrant color effects in your pieces. Additionally, consider the quality and lightfastness of the pastels, as higher-quality pastels often result in more vivid and long-lasting colors in your artwork. By carefully choosing a set of oil pastels that align with your artistic goals and techniques, you can ensure that your materials support your creative vision and contribute to the overall success and impact of your oil pastel creations.


Opt for heavyweight, textured paper specifically designed for oil pastels. This helps prevent smudging and tearing. Experiment with different tooth levels (texture) for varied effects.

Part 2: Preparing Your Workspace

Setting the Stage:

oil pastel drawing

When working with oil pastels, it’s important to establish an appropriate workspace to facilitate the creation process. Start by finding a well-ventilated area with a flat surface and good lighting. This will ensure that you have a comfortable and well-lit environment to work in, allowing you to clearly see and manipulate the colors and textures of the pastels. Additionally, covering your work surface with newspaper or scrap paper is essential to protect it from stray pastel marks. This not only helps to keep your workspace clean and tidy but also prevents any accidental smudges or stains on your surroundings. By preparing your workspace thoughtfully, you can create a conducive and organized environment for your artistic endeavors, enabling you to focus on your creative expression and the intricate details of your oil pastel artwork.

Sharpening (Sort of):

Unlike pencils, oil pastels don’t require sharpening. However, you can gently scrape the sides with a craft knife to create pointed tips for finer details.

Part 3: Sketching and Layering Colors

Light Sketch:

Begin with a light sketch using a pencil. This provides a roadmap for your artwork without leaving harsh lines that might show through later.

Building the Base:

oil pastel drawing

Start with lighter colors and apply them in broad strokes. Layer them lightly, gradually building up color intensity.

Part 4: Blending and Adding Details

Blending Magic:

Here’s where the fun begins! Use your fingers or a blending tool (like a tortillon) to create smooth transitions between colors. Experiment with different pressures to achieve subtle or dramatic blending effects.

Details and Finishing Touches:

Once you’re happy with the base colors, use darker shades or a sharpened pastel tip to add details and definition. Define outlines, create shadows, and bring your artwork to life.

Bonus Tips:

Protect Your Work:

Apply a fixative spray once you’re finished to prevent smudging.
Embrace Experimentation: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! Oil pastels are easily lifted with a kneaded eraser or a light touch with a tissue.

oil pastel drawing

Explore Techniques:

Try layering different colors, scratching into the pastel with a tool for textured effects, or using stencils for interesting shapes.

Find Inspiration:

Look at artwork by other oil pastel artists or browse online tutorials for new ideas and techniques.
Remember, art is a journey, not a destination. Enjoy the process of creating, let your creativity flow, and most importantly, have fun!

Part 5: Subject Ideas for Beginners

A Vibrant Landscape:

Capture the breathtaking beauty of nature using oil pastels. Whether it’s a stunning sunset painting the sky with warm, vibrant hues, a lush forest teeming with life and color, or a calming beach scene with tranquil waves and golden sands, oil pastels excel at portraying the richness and diversity of natural landscapes. The versatile and vivid nature of oil pastels allows artists to convey the intricate details, vibrant colors, and the sense of depth found in various natural settings. With their blendability and intense pigmentation, oil pastels offer a unique opportunity to capture the nuanced textures of foliage, the interplay of light and shadow, and the atmospheric effects present in outdoor environments. Whether you’re drawn to the dramatic colors of a dusk sky or the serene tranquility of a beach, oil pastels provide a captivating medium to express the awe-inspiring beauty and richness of the natural world.

A Simple Still Life:

Arrange some colorful fruits, a beautiful flower, or a collection of interesting objects. Experiment with light and shadow to create depth.

A Playful Portrait:

Begin your portrait by sketching a basic outline of the face, paying attention to the proportions and placement of features. As you refine the outline, focus on capturing the essence and unique personality of your subject, aiming to convey their emotions and character through your artwork. When it comes to using oil pastels for portrait art, consider employing bright and vibrant colors to infuse the piece with a whimsical and expressive touch. Bold and vivid hues can add a dynamic and lively quality to the portrait, bringing out the individuality and spirit of the subject. By experimenting with a diverse range of colors, you can create a playful and imaginative interpretation of the person you’re portraying. This approach allows for a creative and personalized representation, emphasizing the emotional depth and energy of the individual while adding a sense of liveliness and charm to the artwork.

An Abstract Adventure:

Let loose and create an abstract composition using a variety of colors and blending techniques. Experiment with layering, overlapping, and creating textures.

With these tips and ideas in hand, you’re well on your way to creating stunning oil pastel artwork! So, unleash your inner artist and embark on a creative adventure with this vibrant and versatile medium.