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Pastels are largely distinguished by their vibrancy of color. This is due to the high amount of pigment content used within their manufacture. Soft pastels contain the highest amount of pigment, whereas oil pastels employ more binder, which leads to a creamy consistency when they're applied. Painter's pastels and oil pastels dab- wise aren't really much different from chalks and charcoals. What does set them apart, however, are the actual colors traditionally associated with the medium. Let's go ahead and take a look at pastels.
I'll go to the Brush Selector bar drop down to the Pastels, and we're going to take a look at the Real Soft Pastel variant in this case. I'm also going to go to the Paper palette and I'm going select my palette and one of the things I can do here is select a paper that is naturally going to complement the medium I'm working in, which in this case is pastel. There is a Pastel Paper grain available in the Library and unlike some other paper grains, which may not look consistent with the look of pastel, this paper certainly will.
So I'm going to take advantage of it, and I'm just going to draw a little bit here, and I want to show you something that can happen with some paper grains. You'll see that no matter how hard I press, some of the highest peaks of the paper grain are not getting addressed by the brush, and that just is a vagary of how this particular texture was created. It's contrasty and it doesn't have any intermediate values in it right now, but I can use the Contrast slider within the Papers palette to adjust that.
So I'm just going to turn this down a bit. You can see how it's getting more mid-tone grays within it. Now, when I use it, you'll see I'm starting to get all the way to the top of my paper grain. So just a slight adjustment in the paper grain's contrast or sometimes brightness can be a way to adjust the paper grain to your particular liking. And a lot of people don't take advantage of these controls, but they're very useful particularly in a situation like this where you might get an undesirable artifact within your strokes.
So take advantage of this when you can. The other thing I mentioned is the way that color plays a large degree of making pastel look like pastel. I could certainly go in here and paint with any color I want to, however, pastels tend to come in sets and those sets are created by the manufactures to be a set of colors that work very closely and blend together very well with one another. So to just pick random colors off of the color wheel is not going to give me as realistic of a look of pastel, as I'm going to get if I use colors designated specifically for pastels and are made to match the kinds of colors you find in a set of pastels.
The other thing we can do is we can go in and change the color of our paper. I'm just going to go in here and maybe just give it a slight warm feeling, so it's almost gray, but I'm going to leave just a little bit of hue within that color and I'm going to do Command+F or Ctrl+F to fill, and we'll fill. So now we've got a toned or a colored paper that we'll work on top of, and I'm also going to do this on a layer. This just gives me a safety net, so that if I don't like what I'm doing, I still have my blank paper that I can return to.
I'm also now going to shut down the Colors palette and we're going to open up Color Sets. And I'm working with color sets that are associated with their various mediums. In this case, this was a set of colors that works with Cont? crayons, but I've also got a set for pastels. So I am going to go in now and say I want to open the color set. So we will load this color set and if you go to your Exercise Files in Chapter 5, you'll find that I've got some color sets I've made that are associated with the kinds of colors you find in traditional pastels.
So let's take the Soft Pastels and open it up. And now this gives me a set of colors very commonly used within pastels. And now, I can go in and start selecting colors and start to paint with this and the combination of working on a toned color and using colors associated with pastels is going to give me a more traditional look than I would get from just choosing colors at random. One of the things that happens in pastels is you'll work with middle tones and then you can even start to use colors that are lighter and darker than your paper color to build up a greater sense of depth.
For example, if I go in here now and use a dark color, I can get some nice darks on here, but I can also apply lighter colors than are lighter than the paper. And this gives me a wider tonality than I would get, if I were working on white paper, where that already is the brightest color. You can also take advantage of the fact that the various colors in the pastels are part of the Hard Media controls. So that means that when I go and tilt, I'm going to get a broader stroke and this is an excellent way to allow me to start to apply tonality into an image.
Not just line, but tonality. By combining my pressure in the side of this piece of pastel along with the paper grain, I can institute what appears to be a wide set of tonalities within this particular image. So despite all of the different control and adjustments you can make to variants in Painter, sometimes the simplest solution is the one that will provide the best answer. And in this case, to get as close to a traditional medium like pastels as you can, it really is more a case of using the proper colors with the medium more than anything else and hopefully my library of pastel colors as well as a set of oil pastels I've included, will help you create pastel and oil pastel drawings that appear more realistic because they are staying in tune with the kinds of colors you normally associate with that medium.
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