Cretacolor Pastels

written by Sophie | Beginners, Pastel

Cretacolor Carre Pastels are hard pastels that are nice and easy to use, hardwearing, and affordable. They are great for sketching as well as painting, but limited in use through its small colour selection and the lack of single sticks to replenish your set.

​I treated myself to a box of these hard pastels after seeing Lea Wight demonstrate her pastel magic online (check out this amazing video). She was using a different brand of hard pastel (one I cannot get in the UK) but it made me want to try some hard pastels (I usually work with soft pastel, although a fairly hard one, Rembrandt pastels). I liked Wight’s approach with lots of strokes and lines (although I haven’t manage to emulate it yet). So after a little research into the hard pastels available in the UK I bought the biggest set of Cretacolor, containing 72 sticks.

Buy them here at Jackson’s

The range of colours is fairly limited (many greys and browns) but that should not stop me creating whatever I want through layering and mixing. These colours are sufficient although they do not come near the beautiful shades that soft pastel brands such as Rembrandt or Unison offer. The pastels are easy to use and hold. They don’t crumble or break easily, which is really useful, especially when travelling. In this study (below) (on Daler & Rowney pastel paper) I could layer the pastel for quite a long time. The colours layered softly and mixed gently. They worked quite similarly to Rembrandt soft pastels. I am fairly pleased with them.

Cretacolor states that the pastels are lightfast which makes them suitable for professionals as well as hobbyists. The price is affordable (I paid £0.85 per stick). The set came in a cardboard box with polystyrene inserts for the pastels. It doesn’t look as nice as the foam inserts of soft pastels but it does the job. The lid is not very sturdy and does not protect. The pastels don’t seem to be sold in singles  (as far as I could find within the UK) which means I cannot replace colours most used. No doubt they will end up getting mixed in with my Rembrandts soft pastels for a complete colour range.

  • Quality: good
  • Colour range: average
  • Usefulness: excellent
  • Packaging: average
Girl in a Cardigan, pastel, 30x25cm


Published: May 27, 2017

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  1. Hi Sophie, i noticed you said that the Cretacolor Carre Pastels weren't available singly in UK. I found a shop that does sell them…

    Just thought i'd let you know.

    Keep well


  2. Thanks for sharing this with us Sophie. I am looking at getting the Conte’ Crayons (Carre) Portrait set myself, although I really wanted to afford Rembrandt Soft Pastels but I just don’t know if I can. So I thought why not give these a go as a sort of sketching method which I may be able to use as underpainting methods for acrylic! But also it might give me a sort of insight to how pastel works even if it’s nowhere near as vibrant or soft. I haven’t quite decided yet but I know the hard sticks wouldn’t go to waste – as I said, would be beautiful for monochromatic/ colour study/sketches or underdrawings for paintings?

    1. Hi Raechel! Thanks for your comment! Yes, any pastel would be super handy for studies, sketches and underpainting (although not oil pastels under acrylics) so if you can afford it, go for it. The Conte ones are really handy – less dusty and crumbly – easy for all sorts of drawing. I love them! They would definitely give you a flavour of what soft pastels are like and the colours are really good. So yes, they are not as soft, but definitely as vibrant. Happy painting!

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