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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Which watercolor paper is right for you?

Watercolor paper can be confusing and expensive.....so you want to make sure you purchase the right product for the job.  I am often asked about watercolor paper in my workshops.  When using a medium like Gelatos ore Twinkling H2Os I often turn to watercolor paper as my surface of choice.  It makes the color bold and vibrant.  But which weight is best?  What type of watercolor paper do I want to use for stamping? Collage? Backgrounds?

Choosing Watercolor Paper

These are important questions.  So I thought it would be a good idea to take a general look at watercolor paper.  In the video below I will walk you through the different types and weights of watercolor paper.  And which is the best choice based on your project.

A quick review of the basics.  There are 3 types of watercolor paper:
  • Hotpress: Hotpress papers are not completely smooth. They must retain some texture to accept the paint. They are, however, the smoothest of the watercolor textures. Because of the smooth surface, hotpress papers are best suited for fine controlled lines and brilliant colors. The smoother surface causes the paint to dry quicker making hotpress papers a bit more challenging than the other types of surfaces.
  • Coldpress:  Coldpress papers have a medium tooth. Because of this, you can work a bit slower without fear of quick drying times.   The tooth is still smooth enough to work without loss of detail.  This makes coldpress papers a popular choice for watercolor beginners.
  • Rough: Coarse-grain papers feature an extremely rough surface. These papers are so rough in texture that small valleys are created. Watercolor paint collects in these valleys slowing the drying time down. Beginners may find this paper a challenge to work with because it is hard to control the paint. However, professionals will find that the slowed drying time is a benefit.
Watercolor paper also comes in a variety of weights, the most common is 140 lb.  I often use a light weight (90lbs) for testing out new products and techniques.  For actual projects I use 140lb.  

Interested in have some fun with watercolor papers?  Then I suggest my Color Inspiration workshops.

Be sure to let me know if you have any questions.


  1. Thanks so much for this info! I didn't know a thing about watercolor paper, and now at least feel ready to buy some.

    1. Perfect....that is exactly who I created this post. :)