twitter youtube facebook linkedin email
Connect with:



Colin Smith
November 7, 2016

Note: This blog post and brush set was originally created by Michelle Li at Autodesk.

It’s our job to mimic the properties of the art supplies of the physical world, and lately we’ve been focusing on some of the tools artists use that are messy or rough. Last week, we gave you the Charcoal Brush Set, and this week we want to focus on another challenging-but-rewarding tool, the pastel. We’ve created a set of brushes for Pro members that we’re calling the Creamy Pastels Brush Set, and we hope you’ll install it in the desktop app and make something delicious with them.

There are four types of pastels in the physical art world: soft, hard, pencil and oil. All of them are made of ground up pigment bound together, and the end result is usually a crayon-like stick that has a lot of intense color and a specific texture. Although they can sometimes be found in pencil form, they are not instruments of finery. They’re all about bold color, and they’re great for blending colors together.

Edgar Degas was a big user of pastels to make rough impressionistic drawings, but you can also make sophisticated drawings like these by Georg Anton Urlaub and Maurice Quentin de La Tour. Edvard Munch actually made four different versions of The Scream, one in pastels.

Natural Blend brushes

The “Natural Blend” brush type was introduced first in SketchBook 8. They’re soft, and they are blend-able. They mimic real world brushes and have a lot of natural texture and unpredictability, which isn’t a bad thing at all. If you want your digital artwork to look like it was made with watercolors, pastel crayons, conté, or other soft blended media, these Natural Blends brushes are the ones for you. Watch what happens when you layer two colors together using this kind of brush:

Notice how the brush starts out by laying down a light wash of color, but gets more intense as the stroke continues. As the orange color is brought in on top, it softly blends into the pink. These “Natural Blend” brushes have personality that can shine through the artwork you make with them.

Pastel brushes in action

For this piece (below), I started out by sketching two different ice-cream treats. Your first idea isn’t always perfect.  It’s always good to sketch multiple things before deciding on your final piece. You might come up with a better idea on your second or third try.

Once I decided to continue with the ice cream pop, I lay down flat colors over the top.

Then, I chose some crazy colors to shade it with: a deep red and a bright yellow. The pastel brushes do a lot of blending on their own at low opacities. This makes them fun and messy.

We can’t wait to see the yummy treats you create with these Creamy Pastels. Get them now!

The final result: a creamsicle.

Installing the brush sets

If you’re using the latest desktop version of SketchBook, simply double click on the .skbrushes file, and it will automatically install.

Featured Links

Colin Smith

Colin is a Sr. Product Manager on the Automotive and Conceptual Design Team at Autodesk. During his 25-year career in the CAD industry he has worked in customer support, training, consulting and as a product manager for Alias and Fusion 360. Currently, he works on SketchBook Pro and Create VR and is based in Toronto, Canada.