Cool ToolsThere are a few tools that I use for various purposes that I think are pretty useful.  Some are shown here.


The gray square viewfinder is called a Viewcatcher.  You can set the opening to be various sizes, 11″ x 14″, 12″ x 16″, etc.  This is great for setting up the format of your painting.  It’s also a mid-tone gray color, and you can use small holes to line up a particular area that you’re looking at and determine its’ value.  There’s an even better one that I can’t seem to find at the moment, so it’s not in the picture.  It’s called a “Picture Perfect Viewfinder” and it also has various size openings and a value scale.  But in addition, it has gridlines and transparent red filters that take all of the color out of your subject so you can truly determine value and value relationships without being distracted by color.

Here’s a good article about using viewfinders:  Using viewfinders

Other Tools

The red thing in the picture is called a Prospek and is considered a perspective tool.  It’s also a great measuring tool.  I tend to use it a lot when I’m doing portraits to measure the relative sizes of a person’s features, but I can see how it would be useful for many other things when transferring something from life to a piece of paper or canvas.  You can get these at Jerry’s and probably other places.

Books and Videos

There are lots of great books and videos on how to do pastel paintings so I won’t even go into all them.  One video I found extremely helpful for doing portraits is “Steps to a Likeness” with Perri Sparks.  She has a very organized methodology that she explains very well on how to make the portrait truly look like the subject, if that’s what you’re going for.  Another worth mentioning is “Mastering Composition” with Ian Roberts.  Pretty obvious what the subject is, and I think it’s very well done.

The book you see in the picture is the “Multi-Brand Color Chart” from the Huechroval company.  I use this every time I buy new pastels. It’s amazingly thorough and cross-references every brand.  I can see at a glance if there are colors or values where my supply is lacking. I think you have to be a certain type of person to really get the use value out of this book, but I guess I am that type of person.  They can explain it better than I:  “Multi-Brand Color Chart”