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Arts & Crafts

Best Art Paper

Are you trying out watercolor painting, pen-and-ink sketches, or even a new origami fold? Whatever the project, every medium requires a unique paper which meets a specific set of standards and attributes. The art papers listed here will make it easy for you to find what’s best suited for your next creative project, whether it’s a charcoal sketch or a page to add to your beloved scrapbook. Be sure to check out our buyer’s guide as well to find out more about the different types of papers available and some key terms every artist should be familiar with.

DCWV Paper Stacks

A popular brand of scrapbook paper, Die Cuts With a View has one of the widest selections of colors, themes, sizes, and styles available. From the fairy-tale Once Upon a Time papers to floral elegance to quirky children’s patterns, the brand has a paper for every occasion and every style that a scrap-booker could wish to create. The paper stacks usually run 12 x 12, with a set of 48 sheets in 12 designs. Some suppliers, though, also provide single sheets from the various patterns. The paper stacks tend to be one-sided, but DCWV also offers a variety of solid-color cardstock for heavier pages or contrast sheets.

American Crafts Scrapbook Paper

With solids, textures, glitter, a special duotone glitter, foil, single-sided sheets, double-sided sheets, and an amazing array of patterns and themes, this brand has enough options to meet any scrap-booker’s needs. American Crafts has one of the largest collections of scrapbook paper, and many of the brands paper pads come in an equally wide range of sizes that includes notecard sizes, as well as 8.5 x 11 and 12 x 12 sheets to fit a variety of scrapbook albums. The paper can be expensive, especially for single-color packs, but the range of options makes the price worth it. Even better, this paper is archival quality, giving it an extra-long life and protecting the paper from acid stains or other damage over time.

Bazzill Basics Paper

A smaller, specialty brand, Bazzill Basics Paper offers scrap-bookers a range of vivid colors and striking patterns. The Basics Collection represents just one of the brands’ families and provides a variety of bold, monochromatic color schemes in black, beige, red, and sky blue. Other Bazzill collections include creamier hues, as well as a selection of unique textures and styles such as burlap or dotted swiss. The paper itself comes in both 8.5 x 11 and 12 x 12 sizes and large single-color packs, though there are a few multi-color packs available. And, while the sheets work well by themselves, they are also great for matching with patterns from other brands, making the large packs an ideal purchase for mixing with other sheets.

K & Company Scrapbooking Paper

This brand of paper comes in a vivid assortment of colors and styles that range from floral to country chic to fashion designer to nature themes. Other patterns include seasonal themes, baby themes, some solids, and a host of other quirky or elegant patterns. The pads span an array of subdued hues to bright primary colors. While there are a variety of sizes and number of sheets available in the individual pads, the typical pad contains 36 sheets of double-sided 12 x 12 paper in a selection of 12 patterns or 3 sheets per pattern, giving scrap-bookers an excellent selection even within the particular pad of paper.

Graphic 45 Pads

Graphic 45 offers a unique selection of scrapbooking papers. The company is run by a mother- and-daughters team with a self-described 1920s-30s flair. At 24 sheets per pack, the paper is more expensive than some of the larger brands, but with a fun variety of colors and patterns. These pads offer a more whimsical selection of themes from the Bohemian, Mother Goose, and Steampunk to French Country and the Japanese-style Bird Song. Even better, each of the themes includes the standard paper stacks with double-sided sheets, or a selection of individual sheets sold separately, along with a variety of matching stickers and accessories.

Japanese Tant Origami Paper- 100 Colors 6 Inch Square

Japanese Tant paper is one of the most common and popular origami papers available today, in addition to being available at a reasonable price. Made of a wood pulp and roughly the thickness of printer paper, this traditional origami paper comes in a standard 15 cm square (just under 6”) and is known as one of the most versatile and common sheets available. This particular pack comes with 100 sheets of individually colored paper, giving origami artists a vivid rainbow of hues to work with, but a slight drawback to anyone who wants more than a single sheet of a particular color. Also, unlike many origami papers, both sides of the sheet have the same color, instead of the typical white back of many origami papers. Overall, it’s a standard among origami experts and works well for a vast range of folds and techniques.

Yuzen Chiyogami Origami Paper

Yuzen Chiyogami is not a brand so much as style replicating traditional Japanese woodprints. A major origami supplier, Aitoh produces a wide range of Chiyogami papers, all of them brilliantly colored and perfect for folding. The papers comes in a range of sizes as well from small 4” squares up to large rectangles, but many of the patterns come in the standard 15cm or 5-7/8” squares. The sizes are not always well labeled, so it’s important to check the size of paper to make sure it fits the intended project. These particular sheets are printed on heavy rice paper, a good quality paper that folds well, while the packets combine a selection of brilliant patterns and solid-colored sheets.

Origami Craze 500 Sheet Economy Pack Origami Paper

This bulk package is ideal for anyone from artists working on multi-sheet projects to teachers looking for enough paper to meet their classrooms’ needs, but it is an especially good choice for beginners. The paper comes with 500 sheets in 20 different colors. The sheets are sorted by color, and unlike many traditional origami papers, each sheet has the same color front and back, making it easier for artists to avoid the awkward contrast of a white edge showing through their folds. As an extra benefit for beginners, the package also includes an eBook with 100 designs. On the downside, the paper tends to wear down after multiple folds, while the package overall runs mid-range on price. It’s not the cheapest paper available, but still a good price for a package of this quality and quantity.

Daiso Japan Origami Folding Paper 180 Sheets

This paper from Daiso provides a low cost, good quality sheet of origami paper. Each packet contains 180 sheets of 10cm square paper in a range of 24 colors. Among the other colors, the packet also includes sheets of gold and silver, though some people report that the quantity of each color varies with the individual packet. The sheets are single-sided, meaning that the reverse side is a contrasting white or off-white color. Some people like the contrast creates in the folds, while others prefer to hide the white side as much as possible.

Aitoh Embossed Color Foil Origami Paper

Along with Aitoh’s other origami papers in foil and every other style, this foil stands out with its shimmering colors and lightly embossed floral pattern. The reverse side of the paper is white. Each packet comes with 20 sheets of 5-7/8” paper in an assortment of 10 different colors. The paper is popular, making it easy to find, and comes at a good price for the number of sheets in the package. Like most foil papers, though, this origami paper is delicate--folders will need to be careful when they crease or smooth out a crease. Too much smoothing may cause a fold to disappear completely, while any ridge in the paper can act as a trough to absorb nearby folds. Still, it’s a great option for anyone wanting to try thinner designs or folds that require the paper to hold a slight bend.

Blick Colored Tissue Assortments - Assortment of 10 Colors

This brand promises sturdy, color-fast paper that maintains its color brilliance and resists bleed-through. The paper comes in a variety of packages, from a 50-sheet assortment of 10 colors on 12x18 paper to a massive 480-sheet pack of 20 colors on large sheets of 20x30 paper. Blick also offers a wide selection of individual colors in 50 to 480-sheet packages, with discounts for bulk purchases. As a house brand, the paper would only be available through the brand’s store, but it’s relatively inexpensive and offers artists a great quality art tissue.

Spectra Assorted Color Tissue Pack

Most brands of art tissue work to prevent color bleeding, but the Pacon Spectra brand offers a special tissue paper with water-soluble colors. This feature allows artists to create spectacular swirls as the colors melt together through the tissue. While the brand offers a range of color choices and package sizes, the basic full-color package comes with 50 or 100 sheets of 12x18 tissue paper. Each package has 25 colors, ranging from vivid primary colors to soft pastels in every color of the rainbow. Other packages include assortments of cool colors, warm colors, while a special Madras tissue comes with 5 combinations of striped or shaded tissue sheets. The paper is also available in bulk packages of individual or assorted colors with up to 480 sheets or smaller packs of 20 colors in 20x30 sheets, making it easy for artists to pick out the right combination of colors and sizes for each project.

Spectra Kolorfast Tissue

Unlike Pacon Spectra's other brand of special bleed-through tissue paper, this paper’s colors are water-resistant. This property makes them a great paper for artists who want to avoid ideal color-bleeding on their projects. This basic assortment of Kolorfast tissue paper is available on 20x30 sheets with a range of 10 colors on 20x30 sheets, in a variety of package sizes from small packs of 10 sheets to reams of 480 sheets of tissue. The paper also comes in a variety of other color assortments that include glitter papers, luster or foil tissue, and a unique multi-cultural paper with colors for a wide range of skin tones. The paper is also available in bulk packages of individual colors, giving artists plenty of options for picking the right color.

Lineco Acid-Free Tissue Paper

This paper is offered primarily for framing and protecting photos, as an alternative to the more traditional glassine paper, but it also works well as art paper. As the name says, it’s acid free. It’s also buffered with calcium carbonate to prevent the build-up of acid or acid-caused discoloration over time. The paper is available in sheets ranging from 8x10 up to 16x20, as well as rolls of paper for. The paper is fairly expensive, but the special acid-free treatment and the pure white color would make it ideal for special projects that need to last for years.

Hygloss Animal Print Tissue Paper

Hygloss offers artists a good-quality brand of tissue paper, with a great variety of tissue products from the standard bleeding and non-bleeding paper to pre-cut tissue paper circles, squares, hearts and leaves. The paper also comes in a range of designer papers that include not only the animal prints, but butterfly, snowflake and leaf designs as well, giving artists a unique assortment of patterns to work with. The Animal Print package has a total of 20 sheets, 4 sheets each of leopard, zebra, tiger, cow and giraffe prints, though it is also available in packs of individual prints. The paper is non-bleeding and measures 20x30.

Canson Artist Series: Universal Sketch 65lb/96gsm Pad

While Canson offers high-quality sketch books in multiple series, the Universal Sketch pad provides a number of great features. The pads are available in four sizes from 5.5x8.5 up to 14x17, and each pad has 100 sheets, giving artists plenty of pages to work with. Plus, at 65 pounds, the sheets are a smooth mid-weight paper that holds up well to most dry mediums such as pencils or charcoal. The cardboard back also allows artists to sketch on the go. On the downside the paper front-cover may allow the corners of some pages to be frayed or creased, but the price makes this an ideal practice pad for doodles and trial sketches.

Strathmore Series 400 Sketch Pad

Strathmore is known for its high-quality art paper, and these sketchbooks offer artists an easy-to-carry drawing pad in a wide variety of sizes from 5.5x8.5 up to 18x24, perhaps the widest range of sizes available in an individual series. Each pad has from 30 to 100 sheets of 60-pound paper, depending on the size of the paper. The sheets are somewhat lighter than other sketch pads, but will still hold up well for pencil sketches as well as other dry mediums including pastels and charcoal. With their heavy cardboard backs, the sketchbooks provide a sturdy working surface, though the lighter-weight front cover might not entirely protect the pages from creases or warping. Plus, the series promises actual-size micro-perforated sheets. This means that any sheets removed from the pad will measure the full size listed on that pad, making it easy to know the size of a finish sketch.

Arches Sketch Pad

The Arches Sketch pads may be one of the more expensive choices for a simple sketch pad, but they also offer great quality paper and a heavy-duty cardboard back for artists to work on away from a desk or an easel. The sketchpads would work better for more detailed or extensive sketches rather than quick doodles, since the paper is sturdy enough to hold up to erasures but lacks the wire-bindings that make it easy to leaf through a series of pages or flip a page over to start a new sketch. Unlike other brands, though, the pads are available in only two sizes--the standard 9x12 and the slightly larger 10x14--and each pad comes with only 20 sheets of 70lb paper.

Utrecht Double-Spiral Sketchbook

Utrecht Double-Spiral Sketchbook

This sketchbook ranks as one of the classiest sketchbooks available, with a spiral-bound hardcover. The pads are available in either red or black--or for more adventurous artists, an oatmeal version with brown pages made from recycled paper. Each standard-color has 110 sheets of 70-pound paper, and 80 sheets for the oatmeal version, with a firm smooth surface that is great for pen and pencil drawings. With the large number of pages and heavy covers, the pads are cheap enough for doodling, but also sturdy enough to hold up to time and wear. While they may be difficult to find in most art stores, the pads are available online in four sizes from 5x7 to 11x14 and come either individually or in cartons of 12 for bulk purchases.

Bee Paper Bogus Sketch Pad, 9-Inch by 12-Inch

Along with a variety of more standard sketch paper, Bee Paper produces this 100 percent recycled-paper sketch pad. The paper itself is a unique heavy brown paper, often compared to a roll of Brown Kraft paper in easy-to-carry pad form. The paper itself provides a great surface for rough sketches as well as more finished drawings with pen, pencil, or charcoal. The pads each have 50 sheets of 70-pound paper, sized either at 9x12, 9x18, or 18x24, or individual sheets and 36 inch wide rolls for really large sketches. Each pad is tape-bound, making it easy to either fold over the paper or remove the pages from the pad.

Strathmore 500 Series Bristol Board and Pads

Bristol paper is well-known as one of the top brands of drawing paper available to artists. Made with 100 percent cotton, a premium material, Strathmore Bristol comes in four tiers of quality ranging from the 200 series up. The 500 series marks the high end, coming in either the ultra-smooth or the vellum finish. The ultra-smooth is exactly what the name says--a super fine surface meant for specialized work with graphite pencils or pen and ink drawings. The vellum finish, besides being fun to work with, allows artists to use a wider range of mediums, including some types of paint. Depending on the source, Strathmore Bristol paper is available in a variety of larger art pads or individual sheets up to 30x40 in size.

Stonehenge Drawing Pads

Stonehenge, from Legion Paper, is known for its high quality and its versatility, allowing artists to use it for a variety of techniques from watercolor to printing to pen and ink. The paper has an exceptionally smooth finish that works well for both ink and pencil drawings, while the material itself is made of 100 percent cotton and holds up over time with archival quality. As a final bonus, since the paper was originally created for printmaking, it's also one of the few brands that offer a range of colors in addition to the generic white or cream of other brands. The pads come in three color choices, with brown kraft, mixed colors, or white, as well as a broad range of sizes from 5x7 to 18x24 for the standard white pad. All of the colors are also available in either rolls or paper or large sheets starting at 22x30.

Canson Foundation Series: Bristol Vellum

Among the wide range of drawing papers that Canson produces, the Bristol Vellum from the Foundation Series stands out as a high-quality but inexpensive paper. The pads are available in pads of 15 sheets each, ranging in size from 9x12 to 19x24, or artists can find individual sheets of 19x24 paper. At 100 pounds, the paper is sturdier than the average sheet of sketch paper and fairly sturdy, but better suited for dry techniques than watercolors. In addition to the vellum texture, Canson makes a similar product with a smooth finish, but that texture may be better suited for pen or marker drawing, while the vellum finish allows a wider range of techniques.

Arches Hot Press Watercolor Paper Roll

It's called watercolor paper, but it still works for drawing. The Arches brand is known for is high-quality, and this paper is no exception. Unlike the cold press or rough versions of watercolor paper, hot press is smooth enough to work well for dry mediums such as colored pencil. As individual sheets of watercolor paper, this paper comes in sizes up to 22x30 or large rolls of paper, while the pads are great for providing a sturdy work surface with their heavy cardboard backs. Plus, at 140 pounds, the paper is heavy enough to stand up to most erasing and reworking.

Strathmore 500 Series Drawing Paper, Medium Surface

This brand is Strathmore's professional-level of drawing paper. Like the Strathmore Bristol, it comes in series starting at the 200 level, but the 500 Series rates the highest with 100 percent cotton material and 106-pound paper. It's available in plate or medium surfaces for artists to choose between a smoother or a more textured drawing surface, but only comes in large sheets of 23x29 paper. The next level down, the 400 Series has a wider range of sizes available and is easier to find, but also has much lighter-weight paper at only 80 pounds, so the 500 Series makes a significantly better option for artists needing heavy, high-quality paper.

Strathmore 500 Series Charcoal Paper Pad

The Strathmore 500 Series Charcoal paper provides a premium 100 percent cotton art paper in a range of sizes and colors ideal for large and small charcoal drawings. The 64-pound paper has a laid, or slightly ribbed, surface that catches the charcoal as artists work. This texture produces a rougher surface than completely smooth paper would, but one that complements charcoal drawings well and allows artists to shade and darken the drawings easily. Even better, the paper comes in a wide range of sizes from 9x12 up to 18x24 pads with micro-perforated sheets, as well as individual sheets of 19x25 paper. The pads come in a selection of white or assorted tints, each with 24 sheets, while artists can get individual sheets or 25 sheet packages in a range of twelve colors.

Canson Mi-Teintes Spiral Pad

Canson Mi-Teintes papers are unique for their double-sided texture. On one side, a medium vellum surface provides a slightly rougher texture to blend charcoal, while the other side offers a smooth surface for more detailed sketches. This double-sided texture conveniently allows artists to choose the best texture for an individual project. At 98 pounds, this paper is thicker than standard sketch paper, but comparable to a heavy drawing paper and well suited for working with charcoal techniques. The paper is available only in limited sizes; Mi-Teintes offers two sizes of 24-sheet pads, either 9x12 or 12x16. Individual sheets of 19x25 paper allow artists a larger background. Any disadvantage from the size of paper, though, is offset by the variety of colors available. Artists can choose between four color schemes--black, white, assorted earth tones, and assorted gray tones--for extra depth or color.

Stonehenge Drawing Pads

Stonehenge, from Legion Paper, is known for its high quality and its versatility, allowing artists to use it for a variety of techniques from watercolor to printing to pen and ink. The paper has an exceptionally smooth finish that works well for both ink and pencil drawings, while the material itself is made of 100 percent cotton and holds up over time with archival quality. As a final bonus, since the paper was originally created for printmaking, it's also one of the few brands that offer a range of colors in addition to the generic white or cream of other brands. The pads come in three color choices, with brown kraft, mixed colors, or white, as well as a broad range of sizes from 5x7 to 18x24 for the standard white pad. All of the colors are also available in either rolls or paper or large sheets starting at 22x30.

Strathmore 400 Series Pastel Pad

While Strathmore Pastel paper has a limited size and color selection compared with other brands, some artists prefer the paper's texture for working with pastels and charcoal drawing, along with other dry mediums. The paper is available only in pads, and unlike other Strathmore series, the pads are available in only three sizes from 9x12 up to 18x24. Each pad contains 24 sheets of assorted colors. The paper is relatively heavy, though, at 80 pounds, and its texture works well with charcoal work. Plus, the glue bindings make it easy to remove sheets either before or after working on them, allowing artists an easy way to work separate from the pad or display their finished picture.

Fabriano Tiziano Drawing Paper

Fabriano Tiziano paper is a fairly heavy sheet at 98 pounds and offers a toothy surface that some artists find ideal for charcoal drawings. The paper usually comes either in packs of smaller sheets or large individual sheets of 20x26 paper. While Fabriano Tiziano paper is not as common as some other brands, it still available from a number of online art suppliers. For those willing to look, it has the widest range of color selection, with over 30 options to choose from. Even better, where other brands offer mostly muted colors, Fabriano Tiziano also provides bright colors for artists wanting a vivid surface for their charcoal drawings.

Clairefontaine Pastelmat Pastel Pad

Clairefontaine Pastelmat provides artists with a particularly heavy cardstock. The surface was created especially for pastel work and is ideal for holding pastel colors. While the brand is fairly expensive compared with other pastel papers, it holds up well and offers one of the thickest, most rigid pastel papers at 170 pounds. The paper also has a unique ability to hold pastels, allowing artists to rework their pictures and blend colors over each other with less need for fixatives between the layers. Each pad comes in either white or one of two color assortments, with twelve sheets ranging from 7x9 to 12x16 in size. All eight colors are also available in individual sheets of 19.5x27.5 paper.

Strathmore 500 Series Charcoal Paper Pad

The Strathmore 500 Series Charcoal paper provides a premium 100 percent cotton art paper in a range of sizes and colors ideal for large and small charcoal drawings. The 64-pound paper has a laid, or slightly ribbed, surface that catches the charcoal as artists work. This texture produces a rougher surface than completely smooth paper would, but one that complements charcoal drawings well and allows artists to shade and darken the drawings easily. Even better, the paper comes in a wide range of sizes from 9x12 up to 18x24 pads with micro-perforated sheets, as well as individual sheets of 19x25 paper. The pads come in a selection of white or assorted tints, each with 24 sheets, while artists can get individual sheets or 25 sheet packages in a range of twelve colors.

Canson Mi-Teintes Spiral Pad

Canson Mi-Teintes papers are unique for their double-sided texture. On one side, a medium vellum surface provides a slightly rougher texture to blend charcoal, while the other side offers a smooth surface for more detailed sketches. This double-sided texture conveniently allows artists to choose the best texture for an individual project. At 98 pounds, this paper is thicker than standard sketch paper, but comparable to a heavy drawing paper and well suited for working with charcoal techniques. The paper is available only in limited sizes; Mi-Teintes offers two sizes of 24-sheet pads, either 9x12 or 12x16. Individual sheets of 19x25 paper allow artists a larger background. Any disadvantage from the size of paper, though, is offset by the variety of colors available. Artists can choose between four color schemes--black, white, assorted earth tones, and assorted gray tones--for extra depth or color.

Strathmore 400 Series Artagain Pad

Strathmore 400 Series Artagain is a fairly light weight paper at 60 pounds, but it is still a quality choice for artists working with pastels. The individual sheets come in a range of eight colors, while pad of either black or assorted colors comes in sizes ranging from 6x9 to 12x18. Each pad has 24 sheets of glue-bound paper for artists to either flip over as they work or remove for easy display. The texture works particularly well for soft pastels, while the black paper provides a dramatic background for either soft or oil pastels. Plus, the paper comes at a good prize relative to similar pads.

Fabriano Tiziano Drawing Paper

Fabriano Tiziano paper is a fairly heavy sheet at 98 pounds and offers a toothy surface that some artists find ideal for charcoal drawings. The paper usually comes either in packs of smaller sheets or large individual sheets of 20x26 paper. While Fabriano Tiziano paper is not as common as some other brands, it still available from a number of online art suppliers. For those willing to look, it has the widest range of color selection, with over 30 options to choose from. Even better, where other brands offer mostly muted colors, Fabriano Tiziano also provides bright colors for artists wanting a vivid surface for their charcoal drawings.

Saral Wax Free Transfer Paper

The paper from Saral is one of the most versatile brands of transfer paper. It comes in five different colors, each with a special purpose. Graphite paper works for almost any surface, white paper for dark surfaces, blue for wood or photographic plates, red for ceramic, yellow for metal or glass. Even better, Saral Transfer Paper works on fabric, unlike some of the other brands. All five types of paper come in rolls of 12" by 12' paper. Overall, the brand typically gets high ratings, though it can be difficult to erase the transfer, and the paper can smudge or transfer fingerprints if artists are not careful using it.

Richeson Transfer Paper

Richeson Transfer Paper provides one of the largest sheets of graphite paper available to artists. The paper comes in long roll that measures 24" by 24', and its size, particularly the length of the roll, allows artists to transfer either especially large images or to tear off smaller sheets for an individual project or series of projects. Since each section can be reused multiple times, the roll would be a great resource for classes or an almost inexhaustible supply for an individual artist. For the paper's size, it's also about half the cost of similar brands of paper, making it a great bulk purchase.

Loew Cornell Graphite Transfer Paper

Unlike standard graphite paper, this paper comes in two versions. The brand's regular graphite sheet works for standard paper, and its white transfer paper allows artists to transfer images onto dark surfaces. For both types of transfer paper, the single-sheet package comes with one sheet of 18"x36" graphite paper, while another package offers four 9"x13" sheets. Both styles and sizes can be reused repeatedly, so that artists can choose between buying one big sheet or keeping several smaller sheets on hand, depending on the size of their drawing or their own preferences. As with any graphite paper, though, it's important to use the paper carefully, since too much pressure can make the tracing difficult to erase later on. The paper is also not recommended for use on fabric.

Sally's Artist's Graphite Transfer Paper

This particular brand of graphite paper is actually an offshoot from the Saral brand. Like the Saral brand, it is wax-free and greaseless. It comes with a lighter coating than the other products, but generally leaves a darker transfer. The paper comes in a box of 12 sheets instead of in a roll. Each sheet measures 18"x24", giving artists a nice large paper to work with, while the number of sheets allows them to cut different sizes of sheets for a range of drawing sizes. The paper can be slightly more expensive than the rolls, but still comes at a reasonable price and should last for years and work for multiple projects.

Bienfang Graphite Transfer Paper

This paper offers a bulk package of graphite paper, but in sheets instead of a roll. The pack has 25 sheets of 20"x26" paper, making it both one of the largest packs available and one of the largest sheets of transfer paper. As a bulk pack, the paper tends to be relatively expensive, but the cost per sheet is comparable to most other brands, making this a good option for classrooms or other bulk purchasers. Plus, while other brands tend to have little to no contrast in the color of the reverse side of the paper, Bienfang transfer paper has a white reverse for a stronger contrast that makes it easy to tell how to layer the paper.

BFK Rives White Paper

One of the most popular printmaking papers, BFK Rives offers great quality paper at a moderate price. The paper itself has a soft feel and is internally sized, giving it an excellent surface for absorbing ink, and it works well for most printing techniques. Plus, it comes in five light-colored shades, ranging from gray and tan to white. All five colors are available in 22x30 sheets, while the white and cream papers also come in other sizes and a variety of weights, from very light up to a mid-weight 70lb paper. Best of all, BFK Rives paper runs mid-range on price, making it an overall great choice for color, feel, quality, and price.

Magnani Pescia Paper

This brand offers a heavy sheet of high-quality art paper from an Italian manufacturer. The paper has a soft texture, a smooth surface and a light, internal sizing treatment. While the treatment ensures that the paper absorbs ink well, the texture and surface make it a great choice for a variety of printmaking techniques such as silkscreen, lithography, intaglio, or etching. The paper comes in large 22x30 sheets and is available in five colors, including gray and light blue. Plus, the paper runs a reasonable mid-range on price, neither super cheap nor very expensive compared with other print papers.

Stonehenge Paper 22 x 30 Sheets

Stonehenge paper is noted for its high quality and its exceptionally smooth finish. This paper was created over 40 years ago, as an inexpensive alternative to the top brands of printmaking paper, but it also works well for other mediums, including watercolors and drawing. Overall, though, Stonehenge offers artists a lightly treated, high-strength material suited for a wide range of print techniques. The individual sheets come in a variety of colors and are most common in a mid-weight 90-pound paper measuring 22x30, but comes in 120-pound sheets or larger sizes, as well a range of pads and even 50-inch rolls. The selection of sizes, together with the paper's price, make it a good choice for classroom or bulk purchases.

Somerset Printmaking Paper

While most other brands offer printmakers only one surface, Somerset comes in four surfaces--book, satin, velvet, and textured--making it a great choice for any print technique, as well as a variety of other mediums. The paper comes in an equally diverse range of muted colors that includes black, gray and buff, in addition to several shades of white. Each sheet varies in weight, depending on the surface, from the light-weight book surface to a heavy textured surface similar to a cold-press watercolor paper. The paper comes in several sizes as well, starting at 22x30 sheets and going up to a 60-inch wide roll. The paper is relatively expensive, but gives artists the ability to choose a particular style and size of paper for each project.

Canson Editions 22x30 Paper

Canson Editions paper offers artists a variety of great options in one brand, starting with the brand's unique double-sided texture. One side of the paper has a fine grain sided suited for a variety of techniques, the other a smooth surface ideal for printing. With two weights, a lighter version and a medium 90lb version, the paper is comparable in weight to sturdy printer paper, while artists can choose between seven different colors, ranging from black to antique white and bright white. In addition to the standard sheets of 22x30 or 30x44 paper, Canson Editions also produces bulk packs of 100 sheets, ranging from 9x12 to 12x18 in size. Both the sheets and the packs come at a significantly lower price than most other brands, making this a great choice for classroom projects.

Arches Watercolor Block

Arches watercolor paper has long been an all-around favorite among artists. Its a highly regarded brand, is made of 100 percent cotton for quality and durability, and comes in a range of sizes from pads to individual sheets to large rolls of paper. The Watercolor Block, though, is a pad with a special tape-binding along all four edges of the block. The blocks are substantially more expensive than standard watercolor paper, but they make it easy for artists to work the top sheet without having paint bleed through to the lower pages. The solid block also makes an ideal surface for traveling or plain air work. After finishing a sheet, artists can peel the page off around the edges for easy display. The blocks come in a variety of sizes, including some smaller or irregular-sized sheets, but the standard sizes run from 9x12 up to 18x24 for cold press or 14x20 for hot press paper. Both the hot press and cold press blocks come in pads with 20 sheets of 140lb-paper, while the cold press also comes in a 300lb version with 10 sheets.

Strathmore Imperial 500 Series Cold Press Watercolor Paper

The Strathmore brand offers almost a dozen varieties of watercolor paper, but the 500 Series Imperial Watercolor paper is a professional-level cotton paper. It comes only in hot-press or cold-press, and is only available in 140-pound sheets of 22x30 paper, but the brand touts this papers extra sizing, the treatment that reduces absorbency. This gives the paper a durable surface, showing brighter colors, while holding up well to multiple layers of paint and allowing artists more flexibility in lifting colors to rework a painting. Plus, the paper comes at a fairly reasonable price for watercolor sheets of this quality, and it gets high reviews for its quality. For artists who need a broader selection, the other papers in the 500 Series offer more variety in weight and size.

Fabriano Artistico Traditional White Watercolor Paper

For artists looking for a high-quality but delicate surface, the Fabriano Artistico watercolor paper offers one of the widest ranges of options for sizes and textures. The cotton paper comes in 140lb sheets, available in all three presses--hot, cold, and rough--as well as a wide variety of sizes, from spiral-bound watercolor pads, to blocks with the edges sealed to protect unused sheets, to large individual sheets of paper in the standard 22x30 size, or even rolls of paper for artists working on exceptionally large projects. The blocks come in the widest selection of sizes from 5x7 up to 18x24, with 10-25 sheets per pad depending on the size of paper. In addition to the traditional white, the paper also comes in a bright surface for artists who prefer a whiter background.

Saunders Waterford Watercolor Paper

A 100 percent cotton paper with consistently high ratings, the Saunders Waterford paper offers an excellent mouldmade watercolor paper with a good range of textures and weights. The paper is available in all three surfaces--hot, cold, and rough--as well as a range of weights from the light 90-pound paper that would need stretching to prevent buckling to a heavy-duty 300-pound sheet. The paper also comes in a selection of blocks and rolls of paper, but the individual sheets are typically 22x30. Saunders Waterford runs around average cost for the quality and weight of the paper, while as a unique bonus, it is produced in both a standard white and a high white great for artists looking for a brighter, cleaner background for their work.

Twinrocker Watercolor Paper

Twinrocker Watercolor Paper

A rare handmade paper, Twinrocker Watercolor paper is produced by a 40-year old Indiana company. The watercolor paper is made of cotton and comes in with an unusual selection of sizes, including circles, but in general, the sheets run from 6x8 up to the uniquely large 34x48. The variety gives artists an amazing range of project sizes to work with. Because the paper is hand-made and hot pressed sheets have to be custom ordered, it can be challenging to find a source for this paper, and the sheets are expensive. It also can require fairly gentle care, but it consistently gets high marks from artists for its quality and beautiful surface.

Buyer's Guide

 

Art Paper: Buying Guide

For most artists, paper is a tool which is every bit as important as their pencil, paint brush, or collage glue. Depending on your project, you may even use several types of paper, perhaps starting with a sheet of lightweight sketch paper to create a design before using graphite transfer paper to trace the drawing onto a piece of heavy watercolor paper. Or, perhaps you might use tissue paper and a 2D origami design to add flair to your scrapbooking page. Regardless of your intended purpose, the following is some useful information that will help you pick out the best paper for your next creative undertaking.

Weight

Paper is given a weight based on how much 500 standard-sized sheets weigh. This weight generally indicates how thick and sturdy a particular sheet of paper will be. Standard office paper usually weighs about 20 pounds which is great for printers or basic sketching, but won’t hold up well for most projects. Drawing paper averages around 80 pounds, while watercolor paper is often 140 pounds so it can hold up to multiple layers of paint.

Surface/Finish

The terms describe how the paper is processed, but they also tell you what sort of surface to expect. For example, rougher paper catches and holds the paint along its ridges, while a smoother surface lets the color slide across the paper. Other art papers, such as pastel paper, can have more of a toothed, rough surface. Watercolor paper is often labeled as rough, cold-press (semi-rough surface), or hot-press (extra smooth).

Acid-free

Paper with even a light acidity tends to discolor with time, so it’s important to ensure you’re using a quality, acid-free art paper which avoids this pitfall. Acid-free paper isn’t so much a special type of paper as it is a necessity for artists.

Paper Types

Watercolor
This is heavy paper similar in weight to cardstock. Since it needs to hold up to multiple layers of water and paint without warping, this paper is made with very specific finishing techniques allowing enough paint to soak in for the color to hold, but not enough to damage paper fibers.

Drawing Paper
Slightly heavier than printer paper or sketch paper, drawing paper is sturdy enough to hold up to detailed pencil work, but not usually as thick as watercolor paper.

Sketch Paper
This is the scratch paper of the artist’s world. Lighter than drawing paper, this paper type is cheap and easy to draw on as well. While it might be archival quality, sketch paper is meant more for recording an idea or practicing a design than executing a professional drawing.

Transfer Paper
Transfer paper is slightly different than the tracing paper you may have used in middle school. It looks like a normal sheet of paper on one side but the other side is a layer of graphite. This paper acts like carbon paper, allowing you to easily transfer a drawing from one sheet of paper to another.

Pastel Paper
Pastel paper has about the same weight and feel as regular drawing paper, but it has a slight “tooth” or rough surface. While pastels tend to smear awkwardly on smoother paper, this paper’s surface holds the color better and adds a slight texture to the image.

Charcoal Paper
Like pastel paper, charcoal paper is similar to drawing paper, but with a slightly rougher feel. This particular surface is required in order to hold the dry charcoal for a drawing, but too much texture can result in a strange splotchy look.

Printmaking Paper
This paper needs to be extra absorbent to hold large amounts of ink so it’s usually smooth and often made of cotton. Some artists like to use it for other mediums as well such as drawing or watercolor painting.

Origami Paper
Although technically you can fold any piece of paper, origami paper makes folding easier. It’s often sold in squares so you can skip the annoying task of cutting a rectangle down to size. Origami paper is light enough to fold easily, but strong enough to withstand the stress of multiple folds.

Scrapbook Paper
This paper is available in a range of bright colors, pastels, multi-colored patterns, or whimsical designs, often sold in large books or single sheets specially cut to fit standard scrapbook pages. You should always look for archival quality, acid-free paper from a reliable brand to avoid discoloration or fading over time.

Tissue Paper
You may associate soft and delicate tissue paper with gift wrapping instead of art, but it’s great for use with various crafts, collages, and many other creative projects.

I am a writer, an artist, and a creator. Over the years, I have worked on numerous projects from afghans to watercolor paintings. I have taught art classes for students from 4 to 15 years-old, training students in watercolors, charcoal sketches, and oil pastels among other techniques. My favorite handcrafts include crocheting and knitting, using a wide variety of threads and yarns, but I also enjoy embroidery, cross-stitch, and the more obscure crafts such as tatting and hardanger. For me, the best part of my hobbies is when I learn something new and can pass it on to someone else.
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