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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