Best Hard Pastels: Recommended and Buying Guide for 2023

Whether you are new to drawing or a professional artist, you will need the appropriate tools to create magnificent artworks. One of the popular items of choice is pastels. However, it is easy to feel frustrated by all the different types of pastel products out there.

Worry not; we will be talking about some of the best hard pastels you will find in the market. However, just knowing about the product will do you no good if the price exceeds your budget.

That is why we have selected the right quality products to get the best deal out of the product.

8 Best Hard Pastels

If you want a bang for the buck, allow us to provide you information about some of the market’s best products. These products will provide you the best value out of your working allocation.

1. Prismacolor 27051 NuPastel Color Sticks

If you are an artist and draw regularly, you already know how refreshing it feels to have the right tools in your hand. After a day of hard work, you can sit down and let go of all your frustration by stenciling. 

You can create random shapes and illustrations without the colors getting smudged by a low-quality tool.

Prismacolor 27051 contains an excellent smudge-proof hard pastel set. With this set, you can reproduce whatever shapes and designs you want without worrying about low-quality shading. Moreover, it comes in 96 vibrant shades. 

You will not have to run from store to store to search for a shade anymore. Additionally, you can create multiple types of effects with this product. Not all pastels work to give wet effects. Meaning, it is a type of technique where you can create watercolor looks by using pastels.

Moreover, they are easy to blend and firm. You can spread the colors evenly in all directions. Overall, this product contains high-quality pastels that you can use to create various types of art.


  • Extraordinary color saturation
  • You can create wet or dry effects
  • Perfect blending capacity
  • These are good for illustrations
  • Set contains 96 different shades


  • Can become messy at times
  • Some shades may not blend properly

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2. Charvin Water-Soluble Semi-hard Painting Sticks

The main issue with most hard pastel sticks is that they do not contain proper pigmentation. While they may be easy to blend and shade, they will be of no use if you cannot create pigmented artworks.

More importantly, you will have to put more force, and that might break the stick. Charvin Water-Soluble pastels contain superior pigmentation to avoid such hassle. Each stick will provide enough pigment to create vibrant shades.

As these are semi-hard, you can use them in a lightfast manner. You will have no problem creating both wet or dry techniques with such a versatile product. Moreover, you can create linework with this product.

Most pastels have too much of a thick edge. As a result, they are not ideal for linework or border shading. With this product, you can overcome that issue quickly. Therefore, you can create both spontaneous sketches or detailed linework.


  • Convenient square shape
  • You can use it to create linework
  • Wet and dry effects possible with it
  • This contains 48 different colors
  • Lightfast and superior level of pigmentation


  • You may find it messy at times
  • Will become soggy when you dip it in water

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3. Loew-Cornell Chalk Pencils

One of the most critical factors we often overlook is the material of the pastel. Since both children and adults use this type of tool, we cannot stress enough about this factor. You may accidentally choose a toxic product without your knowledge. 

Therefore, let us introduce a product that will not be dangerous and hazardous to your health. Loew-Cornell product excels in this area because it does not contain any toxic materials. 

They contain Acmi certification, which proves that all the pastels have non-toxic components.

Furthermore, The core components do not have any acidic materials. This feature makes it perfect for students, travel artists, and hobbyists. Since it is chalk pastel, it contains a firm and steady-state. 

Even when you use it continuously for an extended period, you will not face issues with dampness.

They will hold their shape correctly even when you use them with a firm grip — no more worrying about your pastels getting broken by slight pressure. You will truly benefit if you choose this product.


  • Comes with a neat packaging
  • This device is free of toxic components
  • Perfect for beginners or children
  • You will get 24 vibrant shades
  • Acid-free material


  • Not many shades available
  • You may find blending issues at times

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4. Faber-Castell Polychromos Pastel Box Of 36

Are you looking to give your artist friend gifts on their special day? What could be better than a rigid pastel box containing multiple shades of color sticks? In that case, the Faber-Castell Polychromos pastel box will be the perfect choice for you.

The manufacturer has artistically designed the box. You can use this box directly without even wrapping it. Yes, it is that good-looking. 

Furthermore, careful packaging ensures that the sticks do not face any damage. Inside the box, the color sticks are wrapped by the manufacturer with foam to protect them from friction.

Another key feature is the ease of identification. Each stick contains a number embedded by the producer. As a result, you can easily remember which stick contains what shade. Whenever you have finished a particular shade, you can re-order it using that particular number.

Unlike soft pastels, you will have no trouble sharpening them. Therefore, you can create linework without smudging the corners. Essentially, you can do both fine-detailing and smudge with this product.


  • Has a smudge-proof feature
  • You will get a neat packaging
  • Product has lightfast usability
  • Vibrant 36 shades are available
  • Does not contain oil-material


  • Not all colors will give deep shades

5. Koh-i-Noor Gioconda Square Hard Pastels

The most important feature of any hard pastel is the feel it provides when you touch them. As sometimes you will be using your fingertips to create both details and shades, the pastel’s feel must seem right on your hands. 

If the shapes are too big or round, you may not get the correct amount of grip.

Koy-i-Noor Gioconda products are perfect for such situations. Their product ensures user’s comfort over everything. As their products have a moderately medium size and square shape, you will have no trouble using them.

Besides holding it during essential works firmly, you can also use them to smudge or shade. This product comes with 12 vibrant shades. Albeit compared to other products, the shades are limited. However, what it lacks in the shade, it makes up with superior usability. 

Furthermore, you can use those 12 shades to mix up and create even more shades to your liking. Overall, this product provides its users easy maneuverability.


  • Contains an angular shape for easy control
  • You can sharpen them 
  • This has lightfast properties
  • No toxic components are present
  • Product is relatively inexpensive


  • Limited amount of shades
  • May be a bit difficult to blend

6. Cretacolor Hard Pastel

If you regularly use hard pastels, you already know how difficult it is to maintain the sticks’ shades. Some products may provide vibrant colors, but that will be of no use if they fade away quickly. To avoid such an issue, you need a product that will last long.

Let us introduce Cretacolor Hard pastel product. They have created the pastels with care. Even after you open up artworks after years of creating them, you will notice how vibrant they look. It will seem as if you have recently painted it. 

Aside from longevity, this is a versatile product that is perfect for both children and adults. It comes with 24 beautiful and vibrant shades that you can use to create shapes, flowers, or linework. Because it contains a square construction, you will have no trouble holding it.

Some products cannot hold their shape when you sharpen them. They either break down or lose the square edges because it is no longer comfortable using them. However, with Cretacolor, you will not face that issue.


  • Does not leave dusty residues
  • They are straightforward to use
  • You can easily blend them 
  • This contains bright and basic 24 shades
  • Square shape provides an excellent grip


  • May break easily

7. Mungyo Gallery Semi-Hard Pastels

Sketching is not only a method of drawing. To some people, it is a process of relieving stress. After a hard day, you can enjoy some quality time by shading or creating different types of artwork. Hence, it would help if the appropriate hard pastels were available to achieve that.

Mungyo Gallery Semi-Hard pastels contain superior and high-quality ingredients. Unlike other toxic components, this one has environment-friendly materials. 

The material will not leave dusty residues when you shade. As a result, there will be less wastage, and you will be able to use it for a longer time.

Furthermore, it comes in 36 different vibrant and assorted colors. Each color contains different labels so that you do not feel confused by the shades. 

Hence, the re-purchase process becomes much more comfortable. As they smudge easily, you will not have to use extra force to create deeper shades.

Overall, this product contains all the features to make it a top-notch choice. The packaging is also quite beautiful. Therefore, you can also use this product as a gift material. 


  • Application is smooth
  • Travel friendly because you can carry it easily
  • Contains rich pigmentation
  • You can create detailed art with the square edges
  • Less dusty material


  • You may find it difficult to sharpen it
  • Not ideal for wet media

8. Cretacolor Pastel Carre

Two of the basic features any hard pastel should contain are lightfastness and radiant colors. If you have to press too hard and too shade multiple times to get results, that is not feasible. 

Moreover, by pressing too hard on the paper material, you have a chance of ruining the integrity of that material.

To avoid such issues, Cretacolor Pastel Carre came up with brilliant hard pastels. Alongside versatility, their product comes with unique lightfast features and vibrant shades. You can use this pastel not only on wet media but also on dry media. 

Furthermore, they are straightforward to smudge. You may not even need external forces. With the touch of your fingertips, you will be able to smear and smudge them into shades of your liking. It comes with an extraordinary range of shades. 

The most exciting feature of this device is that the colors are vibrant enough to create realistic drawings. Its ergonomic design contains an angular shape to control the depth of colors to create gradient shades.


  • Does not contain any oil components
  • Blending process is flawless
  • You can use it in wet media
  • Ergonomic design provides control
  • 72 vibrant shades available


  • Some shades might be lighter

Best Hard Pastels: Buying Guide

Choosing the perfect hard pastel is not an easy task. Since there are too many types of pastels available in the market, we have chosen some of the basic features any hard pastel product should contain.

If you choose products that contain these features, then you will get good results.

  • Size

You should not take the size of hard pastels lightly. Ultimately, the size plays a vital role in determining how much of a good grip you will get. 

  1. Larger Size

If you have issues with grip and stability, this type of size will be perfect. The larger pastels are much easy to handle, and they provide enough length so that you can control the shading. However, one downside of the larger ones is that they are easily breakable.

  1. Smaller Size

If you have large fingers, then this type may not be ideal for you. What this type of product lack in length they make up in shading quality.

You can put more pressure without breaking them. Therefore, you can create a variety of shades.

  • Safety

When using hard pastels, you have to keep in mind that there may be a dust deposit in the air when you use it. If you have a dust allergy, you need to go for products that do not produce much dust. 

Furthermore, some pastels contain toxic materials. Such components can cause issues when you inhale them. To avoid such problems, look out for materials that have non-toxic substances.

  • Stability

One major problem most people find with hard pastels is stability. With some products, you cannot put pressure on them at all because of their fragility. As a result, you may not get your desired outcomes.

Before purchasing them, always make sure to keep length and thickness in mind. The products with more circumference will have more stability because they will be resistant to pressure.

  • Shades

Some products contain a variety of shades available. They all might be vibrant, but some lighter shades may not provide much depth. You can always choose fewer shades and create your shades by mixing them and playing around with them. 

On the other hand, if you need more shades for professional reasons, then you can go for the ones that come with 48 or 72 shades. 

For example, the Cretacolor Pastel Carre product contains 72 different and vibrant shades. Although the lighter ones may not provide much depth, the other shades will work amazingly.

How to Use Hard Pastels?

We have discussed the various types of hard pastels and their features. Let us now dive right into how you can use them with ease.

  • This type of pastel has more of a crisp nature than soft pastels. They do not smudge unnecessarily. You can control the edge of the pastels. As a result, you will have no trouble controlling them.
  • You can also smudge them easily with the tip of your fingers or an eraser. Whenever you need to lighten up an area, use a tissue or a cotton ball to wipe the area to create a lighter shade gently. 
  • If you want to achieve deeper shades without pressing the pastels too hard, then you can swipe the color several times over the same place to create a deeper gradient. 
  • Moreover, if your pastels lose the defined edges around the corner with usage, then you can sharpen them up. But be careful while doing so because some pastels can break easily.
  • The engraving numbers on the pastel’s body acts as an identification tag. Therefore, you can use those numbers to re-purchase any shade you want.
  • You can also use hard pastels on different wet and dry media as they are versatile. That will provide you different kinds of effects. 

Final Words

As there are many things to keep in mind before purchasing any hard pastel, our review of the best hard pastels will come in handy. Let go of all your frustrations by choosing the right quality product that will provide you superb outcomes.

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