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Tutorials and artistic advices

Pastel & Colour: Exposing underlying layers

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This technique, called sgraffito, allows you to partially bring out a color by scraping the one on top of it. Use the tip of a knife or a utility knife to create the patterns you want. Have fun!


What you need to know

  •   Sgraffiti are especially well-suited to oil pastels, preferably applied in thick layers.
  •  This method is also useful with dry pastels, provided you fix the first color before applying the second one.


1. The basic technique

  •  Press down hard on the paper with your stick to apply an ample block of color, covering the raised grain and the hollows.
  •  Overlay with a second solid area of color, choosing a sufficiently contrasting color to achieve a clearly visible effect.
  •  With the tip of a knife or a utility knife, streak the surface with fine lines to remove the pigments from the top layer: the underlying color will reappear
  • Use the flat side of the blade to remove more particles and create irregular marks, spaced more or less far apart.

Note: Apply the pressure of the blade evenly, to keep from damaging the paper. Choose thick paper.


2. Endless variations


  • Do you have the basic technique down pat? Try some new effects:
  • Overlay three or more colors and streak more or less deeply to display different shades.
  • Use heavy grain paper to obtain irregular scratches.
  • Cover an already streaked surface with a new block of color.
  • Change the direction of your scratches, crisscross them, randomize them… Anything is possible!

Suggested products

Canson® Ingres Vidalon®

See also

Pastel & Colour: Creating textures with primers
Créer des textures
Pastels are rather laid back: they blissfully embed themselves in the contours and hollows of the support medium. Applying an acrylic primer before adding colors will allow you to create visual effects. An intense result!