Frequent Asked Questions

If you have a question that isn't answered above, please email us via our contact page.


Can I use fixative with PanPastel?

Yes, PanPastel is compatible with all conventional spray pastel fixatives. Although it is not essential - as with soft pastel stick color, so fixative can be used to protect the artwork. Fixative can also be used as a way to isolate previous layers of color when working with pastels, especially on less toothy surfaces. Whether or not to use fixative and the technique chosen really depends on personal preference and your working method. Tip: When using fixative, spray in light layers multiple times, building up as required - rather than spraying one heavy layer. ALWAYS spray in a well-ventilated space (or outdoors) away from other people. Hold the can at least 12in or 30cm away from the artwork when spraying. More info at: https://paintdrawblend.com/2014/12/fixatives/


Which surfaces should I use with PanPastel?

An important characteristic of PanPastel Colors is that they work well on SO many different surfaces - from very low tooth to high tooth. E.g. from delicate surfaces through to toothy pastel (sand-paper) surfaces and everything in between…drawing papers, pastel papers, canvas, vellum, watercolor papers, print-making papers, cardstock, digital/ink-jet papers (matt) etc. Also, because they are not wet, PanPastel Colors don’t cause lightweight papers to “buckle”, and the Sofft sponge tools are gentle on delicate papers such as Japanese handmade papers. Each artist normally gravitates towards his or her own preferred surface. Don’t limit yourself – experiment! Some examples of how PanPastel looks on different surfaces are shown at our substrates page. Our gallery also shows the variety of surfaces being used by artists with PanPastel.


Do I need to use a special eraser with PanPastel?

No, you can use any eraser with PanPastel. Which means that PanPastel is a very forgiving medium. If you don’t like the results you are getting then you can easily erase PanPastel with any eraser (prior to fixing).


How can I get super fine details when painting?

While fairly thin lines can be achieved by using the edges of the sponge tools and manipulating the sponge tools, you are limited by the size of the applicator when applying color (in the same way as you would be limited by a brush size when using liquid color) so to achieve super fine lines many artists use a colored pencil. Tip: to get straight lines, try masking to get the line, either with a straight edge (paper, card etc) or using low tack masking tape, and then applying the color over the desired area. Once you lift up the mask, you will see a straight line. Erase to refine further. Experiment to get the results you are looking for.


What makes Sofft sponge special?

The sponge material used is unique to Sofft. We developed Sofft’s micropore sponge formulation specifically for use with PanPastel. They really do load and release the color perfectly. Sofft Tools also work great with most water-based artists materials – inks, acrylics, watercolors etc. PanPastel Color formulations have very high levels of artists’ pigments, and are used on many different and demanding surfaces, requiring a very different type of sponge that is durable and works the way an artist needs it to work. (Unlike cosmetic sponges, which are intended for use once or twice a day with color that has very little pigment and are for a limited one-stroke application on a special, very gentle surface - the skin). The shapes and sizes of Sofft Tools were developed for the marks that artists make. So for example, the knives and sponge bar shapes are based on brush shapes – round, flat, oval (filbert) and point. Sofft sponges can be used on a broad selection of surfaces, even with “toothy” surfaces such as pastel papers. Obviously, the more abrasive the surface the shorter the life of the sponge. Finally, Sofft sponges are inexpensive and can be washed and re-used several times.


Can I use my fingers to blend / apply PanPastel Colors?

The color payoff is reduced when using fingers to apply PanPastel Colors instead of using Sofft tools. Also, as with any artists’ colors it is always best to avoid using fingers when there is a tool available, such as Sofft Tools, that can do the job better!


What is the best way to clean Sofft Knife Covers?

Wipe on a paper towel – wiping from left to right, rather than up and down, so that the cover stays in place on the knife and will not get dragged off by the towel.


Are PanPastel Colors lightfast?

All of our colors are independently tested to ASTM lightfastness standards (currently in draft form for pastels). The ratings for each color is shown on our color chart.

For information on lightfastness visit lightfastness.


Can PanPastel Colors be used with water for a wet wash?

For wash techniques with water add 25-50% rubbing alcohol to the water for best results. Important: Do not apply wet tools, fluids or mediums directly to the pan’s surface. Liquids should only be applied to the working surface (e.g. paper). So, apply the PanPastel Color first to the surface, and then apply the liquid wash with a sponge or brush to create the desired effect. Note: PanPastel Colors work great for dry wash techniques. So it is really not necessary to use any liquid for a wash, however if a true wet wash is required, use the technique explained above.