Free Arts and Crafts Tutorials Orange tabby pastel drawing.

Pastel Drawing on Paper

I usually use Canson paper for pastels, but a friend gave me some Strathmore 500 as a gift... and I decided to try it out on this drawing. I picked and chose from the assortment of pastels--hard, soft, and pencils--that I've accumulated over last thirty-five years!

Art Materials Used:

Strathmore 500 Series tinted charcoal paper - Individual Sheets

Derwent Pastel Pencils

Cretacolor Pastel Carré Hard Pastel Sets

Rembrandt Soft Pastel Sets


Krylon #1306 Workable Matte Fixative

Old, small brush that has been thoroughly cleaned and dried

Blocking in Color with Hard Pastels

Sketch on colored pastel paper.

Using a photo as reference, I lightly sketched the cat with a white pastel pencil. Strathmore isn't as a heavy sheet as Canson Pastel Paper , although it does have a nice laid texture. I knew I would need to be careful not to overwork the surface.

Block in color with pastel sticks.

Using the sides of my hard pastels, I blocked in color a bit darker than the local colors would be in the final drawing.

Blend local eye color.

Because of the white fur surrounding the cat's eyes, I wanted to keep that eye area as clean as I could. I used a paper tortillon to blend the eye color.

Begin to map out highlights.

I wasn't particularly happy with the blue color I'd blocked in above the cat. Using the sides of the hard pastel sticks, I scumbled white and lavender over the blue. I didn't want to deaden the area by blending such close colors together, so I left it as is.

Erase pastel with dry brush.

I noticed that I'd used too much gray on the cat's right front paw. Choosing a small stiff brush for the relatively small area, I lifted off some the gray pastel.

Begin to add stripes.

You may not always have a pastel in the exact color, or exact value, that you need. In this case, I didn't have the color that I wanted for the cat's fur. I scumbled a thin layer of red over the burnt umber to brighten it a bit. I blended the two just slightly with my fingers.

I was still using hard pastels at this point. I needed to go in for some finer detail. On the right hand side of the paper, you can see where I practiced my strokes.

Adding Details and Highlights with Soft Pastels

Erase stray mark on foot.

At this point I switched to soft pastels. I stroked in lighter orange in some areas of the fur, and white over the blue shadows. Sometimes it takes patience to save the lighter marks for last. But once they are added, the drawing comes together rapidly.

Stepping back, I noticed that I had drawn the fleshy pads at the bottom of the cat's right hind foot incorrectly. I used a stiff brush to reshape the pad.

Completed pastel painting.

I used my pastel pencils to add detail and final highlights to the eyes.

Detail of cat pastel painting.

Because I was careful not to over blend the pastels, you can still see the laid texture of the paper.

I sprayed the pastel very lightly with workable fixative: if the fixative is sprayed on too heavily, the colors will become flat and dull. Then I framed the matted picture under glass. Picture frames with acrylic panes shouldn't be used for pastels: acrylic is more susceptible to static charges which might loosen some of the pastel powder from the surface.