What Paper is Best for Watercolor?

What Paper is Best for Watercolor?
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Both drawing and painting are beautiful forms of art that allow you to relax and express whatever you are feeling at a certain moment.

And you know what the best product to practice and present your art in is? A sketchbook.

Investing in a good one will allow you to have loads of fun and creativity in your free time. Lucky for all of us, the sketchbook market is huge and finding something that you like will not be a problem. 

There are a few points you need to consider when looking for a sketchbook though, and paper quality is among the most important.

Why is the paper quality so important, you might ask? Because it determines the type of media you will be able to use, and the longevity of your art.

A good, high-quality paper will allow you to use both dry media, markers, watercolors, and gels, while a lower quality one will be durable only when it comes to pencils and charcoals.

Along with that, a dense paper is going to be bleed-proof and you will not have to stress about residue being left on the next page. This means you can focus instead on getting the best use out of your sketchbook.

With this being especially important for watercolor art, let’s go ahead and take a look at the things you should know when looking for the best paper for watercolor.

best paper for watercolor.


This comes as no surprise and is a consequence of the fact that there are two types of watercolor papers sold on the market: students’ and artists’. While the second one is more expensive, it is much more durable and will allow you to enjoy art that does not bleed through to the next page or turn yellow over time.

Sadly, students’ watercolor paper may handle the media itself, but it will start to lose its original color after a while, and that means you may not be able to keep your paintings.


Similar to when choosing a clothing item, the material that a paper is made out of matters. Now, a general rule of thumb is that all papers are made by mixing cellulose fibers and a percentage of water.

But what is important for you to know is that those fibers must be 100% cotton. It is the most durable type of paper that will take any type of watercolor, and serve as a bleed-proof paper too.

How is it Produced

Another factor that you should look at is the way that the watercolor paper was produced. Students watercolor paper will usually be made by a machine, and while it may serve its purpose for some time, it will start to lose its quality very soon after.

On the other hand, hand- or mold-made papers are able to take a beating and provide that beautiful rough texture, perfect for watercolor art.

How Much It Weighs

Weight is important for one reason, and that is stretching. A lighter paper may need to be stretched before you start painting and that may wrinkle it or ruin the texture.

While a light paper (around  300 GSM) will be adequate for beginners and casual watercolor artists, you might need to invest in a heavier one if you plan to use harsher washes. A heavier paper should be above 600 GSM. It is pricier but absolutely worth the money.


Now, there are three types of texture to look at: hot-pressed, cold-pressed, and rough. Rough, as the name itself says, has more tooth and is perfect if you are looking to use heavier watercolors and washes.

A cold-pressed paper is mostly liked by beginners as it is not completely smooth but doesn’t have the tooth that a rough paper has. Last but not least is the hot-pressed paper. It has the type of texture you would want for more detailed work or if you are planning to use dry media as well.


Last but not least is tinting. As you may have noticed, almost all papers are either white or cream colored, and that for a good reason.

Such color provides a good reflection on the surface and allows for a more luminescent look. Some artists even buy a plain white paper and then add a light layer of whatever color they want to be on the surface for artistic effect.

​Final Thoughts

Choosing a high-quality watercolor paper is not as hard as you may think – the above-mentioned tips are just points you should look at to make the process easier. Finding an adequate watercolor paper will take you no more than a few minutes, especially if you know what you are looking for.

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