Rubens oil pastel review

Paul Rubens Oil Pastels Review

In the world of colours and creativity, Paul Rubens offer a rich palette of pastels that stand as a beacon of accessibility for beginner and student artists who want to try the oil pastel medium at an affordable price.

Today, we’re turning our spotlight on their latest offering—the all-new HaiYa oil pastel range. Boasting a stunning spectrum of 72 colors, these oil pastels promise to unlock limitless colour mixing possibilities. The bullet head design and the softer, creamier feel set them apart and make them an exciting addition to any artist’s palette. Whether you’re a student stepping into the world of colours or a seasoned artist looking to experiment with new tools, stick around as we dive deep into the details of these pastels.

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About the set

Rubens oil pastel set

The HaiYa set comes in 72 colours, however you can also buy a 60 colour and 48 colour set. What sets the HaiYa Rubens pastel apart from other brands, is the price. At the time of writing, the set is priced at $42.99 for the 72 pastel range, which is much cheaper than other comparable oil pastel brands of similar quality.

The set comes with a corresponding booklet, that details the names of the colours. Information about the colour names and numbers are on the pastels themselves.

Paul Rubens Oil Pastels review

The first thing I did, that was really helpful in getting to know the properties of the individual colours, was to fill in the colour keycard. This way, I could see the transparency, saturation and texture of the colours before starting. You can use the keycard as a reference point to decide which colours to mix and the results that can be achieved from mixing them.

The HaiYa range also comes in sets of 60 or 48, so if you’re on more of a budget, or you don’t need as many colours for your creations, then this could suit you!

The colour range

The HaiYa range of pastels by Rubens offers extensive colour mixing capabilities. The set of 72 comes with a large range of darks and earth tones, which are useful in creating highly contrasted drawings and realistic shadow tones. The earth colours are great for creating warm shadows in portrait tones, or landscape scenes.

The range also includes a selection of bright, vibrant colours that can be used to give a great pop of colour to any drawing. There is an abundance of different red, blue and green tones to choose from. There are fewer yellow tones to choose from, however, the lemon yellow colour provides a good primary, that can be mixed with other yellows to create a wide range of warm and cool yellow hues.

The selection of pastels is balanced, covering both the primary colours as well as many tertiary shades. This makes mixing new colours much easier, as you can easily mix from the existing palette to create an endless array of custom shades. The range of blue tones is quite impressive, from turquoises to cool ultramarine, if you were to paint a seascape scene, you would have plenty of choice.

Some of the colours differ slightly when compared to professional oil paint pigment tones, you can see the pigments used for each colour, which is detailed on the paper wrapper on the pastels themselves. You will see that some are hue and imitation colours, while many of the pastels are single pigment colours.


The pastels’ buttery texture makes them easy to work with, allowing for quick and precise blending. They stick well to paper, which allows artists to layer their artwork without worrying about the pastel crumbling off.

Shape of the pastel

Rubens oil pastel shape

One of the most distinctive features of the HaiYa series is its bullet-shaped pastel design. This unique shape offers an advantage over traditional forms, particularly when it comes to creating fine lines and intricate details. The pointed tip allows for precision work, making it easier to draw thin lines or add small embellishments. Whether you’re working on the delicate features of a portrait or the intricate patterns of a landscape, this bullet head design ensures you have the tool to achieve high levels of detail with ease.

Because the pastels are relatively soft, the bullet tip can wear down if you apply pressure to the top. However, use the side of the pastel and it will retain its point.

The pastel comes wrapped, which makes gripping the pastel less messy. However, you can tear the wrapper and hold the pastel on its side for colouring in larger areas.

Eco friendly materials

The pastels are non-toxic and do not have any heavy metals in the mixture. Paul Rubens do not make colours with cadmiums, leads or cobalts, which is better for your health and the environment. Although these pigments are expensive and you often see them used in luxury art materials, due to their performance and quality, more artists are becoming more mindful about using safer and more eco friendly materials in their work. These oil pastels are therefore suitable for use in classrooms and studios.


The HaiYa series oil pastels feel softer and creamier when compared to other brands of a similar price range, such as Royal Talens Van Gogh and Sakura Cray-Pas Expressionist pastels. This softness offers an advantage for artists who prefer a smoother texture that glides on paper with ease. They are similar in texture and shape to the Sennelier pastels. This makes layering colours and blending hues much simpler, creating beautiful gradients and shading effects quickly. You can create a small amount of surface texture by thickly layering some of the colours.

The texture of some of the more transparent pastels can look streaky when layered over white paper. However, when layered as part of a larger drawing, the coverage can be built.

Water resistant

When dry, the pastels are water resistant, making it easier to create permanent works of art. Of course, you can always set your pastel drawing with varnish, which will give the artwork an extra glossy effect and protect the work from UV. However, it’s not essential to do this before framing.

Bear in mind that oil pastels do not completely set when dry. So handle the finished work with care and varnish or frame it to protect it from smudging.


The transparency of the pastels varies between pigments. By swatching the colours before you start drawing, you will be able to see which colours can provide you with more or less coverage. The more transparent colours can be used as glazes and the opaque colours can be used to cover areas of the drawing.


The HaiYa oil pastels have a wonderful layering capability and each colour is quite distinct in its own right. If you want to create more layers of colour, use a paper with more surface texture, that will allow pastel to adhere better. The pastels blend together easily with minimal effort, making it great for creating smooth transitions of colour or even just lightening up an area of colour.

When used on smooth paper, the colours really stand out and you can achieve a more vibrant look with less effort. The pastels don’t require any additional mediums to blend or layer, which makes them ideal for on-the-go sketching.

The HaiYa pastels have earned a reputation for being incredibly smooth and creamy when applied. The pigments are distributed through the binder in high saturation levels that offer great vibrancy without having to use lots of pastel. Also, the stick itself has an even texture throughout, meaning you won’t have any sections that are harder or softer than others.

The pigments have good colour vibrancy and depth, making them great for larger artwork or more detailed pieces. I tested the range by blending a selection of colours together, using various techniques such as cross hatching and pointillism. The texture was very smooth to work with and the pigments blended into each other when smudged together.

Oil pastel materials

These oil pastels can be used with regular oil pastel materials. Thick acid free drawing paper will work well with the pastels. You can also use a hard surface such as an acrylic board or canvas board for larger artwork.

The beauty of oil pastel painting is that you don’t need too many materials to start creating, which makes it an incredibly accessible medium for beginners. One supply that could come in useful for those who want to thin their colours down, is a solvent. Simply brush a little solvent over the colour you want to thin and watch as the texture becomes runny. This technique is especially good for underpainting, or creating the first layer of the drawing.


The HaiYa oil pastels are highly versatile and can be used in different techniques. For example, you can apply multiple layers to create colour gradients or layer them on top of one another to add depth and texture. You can also use solvents like mineral spirits to create washes. Finally, you can use your fingers to manipulate the pastel pigments, allowing you to blend colours together quickly without using any other materials.

Translucent pigments are great for glazing on top of other colours, whereas the Paul Rubens opaque colours provide excellent coverage. Use the end of the bullet tip to layer the finest details and highlights on your drawing as the last step of the process.

The pastels are blendable, use a tool like a tortillion, a chamois or a dense sponge to blend colours into one another to achieve gradient effects.


The HaiYa Rubens range of 72 oil pastels is priced at $42.99, making them an affordable choice for beginner and student artists. Compared to other brands which may be slightly more expensive, the HaiYa represents a great value option.


Overall, this pastel range is a great choice for those who want to experiment with oil pastels without breaking the bank. With a wide range of colours, high vibrancy and excellent layering capabilities, they are ideal for both professional artists and amateur artists alike. The soft texture is easy to work with and the sticks have an even consistency throughout, making them suitable for detailed artwork.

If you want to find out more about Paul Rubens oil pastels, find them on their website or follow them on Instagram.