Can You Use Oil Pastels In A Coloring Book? 

Oil pastels are a fun tool which most people associate with canvas. They can actually be used in a lot of different ways, because their unique oil and wax binder. Some of the other surfaces you can use them on are: glass, wood and coloring books too.

Yes, oil pastels can be used in a coloring book you just have to keep in mind:

  • Techniques for coloring with oil pastels
  • High quality vs. Cheap oil pastels
  • Blending
  • Getting yours hands dirty
  • A blending stick
  • Baby wipes
  • Oil pastel fixative

Coloring with oil pastels is an unexpected experience which not everyone is comfortable with. I would like to begin with, one of my sources described coloring with oil pastels to be similar to what coloring with lipstick would be like. A sensory experience. Also the results left on the page are quiet whimsical. When you finish coloring and blend your coloring page will be brought to life.

Yes, oil pastels can be messy so they are something you have to be careful with, make sure to keep your supplies tidy. Smudges are something that happen easily with oil pastels by they also give a coloring page an refined and even airbrushed look. One way to achieve a successful result is to know how your oils pastels you selected can be preserved. One way is to apply a fixative. If you don’t want to use a fixative there are other options which you can explore, I will expand upon them below. 

Techniques for coloring with oil pastels

Can You Use Oil Pastels In A Coloring Book? When coloring with oil pastels in a coloring book you can color the traditional way, back and forth. You can also color in circles, in this way oil pastels are like crayons and even colored pencils. Because oil pastels are such a thick medium you won’t have to worry as much about seeing the strokes, you still will a little bit, but not as much though. Also, coloring in circles gives the piece you are working on a more organic feel. Swirls also helps you to color in a balanced way, it keeps you from applying more pressure on the pastel at certain points than others. 

There is a way which oil pastels are like other mediums, you can use layers to hide anything unwanted in your coloring page. Also the way you layer oil pastels is similar to tools like colored pencils and especially markers. It is suggested that you start out using the lightest color you want to use. Make sure to lay down a decent sized layer so you have a lot to work with. Then work your way up to the darker colors.

A great tip is to save the background for last, this can hide your mistakes. If you want to use the background this way consider using darker colors for it. Lighter tints won’t hide mistakes well. Start with lighter colors and work your way up to filling in the dark background.

High Quality vs. Cheap Oil Pastels

It is also important to note that oil pastels are a tool which have a noticeable difference in qulaity. So spending a little extra money on your pastels may be something to consider. This is usually because there is less filler (which include things like chalk) in the high quality pastels and you get a smoother coloring experience. But cheaper oil pastels with more filler are sturdier and crumble less, which is why they are good for students who are just starting out. 

Blending with your hands

To get started blending oil pastels you can use the most simple of tools. You can start right away by using your fingers to blend oil pastels. The pastels will melt under the heat of your hands to sort of fuse  the colors together and into the page. If you don’t want to get your hands dirty from blending you can also use a blending stick. A blending stick is a pretty cheap tool you can find at most art stores in a multi-pack. 

A blending stick

Using a blending stick will not only keep your hands but help you to be more precise in your blending. That is because the blending sticks have pointed ends. They also are easy to keep sharp, some you can simply sharpen with a pencil sharpener, others you can peel away the end. These blending tools do tend to look a bit dirty at times, but just try sharpening them and the tip will be as good as new.

Baby wipes

Also, when you blend/color you may want to keep a package of baby wipes on hand. Baby wipes work well to clean up any additional colors your oil pastels may accumulate from blending and just general coloring. Using the wipes is easy merely wipe away the undesired color from your tool. They are also handy to clean up small smudges and your hands.

Also, be careful not to blow the pastel dust off your paper, instead gently tap it into a trash can. Because when you blow the dust off your paper, you can accidentally breathe in the dust which can be a health hazard. Once you have discarded the dust and are finishing up your coloring page. If you are concerned about keeping what you created for long term you may want to apply a fixative. You should keep in mind while coloring oil pastels are hard to keep in place, so you need a game plan.

You can always consider framing you coloring page under glass. This is the best way to prevent smudges, scratches, and other imperfections that time brings. However, not everyone is interested in framing their work. So there are other options to keep your pastels clean and bright.


Oil Pastel Fixative

Can You Use Oil Pastels In A Coloring Book? Some oil pastels never fully dry if this is the case and you are not looking to frame your work, consider using a spray fixative. If using a spray fixative, do not apply indoors. Because you do not want to breathe these in. To take extra precautions outdoors consider putting the page in a cardboard box before spraying it to keep the wind from blowing the fumes at you. Maybe even wear a mask and gloves for extra protection. 

Other options

There are more ways to preserve your oil pastels. There is gel you can apply to the top of your pastels. The brand Liquidex makes an artist grade gloss gel you can use to keep your pastels in place.  They also make a matte medium version too, if you don’t want your pastels to look shiny. These are an easier version of the spray fixative. You can spread these over the oil pastels with a paint brush. 

Final Remarks

When coloring with oil pastels you can expect vibrancy. They can make whatever you are coloring look pretty good. Also, they are fun to work with and even soft in your hands. However, they are super easy to smear, you need to be careful with them. Once you have finished you will want to frame such bright colors. The vibrancy of oil pastels is definitely worth the extra effort.

Yes, smearing is easy but you can color a vibrant sunset and flowers like nature intended them. All it takes is a little patience, a little practice and some thoughtfulness which is what you want from adult coloring away. Adult coloring has been compared to meditation many times before, you may find the stress from your day melting away as you bend a pastel flower. This makes them similar to other coloring mediums (like colored pencils and markers) , if you take the time to learn their potential you can discover something special.

Related Questions

If you make a mistake with Oil Pastels can you erase them?

The best way is to begin by gently scrapping off any excess/exposed oil pastel with a knife or even a plastic ruler works. Then try to use an eraser, preferably a artist grade eraser, on what color is left. You can also give baby wipes a try, but be careful they are wet.

What are the Best Markers for Coloring?Does my paper quality matter when using oil pastels?

Yes, even though you can use oil pastels on a lot of things, they can color on glass and wood, they can rip paper. So the thicker the paper the better when you are using these tools. If the paper is too thin it will soak up the oil causing tears. The more you layer the more likely the paper you use will tear, and that’s what oil pastels are great for, layering. So before you start using oil pastels in your coloring book check how thick the paper is.

Can you combine different types of pastels when coloring?

Yes, you can try using hard pastels with oil pastels. The hard pastels work great for a base or the background of your piece. Then use the oil pastels to add depth. You can even try layering in water colors, if you have thick enough paper. The sky is the limit.


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Please note that the contents of this blog are for informational and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Any action taken based on the information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Additionally, all images used in this blog are generated under the CC0 license of Creative Commons, which means they are free to use for any purpose without attribution.



Shawn C

Hi! I’m Shawn and I Love Coloring and Art and the people in it! I created this website as a resource to help those who are considering getting into adult coloring. My website is your one-stop destination for all the inspired instruction and resources you need to start and grow your adult coloring hobby. From geometric to floral to zen doodles and from time to time even mandala’s when I am in the mood. I have researched and gathered the information to help you in your goal of starting your adult coloring hobby.

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