Here are 5 things you should look for when you’re purchasing watercolor paper.
- Hot press (smooth) or cold press (textured)
- Don’t know the difference? Check out our comparison between the two
- Textures will vary depending on the manufacturer (Go to your local art store and feel them!)
- Determines how thick the paper is
- Usually measured in lbs or gsm
- 90lbs/190gsm is on the thinner side
- 300lbs/638gsm is very thick
- Usually 140lbs/300gsm is the way to go for most purposes
- 100% cotton (rag paper) is very absorbent, strong, pliable, and lays flat even with multiple washes of paint
- Cheaper, student-grade watercolor paper can be made of a combination of various cellulose fibres so they’re less absorbent, colors do not show up as vibrant, and the paper can distort, pill, or tear
- Do you want the paper in sheets, rolls, sketchpads, or blocks? What paper size do you enjoy using?
- Sheets – large sheets are useful when you want to determine the size of the canvas (cut it yourself!) while pre-packaged/cut small sheets are great if you don’t want to cut them yourself
- Rolls – save some money and buy a giant roll if you know you’ll be needing lots of it
- Sketchpads – convenient, and you can take out a single sheet each time you need it
- Blocks – the sheets are glued together on all 4 sides, so you don’t need to tape down your paper
- Watercolor paper can come in different tones such as bright white, natural, or cream
- It is up to if you like a certain tone or if your painting requires it
Not sure on which brands to pick after considering these 5 aspects of watercolor paper? Read our guide on Watercolor Paper Brands to get more familiar with all the manufacturers out there.