A Beginner's Guide to PanPastel

17 May 2024

Embarking on your journey with PanPastel opens a world of artistic possibilities. From its versatile application to its vibrant colour range, PanPastel offers a unique experience for artists at any level. In this guide, we'll explore the essential techniques, mediums and tips to get you started. Whether you're a seasoned artist or just starting, this beginner's guide will equip you with the knowledge to create stunning artwork with confidence and ease. Let's jump in and discover the beauty of PanPastel together!



Basic PanPastel Techniques


To begin using PanPastel, you'll need the following basic materials:



Starting with PanPastel is quite simple. Here are some fundamental techniques to help you get started:


Step One:

Swipe the SofftTool over the pan surface 1-2 times to pick up the colour. Tip: Swiping the pan’s surface excessively will generate excess dust because the Sofft Sponge will become overloaded.

Step Two:

The same tool can be used with several colours. "Clean" SofftTools between colours by wiping them on a dry paper towel. Tip: Wipe the tool side to side to prevent the paper towel from dragging the cover off.

Step Three:

Apply the colour like paint to the paper or working surface. Reload the tool with colour as necessary. Tip: Colours are fully erasable with any eraser, so corrections can be easily made and colours removed.

Step Four:

Mix colours, like paint, to create intermediate colours. Colours can be mixed on the pan surface or on the working surface (paper).


Finishing - Fixing/Framing


Artwork created with PanPastel should be treated in the same way as artwork created with soft pastel sticks for fixing and framing. PanPastel works with all pastel-compatible products, including fixatives. Though not essential, any spray pastel fixative/varnish can be used to protect PanPastel artwork.


The decision to use fixative and the chosen technique depends on personal preference and the working method. Tip: Fixative can be used to isolate previous layers of colour, especially on smoother surfaces.



PanPastel Mediums


Using the Colourless Blender


One of PanPastel's standout features is its ability to mimic fluid paints despite being dry pastel colours. They possess a unique "flow" characteristic. The Colourless Blender enhances this flow and expands the blending capabilities of PanPastel.


While mixing colours with white alters the colour by tinting it, rendering it more opaque, using the Colourless Blender means colours can be extended (diluted) and become more transparent, yet the inherent colour remains unchanged.


Using the Pearl Mediums


PanPastel Pearl Mediums introduce a radiant pearlescent sheen and shimmer, dynamically shifting depending on the viewing angle, thus creating dimensional effects. These mediums are mica-based in nature and can be blended with all PanPastel colours to produce customised pearlescent shades or utilised independently for mixed media applications.



Tips for Different Surfaces


PanPastel is remarkably versatile and suitable for a wide range of surfaces (excluding glossy ones). From smooth papers with minimal tooth to textured surfaces, including pastel papers, drawing papers, and even handmade papers, PanPastel adapts effortlessly. Given PanPastel's dry nature, it can also be safely applied to delicate papers such as tissue paper, which would typically bleed and buckle with wet paint.


Each surface will yield a distinct final result. On smoother surfaces, colours will apply in more transparent layers, while on textured surfaces with a higher tooth, colours appear more intense as the surface "grabs" more pigment from the sponge. We recommend experimenting with different surfaces to achieve your desired results.



Mixing PanPastel Colours


Unique among pastel colours, PanPastel can be mixed like paint, offering a comprehensive painting palette. The PanPastel Color range presents a variety of pre-mixed colours including tints, shades, and extra darks.


The PanPastel Color Range encompasses pure colours, tints, shades, and extra darks, identified by item codes as follows:


Pure colours: xxx.5
Tints: xxx.7 and xxx.8 = pure colours with added white
Shades: xxx.3 = pure colours with added black
Extra Dark: xxx.1 and xxx.2 = pure colours with a higher proportion of black


Colours can be blended either on the pan surface or directly on the working surface (paper), enabling the creation of intermediate shades akin to paint mixing. Tip: Adhere to traditional colour mixing principles to prevent the formation of "mud" due to over-blending.


Layering techniques, such as applying thinner or glazing layers, enable colours underneath to shine through.

On textured papers, heavier application yields more opaque effects.

Multiple loading techniques can be explored - experiment with double or triple-loading SofftTools for enhanced mixing. Transparency levels are easily controllable, allowing for a diverse range of marks and layers, from transparent to intense.



Using SofftTools


Using SofftKnifes & Covers


SofftKnives, when paired with SofftCovers, convert a painting knife into a versatile and absorbent applicator suitable for various techniques. The Covers, crafted from micropore sponge, offer semi-absorbency.


Knives and Covers are numbered 1-4 for easy identification. Simply match the reference number or shape of the Cover to the corresponding Knife, for instance, use Cover No.1 with Knife No.1.


Gently pull the SofftCover completely over the Knife tip, resembling the action of putting on a sock. Covers can be reused multiple times.


Compatible with Any Water-based Medium


While SofftTools were specifically designed for use with PanPastel, they can also be employed with most water-based artists' mediums to create a plethora of exciting new techniques, marks, and effects. The resulting effects differ from those achieved with brushes as the brush stroke is eliminated.


Easy Cleaning Process


The same tool can be utilised with multiple colours. To clean SofftTools between colours, simply wipe them on a dry paper towel. Although they may become stained from pigments with use, wiping on a paper towel effectively removes any pigment residue.


Periodically, the sponges can be washed with mild soap and warm water, then squeezed and air-dried. They can be reused several times, with the number of reuses dependent on the technique, medium, and surface used.


Ready to start working with PanPastel? If you need further guidance or you want to check out our range of PanPastel colours and tools, come and see our friendly staff in store. Many of our staff are artists themselves and they are always happy to share their expert knowledge.