Review: PanPastel Soft Artist Pastel Drawing Set

This review is written by Amie Hill

PanPastels arrive in stackable plastic containers, this is handy as it means they don’t use up a lot of space, but can make things difficult and time consuming when changing colours and setting up your work surface. They are available separately or in themed sets of 20 (such as Landscape, Tints, or Portrait etc). I would recommend starting out with the ‘Pure Colours’ painting set for beginners, as there is a nice variety of colours and shades for different subjects and styles. I also purchased a PanPastel palette to hold all the pastels neatly, and for easy reach when painting.

Each pan measures H x 2.3 in. W x 2.3 in (5.8cm)

There are a large variety of tools available for PanPastel, with each providing its own technique for painting and layering the medium. My favourite tools are the large oval sponge and palette knives. As most of my subjects are animals, I find these provide the best method for layering fur and shadows. I also find the wedge shaped sponge perfect for creating fine lines for whiskers and feathers, creating a very delicate and natural appearance, which I find important in my artwork as most is based on realism.

Unfortunately, I do however find that the sponge attachments wear down quite quickly from only a short use, and I will often go through a couple of the palette knife tips from a single painting, making this medium quite costly in my opinion. Post painting clean-up time is also a little lengthy as all the sponges need to be washed with soap and water, ready for the next painting session and to prevent contaminating the colours.

From left to right clockwise: Sofft Applicators, Sofft Knives (No.1 Round and No. 2 Flat), Big Oval Sponge, Sponge Bar Round, Sponge Bar Wedge

The palette knives have removal sponge tips, they are replaced when worn but can be pricey.

PanPastels create a great base for paintings, creating a rich and velvety effect I find similar to oil painting. I mainly use them to lay down the bulk of a painting, layering in main colours, shadows and highlights, before going over this with pastel pencils or coloured pencils to add the finer details. These two mediums also blend beautifully, and the PanPastels create a nice smooth background for the coloured pencils, making layering a breeze.

They are also a very forgiving medium, and mistakes can be easily removed with an eraser, or even used to create more interesting textures (such as whiskers and fur highlights).

PanPastels also have no odour, and create less dust particles than soft pastels, due to the way applicators are used instead, to apply the medium to the surface. This is one of the main reasons I find PanPastels such a joy to work with, it feels more like I’m painting with a brush and palette, creating loose and natural markings that allow myself to get lost in a piece.

I personally don’t use a fixative on my PanPastel paintings as I don’t like the smell left behind. I also find that if used on good quality paper (my favourite is Pastelmat), the pastels can adhere to the surface excellently.

All in all, I recommend PanPastels to any artist who is either looking to expand their skills in pastels, or to anyone who struggles to use pastel sticks and pencils effectively and would like to try a more painterly approach to this medium. They also have many more uses besides traditional painting, such as being used to tone and colour digital photos for scrapbooking, and can mix well with many different mediums. The only downside is that PanPastels aren’t a cheap medium, and replacement tools can add up quite quickly. My advice is to start with a few separate primary colours, or a set of 20 just so that you can get used to the medium and its qualities before investing straight away


Find more reviews at Dick Blick Art Materials | Jackson's Art Supplies (UK)


Add new comment