Top-6 criteria to consider when choosing the watercolor paper!
Aprx. 3 min to read
There are so many things to concentrate on while painting. Do not stress youself fighting with the paper. Choose the right one!
The watercolor paper you use has a huge impact on the quality of your work. In this article we will help you how to choose from the great variety of paper the best for you!
Why not to buy cheap paper? Low-quality paper can start disintegrating when you use rough techniques (like scrubbing), buckling or wrinkling when wet.
Here are the key criteria we recommend to look at while choosing the watercolor paper:
Watercolor paper could be either handmade, mold-made or machine-made. Handmade is of the best quality, but too expensive. The mold-made comes at a second place. Both are very durable, stable and shouldn't distort under heavy wash. They both are have irregular surface textures and nice to paint on.
How is paper produced? The high-quality paper is usually 100% cotton which makes it strong but pliable. Less expensive papers are often a combination of cotton and cellulose fibers. If you care about permanence or plan to use scrubbing, scraping, taping, and masking techniques you should use 100% cotton paper which will not be easily damaged by it.
Why do all care about weight? It is important because lighter papers need stretching before use and may buckle or wrinkle when wet. Heavy paper, in contrast, can absorb more water and rarely needs stretching.
Paper weight is measured either as a ream of 500 sheets in pounds or as a single sheet in grams per square meter. Light paper is anything less than 300 gsm (140 lbs) and heavy is 600-850 gsm.
Heavy paper can be very expensive but is preferable for some artists because of techniques applied. For all other (especially beginners) the most optimal os 300gsm paper.
Watercolor paper could be
hot-pressed, which has a smooth, hard surface. It is often used for detailed work. Be aware, it is sometimes slippery and hard to control the paint.
cold-pressed, which is the most popular texture, suitable for both detailed work and smooth washes.
rough paper, which is ideal for washes because it gives them luminosity.
As you noticed, texture is a subjective factor and based on your preferences and style.
Most watercolor paper is white or cream because it allows light to reflect off its surface and give watercolor a luminescent look. However you can buy watercolor paper in different tints in order to create different moods and effects.
You can buy it in individual sheets, rolls, blocks, panels, and pads.
Once you have chosen the paper that suits best your purposes and style, we recommend to buy paper in rolls, as it is cheaper and you can cut it into the pieces you need (small, big, vertical, horizontal).
Watercolor blocks and boards are a great alternative to sheets if you don't want to stretch your paper.
Watercolor pads are great for painting outdoors or for practicing.
Now you know the theory and it is time to try and find the paper you like!