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Types of Watercolour Paper

With such a large range of materials available to the budding artist it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start. There is a huge choice of surfaces on offer and the artist will usually settle on a brand after some experimentation. Here we look at the types of paper available for painting with watercolours.

High quality paper

The highest quality paper is made from 100% cotton. However a combination of cotton and cellulose pulp will produce an adequate and economical watercolour paper. During the papermaking process the pulp is treated to neutralise acid, ensuring the paper does not deteriorate over time.

The thickness or paper weight is described in lbs or gsm (grams per square metre). Weights range from 90lb (190gsm) up to 300lb (638gsm). The lighter weight papers typically need to be stretched prior to use to prevent buckling or warping when the paint is applied.

There are 3 finishes for watercolour paper and board.

Rough Watercolour Paper

'Rough' has a textured surface with a prominent tooth. The pools of watercolour collect in the indentations to create a grainy effect.

Cold-pressed (or NOT) Paper

'Cold-pressed' (or NOT) has a less textured surface and is the most popular surface for watercolour artists.

Smooth 'Hot-pressed' watercolour paper

'Hot-pressed' watercolour paper has a smooth surface with a fine grain. It is good for applying washes as the paint dries quickly and evenly. The paper is suitable for watercolour, print making and fine detail illustration.

If you would like to view the range of watercolour papers and board, please visit the Paper section of the website.

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