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6 Best Watercolor Papers For Beginners – Save Time and Money in 2021

Turning to the search for specialized products for working with watercolors on the Internet or in your local store, you will find a choice from a fairly large range of materials. But what is the best paper for watercolor painting? what is the cheap watercolor paper?
• Uniform texture on the softer side.
• Easy to blend when wet.
• Suitable for drawing with ink and pencil.

Considered one of the best watercolor paper brands.

2. Canson XL series watercolor texture paper swab.

• Machine sample texture.
• Economical price
• Strong enough

Mid-priced best watercolor paper for beginners

Strathmore 300 Series is smooth on one side and has more texture on the other side, so you can draw on both or both sides! Use the smoother side for this style of drawing. It’s a heavier weight, so it won’t sag if you decide to use stronger water. Student grade watercolor paper.

3. Strathmore 300 Series watercolor pad, 11″ x15″, 12 sheets

• Good price.
• High-quality watercolor paper.
• Can be staggered washed, but not easy.
• Won’t crease if wetness is less than 11″ x 15″
• Somewhat uniform texture pattern.
• Slightly cheaper than Strathmore 400 weight

Note that a gradual wash is not very effective. Getting a good smooth gradation on anything but quality Arches paper will be more difficult.

4. Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor Pads, 9″ x 12″, wire bound, 12 sheets

When I teach beginners their first couple of lessons, I use this particular paper. It will handle very wet appliqués, won’t shrink or warp unless you’re drawing larger than 12″ x 18″. It won’t break the bank, but students feel almost professional:

• The paper accepts a dry brush because of the heavier texture, the pigments flow easily because the paints lay on the paper without sinking too quickly, which means I can sprinkle wet greenish waves with table salt and it will result in a snowflake sparkling pattern.
• Medium weight, no stretching required for small sizes.
• Dense enough paper for brushing and embossing.
• Textured to apply with a dry brush.
• Smooth enough to draw a fine line in watercolor.

 

Premium quality and high price range

Arches are the only paper I use. It never lets me down, it’s easy to take home, and it’s professional quality. I do keep a few sheets of 400 Strathmore on hand for experimentation.

5. Arches Watercolor Paper Pads, 140 lbs, hot pressed, 9″ x 12″

• A paper with excellent workmanship.
• Superior quality.
• Cheap watercolor paper applies over the paper and comes off easily if it doesn’t leave smudges.
• Excellent blending washes
• Archival.
• Handmade without machine texturing.
• Many layers of glazing will be required.

6. Arches Watercolor Paper Block, Cold Press, 12″ x 16″, 300 pound

 

Here is a video from the Arches company telling about their product:

One thing is for sure, the more you paint, the better you get at it and the more finicky you will be about the paper. When you first start out, as soon as you choose your method of application selection, it all comes down to budget and if you want to skip the paper stretching stage.

Hope that we gave you an answer to the question of what is the best watercolor paper. As you explore and experiment with good watercolor paper, you will find your voice and settle on your favorite paper. Most importantly, have fun!

Having discovered and once tried a special cheap watercolor paper, you will understand how wonderful it is that it was invented, how much it simplifies the process of drawing and allows you to enjoy it. Most student watercolor paper, sketchbooks, and watercolor stickers are made from 100% cellulose paper. This is the most budget-friendly option, which is suitable for studying, sketching, and practicing skills. Cellulose paper for watercolors does not absorb paint very well, so the work on it must be divided into stages, draw in parts, and the paint pigment remains on the surface of the sheet and the colors do not fade. 100% cotton paper has the maximum absorbency, it retains moisture for a long time.

The cotton paper will tolerate a multi-layer technique in a wet way, but the paint pigment is eaten in and several layers are needed to achieve brightness. If you make a mistake, you can wash it almost completely on cotton paper, unlike cellulose. Paper made from a mixture of materials has the advantages of the material that is more in the composition. There is paper cotton + cellulose, there is bamboo + cotton. It is very important that the paper is a natural white color, without optical bleach and acids in the composition, so your work will be preserved and last longer.

Varieties of cheap watercolor paper

There are several types of watercolor  Paper texture that differ in the type of production and final characteristics:

• Hot pressing (satin) – has the smoothest coating. On such paper, it is convenient to draw with pencils, markers, liners, if necessary.
• Cold-pressed (fin) – usually medium-grained paper (rarely with large corrugation). It has a roughness, but less than in the floor lamp. It is considered the most optimal for beginners, as it is convenient to learn and practice both filling and detailed elaboration.
• Torchon (rough texture/rough)- represents a surface with larger roughness and irregularities. The least convenient for detailing, especially if you have no experience in the work. It is used for “wet” and “scraping” techniques.

The smoother best cheap watercolor paper is suitable for portraits and still lifes, as there are fewer fills in these genres than when painting landscapes. For them, it is better to use a porous texture. In addition to the named differences between these types, you can try and choose between them to your own taste. Take your sweet time, it is not a race.

Density

Depending on the characteristics of your manner (the amount of water used, how many layers of paint you plan to apply), you should pay attention to the more or less dense paper. The higher the density, the more resistant to water it will be. But with the thickness, as a rule, the cost increases.
The average is considered to be 200-300 g/m2, it is the best paper for watercolor beginners and more experienced artists.

In the process of manufacturing by cold and hot pressing, you can get different surface reliefs or textures of cheap watercolor paper. A smooth satin (sateen) or fine-grained texture is obtained by hot pressing and is suitable for painstakingly detailed painting, botanical watercolors, and glazes. Large grain (torchon/coarse) is made by cold pressing. The best cold press watercolor paper is suitable for large formats, landscapes, wet techniques, and creating beautiful grainy effects. The average grain (fin) is also made by cold pressing, this is a universal “golden mean” and is suitable for different techniques. Density Paper often refers to its thickness, but this is not entirely true.

The density is measured in grams per square meter, that is, it depends on the weight. The most versatile density is considered to be 200-300 g/m2. Paper with a density of less than 200 g/m2 will deform in the process. If you do not draw directly in the album, then any sheet of cheap watercolor paper must be fixed to the tablet with masking tape or buttons before working.

Formats and sizes

Watercolor paper can be found in sheets, albums, glues, sketchbooks, and rolls of various sizes. Sheets are convenient because you can make one copy, try it out, and see how this paper meets your needs, without spending on an entire album. In addition, a large sheet can be cut into the non-standard sizes you need, so it is the best paper to use for watercolor.

Sheets of cheap watercolor paper are mostly large — it is 55×65 cm, smaller sheets are difficult to find, and if you need more, then there are 75×110 cm. The sheets are also appreciated because they have an uncut, uneven edge, which gives the work a charm. When you know exactly what kind of paper you want, choose a glue stick or a tablet with a solid cardboard backing. Watercolor paper in albums can be in different formats: A3, A4, and even A2. Sketchbooks for watercolors are chosen by those who like to take watercolors always with them, this is a compact road option. To sum up, there is no good or bad paper, there is a paper that is suitable for certain techniques, and each artist chooses the one that meets his requirements and tasks.

Why do we need glues?

When making drawings on cheap watercolor paper, you probably noticed that it comes in waves from the water, so it must be fixed on the tablet or stretched. To circumvent this problem, glues have been developed in which all the sheets are connected to each other from one edge or around the entire perimeter, except for a small hole in which it is easy to slip a knife and remove the top sheet when you finish working on the drawing, making room for the next one. At the same time, the moisture from the sheet in the work does not fall on the rest.

Gluing is convenient to save time or if you need to quickly make a sketch/drawing, as, for example, in the open air, and there is no tape at hand for fixing. However, glues, in the version around the perimeter, are usually quite expensive, but often called the best watercolor paper.

Prices for watercolor paper vary greatly and depend, as a rule, on manufacturing technology and brand. Today, most watercolor paper is produced in a factory. The advantage of this production process is the inexpensive paper of optimal quality. But there are also disadvantages: watercolor paper can absorb water poorly and is not always durable.

The best watercolor paper on a budget

I want to say right away that everything described in this article is certainly only my view based on experience and the technique in which I work, and may not coincide with other points of view.

1. Strathmore Vision watercolor pad, 11″ x15″, 30 sheets

“>

  • Uniform texture on the softer side.
  • Easy to blend when wet.
  • Suitable for drawing with ink and pencil.

 

Considered as one of the best watercolor paper brands.

Check Price 

 

2. Canson XL series watercolor texture paper swab

“>

  • Machine sample texture.
  • Economical price
  • Strong enough

Check Price 

Mid-priced best watercolor paper for beginners

Strathmore 300 Series is smooth on one side and has more texture on the other side, so you can draw on both or both sides! Use the smoother side for this style of drawing. It’s a heavier weight, so it won’t sag if you decide to use stronger water. Student grade watercolor paper.

 

3. Strathmore 300 Series watercolor pad, 11″ x15″, 12 sheets

“>

  • Good price.
  • High-quality watercolor paper.
  • Can be staggered washed, but not easy.
  • Won’t crease if wetness is less than 11″ x 15″
  • Somewhat uniform texture pattern.
  • Slightly cheaper than Strathmore 400 weight

Check Price 

Note that a gradual wash is not very effective. Getting a good smooth gradation on anything but quality Arches paper will be more difficult.

 

4. Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor Pads, 9″ x 12″, wire bound, 12 sheets

“>

When I teach beginners their first couple of lessons, I use this particular paper. It will handle very wet appliqués, won’t shrink or warp unless you’re drawing larger than 12″ x 18″. It won’t break the bank, but students feel almost professional:

 

  • The paper accepts a dry brush because of the heavier texture, the pigments flow easily because the paints lay on the paper without sinking too quickly, which means I can sprinkle wet greenish waves with table salt and it will result in a snowflake sparkling pattern.
  • Medium weight, no stretching required for small sizes.
  • Dense enough paper for brushing and embossing.
  • Textured to apply with a dry brush.
  • Smooth enough to draw a fine line in watercolor.

Check Price 

Premium quality and high price range

 

Arches are the only paper I use. It never lets me down, it’s easy to take home, and it’s professional quality. I do keep a few sheets of 400 Strathmore on hand for experimentation.

 

5. Arches Watercolor Paper Pads, 140 lbs, hot pressed, 9″ x 12″

“>

  • A paper with excellent workmanship.
  • Superior quality.
  • The cheap watercolor paper applies over the paper and comes off easily if it doesn’t leave smudges.
  • Excellent blending washes
  • Archival.
  • Handmade without machine texturing.
  • Many layers of glazing will be required.

Check Price 

6. Arches Watercolor Paper Block, Cold Press, 12″ x 16″, 300 pound

“>

Check Price 

 

Here is a video from the Arches company telling about their product:

 

 

One thing is for sure, the more you paint, the better you get at it and the more finicky you will be about the paper. When you first start out, as soon as you choose your method of application selection, it all comes down to budget and if you want to skip the paper stretching stage.

Hope that we gave you an answer to the question of what is the best watercolor paper. As you explore and experiment with good watercolor paper, you will find your voice and settle on your favorite paper. Most importantly, have fun!

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