There are many uses for oil pastels as a medium of art. Colorful, realistic, abstract, and monochromatic pieces are all possible. This article will offer you some tips about how to get started with oil pastels if you’ve been interested in them but aren’t sure where to start. The drawings below demonstrate the results of using oil pastels and are intended to spark your creativity and encourage you to use them.


Materials should be gathered

For your oil pastel drawing, make sure you have all the materials you need. If you prefer black or toned pastel paper, you can use those. There is a quality issue with oil pastel paper that many artists swear by. Besides the other supplies and tools mentioned above, you will also need them.

Check your budget and preference before choosing the right materials. Oil pastels of professional quality are not necessary for beginners. Blending tools and medium are also mentioned above – essentials for making your oil pastel drawings stand out. Learn how to use the best technique for you by visiting our tutorial on oil blending techniques.

Applying gesso or not

In spite of the fact that applying gesso is not a necessity, some artists find it to be a useful tool to improve archival properties or add more texture (tooth) to their surfaces, whether they are paper or canvas.

The brush should be about 3 inches wide if you decide to apply gesso. Use even strokes as you apply the gesso, starting horizontally, then vertically. Once the gesso has dried, begin drawing with the oil pastel. You should complete this step one day prior to beginning the drawing.

Pick a style and a subject

You must choose a subject that will do your oil pastel drawing justice, then decide how you wish to accomplish it. Even though it might be tempting to make an exact copy of your subject, you can also make an abstract, impressionistic, or surrealist drawing of it.

To master the play of light, values, and tones on your drawing, we recommend you stick with the realistic and impressionistic styles at the beginning.

Imagine the image as a light sketch

Use a pencil to sketch a light sketch of your subject. Avoid leaving a mark on the paper by making it as light as possible.

The main color of your object should be used to outline your drawing

Your subject’s outline should be outlined with a lighter shade. To ensure accuracy and fine details, you should use an oil pastel with a harder texture.

Get to work in the background

Using darker values and tones, build the background once you have the outline of your drawing. Blend colors as you work towards the foreground. Go from darker to lighter shades as you work on the foreground. In order to use a lighter pressure, just choose a smaller drawing to add to your background.

Under paint the canvas

Oil pastel drawings must have an underpainting to stand out. Fortunately there are four ways you can accomplish this. You will use vine charcoal as a darkening agent in the first value sketch. The first step is to identify and identify the darkest values of your subject, then apply the vine charcoal using an alcohol-soaked brush. 

Monochromatic layers can also be used to add underpainting. When setting the background for your oil pastel drawing, choose a very light color or watercolor. When you are working with a subject with darker values, make the background darker.

By using contrasting colors as the underpaint of your image, you give your work a glowing effect. When selecting a color to complement your main color, the color wheel is best used. Use an alcohol-soaked brush to blend your underpaint after it has been applied. 

Your final step should be to use the colors of the subject in a lighter value. If you want your drawing to be warm, brush it with alcohol.

Combine values, tones, and colors

Make your drawing even more appealing by adding more layers and blending them with a paper stump or a paper towel. We recommend using linseed or walnut oil for archival quality if you are using baby oil to blend colors. Medium is an option as well.

Identify your stopping points

Add more only if you are sure you need more. For better results, let it sit for a few hours or overnight so you can view it with fresh eyes the next day.


As a result, oil pastels are also popular for painting landscapes, which is no surprise. Try these landscapes on your next project and you won’t be disappointed.




An interesting texture was created by blending, layering, and graffiti in this drawing. It was also rendered with stippling and impasto techniques. When the artist added light yellow to the black under paint, the sun’s rays became very realistic.


  1. Then blend the colors with your fingers. Use sap green, lemon yellow, orange, and black for the background.
  2. Black and brown oil pastels are used for the trees on the background, then they are blended with a Q-tip.
  3. Then scratch some lines to highlight the branches with the black glass marking pencil.
  4. Apply sap green and lemon yellow oil pastels to create the leaves using the stippling method.
  5. Blend the sun rays with a light yellow oil pastel and your finger until they are translucent. If you want a more vibrant look, you can add neon pastels for the sun rays.
  6. Detailed impasto details should be added to the leaves and wildflowers.
  7. Then use the 10B pencils to add details to the foreground. Add shadows by the trees to complete the drawing.



In this oil pastel drawing, the colours used are vivid and thick, and different blending techniques were used for the details. The drawing had texture and dimension with the impasto technique, which made it even more interesting.


  1. The sky can be added in several shades of blue, with darker colors farther from the horizon.
  2. Scumble patterns onto the horizon and in the mid-ground for the trees.
  3. Before painting the wildflowers in yellow, overpaint the meadow with blue and green. With a blending stump or finger, blend the colors evenly.
  4. The foreground should be emphasized more for the grass and the trees, and the leaves on the trees should show stippling patterns.
  5. If you want to add details to the drawing, dip your oil pastel tip in mineral spirits or medium, and then scrape it. If you are using soft oil pastels, you can apply them with a palette knife.



An artist has used a monochromatic palette for this abstract drawing, using varying shades of blue. A monochrome drawing challenges your creativity by controlling the value and tone of the colors, rather than keeping it safe with a lot of colors.


  1. Add a light sketch of the main objects, including the horizon, to your drawing.
  2. The water and the trees should be painted in lighter tones, while the sky, trees and reflections in the water should be painted in darker shades of blue.
  3. Underpaint the pipe insulation. For the reflections, use downward strokes.
  4. The sky, the reflection, and the trees are layered with several levels of different blues.



An Impressionist painting captures the essence of a subject rather than giving a detailed portrayal. When you are not confident in your technique, you can try this style with your oil pastel drawing if you want a realistic result.


  1. Using your gradient, create large blocks of color until the sky looks right. Use a pool noodle stump to blend the colors.
  2. Add details to the lake and the tree in the foreground.
  3. You can repeat this process to get the desired effect on the tree in the foreground.



Besides the sea, oil pastel paintings also make great subjects. The artist added the details of these waves to this picture using white acrylic paint.


  1. Graphite pencil is recommended for marking the areas of the drawing.
  2. You must underpaint the sand, the sea, and the horizon in true color. Mix the napkin with the paint.
  3. Create the cloudy sky with grays and blues in different shades.
  4. Use white oil pastel to stipple the surf.
  5. Using a fine detailing brush, apply white acrylic paint to highlight the turf.



Oil pastel drawings of the night sky are fascinating. As can be seen here, the artist added the stars and pine trees in the foreground using acrylic paint over the pastel drawing.


  1. Attach the paper to the board with tape.
  2. Blending oil pastels in different values of black, purple, blue, and pink, underpaint the sky.
  3. You can sprinkle white acrylic over the underpainting by dipping an old paintbrush or toothbrush into acrylic and spreading it out.
  4. Using an acrylic paint brush and black acrylic paint, draw the foreground.
  5. With white oil pastel and white acrylic paint, draw shooting stars and larger stars for the finishing touches.



The city skyline can be another sunset scene that you draw, as well as any skyline you find appealing. The rainbow served as inspiration for this project. The transitions were blended for a smoother look.


  1. A table or drawing board should be tapped with the oil pastel paper.
  2. Apply rainbow colors to the sky and blend them with black.
  3. Black oil pastel should be used to block the lower part of the horizon. Then blend the parts together.
  4. Make a silhouette of the reference city with a black glass marking pencil.
  5. The stars should be added with a white gel pen or a correction pen.



Oil pastel drawings should always begin with an underpainting, as in the examples in this article. Underpainting was nevertheless done with acrylic rather than usual oil pastels, giving it a glossier effect.


  1. Use a Prismacolor pencil to draw a bottle and lemons on a table.
  2. Underpaint using acrylics in greens and yellows on the wall, and brown and yellow on the table, taking care to go around the lemons and the bottle. Allow to dry.
  3. The colors should be added to the bottle and the lemons. Blend and layer the colors until they appear the way you want.
  4. Finish adding details and values to the bottle, lemons, and table with more acrylic paint and only oil pastels.



Rather than painting the entire animal or object, macro paintings focus on focused parts of an object, insect, or animal as a subject. Artists often depict chameleon eyes in their work. Instead of showing the entire picture, he focused on nuances of the eyes.


  1. Sketch a rough drawing of the eye you hope to draw on your paper.
  2. Colors and details should be added slowly, blending as you go.
  3. Make use of different layering techniques, such as stippling and scrumbling.



Oil pastels, especially when used with oil pastels, are difficult to draw, as the eyes are the windows to the soul. Additionally, you can draw part of the flower as well as the eyes. When drawing a flower, focus on a petal or its center. 


  1. Using the colors you want to use, draw the underpainting of the eye. Combine.
  2. Use the pastel colors to add details. Blend as you go.
  3. Using the black colored pencil, add eyelashes and eyebrows.



By ignoring underpainting in this instance, the artist added values and blended the cherries in the drawing without underpainting.


  1. On the table or drawing board, tape the oil pastel paper.
  2. Adding values and highlights to the cherries while blending as you go is the best way to do this.
  3. After you add the underpainting, you can add the branches, stems, and leaves. Use a Q-tip to blend them.
  4. Detailed leaves and branches should also be added.
  5. Water drops should be added to the cherries and leaves with a white Prismacolor pencil.

12. Photographs


You can also draw portraits with oil pastels in addition to the usual landscapes and still-lifes. The challenges are definitely higher than with other art mediums, but it can be done.


  1. Use a color that is close to the skin tone of your subject in the underpainting.
  2. Apply a little walnut or linseed oil to a cotton pad wetted with underpainting.
  3. Use the Prismacolor pens to sketch the face, then use the colored pencils to add layers of color.
  4. Make the face look like the reference image by adding details and highlights.
  5. You can feather the background, hair, eyebrows, and other aspects of the face. Use the pencils to darken the eyes.
  6. To apply oil pastels to hair, rub black and brown oil pastels in a small amount of turpentine on the mixing palette.
  7. To make it more realistic, scrape some hair strands off with an awl.



An oil pastel project can be inspired by movie scenes. You can take a screenshot from your favorite video and draw the scene.


  1. Add a mask over the circle you just drew with lemon yellow.
  2. Make a small circular border around the mask by adding orange and scarlet, leaving a small portion at its bottom. Using a paper towel, blend the colors together.
  3. Create an image of Simba on the rock ledge where he addresses his kingdom using a 10B pencil.
  4. Make the image more realistic by adding details to the horizon and sky.



As the artist colored the drawing, he used masking to protect the other components. To add some of the details, he used different types of pens.


  1. Drawing anime characters with a mechanical pencil is the easiest way to start. Use some pens to darken areas of the drawing.
  2. As you color, blend the colors together. Here is an example of how the pastel holders are used.
  3. Color the remaining portions of the drawing. Smudging your drawing can be prevented by using a sheet of printer paper.
  4. In some cases, it may be necessary to mask certain parts of your drawing to add the details you want



Artist uses random colors and shapes in this vivid modern abstract to create an intriguing play on light and color.


  1. Underpaint in true color, using different colors, random squares and rectangles. Blend shapes and lines according to their directions.
  2. Add random lines by drawing a semicircle over the underpainting and following the lines in the underpainting.
  3. By adding more colors, blend them with the lines that were added.

Questions and Answers about Drawing With Oil Paints

1. What is the best paper to use with oil pastels?

Consider these tips when choosing an oil pastel paper:

  • As long as it’s not as thick as watercolor paper, you can use it. Papers of 90 pounds (160 grams) should work fine.
  • A toothy surface is necessary to layer colors, not a smooth one.
  • You should use acid-free cotton pulp paper for oil pastel drawings if you like to keep them for a long time. Glassine inserts are included in some sketch pads to keep your drawings from smearing.

We’ve reviewed the best oil pastel papers, so check that out for more tips and suggestions.

2. Does oil pastel work on canvas?

Definitely. It is possible to use oil pastels on canvas, paper, cardstock, and even boards. Depending on whether they have been pre-treated with gesso, you may need to apply gesso to the canvas and pastel board.

With gesso, you can be sure your canvas or board will last a long time and that oil pastels will blend well.

3. How should oil pastels be sealed?

The sealing of oil pastels has divided opinions among artists. Sealing oil pastels is one way to prevent them from smudging after a long period of time. Oil pastels won’t go stale even if left out for a long time. When sealing oil pastel drawings, keep these in mind:

  • Oil pastel fixatives and varnish dull the colors of the drawings when they are sealed. Gloss medium, however, protects your oil painting, but it can look too glossy to other painters.
  • You cannot ensure the safety of your oil pastels by sealing them. Oil pastels won’t be protected from scratches by some fixatives.
  • Oil pastels will discolor over time if you use fixatives, which have no proven archival properties.

4. Do oil pastels get wet when wet?

Thinners like turpentine can be used to render oil pastels wet. If you prefer to use a brush to apply the thinned pigment, you can do so as you would other wet media.

Consider using oil pastels that are water-soluble if you want to use water.

5. What is the best way to frame an oil pastel?

It is best to protect your oil pastel drawing by framing it. Good frames and spacers are necessary for framing oil pastels. Prepare your drawing before you begin drawing so it’s ready to frame!

  • Consider investing in a good foam board for framing your oil pastel drawing. Ensure that you cut the paper to the right size and mount it so that you won’t have a mess later.
  • With acid-free adhesive linen tape, secure the paper to the foam board. Now you are ready to draw on the board.
  • You should first clean your glass with a lint-free rag or paper towel before framing your work. Wipe the center of the glass with rubbing alcohol and avoid touching the center.
  • Lastly, you will want to place your spacers around the glass so that the drawing does not touch the glass.
  • Spacers should touch the edges of the oil pastel drawing under the glass.
  • Your oil pastel drawing will be more archival if you tape the edges of the glass and foam board.


Drawings in this article should give you an idea of how these tools can be used in a number of different ways. From realistic depictions to abstract pieces and colorful works, there is no end to what you can create! For more information on how to use oil pastels, visit our website.

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