Soft Pastel

Soft Pastel allows freedom with application, and can be used for a wide variety of subjects.

This medium works well on a coloured base, like card.

*Please note, soft pastel is easy to use, but messy.

I would suggest placing a protective sheet on the floor under the area where the canvas, board or paper will be situated – before commencing a soft pastel project.


1. As for any artwork which might later be framed or mounted, prepare the working surface by drawing a ‘boundary’.

This is not a random size, but done using the outer dimensions of a standard mount.

The perimeter line is a guide, and therefore does not have to be perfect in shape.

Any colour can be used, because it will disappear as the artwork develops.

(The final graphic demonstrates the point).


2. Layer the various parts of the subject.

Instead of starting with the obvious item like the footbridge.

Here, I have laid large areas of colour to indicate the far distance dark area up top, and the main body of the river, below.

These areas are drawn rapidly with little concern about overlapping them later with other colours.


3. Create more depth to the initial colour by adding a darker blue, and purple.


4. ‘Blend’ the various colours to create a solid area.

For blending I use soft tissue, but cotton wool, cotton buds, or a blending stump could be used.

The key is not to apply pressure, which would remove the pastel.

A gentle brushing motion will mix and spread the colours on the base.


5. A blurred, but solid area of colour has been achieved.

Add other colours and continue to ‘blend’ them to gradually (though quickly) deepen the base colour areas.


6. Create a guide line for the base of the footbridge, and represent the foliage on the left side where the footbridge ends.


7. Represent the main handrails with bold colour.

The areas to be used for river and distant river bank are made clear with brown and dark blue.

Take care to ensure when representing a waterway – use strokes in the direction of the flow …

i.e. horizontal in this instance.


8. Add various shades of green and ochre into the foliage in left and right areas.

Create more substance to the base of the footbridge, and add greenery in the middle distance – at other side of footbridge.

Add a variety of colours to the river, blend and highlight with more colour.

Represent grass on the near bank and around the footbridge entrance.


9. Blend the main areas which will dull the overall vibrancy.

Introduce more bright dashes of colour into the foliage, blend, and add more colour.

Create more substance to the distant bank, and the handrails of the footbridge.


10. Blend all areas, before using dashes of bright colour on the large areas of foliage.

Add black sign at far side of footbridge.

Create more definition on the handrails by using brown, black, white, ochre to create highlights and a 3D effect.

Blend the water surface and add dashes of white to create disturbance.

Use a variety of colours and in individual strokes to create grass on the near bank.















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