PanPastels on Toned Blue Mixed Media Paper

Our Toned papers are a great option for PanPastels with the mid-range value of the tan, gray and blue backgrounds of the sheets. Before we go through our step-by-step process for creating this landscape sunset on Toned Blue paper, let's go over the materials.


PanPastels give artists a unique option for painting with soft pastel colors that are packed into cake-like pan formats. Artists can blend and apply dry colors like they would a fluid paint. The colors are loaded with pigments and are great for blending. Just like using regular paint, it's best not to over-mix as colors can start to get muddy. PanPastels can also save time for artists by eliminating dry-time needed with regular fluid paints, and large areas of the piece can be blocked in with color very quickly. 

Instead of using a brush to apply the color like you would with traditional fluid paint, "Sofft Tools" applicators can be used. Sofft Tools were specifically developed for use with PanPastels. Made from a semi-absorbent micropore sponge material, they come in a range of shapes and sizes for different techniques. 


Our 400 Series Toned papers come in mid-range values of Tan, Gray and Blue. 

Starting your artwork using a toned paper allows for unique sketching & drawing possibilities by providing the middle value that would otherwise need to be rendered by the artist.  A wider range of values from light to dark can be used, and the middle tone makes it easier for the artist to deliberately place shadows and highlights.

Keeping the value of the paper as one of the values in the drawing not only saves time, but allows the artist to use graphite or other dark media to push darker values and white pencils or other light media to add highlights, making sketches and drawings pop. 

Our Toned papers are 100% recycled, contain 30% post-consumer fiber, and also contain kraft and bark fiber inclusions which adds visual interest.


We worked from a photo reference for this PanPastel demo:

Setup first: Choose your toned paper and the size of your art. We used our Toned Blue Mixed Media as we thought the color would compliment the sunset hues nicely. We trimmed a 9"x12" sheet to a frameable 8"x10" size and used painters tape to block in a 5"x7" rectangle. We'll work within the blocked out center of the paper, leaving a natural mat-sized border from the toned blue paper. 

The sky was done first using a mixture of various amounts of blue, white, yellow, pink and purple, applied with the large applicator and round Sofft knife.

*TIP: Wipe the sofft tip sponges on a scrap piece of paper between colors to avoid mixing the wrong colors together. 

With the sky complete, work continues on the middle ground, blocking in pinks, whites and blue for the reflective water.

A mix of colors are layered in as observed from the reference for the foreground. 

At this point we used high quality colored pencils to add in the smaller details. Using high quality colored pencils is recommended as they have more pigment and aren't as waxy. This will allow you to continue going back and forth between pastel and colored pencil without leaving shine marks. This is an optional step. If you prefer to maintain a more painterly effect and keep the piece loose, continue using the Sofft Tools instead of colored pencils. 

Last, we added the tree and final touch-ups with both the colored pencils and PanPastels. 

Gently remove the tape, and voilà! A beautiful painted piece done in a relatively short amount of time. 

Using PanPastels as the under painting and adding colored pencil over the top for details is a fantastic way to create beautiful pieces while saving time. We encourage you to explore this unique medium. This was only one technique on the long list of many that can be done with PanPastels. 

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