Pastels are more versatile than many people think, there are quite a few ways of using them. Firstly and probably the most obvious technique is using them as a line (drawing). There are other techniques such as blending, tinting, subtractive methods and mixed media as well. One of the qualities of pastel sticks is that you can use the point, the end or the side of the stick to create a different stroke or mark.
Pastels come in many different forms which beginners can find confusing. Some pastels are better for some types of work, so the type you need will really depend on the type of artwork you are creating. I will explain the main characteristics of each type of pastel; oil, soft, hard and pastel pencils.