What Paper Should I Use For Drawing with Colored Pencils?

Finding the finest paper for colored pencils might be difficult due to the abundance of paper goods on the market! But don’t worry, since I’m here to assist you! We’ll look at some key elements to help you choose the best paper for your creative style and budget. Let’s get this party started!

How to Choose a proper paper size?

Naturally, the size of your paper will be a crucial consideration while deciding on the best one for you. When cooking, my mother always stated, “You can always add more, never less.”

The same is true when it comes to picking the best-colored pencil paper. In general, we recommend ordering a size or two larger than you normally wear.

Why?

Simply take the sheet from the pad and cut it to size if you want a lower-sized design.

Naturally, if you intend to take your sketch pad out in the field and capture some subjects, a more inconspicuous sketching pad will be ideal.

So, consider what paper works best for you.

Selection Of Paper Weight

This is always an important consideration when selecting paper for any use, including colored pencils.

The paper’s heaviness might be helpful since it can take quite a deal of wear before showing indications of fraying or ripping.

Suppose you find yourself making mistakes with your colored pencils and need to go for your kneaded eraser or eraser pencil (these things are really fantastic – highly suggested to check out). In that case, a thick weighted paper will resist ripping.

There is now an upper and lower limit on how much weight you should use.

Effect Of Fiber

The fabric of the paper can also have an effect on how your colored pencils behave.

If you want to overlay your designs, a rougher paper made of cotton or wood pulp is recommended.

Those who want a much smoother surface, on the other hand, will choose one made of vellum.

We (and many other artists) adored the Legion Stonehenge Pad because it was made from an equal combination of vellum and cotton.

Hot vs. Cold Press vs. Rough Paper

Most paper suitable for colored pencils will be heat pressed.

While the name implies the technique of creation, the final texture will be noticeably different between these two.

Cold press paper is often utilized in some of the best watercolor papers or top-rated acrylic papers because it has a lot of roughness and teeth on the surface, making it easy to work with watercolors.

Some colored pencil painters prefer rougher cold-press paper because it allows for more layering.

Standard drawing paper or copy paper, on the other hand, will most likely be hot pressed.

Hot-pressed paper will have a mild sticky texture that can withstand abrasion.

Archival Paper

Achival paper

If you are making a colored pencil drawing as a commission or just want your work to endure a lifetime, you will want to choose archival paper.

Most importantly, you’ll want acid-free, chlorine-free, optical brightener-free, spiral-bound paper.These papers will not be yellow and will endure the test of time.

We prefer spiral-bound papers for preservation since there will be no glue touching the paper, which can often include substances that damage the paper over time.

Is this to say you should avoid all glue-bound paper?

Absolutely not.

Simply take away the binding side.

Bristol Paper

Bristol Paper

Strathmore produces a number of Bristol papers, all of which are suitable for colored pencils. Remember that Bristol paper normally has two surface types: smooth and vellum. A vellum surface is traditionally preferred for colored pencil work because it has more roughness and teeth than a flat surface. The teeth of a vellum surface aids in the grasping of the colored pencil as it is placed down, allowing the artist to obtain a deeper depth of tone.

However, because of the precise detail that can be obtained without the roughness of the paper interfering, many colored pencil artists have recently gravitated toward a smooth Bristol surface. Finally, choosing a smooth or vellum Bristol surface for your colored pencil work will come down to personal preference.

Toned Paper

Toned Paper

Many colored pencil painters use Strathmore 400 Series Toned Paper because of the possibilities of sketching on a mid-tone backdrop. Because the paper provides the median value that would otherwise have to be produced by the artist, a more extensive range of values from bright to dark may be employed, and the middle tone makes it easier for the artist to put shadows and highlights purposefully.

Strathmore Toned Paper is available in Sketch and Mixed Media weights.

Toned Sketch 400 Series: 80lb/118gsm

Strathmore Toned Sketch paper is available in two colors: warm tan and cold grey. It’s a wire-bound notebook with a fine tooth surface for drawing.

Strathmore Toned Mixed Media paper is available in three colors: warm tan, cool grey, and steel blue.

Medium-textured paper

Medium Texture Paper

Then there’s medium-grain paper, often known as cold press, vellum, normal, or “Not” (meaning not hot press). Then there’s medium-grain paper, often known as cold press, vellum, normal, or “Not” (meaning not hot press).

Smooth paper

Smooth Paper

Finally, there is smooth paper, which is also known as a hot press, plate, or fine grain.

It has little teeth, making it ideal for tiny details and flawless blending. The smooth paper produces more opaque and solid colors than rough paper because there are no deep dips in the teeth to fill up. Consider the following comparison of smooth and rough paper.

The lowered teeth restrict the amount of layers you can apply, but the binders in the pencils provide some flexibility. When working with smooth paper, start by laying down the color very lightly and gradually building it up. If you push too hard too soon, your stacking possibilities will be limited. You may reward yourself more.

Colored Pencil Paper

Colored Pencils paper

Our 400 Series Colored Pencil paper has a smooth, toothy surface that is suitable for a range of colored pencil methods. Smooth, uniform covering is possible, and the long-lasting surface can withstand repeated erasures and rebuilding. The combination of the substantial weight and the vellum surface enables the application of several layers.

Mixed Media Paper

Mixed Media paper

Mixed Media Paper is ideal for artists who wish to add more than simply colored pencils to their work or who like watercolor pencils.

Strathmore Mixed Media paper has a vellum drawing finish that is suitable for colored pencils and other dry media. It is also made of the same size as watercolor paper, making it suitable for wet media applications. You may blend colored pencils with other media to your heart’s content because of their robust surface and substantial weight.

We manufacture a variety of Mixed Media papers, which you may view here. Our top two suggestions:

Strathmore 400 Series Mixed Media Paper At 184lb/300gsm, this paper is heavyweight and will withstand layers of paint.

Quality and Longevity Of Papers

The quality of drawing paper may vary greatly, which influences not just how long your painting will endure but also how well your colored pencils function. If you buy inexpensive paper, it may be difficult to use since it is readily destroyed by abrasive processes (such as burnishing and erasing) and will warp or buckle if you use wet media. And even if you complete your artwork, it will most likely turn yellow and brittle within a few years. It’s acceptable to save money by practicing in a cheap sketchbook, but you should always do your best to help your artwork survive as long as possible by choosing excellent materials meant for permanence. After all, colored pencils are a sluggish medium, and the collector makes them happy.

At the very least, the paper you purchase should be acid-free. This is significant because any acid in the paper will damage the fibers, causing them to degrade and yellow over time. For example, most of the drawings I made in high school were done on inexpensive drawing paper, and the paper is now frail and yellow, altering the colors in the artwork. If only I had paid attention to my high school art instructor!

Most papers are manufactured from wood pulp and cellulose fibers, which naturally deteriorate as they age (thanks to the lignin they contain). It’s customary for manufacturers to neutralize acids during production, but the finest brands go above and above to prevent the acid from escaping.

What Should Be The Texture/Roughness?

The surface roughness of your paper has a significant impact on how your pencils feel and function. As a result, it’s critical that you find the appropriate texture for your creative style!

Paper texture, often known as grain, tooth, or finish, is the outcome of the various production processes utilized. Technically, terminology like tooth and texture mean distinct things (e.g., the peaks and valleys of the paper vs. the surface pattern of the fibers), but I’ll use them interchangeably in this post.

Paper textures range from exceedingly rough to crystal smooth, but producers normally divide them into three categories: rough, medium, and smooth. Colored pencils are incredibly versatile and may stick to almost any type of paper.

Conclusion

Thank you so much for your message! It can be difficult to choose appropriate drawing paper for use with colored pencils because there are so many identical paper options on the market, and it finally boils down to personal opinion.

Because there are so many variables to consider, I produced the Best Paper for Colored Pencils guide. Check it out for a complete explanation of what to look for, or continue reading for a fast synopsis.

To begin, it’s critical to use high-quality paper that can withstand abrasive procedures (such as burnishing and erasing) and maintain your artwork for as long as possible. At the very least, the paper you buy should be acid-free, which helps prevent it from becoming yellow and brittle over time. Labels like archival and permanent are useful indicators, but the true archival paper is manufactured from 100% cotton (also called rag paper).

You should also examine the appropriate paper texture for your colored pencils. Most individuals prefer a smooth texture (also known as hot press, plate, or fine-grain), which enables intricate work and simple mixing. If you use a lot of layers and want the look of a paper pattern or grain, use a medium texture (also called cold press or vellum).

If you want to use solvents or wet media with your colored pencils (as is usual with watercolor pencils), you might consider purchasing heavyweight paper. When lightweight paper absorbs moisture, it warps and buckles. Look for a heavyweight paper that is at least 300 gsm or 140 lb. It is preferable to utilize gsm than lb since it is stronger.

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Feature Image Credit Photo by javier gonzalez: https://www.pexels.com/photo/used-pen-lot-on-paper-89625/

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