When we start any new hobby, we often ask ourselves - what equipment do we need? Sometimes, we even just buy something because it's really expensive so it should be good quality right? Well, the obvious answer is yes. It will be good quality, however, is it the right piece of material for you? Let's look at the best drawing paper for artists - and more!
I wanna talk you through the different kinds of paper, what to look out for and hopefully, a place for you to find a brand that suits your project.
Firstly, let's talk GSM. It sounds pretty horrific but it's actually about the thickness and Grams Per Square Meter' so understanding this will help you choose your paper. GSM refers to the weight or thickness of a sheet of paper. The higher the GSM number, the thicker and heavier the paper.
Sketch Paper (50-100 GSM): Light and Airy
Let's start with sketch paper, a lightweight companion perfect for spontaneous creations. Weighing in at 50 to 100 GSM (grams per square meter), this paper is great for quick doodles, initial sketches, and letting your ideas flow freely. Think printing paper or thinner.
2. Drawing Paper (100-150 GSM): The Reliable Sidekick
Next up, we have drawing paper, a trusted partner for artists of all levels. With a slightly heavier weight of 100 to 150 GSM, this paper offers a sturdy surface that allows you to grip the paper a little bit better. Whether you're into pencil sketches, charcoal drawings, or vibrant pastels, drawing paper provides a stable foundation that won't crumple under pressure.
3. Mixed Media Paper (150-250 GSM): The Multitalented Magician
If you're an artistic polymath who loves experimenting with various mediums, mixed media paper is your secret weapon. With a weight of 150 to 250 GSM, this versatile paper welcomes all types of materials, from acrylic paints to markers, collage elements, and even light applications of watercolor. It's a playground for creative souls, allowing you to combine different techniques and textures that aren't too water heavy.
4. Pastel Paper (160-200 GSM): The Soft Canvas
When it comes to applying the delicate touch of pastels, regular paper just won't do. That's where pastel paper can weigh in at 160 to 200 GSM, this paper is specifically designed to hold the powdery pigments of pastels. With its subtle toothy texture, it grips the colours while still allowing for smooth blending, giving your pastel artwork. You can also get paper that is almost like sandpaper. Check out Sennelier!
5. Cardstock (150-300 GSM): The Solid Foundation
Last but certainly not least, we have Cardstock, the sturdy superhero of the paper world. Ranging from 150 to 300 GSM, this heavyweight paper is ideal for creating artist trading cards, handmade postcards, or even standalone artworks that demand a bit more durability. Its robust nature lets you experiment with textures, layering, and mixed media techniques while maintaining a solid foundation for your artwork.
6. Watercolor Paper (190-300 GSM): A Splash of Adventure
To embark on this aquatic journey, you HAVE to have watercolour paper. Ranging from 190 to 300 GSM, this heavyweight paper can handle the brilliance and fluidity of watercolours without buckling or warping. It provides a reliable surface for capturing delicate brushstrokes and mesmerizing gradients, ensuring your paper doesn't warp or rip. It is a must!
7. Printmaking Paper (250-400 GSM): The Bold and Beautiful
Printmaking paper, ranging from 250 to 400 GSM, is specially crafted to handle the demands of various printmaking techniques such as etching, engraving, and relief printing. Its thickness and durability ensure that your prints come out crisp, vibrant, and full of expressive character. These look great in a frame too and are much more sturdier to hold.
Paper in GSM order
Sketch Paper (50-100 GSM): Initial Sketches
Drawing Paper (100-150 GSM): A more serious drawing
Mixed Media Paper (150-250 GSM): Collages and mixed media
Pastel Paper (160-200 GSM): Gripping soft pastels
Cardstock (150-300 GSM): Sturdy artworks
Watercolor Paper (190-300 GSM): Water friendly
Printmaking Paper (250-400 GSM): Fabulous printing techniques
Cold Pressed Vs Hard Pressed
If that's not enough info, here's something else for you to think about and ponder to see whether it's the right kind of paper for your project ... Cold Press vs. Hot Press Paper:
When it comes to watercolour paper, you may have come across terms like "cold press" and "hot press." These terms describe the texture of the paper surface and play a crucial role in determining the final look and feel of your watercolour artwork. Let's dive into the world of cold press and hot press paper and unravel their differences.
Cold Press Watercolor Paper: Textured and labeled (CP)
Cold press paper is the beloved choice of many watercolour enthusiasts. Its surface boasts a gentle texture created by the pressing process. When you run your fingers across it, you'll feel slight bumps and valleys that add character and depth to your artwork. These textured qualities of cold press paper create captivating interactions between the paint and the paper, allowing for beautiful gradients and interesting watercolour effects. Cold press paper strikes a perfect balance between absorbency and texture, providing an ideal surface for most watercolour techniques.
2. Hot Press Watercolor Paper: Smooth and Refined labelled (HP)
In contrast to cold press, hot press watercolour paper offers a smoother surface. During the manufacturing process, the paper is subjected to intense heat and pressure, resulting in a flatter and more refined texture. When you touch hot press paper, you'll notice a sleek, almost satin-like feel. The smoothness of hot press paper allows for precise details, crisp lines, and effortless glazing. It's often favoured by artists who prefer a more controlled and polished watercolour look.
So, what's the difference between cold press and hot press paper in practice? Imagine you're creating a landscape painting with watercolours. If you use cold-press paper, the texture will capture the essence of rugged mountains, rough tree barks, and the organic flow of water. On the other hand, hot press paper will lend itself to more controlled brushwork, sharp architectural details, and a polished, refined finish. Choosing between cold press and hot press paper ultimately depends on your personal style, the effect you wish to achieve, and the specific subject matter of your artwork.
Some artists enjoy the tactile quality and expressive nature of cold press paper, while others appreciate the precision and smoothness of hot press paper. So, as you embark on your watercolour adventures, consider the textural tale of cold press and hot press paper. Whether you opt for the captivating texture of cold press or the refined smoothness of hot press, both options offer unique possibilities to explore and create breathtaking watercolour masterpieces. Now, armed with this knowledge, select the paper that speaks to you, play around and see what you enjoy.