Pastels v/s Crayons


These days it’s hard not to get overwhelmed by the sheer variety of colour products available. Not just professionals, even kids who go next door for art classes just as a hobby, are exposed to and get to experiment with various kinds of colours, from a very early age.

Most kids’ first set of colours usually is always wax crayons before moving onto colour pencils for schools to oil pastels and water colours for their art hobby classes and so on. Each of these has their positives and negatives and again, each of these media has fans who swear by them or otherwise. So what really is different between pastel colours and Crayons?

It is the binder for the most part. Crayons use wax and Oil pastels use non-drying oil and wax. Besides the composition of the colours, there is a huge difference in how a wax crayon and an oil pastel works.

With crayons, it takes a bit of an effort with a lot of pressure to completely cover the whole area. With oil pastels, however, there isn’t much pressure needed at all to colour the required sketch. It happens very smoothly.

Oil pastels are very rich, soft and creamy. Hence, they are very easy to smear, blend in, layer, mix, shaded, all with the help of our finger.  As opposed to that, crayons are harder and the two crayon colours don’t really mix together, very well.

Pastels tend to smear and smudge and as a result, transfer very easily onto the artist’s hands or any surface that the colour comes in contact with. Crayons, don’t colour your hands. Well, most crayons don’t.

Pastels are thought of to be more professional and more life-like than wax crayons which tend to look, well, coloured. Hence pastels are probably the first choice for artists who want to go beyond colouring in colouring books.

Crayons can be used for detailed drawings more often than pastels because of their pointed tips and because of their ability to stand alone without smearing or smudging.

Pastels can give a 3D effect or a feel of a texture which is usually lacking in a picture coloured with plain wax crayons.

Another feature of an oil pastel over crayons is that oil pastels almost work on any surface – paper, board, canvas, glass, metal, wood or rock. Crayons don’t and cannot do justice to most of these surfaces except paper.

In the end, there is no right or wrong. What works for one, may not for another. And don’t worry about messing up, you really can’t in art. All is fair in love, war and art.

Try Camlin’s range of colours in both oil pastels and crayons!

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  1. I have no problem in declaring that I am a fan of oil pastels. The author of this post has put it rightly “oil pastels are very rich, soft and creamy’; once you use them, you will never feel that using crayons or the regular pastels.

  2. Pastel has always been the working medium for me when drawing. The writer is absolutely right in saying that with pastels one can provide 3D effects and add textures to a regular figure drawn on paper. Things have become even better with the launch of oil pastels. I also use crayons, but only for bordering images.

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