Did you know that making paper is one of the three steps in the printmaking process? In the past, only the most skilled professional printers had total control over the paper, its quality, and its permanence. Nowadays, anyone can control these three factors by using high-quality watercolor paper.
So what does it depend on?
The quality of the watercolor paper will depend on the following things:
- The fiber
- The thickness of the watercolor paper
- The finish
- The surface of the watercolor paper
- The sizing of the watercolor paper
Just like any other art material, the quality and price will depend on the quality. While the watercolor paper is not a complicated thing, it has a very big impact on what your artwork will look like.
In this guide, you will find a full set of tips and tricks to help you pick out the best watercolor paper for your needs.
|UCreate Watercolor Pad||Budget Pick|
|Arches Watercolor Block||Upgrade Pick|
- Made of acid-free paper
- Can be used with many different types of watercolors, including watercolor pencils
- Watercolor pad arches at a slight angle, which enables you to paint with more natural strokes
- The cover is attached, so the paper stays clean inside
- The sheets are lightly gilded, so they won’t stick together
- These watercolor paper pads are a little more expensive than the standard watercolor pads
- The paper is thin, so it can’t be used as a substitute for toned paper
This brand of artistic papers are great for watercolors, pencil drawings, and charcoal. The sheets come already attached to the cover. The paper is created in a French-fold style, so it’s a bit thicker. The sheets are also heavier than the conventional watercolor pads.
It would be a great idea to place a sheet beneath those sheets to create a two-layered stack for extra stability. All sheets are created using a European process of manufacturing, which means that they’re more durable than the standard watercolor paper. This watercolor paper holds up almost three times the amount of water, and it doesn’t buckle.
2. Strathmore Paper 300 Series Watercolor Class Pack
- Pure, Natural White Cold Pressed Paper
- Variety of Pack Sizes
- Acid Free, Chlorine Free, Archival Quality
- Works well with a variety of Mediums
- High-quality paper backed by a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
- More suited to experienced artists
- Paper is extremely thick and sensitive to blurring
- Designed to resist water, not so much as bleed through paper
- Paper can be quite expensive
(9" x 12")
Strathmore 300 Series Watercolor Class pack is recommendable for both student and professional artists.
Although it is more expensive than a lot of the entry-level paper available on the market, it's well worth the price.
3. Arches Watercolor Block
- True quality paper that lasts
- Authentic watercolor texture
- Very little pigment when used with heavier brushes
By the name itself, you know that the ARCES watercolor block is intended for watercolor-related projects. Made from 100% cotton, it is a great choice for fine detailing as well as shading/blending. It can be used with ink, gouache, sumi, or printing. It is bound on one side with backing and is naturally white in color.
It is a cold press watercolor block that is highly versitile and can suit a number of different projects including painting, printing, and illumination. It makes for a good painting surface although it is best when you oil the surface before painting.
4. Canson Montval Watercolor Block
- Can be used for a variety of painting techniques
- Choice of different sizes and colors
- Superior quality block paper
- Can be torn rather than cut
This paper is our top pick for watercolor paper because it’s superior quality and works perfectly for various painting techniques. It’s acid-free. Plus, it’s great to work with wet media as well as dry.
Each paper block has a generous 140 lbs of weight. The sheets come on a pad with 15 sheets or a set of two pads. Along with watercolor, this paper can be used for pastel, pencil and printmaking.
In contrast to the other watercolor paper we’ve reviewed, this one is not really made for watercolors alone. However, it works well specifically for all three watercolor painting techniques. It has a very particular texture achieved through a combination of a rough surface and a velvety surface.
5. Field Artist 4 in. x 4 in. Square Watercolor Journal
- 80 Sheets of Cold Press paper
- 19mm wide x 24mm thick
- Super-vivid acid free pigments
- Compelling texture
- Made in the USA
- Does not have a larger page format
- No paper clips or inkwells
- Does not come with a hardcover
- Some paper colors are unavailable
If you’re looking for a smaller-sized watercolor journal that still has a large page of paper, then the Field Artist 4 in. x 4 in. Square Watercolor Journal is an excellent option to consider.
This smaller-sized journal from Field Artist has 80 sheets of paper, and a thickness of 19mm x 24 mm.
There are no paper clips included with this Field Artist journal…but that’s okay because you can likely find some from any office supply store for a quick and easy addition.
6. Strathmore 440-1 Strath W.Color 400 9X1212SHT 130 lbspirl
- Rough surface great for holding paint
- Title sheet in every pad
- 94 bright sheets
- There is some show through on some pages and painting wet
- The surface can be rough for some users
- Use a pencil underneath to avoid bleed through
If you are looking for a good color paper to use with watercolor and acrylic paints, then this product is a good choice. The strathmore paper pads come in a package of 140 sheets. You are sure to get your color mix and blending just right when you use this high quality watercolor paper. The sheets are thick enough to give a smooth feel while absorbing water just right. There is a little bit of show through because of the paper but you can cover that with a waterproof pencil.
Once painted on, it is also a good paper choice if you decide to work with charcoal. If you enjoy kinetic art or want a good sketch paper, this is a good choice for you.
The beauty of the strathmore watercolor paper is that you can either paint on it wet or dry and get a good result. Why is this material so good for watercolors?
7. UCreate Watercolor Pad
- Heavyweight sheets
- Ultra white
- Doesn’t bleed through
- Thin, light card stock paper
- Hard to keep clean because of bleed through
- Not so great for watercolors, better for sketching
- Crumbles or tears easily if pinched
- Corners get damaged while unpacking
- Colors look either faded or dull
This paper is very similar to the Canson brand paper, but it is noticeably lighter. The surface is smooth, and it has a nice sheen to it. It holds water well and doesn’t cause bleed through. It’s a pretty thick sketchbook, and some artists say that it is too stiff, but it’s definitely one of the best sketchpads. The only problems some users experienced is that the paper bleeds a bit with watercolors, and the corners get damaged while unpacking.
8. Canson, 9 by 12-Inch
- Contains 80lbs of 100% cotton
- 300 sheets per pad
- Acid-free and neutral ph
- Has a card stock backer
- Made in France
- A bit expensive
- Only available in a 9 by 12-inch size
- Doesn’t contain any waterproof coating
Here’s another great product that’s great for beginner artists. Unlike the previous product we shared with you from Canson, the 9 by 12-inch watercolor pad is already pre-printed on one side, and is made of 80 lbs 100% cotton.
It’s made in France, and contains 30% recycled material along with an acid-free and neutral ph. The ink used has also been t