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CHOOSING THE RIGHT WATERCOLOUR PAPER
GRAIN
Due to its transparency, watercolour paint is greatly influenced by the texture of the paper used. Rough
Rough paper is highly absorbent and deeply textured with peaks and valleys resulting in the most expressive brush strokes. Cold Press
Cold press paper is the easiest to paint on as it has a medium tooth suitable for all styles of painting and can tolerate a certain amount of corrections or lifting. Cold press sheets tend to be less absorbent making them more dimensionally stable when wet than rough sheets depending on the manufacturer). Hot Press
Hot press paper is the smoothest and least absorbent of the three papers. It is ideal for detail work such as portraits, technical pen drawings and calligraphy.  

PERMANENCE
Papers made with manilla or wood contain higher acid or PH content and tend to degrade over time, becoming yellow and brittle. Archival quality watercolor papers have a neutral PH value and an “acid-free” designation.

The most archival papers will have explicit designations of  “acid free”, “buffered”, “100% cotton or linen”, and “pH neutral”

Warning
Our skin’s PH is also acidic which could damage the paper over time if not handled properly. Paper should be held delicately by the edges or handled using protective gloves.

PAPER WEIGHT
There a two ways to determine the weight of paper.

  1. The imperial system method is to measure 500 standard-sized sheets in pounds in that paper's basic sheet size, 22" x 30". Anything larger is measured in 500 sheets of its specific size.
  2. The new metric method is to measure the weight in grams of a single sheet of paper calculated to be exactly one meter square (grams per square meter or GSM).
COMMON PAPER WEIGHTS

relative weight

pounds/ream
(22"x30" only)

grams/meter 2
(any dimensions)

Light

80

170

90

185

130

280

Medium

140

300

190

400

Heavy

260

550

280

600

300

640

Extra-heavy

400

850

90 lb / 180 gsm:
Recommended for techniques that use little to no water such as drybrush, charcoal, pencil, ink etc.

140 lb / 300 gsm:
Recommended for all watercolours. The paper should be stretched before using very wet washes or a watercolour block should be used.

300 lb / 640 gsm:
Recommended for all wet techniques.

400 lb / 850 gsm:
Recommended for all wet techniques requiring a lot of water.