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Tutorials and artistic advices

Pastel & Colour: Tinting your paper

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For a truly personalized result, certain artists prefer to tint their medium themselves. Play your hand!

What you need to know

Tinting your paper has two benefits:

  •  Optimizing the background tint reduces the risk of overloading your drawing material.
  •  You can create several areas with different colors on the same sheet of paper.


1. Creating a background with dry pastel


  • Reduce your pastel to powder by scratching it with a knife over a plate.
  • Dip a rag or a piece of cotton wadding into the powder and rub it over the entire paper surface, pressing down enough to tint all the high and low points on the paper.
  • Use sweeping circular or crisscross motions if you want to create a textured background.
  • For a perfectly smooth finish, stump with a big paintbrush.


Trick of the trade: by stabilizing the background with fixative – or pressing a blotter down hard on the tinted paper – you can keep the pigments from mixing with the ones you use for your work.


2. Original tints

Dry or oil pastels can be used afterwards with these two techniques.

  • Go for transparency by using a watercolor or highly diluted India ink wash. Allow to dry completely before applying pastels.
  • Imitate oriental tradition: rub white paper gently with moist tea leaves (or teabags). This will cover it with a very delicate tint! 

Note: if you plan on using a wet technique, select water resistant paper, such as watercolor paper, and stretch it first to keep it from buckling.

Suggested products

Canson® Mi-Teintes®

See also

Pastel & Colour: Working with a wet paintbrush
Travailler au pinceau humide
In the presence of moisture, pastels become pasty. When you moisten them more, you can use them as light washes.