How to Make Soft Pastel Artworks Look More Vibrant | Methods, Tips & Techniques For Beginners

Students often tell me that their colours appear dull and lifeless when using soft pastels and pastel pencils. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, soft pastels have the potential to create some of the most vibrant and saturated artworks that can last for many lifetimes in their original condition.

Above is a drawing I created for a tutorial over on my Patreon channel using soft pastels and pastel pencils – you can see just how vibrant I was able to get this piece. It first helps to have a bright and colourful reference photo. It may be a good idea to get into the habit of increasing the brightness and saturation of your reference photos to encourage you to see all those colours.

The remarkable feature of soft pastels is their ability to blend, and whenever possible, I strive to utilize this characteristic of the medium to my advantage. In this particular orange drawing above, I established a base layer of pigment using my soft pastel sticks and then proceeded to refine it gradually with my pastel pencils. The process of blending pastels can naturally darken and dull the colours. So, if this occurs, it becomes important to compensate with vibrant pencils. Returning to the bendability of pastels, I carefully selected vivid pencils and lightly shaded them over the existing base layers. On their own, these vibrant hues might appear unnatural and overly saturated. However, I was able to incrementally enhance the colour atop the existing layers, slowly infusing saturation and vibrancy. I concluded the shading once I was satisfied with the vividness achieved.

I hope this information was helpful to you! If you would like to see the full creation of this orange drawing including the vibrancy refinements & much more, you can watch the 1+ hour tutorial on my Patreon channel HERE.

All the best!