Tips for Drawing on Pastelmat | Coloured Pencil Tips

May 20, 2022
Tips for Drawing on Pastelmat - Bonny Snowdon Academy


Pastelmat is one of my all-time favourite surfaces to draw on, but a lot of people get quite frustrated with it because they haven’t quite got the hang of how to use it in the correct way. So, I thought I’d share a couple of tips that will help you tackle the tooth, figure out how to soften the colour you lay down and blend your coloured pencils to create beautiful realism on Pastelmat. 


Light Over Dark, Dark Over Light

This is a technique I’ve been using for a long time, and it’s going to really help to add a smooth finish to your drawings. Using light over dark as you work through the layers really helps to blend and smooth. If you're using a darker coloured Pastelmat then dark over light will give the same result. Choose something like a Polychromos Warm Grey 2 or a Pablo White.


Don’t Sharpen Your Pencils to a Fine Point 

I’ve heard lots of artists complain that Pastelmat eats away at their pencils and makes it difficult to get really sharp details. I think the reason behind this is that they work on Pastelmat in the same way that they’d work on another surface, like Hot Press Paper, for example. With a lot of surfaces, you need to keep your pencils really sharp, but that’s not necessarily the case with Pastelmat. I find that the blunter the pencil, the better, although for small details and as you work through the layers sharp pencils of course work beautifully. 

I try to avoid using my electric sharpener for certain pencils, particularly the softer ones like the Derwent Drawing, as they can break very easily, so I use my handheld KUM Magnesium sharpener to get a sharper point that still has a slightly blunted end.


Don’t Use a Brush!

This is a big one! On surfaces like Drafting Film, you might be used to using a brush to wipe away excess pigment. Don’t do it on Pastelmat! You run the risk of simply wiping off the pigment you’ve put down and ruining your drawing. I’d also be careful if you use pressurised air or an air pump, as that can blow the pigment away just as easily! 

Pastelmat really is a super surface. You can get a beautiful smoothness and a gorgeous texture once you’ve figured out the techniques you need to use. Click on the video at the top of this page to watch me as I draw on Pastelmat and put these tips into practice. You’ll get a really good understanding of how adding your lights in over your darks is going to make a huge difference, and how easy it is to add detail into your drawing once you follow these tips. 


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