What Makes The Sofft Sponge Material So Special?

The sponge material used is unique to Sofft. We developed Sofft’s micropore sponge formulation specifically for use with PanPastel. They really do load and release the color perfectly. Without creating excess dust, or dropping the color before it reaches the model surface.

Sofft Tools also work great with most water-based artists materials – inks, acrylics etc. PanPastel Color formulations have very high levels of artists’ pigments, and are used on many different and demanding surfaces, requiring a very different type of sponge that is durable and works the way an artist needs it to work. (Unlike cosmetic sponges, which are intended for use once or twice a day with color that has very little pigment and are for a limited one-stroke application on a special, very gentle surface – the skin).

The shapes and sizes of Sofft Tools are based on brush shapes – round, flat, oval (filbert) and point. Sofft sponges can be used on a broad selection of surfaces. Obviously, the more abrasive the surface the shorter the life of the sponge. Finally, Sofft sponges are inexpensive and can be washed and re-used several times.

What Does The Lightfastness Rating Mean on Each Color?

Regarding lightfastness: All of our colors have been tested independently under museum conditions using the ASTM Lightfastness Standard.The lightfastness rating for each color is provided on our color charts and each pan label.

Colors are measured before and after light exposure according to the CIE-L*a*b* method (i.e.”Commission Internationale de l’Éclairage”). L*a*b* stands for a worldwide standardized method of color measurement, represented by a three-dimensional color system, where L* indicates the position on the grey axis, a* the position on the green/red axis, and b* the position on the yellow/blue axis. The color difference is represented by ∆ E *, calculated from: ∆ E * = √ (∆ L*)² + (∆ a*)² +(∆ b*)². The classification is determined on the basis of this ∆ E*.
If the ∆ E * is less than 4, the colors will show no visible color change under museum conditions for at least 100 years. This group is denoted by Lightfastness Category I. If the ∆ E * is between 4 and 8, the colors will show a slight amount of color change after 50 years. This group is denoted by Lightfastness Category II. Between 8 and 16, is Lightfastness Category III etc.

Our colors relate to the above standards as follows:

Sunburst Symbol PanPastel Asterisks ASTM Rating ASTM Rating Definition*
I EXCELLENT At least 100 years lightfast under museum conditions
II VERY GOOD 25 – 100 years lightfast under museum conditions
III FAIR 10 – 25 years lightfast under museum conditions
* There is no official ASTM lightfastness standard for pastels, therefore we apply the standard for Colored Pencils which is the closest standard available.

Do I Need To Use A Special Eraser with PanPastel Colors?

No, you can use any eraser with PanPastel. Which means that PanPastel is a very forgiving medium. If you don’t like the results, or you would like to tone them down, then you can remove some or all of the PanPastel Color with any eraser (prior to sealing) or with a Sofft Sponge.

Is It Necessary To Use A Lid With Each Pan?

It is not necessary to cover every pan with an individual lid – because they will not dry out if left uncovered.

We include one lid in the weathering kits as it makes it easier to pull out the pans from the palette tray. However most people find it more convenient to leave the pans in the palette tray, and use the tray cover over all the pans at once for storage and transporting.

Also if you wanted to take all the pans out of the palette tray for any reason, you could thread the pans together to create a tower and then thread the lid provided in the kit on the top pan of the tower.

Can I Use Water with PanPastel Colors?

For wash techniques with water, add 25-50% rubbing alcohol to the water for best results. Important: Do not apply wet tools, fluids or mediums directly to the pan’s surface. Liquids should only be applied to the model surface. So, apply the PanPastel Color first to the surface, and then apply the liquid wash with a sponge or brush to create the desired effect.

Note: PanPastel Colors work great for dry wash techniques. So it is really not necessary to use any liquid for a wash, however if a true wet wash is required, use the technique explained above.

Can I Seal or Fix PanPastel Colors?

Yes, PanPastel Colors are compatible with all conventional spray flat finishes and pastel fixatives. Although it is not essential – if the model will be handled frequently – then the color can be “locked in” with a flat finish or pastel fixative.

Spraying with a flat finish or fixative can also be used as a way to isolate previous layers of color when working especially on smoother surfaces.

Tip: Spray in light layers multiple times, building up as required – rather than spraying one heavy layer. ALWAYS spray in a well-ventilated space (or outdoors) away from other people. Hold the can at least 12in or 30cm away from the artwork when spraying.

Read more about using flat finishes / fixing here: