Chalk Pastel Techniques

For anyone who wasn’t able to attend our chalk pastel session, or anyone who would just like to try out different ways of using pastels, we have made a compilation of some of the techniques you can use.

You can apply the pastel to the paper by simply holding it like a pencil and drawing directly using the tip of the pastel or you could lay the pastel down flat and make side-strokes.

Drawing is useful for detail work, to sharpen forms and for final accents that require a controlled hand. Side-strokes are better for blocking in larger areas of your drawing without getting into fussy detail.

You can vary the pressure you use when drawing or using side-strokes to increase or decrease the coverage and intensity of your colour.

Other ways of using the tip of the pastel include stippling, hatching, cross-hatching and feathering.


Stippling involves using one or more colours to make dots. The more or closer the dots, the darker or more intense the coverage.

Hatching is when strokes are placed parallel to each other in a particular direction. Cross-hatching has strokes placed uniformly at right angles to each other, or you can use random hatching, where the marks are not so uniform.


Feathering is applying pastels in a linear fashion. The lines that are created may follow the cross contours of the subject, adding to the illusion of form – but they don’t have to.

If you use the pastel flat against the paper, you can try twisting or scumbling for different effects.

Twisting involves lying the pastel on the paper and twisting it round with varying degrees of pressure in a half circle or less to make interesting round or bow shapes.

Scumbling is lightly dragging the broad side of a pastel over the existing layers underneath. You can do scumbling with light colours over dark, or dark colours over light.

Once you have applied pastel to your paper you may want to try blending. Blending pastel can be done with fingers, tissue, a cotton bud or a manufactured or handmade paper blending stump depending on how much detail you want to keep.

Cotton buds and paper stumps are better for blending very small or detailed areas. For larger areas use fingers, tissue or cotton wool.