Friday, November 27, 2015

5 Pro Tips for Choosing the Perfect Watercolor Paper

As black Friday deals swirl around me and all of the possibilities exist for me to buy buy buy. However, there is only one thing I want.


I need to restock on watercolor and inking friendly paper and that stuff is expensive!

I'm not above drawing on non-traditional papers. Napkins, sketchbooks with filmsy paper, cardstock, the backs of movie posters (if you ever get the chance to draw with ink on glossy photo paper, do it. That paper soaks it up in such an interesting way.)

But sometimes, you just need decent paper to get your ideas out and have them be *clears throat* presentable. Especially if you are selling the artwork afterwards.

So here are my 5 Tips for choosing your perfect watercolor paper.

1) The Heavier the Weight, the Better the Paper

On the front of a package of paper you'll often find a number like " 60lbs." 

Ideally, for watercolor paper, you want to aim for 140lbs paper.

140lbs and higher can handle multiple washes without buckling.

2) Cold Press vs Hot Press

Either paper option is good for painting on. The difference is, do you want a smooth surface or a textured surface to work on?

When I watercolor I prefer the extra texture of Coldpress paper.
When I ink I prefer the smoothness of HotPress paper.

So, do you want clean, smooth, graphic lines in your work? Or a more textured/ grunge look? Up to you.

3) Blocks vs Loose Leaf vs Sketchbook

When you go out to buy water color paper  you'll notice it comes in three main varieties.

  1. Blocks
  2. Sketchbooks
  3. By the Sheet
Each one has it's own benefits, and it really depends on what you prefer, but I'll let you know the main highlights.


What are those?
Block watercolor paper is the whole stack sealed together at the edges by wax or plastic.

It keeps your painting stretched and ready to work on. It tends to keep really wet paintings from buckling.

This style is my favorite because it is the happy medium between the quality of "by the sheet" paper and the mobility of sketchbooks.

You do have to work one sheet at a time for the most part. You have to slice off the top sheet to get to the next one. So if you like to bounce around from project to project, this might not be the best choice for you.


If you like to travel a lot while you're creating, this style will protect your work with it's covers. 

The quality of the paper tends to not be as great as the blocks or by the sheet.

By the Sheet

This come is far bigger sizes than either the blocks or the sketchbooks, so you have the freedom to create something large scale. 

Down side
This tends to be the priciest option

4) Trusted Brands

If you have the opportunity to get your hands on these brands you can trust them. I've used them for years and have always been happy with the quality of paper.

My top choice for quality is always  Arches Watercolor paper.

I have yet to meet a paper better suited to my (often over-saturated with paint and water) style.

However, is it pricey. So I only ever buy it when It's on sale, or I manage to find a coupon.

The brand that Isn't as pricey, but still has great paper is Canson. 

I can't be as violent with my process on their paper, but it does hold up well and I always enjoy working on it. 

5)  Where to find this goodness

There are a few stores that are my go-to for art supplies, but here are my favorites, and you can purchase online if you need to.

  1. Jerry's Art-o-Rama
  2. Dick Blick Art Supplies
  3. AC Moore
  4. Micheal's
  5. Joann Fabrics and more


Hopefully you'll find this helpful, and let me know if you have any other tips to add


No comments:

Post a Comment