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Book Binding

Best Bookbinding papers

Bookbinding papers are interesting in that, more than any other art paper, they are meant to be handled.  And handled.  And handled.  Books are made to be read.  So the ideal paper is durable, strong, flexible and resistant to dirt and fingerprints.  The weight of the paper is also very important - the pages should be thin enough to fold easily yet thick and opaque enough to prevent show-through.

Just as important is that the paper holds up to the binding process and can take a fold well without cracking.  Most better book papers are therefore made of cotton whose long fibers intertwine to produce exceptional strength.   Similarly, a mouldmade paper will be stronger than a machine-made sheet, due to the manufacturing process.  A final consideration is to select a paper with tight formation, which provides a clean and even surface for the printed text and images.

Strong durable Book papers
Book paper type writer

Book Binding Papers


Best Calligraphy Papers

Even taking into account the myriad quills, pens and nibs available on the market, the sweet spot for calligraphy paper comes down to sizing and surface texture.  You'll want a paper with enough surface sizing to prevent the ink from spreading  and feathering yet has sufficient absorbency to prevent smearing when overlapping lines.  

As for surface, typically a smoother, Hot Press surface is preferred as it will allow the pen or brush to move easily and undisturbed leaving a crisp line.  A rougher paper will cause some dragging on the nib creating  a more ragged edge and broken lines.

Calligraphy writing on paper
Calligraphy on Calligraphy Paper

Calligraphy Papers


Best Decorative Papers

While any paper can be called a "decorative" paper depending on how it's used, for this section we're focusing on many papers that are decorative in and of themselves - before they're even used.  These are some of our most fun papers, ranging from thin lace-like papers handmade in Japan to mica-coated metallic papers; from papers made of Cork to those silkscreened with centuries' old Florentine patterns.

We encourage you to browse through these papers and see for yourself.  


Papers for decorative stationery
beautiful decorative papers for packaging

Decorative Papers

Digital Printing


The capabilities and versatility of digital printers has continued to grow and with it so has the demand for better substrates.  Traditionally machines like the Scodix, Ricoh and HP Indigo have been limited to the stale offerings of the commercial paper world.  

We're determined to change this and have made great strides in bringing our fine papers and expertise to this market.  Legion was one of the first companies to offer fine art papers for digital presses long before it was popular to do so.  We continue to lead this charge of innovation with our shoulders pressed against the boundaries of what’s possible.  Aside from the stock grades below we now offer to custom treat any of our papers for digital printing on a bespoke basis

Working with key industry partners we have successfully launched HP Indigo compatible versions of both our keystone 100% cotton Stonehenge paper, our eco-friendly Legion Bamboo and our marquis Mirri line.  The Ricoh and Igen have also experienced successes of their own but since these machines do not require a specific coating, the paper selection process is more a matter of trail and error.


Digital Printing Papers

Graphite, Pastel, & Charcoal

Gouache Painting by Roz Stendahl on Stonehenge Kraft

Gouache Painting by Roz Stendahl on Stonehenge Kraft

Artists using graphite, charcoal, pastels and colored pencil- require a paper with some "tooth", or a pronounced surface texture.  This can range from a subtle laid surface to rough watercolor papers and everything in between.  As we suggest with most types of paper, there's no substitute for experimenting yourself.  We put together two drawing paper samplers containing a variety of papers of many colors and textures.

Also consider papers with the ability to hold up to numerous layers and durable enough to withstand erasing without the fibers pilling.  Some surface sizing on the paper allows artists to rework a surface, which makes the paper more forgiving.  Pastels require a softer paper so that the pigments become embedded in the paper instead of sitting on top of the surface.

Color pastels for art on paper
Papers for Charcoal

Drawing Papers

Hand Lithography

Best papers for hand lithography

The basic requirements for paper for lithography are flatness, good dimensional stability, neutral pH, ink receptivity and resistance to picking.  The goal is to use a paper that makes good contact with the ink on a plate.  This is a factor of the pressure used as well as the texture and softness of the paper.

Better papers can be printed dry or wet, each with its advantage.  Dry paper won't stretch nearly as much as dampened paper but requires a lot more pressure to push the paper into the incised plate. Dampened paper will pick up more detail from the plate and requires less ink and less pressure.

There is a wide range of papers that can be used for lithography including those with heavy textures and heavy weights.  As with papers for other applications, we encourage you to become familiar with a range of papers so you can choose the best paper for your project.  

As with other forms of printmaking, the most desirable papers are mouldmade as they will be more consistent and stable and more evenly made which is what you want when printing an edition.

Papers for hand lithography
Choosing a paper for Hand Lithography

Papers for Hand Lithography

Inkjet & Proofing

Best papers for inkjet printing

With an inkjet, compared to a digital print, you're trading speed for quality.  An inkjet will produce remarkably high-resolution images but take longer to print.

Papers suitable for inkjet printers require a special coating that receives the aqueous dye or pigment-based inks without feathering.  Coating technology has advanced to produce vivid high-resolution images  with high density (Dmax) and wide color gamut – or the broadest range of colors.  The best of these papers, with suitable pigment-based ink systems, can match or exceed the image quality and longevity of photographic gelatin-based silver halidecontinuous tone printing methods used for color photographs.

Fine art inkjet papers provide the luxurious feel of a handmade paper producing a print of great value. Generally speaking, papers for fine art inkjet printing fall into two categories: alpha-cellulose and cotton. The former is often associated with photo gloss, matte and luster surfaces, whereas cotton papers tend to be heavier, more textured and supple to the touch.  As cotton is a stronger fiber, prints made on cotton papers tend to have greater longevity, although this is heavily dependent on handling, storage/exhibition conditions and the inks.

Papers for inkjet are offered in either sheet or roll format making them compatible with the various photo quality printers on the market. Much to the disappointment of photographers in the United States, sheet sizes follow the US traditional “office” standard of 8.5x11, 11x17, 13x19 and 22x17 and not the photo aspect ratios of 8x10, 11x14, 16x20.

Image Courtesy: Andy Biggs

Image Courtesy: Andy Biggs

Inkjet and proofing papers

Inkjet & Proofing Papers


Image: Wolf Kahn

Image: Wolf Kahn

The opposite of relief printing, the intaglio printing process uses copper or zinc plates as surface with  incisions created by etching, engraving, drypoint, aquatint or mezzotint.  This process exerts enormous pressure on the paper, pushing it into the deep recesses and fine lines of the metal plate.  Therefore, a paper with exceptional strength and the ability to be dampened is required.  (Dampening allows the paper to become softer and malleable enough to absorb the ink between the delicate incisions made into the plate surface.)

Each paper has its own optimal soaking time depending on the internal sizing, thickness and fiber content.  Cotton papers with their long fibers need to be dampened or soaked longer than sulphite papers because wood fibers swell up faster.  It’s interesting to note that the cotton fibers tend to maintain their shape when drying, fusing the embossed design into the paper much better than its wood fiber counterpart.

Intaglio printing tools
Papers for Etching, Engraving, Embossing, drypoint, mezzotint and aquatint

Papers for Intaglio (etching, engraving, embossing, drypoint, mezzotint & aquatint)


Best papers for Laser printing

Laser printers are a finicky bunch.  While most printers will accept a wide range of papers that doesn’t mean those papers are recommended.  Even those papers that produce a good image may be damaging to the machine in the long run as dust or fiber particles can build up inside the printer.

It’s  always best to check with the printer specifications to ensure the proper weight and material can be accepted.

Having said that, most printers will accept papers that are not too heavy or rigid and have a surface smooth enough to allow the toner to adhere.  It’s also important to use a paper that can withstand the heat that literally fuses the ink to the surface of the paper.   For this reason, resin coated, glossy or luster inkjet papers should not be used.

Laser printing on Paper
Papers for Laser Printing

Papers for Laser Printing


Best papers for Letterpress Printing

Although it’s said that one can letterpress onto most surfaces, ideally you’ll want a paper thick enough to produce a deep impression, while luscious enough to provide a sophisticated tactile experience. The letterpress process harks back to the classic days of high-quality craftsmanship not found in most modern printing methods.  The process requires a high degree of skill, but in the right hands, letterpress excels at fine typography.  Because the printing process lays down one color at a time, it’s important to select a paper that will absorb the ink evenly.

Cotton papers have been a favorite choice among letterpress printers and designers due to their durability to withstand pressure from the press. No other printing process produces more favorable results than letterpress, so it’s even more critical to experiment on a variety of papers.  You’ll be surprised at how beautiful an invitation prints on something like Rising Museum Board - a board normally used by the framing industry.

Letterpress Papers
Papers for Letterpress printing

Letterpress Papers

Matting & Framing

Best papers for matting and framing

One should always select archival quality paper and board to best preserve whatever is being framed. After all, there's a reason it was framed in the first place.

The right materials will not only be aesthetically pleasing, but will also keep your work safe for years to come. They should acid-free and buffered with calcium carbonate to neutralize any potential environmental acids. The use of 100% cotton museum board provides matchless quality and purity which will survive the test of time.

Our most popular paper for matting and framing is Rising Museum Board. It's made to the strictest of standards and has been approved by the Library of Congress and exceed the matboard standards set by the Fine Art Trade Guild. It cuts extremely well, making for an ultra-sharp and clean bevel.

Many of the papers listed below are used regularly by the museums, collectors and framers the world over. Your art deserves the highest quality matting and mounting materials made today, choose your papers wisely.

Matting and Framing papers
100% cotton museum board for framing

List of Corresponding Papers

Offset Lithography

image courtesy: Fausset Printing

image courtesy: Fausset Printing

Offset machines run at high speed so it’s important that papers are durable and sized correctly for this process to ensure proper ink lay down and hold-out without the inks picking off the surface.  As a rule all papers for offset should be surface sized to ensure that less of the surface fibers pull off during the printing process.

To better understand what this means, here’s how offset printing works:  The paper passes under a series of rollers, two of which work together to put the printed impression on the paper. Before that happens, ink and water are applied to the printing plate, which itself is mounted on a roller. The ink binds to the part of the plate that contains design elements; the water is applied to the white space portion of the paper. Oil is mixed with the ink to ensure that the ink and water repel each other and there is no smearing or blotchiness on the finished product. The plate cylinder transfers, or offsets, the design onto a rubber blanket roller, which in turn transfers the design onto the paper. 

Papers for offset lithography
Paper for offset machine

Papers for Offset Lithography


Best papers for packaging

The purpose of packaging is not just to protect the product inside, but also to create demand, hint at the quality of its contents and reflect the brand it represents. The design – not just visual but tactile as well - that can achieved with paper can make the entire experience from first look, opening and to disposal or storage a wonderful experience.

We have hundreds of papers in our collection that have been used for packaging and through the years we’ve created hundreds of others for specific projects. We have – or can create – almost anything a designer can dream up. Our papers can also inspire ideas in the creative mind. We encourage designers to come to our showroom and look and feel different papers they never knew existed.

Courtesy: Precise Continental

Courtesy: Precise Continental

Packaging papers

List of Corresponding Papers

Pen & Ink

All three images: Gabriel Campanario

All three images: Gabriel Campanario

Like Calligraphy, a paper is required that is smooth and strong enough to withstand the various pen and ink tips available.  Pen & ink traditionally means using a dip-style pen where papers were required to be more durable, but modern tools with ball points and felt tips are more forgiving.  Some sizing is necessary to prevent the ink from bleeding, but not too much so that the surface is too hard and the ink smears or feathers.

papers recommended for ink drawing
drawing papers for pen and ink

Papers for Pen & Ink

Platinum Printing

©Carl Weese

©Carl Weese

Platinum is an early photographic process in which an image is formed by actual platinum metal, unlike in conventional photographs where it is formed by silver. The process was popular in the late 19th and early 20th century, when commercially produced platinum paper became available. It was the medium of choice of great masters like Alfred Steiglitz, Edward Steichen and Paul Strand.

There are two essential qualities in a platinum paper: First, the paper should have a smooth (but not a plate) surface with good wet strength (internally & externally sized) so that after the many clearing solutions (baths) the paper will dry perfectly flat.

Second, the paper should be without any buffering agents (such as calcium carbonate) or alkaline chemicals so as to not upset the chemistry and possibly affect the performance and quality of the final print.

Platinum emulsion has a unique response to light resulting in the most beautiful tonal range in black & white photography. It also happens to be the only true archival photographic process. The platinum print will remain unchanged as long as the paper it is printed on exists, thus making the image virtually immortal.

Text courtesy

© Carl Weese

© Carl Weese

© Arkady Lvov

© Arkady Lvov

Papers for Platinum Printing

Relief Printing

© Eve Stockton “Woodland Landscape II w/ watercolor, 3'x6'”

© Eve Stockton “Woodland Landscape II w/ watercolor, 3'x6'”

Block printing is a relief process made by inking and printing from the top surface of an object. Woodcuts and linocuts are similar relief processes.  MoMA has a great introduction to the process.

The process requires a strong paper to withstand the rubbing/burnishing of the surface against the block, but also soft enough to absorb the ink within the grooves.   If the surface detail of the block is very fine, a thin, smooth paper would typically be used.  That said, if a press is used almost any paper is suitable.  For example, watercolor grades with heavy sizing require significant pressure but will produce a crisp print on an etching press.

Japanese papers are typically associated with block printing as they are thin and pliable with little to no sizing, allowing the paper to easily peel away from the block resulting in sharp crisp images.  However, as is the theme throughout this site, only by experimenting with different substrates will you find the best choice for your project.

Relief printing papers
Printmaking Papers

Block Printing Papers

Restoration & Conservation

Best papers for restoration and conservation

Conservation is a process that begins prior to framing.  It begins by keeping the paper as archival as possible. For example, blotters that are used to absorb moisture in the air and paper needs to be archival as does glassine, which is used as an interfacing sheet between papers during the drying and/or the storage process.

Conservators look for strength and a range of material offered in varying weights. Japanese papers consisting of kozo or mulberry offer the best materials for the restoration process due to their strength and pliability.  Japanese papers come in various weights so very thin tissues can be used to repair damage to delicate areas, whereas thicker papers are best suited to restoring backs of books or spines, for example.  Kozo papers are primarily used in the framing industry as hinges because the material is strong and naturally acid-and lignin-free.

Restoration and conservation papers
Art restoration and conservation papers

Restoration & Conservation Papers


Courtesy Gary Lichtenstein Editions

Courtesy Gary Lichtenstein Editions

More than any other printmaking process, silkscreen is less dependent on paper characteristics as you can print on nearly any surface.  Where paper is concerned it comes down to personal preference. For a print requiring many layers of ink, a surface sized paper will keep the ink on the surface and allow layer after layer to be printed.   Lightly or non-sized papers will allow the ink to sink into the paper. 

Texture should also be considered.  A smoother paper (especially suitable for photographic images) will produce a sharper image capturing more detail whereas a more heavily textured sheet will become a more pronounced part of the final image.  

Dimensional stability is important for registration - look for a paper that will not greatly stretch or contract with moisture during the printing process, during which up to hundreds of colors are laid down one at a time.

Courtesy Gary Lichtenstein Editions

Courtesy Gary Lichtenstein Editions

Courtesy Gary Lichtenstein Editions

Courtesy Gary Lichtenstein Editions

Papers for Silkscreen


Best papers for Stationery

This is a very broad category.  With the right design, almost any paper can be used as part of an invitation or announcement - be it as card, overlay, envelope lining or the envelope itself.  Through the years, we've seen hundreds of different types of papers used as part of some very creative projects.

The papers selected below stood out in our minds in one way or another.  Arturo and Lettra, for example, are complete sets of papers/cards and envelopes, and are hugely popular for invitations and greeting cards. Stardream, Curious and other metallics have, over the past decade, become the new staple of the industry.  Others included below are notable for their color palette, texture, weights, printability and feel.  

We also included many writing papers that make for goregous stationery.  (Around here, we're currently using Frankfurt, Somerset Book and Arturo Book for ours.)  All in all, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with the myriad options available to you so you can choose the right paper for your next project. 

Stationery Papers
Papers for Stationery and invitations

Papers for Stationery, Invitations and Announcements


Best watercolor papers

As watercolor paints are semi-translucent, papers play a key role in the finished work of art. The paper’s brightness and texture are just as critical as the choice in pigments.  Papers most suitable to this water-based medium accept a watercolor wash evenly with reproducible results.  

The key ingredient that that makes a high-quality watercolor paper stand out as exceptional is the sizing - the invisible material used in the paper-making process to make the paper more resistant to water.  The sizing enables the washing out of color and reworking the same area, which is key for a watercolor papers.  Substantial sizing also prevents the fibers from buckling.  

There are a variety of surfaces for different watercolor applications, but for the most part watercolor papers are classified as Hot Press (HP) exhibiting a smooth surface, which is prefect for fine detailed images; Cold Press (CP) having a more textured surface; and Rough (R), as the name implies, a highly textured surface.  

A new synthetic paper called Yupo has recently caught on as a unique surface for the watercolor technique.  Yupo’s ultra smooth non-porous surface allows the artist to erase the brush strokes during the painting process.  The paint dries only by oxidization with the use of a hair dryer slowly across the sheet.  As with most artistic processes it’s best to experiment to find the paper most suitable to your needs.

Watercolor Papers