14 Best Oil Pastels For Beginners And Art Students In 2022

Hands of a Person Holding Pieces of Oil Pastels

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If you are an artist or art student looking for the best oil pastels, then this article is for you! As a newbie, finding the best one may be challenging, but this review will give you what you need, including which oil pastel set to get when you're on a tight budget. We will also answer some FAQs about oil pastels and include a buying guide to help you in your oil pastel drawing journey. Let's go!

Our Top Picks

Pentel Arts Oil Pastel Set
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Best Budget-Friendly Oil Pastels: Pentel Arts Oil Pastel Set

Brilliant colors blend smoothly
Acid-free oil pastels
Conforms to ASTM D-4236 standards

Best Professional Oil Pastel Set: Mungyo Gallery Soft Oil Pastels

Excellent coverage
Buttery consistency
Doesn't have strong odors

Best Oil Pastels for Young Artists: Crayola Oil Pastels

Easy-grip design
Washes off easily when it gets on the hands
Non-toxic formulation

1. Sakura Cray-Pas Expressionist Oil Pastel

Sakura Cray-Pas Expressionist Oil Pastel
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Pros Cons
  • Vibrant colors
  • High-quality pigments
  • Works on various surfaces
  • Non-toxic
  • Includes 2 extenders
  • Dry and hard
  • Issues with blending 

 

 

What Customers Have to Say

Some newbies think they're an excellent value for their money. It has a good selection of colors, and though some complained of its hard texture, these oil pastels still work well.

Sakura Cray-Pas Expressionist Oil Pastel

Why We Think Its Great

Sakura Cray-Pas pastels are blendable, lightfast, and include brilliant colors, thanks to the high-quality pigments used for these oil pastels.

The paper sleeves protect the oil pastels from easy breakage and contamination between colors but are easy to peel off when necessary.

The extender is a thoughtful addition to this set, as you can use them for blending oil pastels to smoothen transitions between colors. You can also buy these extender sticks in singles.

Sakura oil pastels have a strong smell, but you won't have problems when used in an open environment. The set comes in boxes of 50, including the two extender sticks.

Who Should Buy It

Satisfied newbies recommend these sets for their fellow artists looking for a new medium to master. Sakura Cray-Pas oil pastels are great student-grade pastels.

2. Paul Rubens Oil Pastels

Paul Rubens Oil Pastels
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Pros  Cons
  • Glides like oil paints
  • Works for several blending techniques
  • Eco-friendly pigments
  • Affordable
  • Good customer service
  • Inconsistent firmness within one set
  • Uneven pigmentation

 

 

What Customers Have to Say

Paul Rubens is artist-grade pastels that many oil pastel artists love. The soft and creamy texture makes them easy to apply, the colors are beautiful, plus the opaque whites are a great addition to their art supplies.

Why We Think Its Great

These student-grade oil pastels include lightfast pigments and high-quality binders that allow you to blend them easily. The set has 50 sticks and 3 white sticks for blending.

You can use it for different oil blending techniques, including sgraffito, scumbling, and stippling. They are also firm enough to create detailed paintings with their soft and creamy texture.

They adhere to textured paper, regular printer paper, metal, plastic, and even glass. Of the oil pastels reviewed in this article, this is the only set that boasts of eco-friendly pigments used, though we are not sure what the manufacturers mean by this claim.

Who Should Buy It

Paul Rubens gives every beginner artist good quality oil pastels for your oil pastel painting.

3. Pentel Arts Oil Pastel Set - Best Budget-Friendly Oil Pastels

Pentel Arts Oil Pastel Set
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Pros Cons
  • Brilliant colors
  • Blends smoothly
  • Acid-free oil pastels
  • Conforms to ASTM D-4236 standards
  • Lightfast colors
  • Strong industrial oil smell
  • Stiff

 

 

What Customers Have to Say

Artists love these oil pastels because of the great selection of colors at a very affordable price. They blend well and work well for younger children who love to explore their artistic skills.

Pentel Arts Oil Pastel Set

Why We Think Its Great

Our oil pastels are perfect for anyone who loves to draw and paint. They blend smoothly, so you can create beautiful colors with just a few strokes.

The Pentel Arts oil pastels are ACMI-certified, meaning they are non-toxic, making them a good choice for younger artists and art students.

They are also acid-free, improving the archival property of these oil pastels. Be sure to use acid-free oil pastel papers to tandem with your acid-free oil pastels.

Another plus feature of these oil pastels is the lightfast colors, which means your creations won't fade over time.

Who Should Buy It

If you're a parent or a wanna-be oil pastel artist, this artist-grade oil pastels brand is a good beginner set for you.

4. Mungyo Aquarelle Oil Pastel Set

Mungyo Water-Soluble Oil Pastel Set
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Pros Cons
  • High-quality pigments
  • Lightfast colors
  • Smooth consistency
  • Includes neon colors
  • Blends easily
  • Needs relearning
  • Crumbly composition

 

 

What Customers Have to Say

If you plan to use water on it, which is most likely if you're someone curious as to how it works, best get a good pack of watercolor paper so it can withstand the wetting. It takes some relearning, though, to work with water-soluble oil pastels.

Mungyo Aquarelle Oil Pastel Set

Why We Think Its Great

Did you think that you'll no longer use your watercolor brushes now that you've moved on to oil pastels? Think again. Since these aquarelle oil pastels are water-soluble, they react well with water during the blending process. You may even apply washes for your mixed media paintings and drawings with this set.

The set even includes some neon pastels, whose sheen are more visible after the water has dried. The overall finish of these oil pastels, though, is matte after application with water.

Another fun thing about Mungyo Aquarelle Oil Pastels is that you can use them for wet-on-wet or wet-on-dry techniques similar to watercolors.

This set comes in two forms - one with a light metallic gold paper sleeve, while the other has a black sleeve. They differ slightly on color selection, but they are both water-soluble.

Who Should Buy It

If you love watercolors but want to try oil pastels, the Mungyo Aquarelle Soft Oil Pastel set is a suitable go-between medium.

5. Hashi Non-Toxic Soft Oil Pastels

Hashi Non-Toxic Soft Oil Pastels
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Pros Cons
  • Vibrant colors
  • Works for several techniques
  • Adheres on various surfaces
  • Full coverage
  • Rich pigments
  • Chunky pastel sticks
  • May have blending issues

 

 

What Customers Have to Say

The colors blend beautifully. No wonder many artists love these acid-free pastels so much that many are already repeat buyers. They have a lower retail price than other oil pastels, which is a plus for oil pastel artists.

They have an opaque finish, so it covers well, thanks to the rich pigments used in these oil pastels. They are safe for young artists to use, but the finish is good enough for professionals.

Each set has 48 colors, packed in a sturdy cartoon case and plastic insert to prevent oil-based pastels from breaking during travel.

Hashi Non-Toxic Soft Oil Pastels

Why We Think Its Great

Hashi is one of the best oil pastels if you want quality art products for your projects. They add subtle shades to your oil pastel drawings. The colors are excellent, the smooth texture helps blend well, and they adhere on various surfaces, including glass, metal, rock, canvas, and oil pastel paper.

Who Should Buy It

These high-quality pastels are firm enough for neat and accurate works. They also have a soft texture for mixing colors.

6. Crayola Neon Oil Pastels

Crayola Neon Oil Pastels
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Pros Cons
  • Neon colors
  • 12 sticks in one pack
  • Easy-grip design
  • Non-toxic
  • Affordable
  • Blends poorly
  • Smears easily

 

 

What Customers Have to Say

Who says Crayola is a brand just for kids? Many adult artists loved how beautiful these neon oil pastels worked on black paper. Admittedly, they are not the best oil pastels for professionals, but many artists prefer them over other brands because of the price, quality, and less crumbly composition.

Why We Think Its Great

Meet the perfect way to jazz up your art with electric colors! Crayon Neon Oil pastels are unlike any boring stick of wax ever before. These vibrant, non-toxic sticks go on smooth and stay vivid even after touch-ups.

Your next art project is just a swipe away with these student oil pastels. While other cheap oil pastels tend to be waxy, Crayola oil pastel sets prove to be quality pastels that students and professional artists love to add to their art mediums.

The hexagonal shape allows younger kids to easily hold these neon oil pastels, thus improving their fine motor skills and creativity.

Who Should Buy It

The Crayola Neon Oil Pastels have slightly tapered tips. You cannot sharpen them, but these are the best oil pastels for someone looking for neon colors to improve the look of their drawings.

7. Mungyo Gallery Soft Oil Pastels - Best Professional Oil Pastel Set

Mungyo Gallery Soft Oil Pastels
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Pros Cons
  • Intense colors
  • Excellent coverage
  • Buttery consistency
  • Low residue
  • Doesn't have strong odors
  • Don't work well with canvas
  • Some artists encountered issues with blending

 

 

What Customers Have to Say

Many artists who have tried different brands of oil pastels love it for its quality and affordability. Used with the right type of paper, you'll never suspect that this is a cheap set.

Others love it for its creamy consistency and ease to blend. One artist even said it works better than more expensive brands.

 Mungyo Gallery Soft Oil Pastels

Why We Think Its Great

Mungyo Gallery Artists oil pastels are an excellent choice for beginners and professionals who want to create vibrant, colorful artwork. The best thing about this brand is the absence of strong odors like other brands do.

The colors are intense and cover well, even if you're working on large surfaces. These are also low-residue oil pastels, so you don't have to worry about the unnecessary use of your oil pastels.

These oil pastels blend well, even when you're just using your finger to blend them. They are firm but soft, so you won't have issues with applying them.

Who Should Buy It

Advanced and professional artists looking for affordable but high-quality oil pastels will appreciate the addition of Mungyo Gallery soft oil pastels for large-format jobs. Their smooth buttery consistency makes application for large drawings easier.

8. Aiffera Washable Oil Pastels

Aiffera Washable Oil Pastels
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Pros Cons
  • CE and ASTM approved
  • Washes off easily from clothes and skin
  • Easy-grip design
  • Suitable for younger children
  • Lightfast colors
  • Breaks easily
  • Less vibrant colors

 

 

What Customers Have to Say

Older artists with arthritic hands love the easy-grip design of these oil pastels. They also admit that these oil pastels are very basic but get the job done for hobby artists.

Why We Think Its Great

These beautifully made, washable oil pastels are a go-to for students from kindergarten and up. The easy-grip hexagonal design makes them perfect for tiny fingers to improve their motor skills.

They're CE and ASTM-approved, and the vibrant hues (pinks, yellows, blues, greens, etc.) make art projects exciting for kids and moms, or teachers. No worries about stains, as you can easily remove them with warm water.

You may use these oil pastels for posters, murals, and caricatures on paper, wood, concrete, glass, and even metal.

Who Should Buy It

These washable oil pastels work best for younger kids developing their creativity. Parents will appreciate this set because the pigments are easy to wash off with warm water, even when they get it on their clothes.

9. Faber-Castell Blendable Oil Pastels

 Faber-Castell Blendable Oil Pastels
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Pros Cons
  • Bright pigments
  • Ergonomic design
  • Non-toxic
  • Acid-free
  • Stable plastic case
  • Less oily
  • Breaks easily

 

 

What Customers Have to Say

"It's the best set, great value for the money," many artists claimed. Kids love them, and they don't rattle around in the case. They're a little hard to remove from the case but are very vibrant to apply.

Faber-Castell Blendable Oil Pastels

Why We Think Its Great

Faber-Castell Blendable Oil Pastels are a bright set of oil pastels that glide on paper effortlessly. They're non-toxic, acid-free, and creamy to apply and blend. They also layer well, so making sgraffito pastel artwork is a breeze.

The lightweight plastic case means there won't weigh down your backpack or bag. The snap-on lid keeps the oil pastels from spilling, while the clip keeps the individual oil pastels secure within the case.

Each pack has 24 vibrant colors, best for kids over 5 years old. They don't have a chemical smell, so they're safe to use indoors, even in rooms with low ventilation.

Who Should Buy It

Parents with creative kids should invest in this very affordable set. With 24 colors in the set, your kid will have all the fun drawing with them. Organizing is also easy with its plastic case, and your kids will love putting them away.

10. Crayola Oil Pastels - Best Oil Pastels for Young Artists

Crayola Oil Pastels
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Pros Cons
  • Rich colors
  • Easy-grip design
  • Blends well
  • Washes off easily when it gets on the hands
  • Non-toxic formulation
  • Hypersensitive clients complained of the smell
  • Crumbly texture

 

 

What Customers Have to Say

Don't think that only kids love these oil pastels. Many parents enjoyed using these oil pastels with their kids as a bonding activity. Even young adults adore these non-toxic colors.

Crayola Oil Pastels

Why We Think Its Great

Everyone who has a kid knows about Crayola, and here's another Crayola product for your young artist. You can apply it smoothly to get good coverage on your drawings.

Kids are messy artists but don't worry, Crayola oil pastels wash off easily when it gets on your kids' hands. And did we mention that these pastels are non-toxic? No worries about your kids handling them a lot.

The hexagonal design of these oil pastels makes them easy to handle, and the shape itself prevents the oil pastels from rolling off your desk.

They have a slight smell, typical for oil pastels, but it is not overwhelming unless you have a hypersensitive sense of smell.

Who Should Buy It

We recommend this set to parents of artistic kids who want to explore what medium fits them best.

11. Caran D'ache Neopastel Oil Pastels

Caran D'ache Neopastel Oil Pastels
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Pros Cons
  • Intense colors
  • Excellent opacity
  • No strong odors
  • May be used for encaustic painting
  • Strong metal box
  • Expensive

 

 

What Customers Have to Say

Caran D'ache Neopastel oil pastels are a fantastic product; very vivid and creamy, though not as creamy as the more expensive brands. They are very blendable. You can even buy them as individual sticks.

Caran D'ache Neopastel Oil Pastels

Why We Think Its Great

Caran d'Ache Neopastel Oil Pastels are the best oil pastels on the market. They have intense colors, excellent opacity, and no strong odors.

These qualities make them perfect for encaustic painting. The metal box is also a great feature because it makes them easy to store and transport. Each box has 24 colors, with several shades and tints of blue, violet, red, orange, yellow, and green. It also includes browns, grays, and a stick each of black and white.

You can use these oil pastels in many ways – from sketching to fine art pieces or even as an alternative medium for encaustic painting.

Who Should Buy It

If you need an oil pastel with high opacity and coverage, you'll love the Caran D'ache Neopastel oil pastels.

12. Paul Rubens Glitter Oil Pastels

Paul Rubens Glitter Oil Pastels
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Pros
Cons
  • Pearlescent colors
  • Non-toxic formulation
  • Lovely giftable box
  • Strong adhesion
  • Rich pigments
  • No metallic colors included
  • May have difficulty with layering

 

 

What Customers Have to Say

Artists who have tried these artist-quality oil pastels love to have this pastel medium in their studio since it gives a lovely sheen to their oil pastel work. Best of all, they include a huge selection of colors instead of the usual metallic pastel sticks.

Why We Think Its Great

Paul Rubens Glitter Oil Pastels are the ultimate oil pastel for your collection of art materials. They come in beautiful, rich colors and a creamy formulation that's easy to blend with other art supplies.

The Paul Rubens Glitter Oil Pastels are excellent for craft projects and card making. They adhere well to paper, canvas, metal, and glass. While some artists comment on its difficulty in layering, most artists appreciate what it does to their oil pastel work.

The set comes in metallic gold and teal green box, with 2 metallic gold inserts filled with firm foam to hold the 36 glitter pastels well and a flip-top cover. It looks bulky, but many artists love this organizing idea that some even duplicated the box for their other oil pastels.

The glitter oil pastels work well on white, toned, or black paper, and you may apply it using the impasto method because of its creamy texture.

Who Should Buy It

These oil pastels have a creamy texture, making them excellent for adding interesting highlights and texture to your oil pastel paintings.

13. Sennelier Cardboard Oil Pastel Set

Sennelier Cardboard Oil Pastel Set
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Pros Cons
  • Works on multiple surfaces
  • Buttery application
  • Outstanding opacity
  • Lightfast
  • Non-toxic
  • Very expensive
  • Issues with layering

 

 

What Customers Have to Say

The Sennelier oil pastels work well with mixed media art and on various surfaces, including wood and metal. They make lovely details, soft to apply yet firm enough to hold their shape. It even includes some iridescent colors, which is excellent!

Sennelier Cardboard Oil Pastel Set

Why We Think Its Great

Sennelier Oil pastels are a fantastic way to create beautiful works of art that will last forever because it is lightfast. The colors stay vibrant, even when exposed to direct sunlight.

They work on multiple surfaces and allow you to achieve the most vibrant colors imaginable with their 72-color palette. They come in a sturdy carton with a snug foam bed to keep your colors from unnecessary breakage.

Plus, they're non-toxic and have no off-odors to avoid health risks. Artists wish they have more flesh-colored sticks for adding skin tone to their drawings.

Who Should Buy It

Because of its price point, we recommend these oil pastels only for artists who are serious about using oil pastels as their medium.

14. Caran d'Ache Neocolor II Aquarelle

Caran d'Ache Neocolor II Aquarelle
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Pros Cons
  • Luminous colors
  • Confirms with safety standards
  • Good coverage
  • May be applied wet or dry
  • Water-soluble
  • Does not blend well
  • Not best for advanced artists

 

 

What Customers Have to Say

These watercolor crayons are so much fun to use. The quality of the color is impressive, and they're easy to use too. A great addition to any art supplies collection, according to many artists.

Caran d'Ache Neocolor II Aquarelle

Why We Think Its Great

You can use the Caran d'Ache Neocolor II Aquarelle for both wet and dry applications. The tones are subtle and blend well when washed with water. They are non-toxic with exceptional coverage on various materials - paper, cardboard, glass, even illuminated signs and panels.

The tin case features a foam layer to hold the oil pastels in place to prevent unnecessary breakage. 

Who Should Buy It

These oil pastels are great for artists who want to use water-soluble oil pastels. Each case has 30 colors of oil pastels that look matte when applied with water.

Best Oil Pastel Buying Guide

Skill Level

First, determine your skill level. Newbies should go for student-grade oil pastels, primarily because professional-grade oil pastels are generally more expensive. 

Unless you're planning to sell your pieces or display them where archival quality is a must-have, student-grade oil pastel should work great for newbies.

Oil pastels for artists have a much higher pigment load and better binder to create more vibrant colors. Professional-grade oil pastels also have a buttery consistency for smoother and more even application and are best for oil pastels drawings that you want to sell. 

On the other hand, student-grade oil pastels have duller colors and are harder to apply because the low-cost binders make them harder.

Individual vs. Set

Oil pastels sold individually are convenient when replenishing your colors. However, as expected, individual colors are more expensive since they're usually professional-grade.

We recommend going for affordable sets with 12 or more colors for newbies, but not a whole palette. The idea here is to limit your palette so you can learn oil pastel blending techniques.

For advanced art students looking to transition from student-grade to professional-grade oil pastels, buying individuals to try out which brand works best is an excellent option.

Surfaces

Some oil pastels work only on sanded paper, while others work on less traditional surfaces like wood and metal, aside from the usual oil pastel paper, cardboard, and canvas. Some even work well on ordinary printer paper.

Versatility

Another essential factor to consider is the versatility of oil pastels. If you browse through our article on drawings with oil pastels, you'll see that you can use oil pastels for impasto and encaustic drawing, while others are water-soluble.

When used with turpentine or mineral spirits (or water for water-soluble oil pastels), you can paint with oil pastels. This feature is best for adding fine details to your drawings.

Opacity

Opacity is a good indicator for coverage of your oil pastels. The better the coverage, the higher is the opacity level of your oil pastels. This feature is perfect when you're blending your colors.

Components

Oil pastels consist of pigments and non-drying oils and wax as binders. The quality of each component determines the overall quality of the oil pastels. Comparing oil sticks vs. oil pastels, oil sticks contain drying oils, so they cure like oil paints.

Pigments used for oil pastels sometimes come from oxidized metals, while others come from synthetic sources.

Ferrous oxide (rust) is the main pigment used for Red Ochre, Burnt Sienna, and Mars Red. The pigment used for Prussian blue comes from oxidized copper. Quinacridone is another organic pigment used for oil pastels.

When you see the word Chrome or Cadmium in the colors, you'll know these are synthetic pigments.

Alizarin, Cobalt, and Umber are expensive pigments, so expect your set to be costly if it has one of these colors.

Consistency

Another feature to consider is the consistency of your oil pastels. Soft, buttery ones are perfect for coloring large areas. However, harder oil pastels work best for adding details to your oil pastel drawings. Though softer oil pastels are harder to hold, it helps if you use pastel holders to give you a better grip on them. 

Decide which feature of the oil pastel set you're considering to buy works best for your needs.

Budget

As mentioned earlier, professional-grade oil pastels are very expensive. As an art student with a limited budget, buying expensive sets won't do you any good.

Newsflash: the type of oil pastels you use doesn't make your work better than when using a more inferior set. Artists suggest that you invest in good textured paper as it considerably improves the quality of your work, even if you used a cheap set of oil pastels.

However, don't settle for a poor-quality set because it's the only thing you can afford. When buying an art supply, always go for value.

Oil Pastels FAQ

1. What are oil pastels best for?

For most artists, oil pastels represent freedom since you don't need special supplies and tools to work with them. They also represent a challenge because some artists view oil pastels as very limiting when creating your artwork.

However, with the correct oil pastel technique, you can create lovely art like Picasso's. It was Picasso who urged Henri Sennelier to make better oil pastels after discovering the promise of this particular medium.

Though they are best for sketching and drawing, adding a small amount of oil or solvent to your oil pastels allows you to add fine details using a fine brush, as you usually do with a painting.

2. What should I use to blend oil pastels?

You can use your fingers, a Q-tip, a paper towel, even a rag. We have an article on blending oil pastels and techniques that you may want to check out.

3. Can you use soft pastels and oil pastels together?

No. These mediums have a very different composition. Soft pastels are chalky and do not adhere much to paper; thus, they don't blend.

However, you can apply oil pastels over soft pastels to add a sheen to them. It can result in smearing, which you can view as part of the art.

4. How do you get sharp lines with oil pastels?

You can add sharp lines with oil pastels, even the softer ones, using several methods:

First, you can use firm oil pastel. You usually use only one end of your oil pastel, keeping the other end untouched. Remove a piece of the paper covering the unused end to add fine lines to your drawing.

The next trick is to use a fine liner or detail brush and a small amount of odor-free solvent. Dip the brush into the solvent, pick up the pigments, and apply it to your drawing as if you're painting.

5. Will oil pastels dry?

Oil pastels are a great way to express your creativity, but they never dry or cure, unlike oil paintings. The pigments remain active and workable even after years.

Applying fixatives or framing your oil pastel drawings is the best option to preserve them for archival and display purposes.

Conclusion

We love oil pastels, but to narrow down your choices, here are our top picks:

For the best budget-friendly oil pastels, we vote for the Pentel Arts Oil Pastel Set. Aside from their low price, these acid-free oil pastels have brilliant colors that blend smoothly and conform to ASTM D-4236 standards, so your kids will be safe to use these oil pastels.

Our vote for the best professional oil pastel set goes to Mungyo Gallery Soft Oil Pastels. They have a buttery consistency and excellent coverage. Best of all, it doesn't have strong odors characteristic of most oil pastels.

Young artists will love Crayola Oil Pastels because it does not have strong odors. Its hexagonal design makes it easy to hold for young artists. It has a non-toxic formulation and washes off the skin easily.

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