Watercolor Paper: Everything You Need to Know

Learn what paper is best for your watercolor art

Watercolor Paper: Everything You Need to Know

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Watercolor paper is indispensable for painting with watercolor and you should use it when painting any watercolor art. In this article, you’ll learn why it’s so important, what different watercolor papaer are out there, and which paper is the right one for your paintings. Whether you’re just getting started with watercolor or you’re already a pro, read on to learn more about watercolor paper!

What is Watercolor Paper?

Using watercolor paper is essential if you want to paint with watercolors, because it is exceptionally absorbent. The paper must be able to absorb pigments and water well, but at the same time it must be able to not get destroyed by an eraser.

In contrast, other types of paper - such as drawing or printer paper - are not suitable for watercolors at all. The paper will flake and disintegrate or, at best, become wavy when dry and distort your painted work.

With the right paper, you’ll not only save yourself a lot of trouble, you can also try all sorts of watercolor techniques with it. The investment in proper watercolor paper is absolutely worth it!

Types of Watercolor Paper

Watercolor paper is divided into:

  • Satin: Smooth paper, hot pressing
  • Fine grain: Slightly structured paper, cold pressing
  • Rough grain: Structured paper, cold pressing
  • Torchon: Similar to a rough linen structure

While smooth paper allows for very precise brush strokes and absolute control over color gradients, rough paper is better suited for landscape paintings in a typical watercolor style.

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Watercolor Painting on Watercolor Paper

  • Fine Grain
  • 300 g/m²
  • 24 x 32 cm (9 x 12.5 in)
  • Acid-Free

Fabriano Watercolor Paper

  • Satin
  • 300 g/m²
  • 23 x 31 cm (9 x 12 in)
  • Acid-Free

Arches Watercolor Paper

  • Rough Grain
  • 270 g/m²
  • 32 x 41cm (12.6 x 16.1 in)
  • Acid-Free

Canson Watercolor Paper

  • Torchon
  • 100% Cotton Paper
  • 300 g/m²
  • 24 x 30 cm (9 x 12)

Arches Watercolor Pad

Acid-Free Watercolor Paper

To ensure the longevity of your watercolor paintings, it is important to use watercolor paper that is acid-free and therefore especially durable. High-quality papers are almost always acid-free, but you should play it safe when buying and pay special attention to this feature.

Weight of Watercolor Paper

The weight is measured in grams per square meter and ranges from 120 g/m² to 850 g/m². Especially when painting with watercolors, it plays a crucial role that the paper is thick enough to completely absorb the liquid paint without curling after it dries out.

So when choosing the weight of watercolor paper, your own painting technique plays a crucial role. If you paint a lot wet on wet, you should choose a watercolor paper of at least 300 g/m².

Watercolor paper: wet on wet

Individual Watercolor Sheets, Watercolor Pads and Paper Rolls

Watercolor paper is available in a variety of formats. Single sheets are ideal if you want to try a new painting technique or if you are looking for a particularly high-quality paper for an important project. Watercolor pads are glued on one or more sides and are particularly easy to handle. They are also very practical for traveling.

Professional watercolorists often use rolls of paper because you have the freedom to cut the paper to the preferred format yourself. In addition, rolls are particularly practical when productivity is high, as individual sheets or blocks can run out quickly.

I hope this article has helped you understand the basics of watercolor paper and given you some ideas on what to look for when buying it. What is your favorite watercolor paper? Feel free to leave a comment below!


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