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Basic techniques with Polychromos Artists’ Pastels

Polychromos artists’ pastels contain a high level of pigment, and are free of lubricants and wax. The crayons can be smudged to create fine transitions of colour. Harder than the soft pastel crayons, Polychromos crayons are also well suited to drawing. The square cross-section assists in the drawing of very fine details, as well as the shading of larger areas. Polychromos artists’ pastels are characterised by their stable consistency, economy of use and excellent adherence to paper, cardboard, wood and stone. Only minimal fixing is required, ensuring that the pastel drawings retain their vividness of colour. Polychromos artists’ pastel crayons can be ground into a fine pigment powder using sandpaper, and then mixed with oil, resin or an acrylic medium to form paint. The square cross-section of the Polychromos artists’ pastels makes them perfectly suited both to drawing lines and shading areas. They can be smudged by fingers, and thus require light fixing.

Basic techniques

We recommend using the edges of the artists’ pastels for shading. This will achieve more even and defined stroke widths, which adhere better to their background. 

Variations in colour intensity

The level of pressure exerted will determine the amount of pigmentation the crayons deposit onto the paper. The artist has a wide range of possibilities, from delicate, fine lines through to impulsive splashes of colour.

Blending colours

Colours can be blended by vigorously superimposing different layers, causing the individual strokes of colour to merge softly into one another.

Sanding technique

Pastel pigment can be grated off the crayon using sandpaper. If the surface has been sprayed with a fixative, the coloured pigments will bind to the background. Damp acrylic paints were used in this example.


Adjacent lines of colour can easily be smudged with a finger to create an even surface with a delicate transition of colour.

Brush painting

To create even areas of colour, paint over the strokes made with Polychromos artists’ pastels using a bristle brush and paraffin oil (baby oil or salad oil). This technique is ideal for colouring paper and creating backgrounds and bases.


Pastel colours can be completely removed from smooth, firm types of paper using a vinyl eraser. Dabbing with an art eraser will lighten the colours.


Every fixing process alters the vividness of the colours. The softer the pastel crayon, the greater the need to fix the colour onto the paper. Polychromos artists’ pastel crayons are relatively hard and adhere well to the structure of the paper, meaning that only minimal fixing is required.