5 Tips: Enhance Pastel Still Life Drawings on Toned Paper
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 5 min read


  1. Select the right toned paper
  2. Use different pastel colors for depth
  3. Blend pastels to create smooth textures
  4. Highlight and shadow techniques
  5. Preserve your work properly

Ever had the urge to deepen your skills in creating pastel still life drawings on toned paper? Well, you're in luck. This blog post is your mini-guide to getting better at pastel still life drawings on toned paper, offering you five handy tips to enhance your art. From selecting the right toned paper to preserving your work properly, we've got you covered. So, let's dive into the first step: choosing the right toned paper.

Select the right toned paper

Selecting the right toned paper is a big first step in getting better at pastel still life drawings on toned paper. The right paper can really set the stage for your pastels, and can help your drawing pop off the page.

Understanding Toned Paper

Toned paper isn't just any old paper. It's paper that has been dyed or painted a specific color. This color isn't just for show — it can play a role in your drawing. For example, a cool toned paper can hint at a calm and serene scene, while a warm toned paper might suggest a vibrant, lively setting.

Selecting the Right Color

  • Match the mood: Think about the mood of your still life. A peaceful scene might work well on cool blue paper, while a dramatic one might shine on dark gray.
  • Complement your pastels: The color of your paper should complement your pastels, not compete with them. Avoid colors that are too similar to your pastels, as this can make your drawing look flat.

Choosing the Right Texture

Texture matters too. A smoother paper can give your pastels a soft, gentle look, while a rougher one can add some interesting texture to your still life. It's all about what you want your drawing to look and feel like.

Remember, selecting the right toned paper is a key part of getting better at pastel still life drawings on toned paper. So, don't rush this step. Take your time, experiment with different papers, and find what works best for you and your art.

Use different pastel colors for depth

Ready to take your pastel still life drawings on toned paper to the next level? It's time to explore how different pastel colors can add depth to your work. Depth is what gives your still life a sense of three-dimensionality, making it look more lifelike and engaging.

Building a Color Palette

First off, you need a palette. This doesn't mean you have to stick to a strict set of colors, but having a general idea of what colors you want to use can help you create a harmonious piece. Consider colors that contrast and complement each other to create an engaging and balanced work.

Understanding Color Values

Depth isn't just about color, it's also about value. Value refers to how light or dark a color is. By using a range of values — from light to dark — you can create the illusion of depth in your drawing. This is a key trick in getting better at pastel still life drawings on toned paper.

Using Warm and Cool Colors

Another way to create depth is by using warm and cool colors. Warm colors (such as red, orange, and yellow) tend to pop forward, while cool colors (like blue, green, and purple) seem to recede. This can help you create a sense of space and distance in your still life.

Remember, mastering color is no small feat. It takes practice and patience. But with time and exploration, you'll find that using different pastel colors for depth can really take your still life drawings to new heights.

Blend pastels to create smooth textures

Now that we've covered how to use colors to create depth, let's dive into the world of pastel blending. This technique can be an absolute game-changer for creating smooth textures in your pastel still life drawings. So, how do you go about it?

Experiment with Different Blending Tools

From your fingers to a piece of cloth, there are many tools you can use to blend pastels. However, the most commonly used tool is a blending stump. Made of compressed paper, it's perfect for getting into those small, tricky areas. But don't be afraid to experiment with other tools to find what works best for you.

The Pressure is On

When blending, the amount of pressure you apply matters. Light pressure can result in a soft, subtle blend, while heavy pressure can create a more defined blend. By varying the pressure, you can create an array of textures, making your still life drawings even more interesting.

Building Up Layers

Blending isn't just about smoothing out. It's also about layering. Layering different colors and then blending them can create new, exciting colors and textures. It's just another way you can get better at pastel still life drawings on toned paper.

This exploration of blending will not only enhance the realism and depth of your still life drawings but will also make your work more appealing. Remember, every artist has their own unique style and method of blending, so don't be afraid to experiment and find what works best for you.

Highlight and shadow techniques

Shadows and highlights bring a whole new dimension to your pastel still life drawings, making them pop out of the toned paper. Let's explore some techniques to perfect these aspects and get you one step closer to getting better at pastel still life drawings on toned paper.

Understanding Light Source

Before you start adding highlights and shadows, it's important to understand where your light source is. Is it coming from the left, right, or above? This decision will directly impact where you place your highlights and shadows, so choose wisely.

Creating Shadows with Complementary Colors

Instead of just using black for shadows, why not try using a color's complementary counterpart? For instance, if you're drawing a green apple, the shadow could be a blend of green and red. This technique can give your shadows a richer, more natural look.

Using White for Highlights

White pastel is the go-to for most artists when it comes to highlights. However, don't just slap it everywhere. Be strategic. Identify the areas where the light hits the most and add your highlights there. A gentle touch of white can make a significant difference.

Mastering the play of light and shadow in your pastel still life drawings can dramatically improve their realism and depth. Just remember, practice makes perfect. The more you draw, the more natural this will become. Enjoy the journey!

Preserve your work properly

Getting better at pastel still life drawings on toned paper isn't just about creating the art—it's also about preserving it. Let's dive into some handy tips for keeping your drawings vibrant and fresh for years to come.

Using a Fixative

A fixative is a type of spray that you can use to seal your pastel work. However, it's important to choose one specifically designed for pastels. They bind the pastel particles to the paper without altering the colors. Using a fixative can help protect your work from smudges and dust.

Storing your Artwork

Once you've sealed your work, it's time to think about storage. You should store your pastel drawings in a cool, dry place. Avoid places with high humidity or heat as these can damage the pastels. Also, consider using a protective sleeve or portfolio to prevent any accidental scratches or damage.

Framing and Displaying

If you're proud of your still life masterpiece, you might want to frame and display it. There are many frame options available, but make sure to choose one with a mat. The mat keeps the pastel from touching the glass, which is vital for preventing damage over time.

With these preservation techniques, you can ensure that your hard work stands the test of time. Remember, getting better at pastel still life drawings on toned paper is a journey that extends beyond the drawing process—it also involves caring for your work after it's complete. Happy drawing!

If you enjoyed learning about enhancing pastel still life drawings on toned paper and want to expand your artistic skills, we recommend checking out the workshop 'Improve Your Acrylic Painting Skills' by Rachel Christopoulos. Although this workshop focuses on acrylic painting, the techniques and insights shared will complement and enrich your pastel still life drawing skills, helping you become a more versatile and confident artist.