The Best Papers for Oil Pastels in 2023

Oil pastels are a fun way to create beautiful drawings that resemble the style of oil paintings. Pablo Picasso and other respected artists have made oil pastel paintings. The paper you use has an effect on how your oil pastel paintings turn out. In this guide, we let you know what the best paper for oil pastels is and how to know when the paper is suitable for your needs.

As lovers of art, we’re knowledgeable about what makes for a good paper. Let’s dive right in, so you can quickly find a type of oil pastel paper you’ll be happy with.

Best Papers for Oil Pastels:

1. Strathmore 400 Series Pastel Pad

Strathmore 400 Series Pastel Pad, Assorted Colors, 9"x12

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This art paper pad features six different tints and a total of 24 sheets. Tints assist in creating beautiful artwork. As a 400 series pad, this paper is designated as the best quality for advanced artists by Strathmore. We find this paper great for final pieces. It’s acid-free and has a paperweight of 118 gsm.

Artists love that the Strathmore 400 Series Pastel Pad comes with assorted tints to bring out the best in their pastel art. They describe the paper as easy to work with for pastels.

This is some of the best art paper for oil pastels for those who enjoy drawing on tinted paper. You have six different tints to work with.

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2. Faber-Castell Black Paper Pad

Faber-Castell Black Paper Pad - 25 Sheets of 9" x 12

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Drawing on black paper establishes a different atmosphere in your artwork than on white paper. If you have an affinity for black backgrounds, this paper is perfect for you.

Metallic pencils, gel sticks, gel pens, gel crayons, and beeswax crayons work well on the Faber-Castell Black Paper Pad in addition to oil pastels. It’s suitable for all artistic levels and ages.

Customers who used oil pastels on this black paper say the medium shows up great. Most customers find the paper pad good value for money. Some people also enjoy using this paper for calligraphy.

This is some of the best papers for oil pastel painting on a black background. All 25 sheets in the pad are black, giving you a dedicated paper pad for this style of artwork.

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3. Canson Mi-Teintes Pastel Pad

CANSON Mi-Teintes Pastel Pad, Assorted Colors 9"X12

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If you liked the Strathmore 400 Series Pastel Pad for its assorted tints, but you prefer heavier paper, you may find the Canson Mi-Teintes Pastel Pad the right choice. It has six different colors at 160 gsm. Its colors include earth tones, gray tones, and white.

Just like the Strathmore, each pad has 24 total sheets. The tints, however, are slightly different. It also has heavier paper at 160 gsm. You can order this oil pastel paper in black, white, earth tones, and gray tones as well if you prefer a dedicated pad over assorted tints.

Consumers love the variation of tones in the Canson Mi-Teintes Pastel Pad because they improve the richness of their drawings and paintings. They say these tones are hard to find.

If you like to work with earth tones and gray tones, you’ll love this artist’s paper pad. It also has some white sheets inside when you want to draw on plain white. You can choose the gray tones only or the earth tones only version if you don’t use both tints.

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4. Speedball Pastel Premier Paper

Speedball Premier Sanded Pastel Paper, 9 x 12, Assorted Colors

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If you want to use wet media or apply heavy layers of oil pastels, then the Speedball Pastel Premier Sanded Pastel Paper meets your needs. It has medium grit paper except for one sheet, which is fine grit and white. The other tones in the pad include terracotta, Italian clay, slate, and buff. There are two sheets of medium grit white paper too.

Because only eight sheets total come in each pad, you’ll want to save this for artwork you plan on displaying or selling. The pad is available in 9″ x 12″ and 12″ x 16″ sizes.

Consumers love that their pastels apply vibrantly and beautifully to this paper. They describe it as having perfect tooth and being some of the best paper for pastels.

You should consider the Speedball Pastel Premier Sanded Pastel Paper if you apply many layers to your oil pastel art. It’s durable enough to handle underpainting and delivers beautiful results.

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5. Arches Watercolor Block

Arches Watercolor Block 140 Pound Hot Press Paper - 9 x 12 Sheets

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At 300 gsm and made of 100% cotton, the Arches Watercolor Block can handle watercolor in addition to oil pastels. Different from a paper pad, the sheets are bound on all sides. You can use a pallet knife to carefully remove a sheet when you’re done without damaging it.

Artists say they love using the Arches Watercolor Block for paintings that involve fine details. Colors apply vibrantly to the paper, and the paper can handle a series of washes.

The Arches Watercolor Block is one of our top choices in a hot-pressed paper for pastel drawing and mixed media.

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6. Canson Mi-Teintes Pastel Pad

Mi-Teintes Pastel Pad, Assorted Colors 12"X16

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This paper pad is almost the same as the Canson Mi-Teintes 9″ x 12″ Pastel Pad, but it has a landscape orientation. It’s dual surfaced, made of 50% cotton, and acid-free. The paper pad also has assorted tints for complementing your art.

Customers say they can add layers of oil pastels without problems with blotching or damaging the paper. They also describe the paper as having pronounced tooth.

The Canson Mi-Teintes 12″ x 16″ Pastel Pad is some of the best paper for a pastel painting in landscape orientation. It’s also great for those who have a need for both light-texture and heavy-texture pastel paper. You choose the texture of your paper based on which side you draw on.

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7. Three Leaf Premium SketchBook

Premium Sketch Book - 9x12-Inch - 40 Sheets per Book - Excellent for Pencil, Pastel, Charcoal and Crayon from Northland Wholesale. (1-Premium Sketch Book)

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Do you want more than 24 sheets? The Three Leaf Premium Sketch Book is one of your best choices in pastel drawing paper. 40 high-quality sheets come in each sketchbook. You can use charcoal, pencils, and crayons in addition to oil pastels on this paper. It has an off-white color and a light texture.

Customers say they like the way the paper feels, and their pastel art turned out well on this paper.

For artists who don’t heavily layer, the Three Leaf Premium Sketch Book is a great choice for pastel drawings. It’s one of the cheapest choices on this list as well.

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8. UART Sanded 400 Grade Pastel Paper

UART Sanded Pastel Paper M-148931 9-Inch/12-Inch No.400 Grade Paper, 10-Pack

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UART’s 400-grade paper is suitable for beginners and those who like a moderate tooth. In addition to oil pastels, you can use wet media on them. Oil, turpenoid, mineral spirits, and alcohol can be used on the paper.

You can underpaint on this pastel paper. The paper was created to not require fixatives, making it more convenient for you to use.

Customers describe the UART Sanded 400 Grade Pastel Paper as high-quality art paper. Beginners to pastels are happy they can layer without damaging the paper to fix mistakes.

UART Sanded 400 Grade Pastel Paper is some of the best pastel paper with moderate tooth. It’s easy for beginners to use while providing the quality advanced artists expect.

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9. Three Leaf Wired Sketch Book

Wired Sketch Book - 9x12-Inch - 30 Sheets per Book - Excellent for Pencil, Pastel, Charcoal and Crayon from Northland Wholesale. (1-Sketch Book)

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If you prefer spiral-bound sketchbooks, the Three Leaf 9″ x 12″ Wired Sketch Book is a good choice for oil pastel painting. Its off-white paper is perfect for giving your art a soft feel. Other media you can use on the paper besides oil pastels are pencils, crayons, and charcoal.

This sketchbook is good value for money. You receive 30 high-quality sheets for a small price.

Consumers describe the paper as great quality and say it’s suitable for children who want to work on their art skills. Even if you’re an adult, this is quality paper for practicing.

Three Leaf 9″ x 12″ Wired Sketch Book is great for artists who don’t use a lot of layers. It serves as a good practice sketchbook.

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10. Sennelier Oil Pastel Card Pad

Sennelier Oil Pastel Card Pad 11.75X15.75

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Each sheet of paper in this card pad has a glassine sheet to protect it. Thus, we recommend this expensive card pad for your final versions.

It has a spiral binding at the top of the pad that makes it easy to turn through the pages. The paper has one of the highest weights among pastel papers at 360 gsm, which means you can apply heavy layers.

Customers love that this pastel card pad has a protective sheet in between each page. They also say the paper has excellent tooth.

If you like having a protective sheet over each page in your sketchbook, we think the Sennelier Oil Pastel Card Pad is best for your oil pastel paintings.

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Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Paper for Oil Pastels

If you’re looking for the best paper to create art with oil pastels for beginners, we recommend choosing a paper with moderate tooth and trying the inexpensive brands first. Key factors to consider when buying the best type of paper for oil pastels are tooth, tints, paperweight, and compatibility with your media.


When you buy paper that was specifically made for pastels, it will have a decent tooth for this medium. Some pastel papers have a more pronounced tooth than others.

They are suitable for heavy-handed artists and those who add a lot of layers. Choose paper with more moderate or finer tooth if you’re light-handed or a beginner.

Once you’ve learned your style through practice, whether you choose pronounced, the moderate, or light tooth is a matter of personal style and preference.


Tinted paper is used to enhance the final result of your artwork. The tint you use should match the color scheme of your drawing. If you want to paint a landscape, then use an earth-tone tint.

Whether you use tinted paper or white paper is a matter of personal choice. Artists must experiment to find out their paper color preferences.


Oil pastels don’t require very heavy paper as watercolor does. You only need around 150 gsm of paper to paint with oil pastels.

For light drawing with oil pastels, 118 gsm is enough. If you apply a lot of layers, then you may find 300 gsm paper the best.

You should definitely choose no less than 300 gsm if you plan on using watercolor with your oil pastels.

The paper may buckle or warp if it’s under 300 gsm and not created for watercolor.

Making the Decision

We chose the Strathmore 400 Series Pastel Pad as our top pick because it’s affordable, provides excellent tooth, and has assorted tints. You can experiment with different tints all in one pad. The downside is this paper can’t handle watercolor.

If you need oil pastel paper that can handle watercolor, you should choose the Arches Watercolor Block.

Because there are different styles of oil pastel painting, we can’t say just one paper is the best. All of the paper on this list is of excellent quality. Your needs will determine which is best for you.

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