Pentel Oil Pastels – Review For Cheap Travel Pastels

Last Updated on March 22, 2024 by Masha Eretnova

If you haven’t yet heard about Pentel oil pastels, you are in for a treat!

It is probably the cheapest yet one of the most favorite oil pastels for drawing and gradient backgrounds!

In this review I would like to give these amazing pastels credit and show what they are.

Pentel Oil Pastels Review
My 12 colors Pentel oil pastels and quick landscape I made with them

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Pentel Arts Oil Pastels Characteristics

Pentel is known for its ball and gel pens but 70 years ago in Japan, the brand was created not only to produce pens but also affordable yet great quality art supplies.

Pentel supplies are all produced in different countries from Taiwan to Mexico.

Pentel oil pastels are proudly made in Thailand where I actually bought them πŸ™‚

Note that those are student-grade pastels, not professional artist-grade oil pastels like Sennelier or Holbein, yet being student-grade they are still impressively good, especially if you consider the price!

Pentel Arts Oil Pastels, 12 Color Set (PHN-12)
  • Brilliant colored pastels apply smoothly and blend easily for subtle shades, tints and color mixtures
  • Easy to use for artists of all ages
  • Acid-free pastels are ideal for use on paper, board or canvas
  • More vivid than chalk pastels and more resistant to the effects of humidity for longer-lasting drawings
  • ACMI Certified

In fact, Pentel Art also produces metallic oil pastels and fluorescent oil pastels that work nicely on black paper.

My First Impressions

Pentel oil pastels are affordable vivid pastels that are great for beginners, kids, or adults.

They are non-toxic and are made of pigment mixed with an oil binder and wax (that’s why we have this waxy feeling on our fingers when we touch them).

On Amazon, there are more than 28,000 overwhelmingly positive reviews and these oil pastels are absolute bestsellers there! They are ranked higher than another oil pastel I use – Cray-Pass.

Quick note: soft pastels can crumble while hard pastels have wax in them and don’t crumble.

Normally soft/hard is not applicable to oil pastels as it is a pastel type on its own, but if you are new to oil pastels, they will feel more like hard pastels yet they are still easy to apply, creamy, and velvety.

Some soft oil pastels can form a crust when dry, Pentel pastels don’t have that.

My Total score 9.8/10

  • Package – 10/10
  • Colors 10/10
  • Blending 10/10
  • Price 10/10
  • Application 9/10

Note that I evaluating them as student-grade oil pastels, for beginners, I’m giving 9 for the application only because I felt like with short strokes and lines they could’ve done better, but it absolutely can be my lack of skills!

I saw the review on Youtube that says they smell. Mine 12 colors don’t smell. You can only detect a light waxy smell if you will sniff the stick right next to your nose.

I don’t think this can cause any issues.


pentel oil pastel review packaging
pentel oil pastel review packaging

These oil pastels come in a simple firm cardboard box with plastic molding inside so each color can be stored separately from the others. It is very important, as oil pastels can leave marks on each other.

The box has a transparent window so you can see all colors through πŸ™‚ They are very compact, you can see the box compared to my hand (I have small hands).

However, you can also see this packaging:

pentel oil pastels packaging
I saw this package on the official website

From my understanding, these pastels are mainly produced in Thailand but sometimes on Amazon it says that it is US-made.


My oil pastel set has only 12 colors – the smallest pastel set by Pentel.

I would most definitely buy 50 colors set if I wasn’t traveling as these brilliant colors are diverse, vibrant, and simply very decent for blending!

Said to be lightfast but as a student-grade oil pastel they do fade a little bit over time.

Colors swatch I made for my 12-color Pentel pastel set

My set has these colors: White, lemon yellow, pale orange, orange, pale blue, cobalt blue, red, brown, yellow-green, green, black, and gray.

Great for start, for travel.

The total color range of Pentel oil pastels is 50 colors.


pentel oil pastel review sticks
Pentel oil pastel sticks. You can tell I used green more than red πŸ™‚

Small, compact sticks, wrapped in paper for comfortable use. Each has a color name on the label. Pentel oils pastels’ sticks are 2 and 3/8 inches in length (around 6 cm).

I saw people mention they break easily, I didn’t feel so even though I tried to press really hard.

They don’t create any dust, unlike chalk pastels. But it may leave marks on your fingers if you’re blending hard and then run your finger over the blended area. Easy to clean though.


pentel oil pastel review blending
Pentel pastels are great for blending

Pentel pastels are one of the best cheap oil pastels for blending. They are rich in texture and bright colored, and they do blend really easily on paper, canvas, or artboards. To touch it feels like a soft texture, slightly waxy.

It makes them perfect for oil pastel drawing, but also as a part of mixed media art – for blended backgrounds.

They allow layering as well, and though they are quite transparent it helps you create tones, shades, and amazing realistic illustrations.

Of course, if you compare them to professional-level oil pastels they will seem hard to blend, but as cheap beginners pastels, they are just fine.


pentel oil pastel review opacity
My opacity swatch for Pentel oil pastel

Even though the colors are vivid and creamy, they are not quite opaque.

They are good for layering more in the glazing sense and any colors will overpower each other.

It helps us make a good conclusion – with oil pastels, we are painting in blocks, applying colors next to each other. We overlay them only to create gradients and subtle shades.

Ease of use

They are super easy to use and easy to clean.

You can remove it from the skin or the table just by wiping it. I don’t think they are messy, but definitely store oils pastels paintings separately from blank paper and other paintings as small particles from pastels can get on them.

Pentel oil pastel price

Pentel Arts Oil Pastel Set, Assorted Colors, Set of 25 (PHN-25)

An official statement in the Pentel USA product guide says that the pricing for oil pastels should be the following:

Oil Pastel setPrice
Pentel oil pastels 12$2.50
Pentel oil pastels 16$3.40
pentel oil pastels 25$5.25
pentel oil pastels 36$7.50
pentel oil pastels 50$10.40
Class pack – 432 sticks but 12 colors$76.00
Pentel oil pastels prices from 2023-2024 product guide

But when I checked on Amazon, you can either get a better price – a set of 50 colors with a discount goes for around $8, but the set for 12 colors was sold (at the time I checked) for $3-4.

The class pack had almost a 50% discount and was sold for around $36. Other sets had pricing close to officially stated.

So look for discounts on Amazon if you want to get a bigger set πŸ™‚

As they are made in Thailand, it is reasonable that they are cheaper here. I bought Pentel oil pastels in Northern Thailand for only $1.46.

I got the smallest set as I’m traveling but for the best value for money, I would probably for the 50-color set if I could!

How to use Pentel Oils Pastels

I see the use for Pentel oil pastel in 3 ways:

  • preparing blended backgrounds. You can blend Pentel oil pastels by applying colors next to each other and then either using a cotton tip to blend or going with a lighter color over a darker color.
How to use Pentel Oils Pastels blending
Quick blend with pentel pastels
  • in mixed media paintings (with watercolor or oil painting). Be careful with water, Pentel oil pastels are made of wax binder and oil with rich pigment, they are not water-soluble and you can’t mix them with water.
How to use Pentel Oils Pastels mixed media
They go well with watercolor!
  • as an individual art medium
How to use Pentel Oils Pastels
Inspired by Pinterest, oil pastel landscape

Read also: Honest Pentel Watercolor Review [12 Colors Set]

My Verdict

Pentel Oil pastels will surprise you.

They are not horrible kids’ crumbly waxy crayons, they are impressively good oil pastels with smooth coverage and vibrant colors (up to 50!) that will last you for hours of practice as a beginner. And for such a price, it is honestly a steal.

Will work beautifully for children 6+, young artists, beginners in drawing and painting, and students. And even professional artists but only as a practice set if we want to save money πŸ™‚

Please try them for your still-life practice or mixed media paintings and let me know how you liked them!

Last update on 2024-07-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API