PanPastel is the world’s first range of pastel colours that can be mixed and applied like paintfor a complete painting palette . Containing professional artists’ quality soft pastel colours in a unique pan format (cake-like).
Each colour is loaded with the finest quality artists’ pigments for the most concentrated colours possible.
Can I mix PanPastel Colours together?
Uniquely, for pastel colour, PanPastel Colours can be mixed like paint for a complete painting palette. The PanPastel Colour range offers a selection of pre-mixed colours as tints, shades & extra darks.
What do Artists love about Pan Pastels?
Artists love the mixability, the transparent layers that can be built up, and the way the colours “flow”. They also love the fact that the colours are very forgiving, as they can be easily erased.
Artists love the cleaner low dust aspect of the colours.
How easy they are to organize and store, reducing breakage and cross-contamination between colours.
Ready for use straight from the pan, no solvents, no mediums, no liquids or anything else needed to start painting. Essentially this means there is no drying time.
Non-pastel painters are tell us that they are enjoying the pastel medium for the first time, and that they are experiencing a new creative freedom as a result.
How do you apply PanPastel?
Sofft Tools are uniquely developed for PanPastel Colours.
Made from a dense micropore sponge – durable enough to stand up to rigorous studio use and handle artist’s pigments. Importantly they can be washed and re-used. Years of research and testing makes a sponge material that offers optimum results.
Available in different sizes Sofft Tools are designed to be similar to brush shapes. Ideal for the marks artists need to make, from small painterly marks to large washes of colour.
Sofft Tools also work really well with lots of other water-based media – acrylics, watercolours, inks etc. They create different effects to brushes as they “push” the colour into the substrate. They are non-abrasive, and don’t leave a brush stroke.
Are they non-toxic? Safe around kids and animals?
All the colours have been independently tested to ASTM D-4236 standards, and are certified with the ACMI AP Non-Toxic seal. They have also been tested and certified as lead-free.
Where can I find more information?
For additional information and inspiration check out the PanPastel websites: PanPastel.com and SofftArt.com where you will find lots of information along with videos and a gallery.
Sometimes choosing the correct colours for your pastel painting can be difficult. Well, Sennelier have just launched a new range of colour sets for the most popular painting techniques. With 9 sets to choose from you are sure to find a really good base for your paintings.
The fragile consistency and powdery texture of soft pastels makes them well suited to blending, layering on lots of colour, and for painterly effects. You can also use the edges for fine lines, but most artists use hard pastels or pastel pencils for detail work and preliminary sketches.
Sennelier soft pastels are 100% pure pigment bound by gum arabic with a small amount of filler. But they do not contain any clay. This means that each colour will have its own softness.
Sennelier Soft Pastels are water soluble and have an unparalleled pigment intensity.
Sennelier Soft Pastels offer incredible depth and luminosity and are lightfast to hold colour for centuries.
Watercolour paint comes in two formats, one of the most often asked questions is what the difference is between the paint in a tube vs that in a pan.
Essentially there is no difference between a tube and pan. The only difference is that the pan paint has been poured and dried. In fact you can create your own pans from tubes by simply squeezing your favorite colours into empty pans.
With a pan though, you will need to work a little harder to ‘wake the paint’. You can gently mist your pans with water from a spray to start this process – only gently as you don’t want to flood the pans as this will cause you problems when cleaning up.
How to use watercolor from a tube
Squeeze a small amount of paint onto your palette and dilute with water before painting.
One of the biggest advantages of watercolor from a tube is that it’s a concentrated amount of the colour, so it will apply instantly vibrant.
Depending on the type of paint, if it dries on your palette, it may not “revive” with water in quite the same way as watercolor from a cake. This is due to different formulations depending on the manufacturer (some are better than others in this regard).
Additionally, if you ever don’t screw the top on entirely, your watercolor paint will dry in the tube, and is very difficult to remove from the tube once that happens.
Watercolor in a pan
Watercolor paint in pans comes as rectangular or circular “cakes” that are fitted into individual pans. They are extruded under pressure, which compressed them into the cakes. They’re dry to the touch, but when you dab a wet brush in the watercolor, it is “activated.”
How to use watercolor paint in a pan:
Wet your brush and dip it on the cake to pick up the pigment.
Since the paint is dry to the touch, it’s easy to transport, and you don’t have to worry about tubes breaking open.
Because you need to wet your brush and dip it in the paint, it can take a while to get the paint to a good working consistency. Particularly when working in large areas or creating watercolor washes, this can be frustrating. Certain pigments are a little harder to work with than others, and will require more water to moisten and bring to a workable texture.
Can they be used together?
Yes, you can use watercolors in a pan and from a tube in the same painting. You can even mix one color from a tube and combine it with another from a pan. I’ve never had a problem with this.
Can they be used interchangeably?
It depends on the level of exactitude you’re going for. Since watercolor from a tube comes out more vibrant, getting the same color with paint from a pan will take more paint and less water.
So … which should I choose?
Ultimately, that’s your decision. Pans are easier to transport, so perhaps better for painting outdoors rather than in a studio environment.
However, when working in larger areas or creating watercolor washes, the concentrated vibrancy of the paint from a tube can give you more control.
There is no easy answer to this question, personal choice seems to be a bit of a cop out – but essentially it is your choice, and the best way to find out is to try both.
With 40 colours available in Pan and Tube Winsor & Newton Cotman paints are the number 1 choice for watercolour students and artists alike. Browse the colours here
About the company who makes these amazing watercolour inks
Since 1934 Dr. Ph. Martin’s has specialized in putting the tools in the hands of artists that allow them to create their life’s best work. For over 80 years chemists at Dr. Ph. Martin’s have worked tirelessly on creating the best liquid watercolors, inks, and other color products. Dr. Ph. Martin’s products are world renowned for their vivid colors, special properties, and the way they work across mediums.
If you’re looking for a fun creative project, why not Create a Butterfly with UniPin?
By using the various uni-PIN pen sizes you can create a series intricate butterfly designs by making different lines and strokes to achieve different looks. The detailed nature of this activity will also be a great way to practice a some mindful drawing, helping to improve your health and well-being.
Did you know that drawing is good for you? The process hones personal development and problem-solving skills, it releases endorphin and aids in relaxation and stress relief. Also, we we actively use both sides of our brain when drawing, the right for creativity, and the left for logical thinking, this helps develop the ability to focus and think strategically.
With this zentangle-inspired project we give you a free template to use with there different butterfly shades. Our step by step will give you some mark-making ideas to get started but you can let your creativity go wild with your PIN pens.
uni-PIN pen, the first choice of for professionals
Whether you’re a part-time doodler, dedicated artist, devoted designer or simply want to perfect your hand lettering, a uni-PIN pen is the perfect tool for you.
The uni-ball PIN is the pros choice. An excellent value drawing and writing pen, it contains fade proof and water resistant Super Ink – great for when you need your creations to last.
Its solid pigment ink line is clear, clean and precise, which is why the PIN is loved by professional artists and illustrators, graphic artists, architects and amateur hobbyists alike. Ink is water resistant too so the pens be used with watercolour as the ink will not smudge when wet.
Its choice of 14 black PIN nib sizes from delicate 0.03 to a heavy 1.2 (including an expressive brush tip), means you can create several line widths with your PIN. This enables you to master a range of techniques including fine line drawing and hand lettering. PIN’s brush tip is firm, so it adapts to your pressure, angle or speed of writing. This firmness gives you excellent control, giving you the power to truly master brush script and expressive brush pen painting techniques.
This project makes the most of this variation in nib sizes and really allows the excellent black pigment to sing, so why not try this drawing project yourself this up-coming weekend?
1: Intricate Butterflies shopping list
To create your intricate butterfly illustration you will need the following
You can print out your template directly onto tracing paper or use this template to trace from. Do this by placing the template on a flat, smooth surface. Lay the tracing paper over it and fix with the tape. Trace the picture with a 0.5 PIN pen. Once you have finished, remove the template from underneath the tracing paper.
Which ever way you have placed your image on the tracing paper, turn the tracing paper over so the image is face down. Apply your Kuro toga pencil to the back of your drawing. Move your pencil lead back and forth to create an even surface. To transfer your drawing, place the tracing paper gently on top of your sketchbook paper with the pencil stroke side face down. Trace the image, by going over the lines using a the Gel Grip pen, with pressure, onto the card. Lift up the tracing paper to reveal the image.
3: Start working on your PIN pen design
As you can see the butterfly shapes are divided into sections for you to till in with decorative line effects and shading. The best way to anchor a design such as this is to fill in the dense areas of colour coverage first to give your illustration some structure. We used a 0.5 PIN pen here for an even line and solid colour coverage. We then used our 0.3 PIN to make cross hatched shading and curved lines in another section to add shape and contrasting textures to the centre of our butterfly.
4: Practice shading and shaping techniques with PIN pen
You can make so many effective marks with the uni-PIN pen. What we love about this project is, because you have a simple template to fill in, you can explore a variation of shading and shaping techniques within a contained design. This means whatever you end up doing, the illustration should still look cohesive and professional. Above we used our 0.1 pen to make overlapping jagged lines for a strong graphic shading. We then used the same nib size to make smooth lines for a delicate shading effect around the central wings. We also used the fine 0.1mm nib to draw an overlapping curved lines in the centre of the butterfly’s body and made a more linear scallop scale design in some of the wing sections.
5: Be playful and experiment with your PIN pens to Create a Butterfly with UniPin
Play with each section and experiment with various line techniques. One really lovely effect is to play with the direction of your lines to fill-in an area. Simply use your 0.1 nib to make three lines in one direction and connect with three lines drawn in the opposite way, continue with this until you fill in the entire section.
Now grab your brush tip and see what lines you can make with that. We’ve coloured in the head and made simple brush strokes at the top tips of the wings, criss-crossed one section to create a ‘net’ design, then made curved strokes in another section as you can see above. You can also use the brush nib to draw expressive antenna by holding the tip at an angle and making two loose curved strokes from the top of the head.
6: Add final shading with smaller PIN pen nibs
Once you’re happy with most of your sections, you may want to fill in the smaller areas with simple shading. You can use your 0.1 nib to make very tight cross-hatched sections as seen above for light, textural shading. Or you can employ a light pressure to free-shade sections using your 0.05 PIN pen.
We get asked a lot about the best way to track your ‘Tombow Dual Brush Pen’ colours, and so we thought we’d make things easy for you by creating a Colour Selector and Colour Tracker. So read on to find out about our Tombow Dual Brush Pen Free Downloads.
Tombow’s dual brush pens are perfect for creating cards, producing motifs, sketching, drawing, illustrating and much more. The dual tips consist of a wide ‘brush like’ marker for extensive colouring and a fine marker for precise detailing.
The best news? They’re FREE!
The Colour Selector includes all ’96 Dual Brush Pen colours’ sorted by shade and shows you what each color looks like. Feel free to print this out as a reference, but please know that not all monitors or printers will show or print the colors the same way, so you may notice some discrepancies.
That’s why we’re also offering the Colour Tracker – which is a black and white version of the Color Selector that you can print out and use to keep track of the Dual Brush Pen colors you own.
The Tombow ABT Dual Brush Pen has a fine tip perfect for consistent lines and tight drawings. Complemented by a highly flexible brush tip which is soft yet durable.
Tombow Dual Brush ABT’s are water-based. They are odourless, non-toxic and acid free.
They work like watercolour paints and blend effortlessly. These pens are designed for rubber-stamping, card-making and as artists’ watercolour pens. The Dual Brush Pen is great for comic book designers and graphic artists.
Click on the links below to get your Tombow Dual Brush Pen Free Downloads.
Coloured pencils are a pigment held together with a binder and then encased in wood. The quality of the pencil all depends on the ratio of pigment to binder and the quality of the pigment used.
The top artist quality colouring pencils will create more vibrant colours. Most colour pencils are pigment bound in a wax binder. A wax bound pencil is typically softer and will apply a richer colour with less pressure whilst an oil based pencil are more hard wearing and last longer.
However, there are drawbacks to using a wax binder such as the potential for wax bloom and build up. These occur as the binder begins to evaporate and move to surface- creating a white residue.
We stock both Polychromos Artists Pencils and Caran d’Ache Luminance 6901 pencils.
We see many reviews comparing one as better than the other – but we believe in consultation with our artists that having access to both ranges gives artists a much better opportunity as they work well in collaboration, giving you access to an immense colour palette of professional grade pencils for your work.
The Caran d’Ache Luminance is a combination of oil and wax binder which creates a smooth creamy pencil. This vibrant pencil glides beautifully across paper with a soft and even blend. However, due to the creaminess of the pencil it does make it difficult to draw fine details in your work.
This is why many artists choose to combine the use of Polychromos to get the finer details and luminance for larger areas of the work.
When you read a colour chart it doesn’t just tell you the colours it tells you important information about the quality of the lightfastness of your chosen colours.
If you are interested in lightfastness of different brands you can read more here generally speaking though if you work with lighter shades and strong reds these are likely to have less resistance to light, so don’t display in strong sunlight.
You can also protect your work with a UV stabilised non solvent based varnish such as the Montana range . We would suggest a matt or semi gloss for a realistic finish.
Many thanks to Tamara Howarth for sending over her work for us to use in this article. Tamara is a portrait artist from Pembrokeshire, South West Wales, currently based in Liverpool. England. She specialises in bespoke commission work as well as her own inspired works. Explore her work through the links below:
These pens not only write very well, but their coverage when you use them for colouring is really impressive. Fineliners can sometimes be a bit scratchy when you use them for block colour and leave streaks in your designs.
These pens are smooth to use, with a durable nib, and the pen lines blend in really well together, giving the look of having used a thicker pen.
I really like the fact that you can use these for both small design elements and for bigger blocks of colour.
Spotlight on Gesso Primer – makes your paintings brighter and your paint go further. Acrylic primer is suitable for acrylic and oil painting.
Gesso, pronounced ‘jesso‘, was traditionally used to prepare or prime a surface so Oil paint would adhere to it. Gesso is the same as a primer, as in ‘pre-primed canvas’.
It is made from a combination of paint pigment, chalk and binder. It is recommended that you apply further layers of Gesso to pre primed canvas as often this is a single layer and still leaves canvas semi raw, so still absorbent.
Traditional Oil ‘glue gesso’ was made with an animal glue binder, usually rabbit-skin glue, chalk, and white pigment, usually Titanium white.
Gesso is usually white or off-white and is used after you have sealed the raw canvas with a coat of size.
It creates a surface that is both absorbent (particularly useful for ‘dead’ colouring with oils) and has a ‘tooth’ (texture) that allows paint to grab onto the surface.
So what is Acrylic Gesso?
Modern acrylic gesso is a combination of calcium carbonate (chalk) with an acrylic polymer medium (binder), a pigment (titanium white) and other chemicals that ensure flexibility, and ensure long archival life.
Why do I need to use a gesso primer for Acrylic painting?
Technically you don’t.
But in practice painting directly onto a raw canvas is not an enjoyable experience. Unless you are interested in deep staining effects like Morris Louis who became fascinated with using diluted acrylic paint to stain the raw canvas, rather than apply with a brush.
Can I use acrylic gesso under an oil painting?
Yes and no.
Yes for 90% of your paintings especially if your just beginning ‘acrylic gesso‘ will be fine if the raw canvas has been properly sized, thus protecting the canvas from the corrosive nature of oil.
However, if it was for a portrait or to produce a masterpiece for your painting legacy I would use an Oil based Primer purely for the fact it has been time-tested and the Oil will always adhere better to Oil than sitting on top of an Acrylic. We don’t stock oil primer but can order this in for you.
Tip: If you want the first layer of paint to dry quicker than it normally might, just add gesso. The gesso primer layer can soak up the oil from within the paint and leave a ‘dead’ flat underpainting that won’t have any sheen to it. Imagine the difference between painting onto glass and painting onto blotting paper. All the oil from the paint would be absorbed into the primer layer.
Homemade or ready-made?
Shop bought gesso comes pre-prepared in tubs or tubes and is pretty good, homemade gesso is cheaper to produce and can be adjusted to personal needs and tastes, however, it’s not needed when you are first starting painting.
Artist or Student quality?
As with paints, the difference between the two is dependent on price. The artist quality having a higher price, more pigment, and a higher opacity. The student quality will have a lower quantity of pigment and more filler. If you are painting onto a raw canvas the artist quality would be best due to the increased opacity. For adding a bit more absorbency to a pre-primed canvas student quality would be fine (you can always add extra white pigment to it).
Yes. If you are pushed for time you can mix some paint into the gesso to tint it. You can also buy premixed black gesso and clear gesso. For example, if you are painting a blue seascape the warm undertone of Yellow Ochre can balance perfectly to the cool blues in the scene, adding the feeling of the sun hitting parts of your painting.
Pre-primed canvas boards
“Pre-primed” means “pre-gesso” It already has a gesso layer applied in the factory. On cheaper ranges for some manufacturers often use a seal on top which creates a shiny surface which defeats the object of gesso.
If you are using watered down paint or student quality paints this shiny surface can repel the paint.
The more watery the paint the easier it will sit on the surface and not soak into the canvas as you would like. Winsor & Newton don’t do this, their boards are ready to paint on as ‘pre primed’ – although as previously discussed we would recommend an additional coat of Gesso primer.
If you apply a couple of coats of gesso it will form a more absorbent surface due to the chalk (calcium carbonate- known as ‘whiting’ in oil painting) found in the gesso.
You can sand gesso between coats to create a lovely smooth finish, especially handy for photo-realistic paintings, just sand each layer with a fine sandpaper. Say a 240 grit. 3M’s make a good sandpaper. Just make sure you do it outside, or in a well-ventilated area as it goes everywhere!
240 grit sandpaper if you want to sand the layers in between each other.
Buy a tub of premixed white gesso and give it a stir. You can work directly from the tub so you can control the amount of gesso on your brush for each stroke, but you can also buy it in tubes.
The first coat always needs to be diluted with a touch of water (sometimes people recommend adding a bit of acrylic medium to prevent cracking, but the layer is so thin and soaks straight in, it would never crack).
Allow to dry, then apply a second coat. This can be applied thinly and does not be watered down. If you want a more absorbent surface, add another layer.
When applying the gesso turn the canvas 90 degrees between coats to ensure an even coverage.
Apply a final coat using the pure, undiluted gesso.
Using a large flat brush, apply the gesso directly to the stretched canvas in even strokes. Work from the top to the bottom of the canvas, in parallel strokes from one edge to the other.
Wash your brush out immediately in running water then use a brush cleaner to thoroughly remove the gesso out. It’s worth cleaning it twice even if you think it’s clean.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Gesso really necessary?
A common question regarding acrylic painting is if you need to use a gesso primer. Technically, you don’t. It provides you with a nice, slightly more absorbent surface to work on, especially if your working on board or raw canvas, but for a pre-primed canvas it’s unnecessary
What are the alternatives to Gesso?
What are the alternatives to gesso? You can prime a canvas with acrylic mediums, clear gesso, or rabbit skin glue. If you work with acrylics, you can also paint directly on raw canvas without priming it first. Oil paints require a primer to protect the canvas from the linseed oil found in oil paints.
What happens if I don’t use Gesso?
It dries hard, making the surface more stiff. Gesso prepares (or “primes”) the surface for painting, making the surface slightly textured and ready to accept acrylic paint. Without gesso, the paint would soak into the weave of the canvas.
Can I mix Gesso with Acrylic paint?
When you add gesso to your acrylic paint, you’ll achieve a matte or, depending on the ratio of acrylic paint to gesso, a satin finish. Often the first layers of my paintings, although painted with acrylic, are applied in a very fluid and thin manner, much like watercolor.
Is Gesso just another name for Liquid White?
Liquid white is not the same thing as gesso! Gesso has an acrylic base, so you don’t want to mix your oil paints into that. Gesso needs to be completely dry before adding any sort of oil paint or medium on top.
How long does it take for Gesso to dry?
If you want to apply an additional coat of gesso, you only have to wait until it’s dry to the touch. Allow it to dry for at least 24 hours before painting on it with oils. If you’re using acrylics, then you can start painting as soon as it’s dry to the touch.
Can I paint directly on canvas without preparing the surface?
The most popular surfaces for painting with acrylics are canvas, wood, or paper. But once primed with gesso, acrylics can be painted on almost any surface, such as fabric, clay, or even your old vinyl records! … When properly varnished, acrylic paintings do not need to be framed behind glass.
We were treated to a trip to St Cuthberts Mill in Wells, Somerset to understand more about the making of English watercolour paper. Situated just outside the beautiful town of Wells in Somerset St Cuthberts is one of the last mills in the UK still making English Watercolour paper, although it is currently owned by FILA there has been significant investment in the site securing the future of commercial paper manufacture in Somerset.
During our visit we were allowed to take photographs, some of these are below. This show the process which is (like most industrial processes) heavily monitored from start to finish ensuring you get consistent quality paper everytime.
Using naturally rising waters from the River Axe, the water is filtered to remove any impurities and tested to ensure it is acid free (naturally so, due to the limestone hills in that part of the country).
English Watercolour paper made from prime ingredients
Raw materials wether cellulose or cotton fibres (depending on the product being manufactured) are mixed with water and formed into a slurry. The slurry is then ‘cast’ into a web of paper which is pressed between woollen felts. The felts dictate paper surface (rough or not). A further process of heated rollers presses a not surface into a Hot pressed surface.
Quality is at the heart of the process
Quality control is at the heart of this process, and the machine is constantly monitored to ensure the web thickness, depth of indentation, or smoothness and moisture content meet stringent specifications.
English Watercolour paper made ready for you to use
The paper is then rolled onto huge master reels that then go through the finishing stages. Then every roll is manually inspected before being sent to finishing. St Cuthberts Mill produce a variety of paper finishes, either bound pads, blocks or spiral bound as well as cut flat sheets.
It was truly a privilege to see this amazing process in action, I hope you enjoy a brief insight into the making of English Watercolour Paper.
You can look at the papers we sell by following the link below: