July 16, 2021

Types of drawing or sketching paper for beginners

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To make a good sketch, you need the right equipment.  There are all sorts of drawing and sketching paper on the market, from relatively inexpensive to expensive.  So what do you choose?

Let’s look at two different types:  hot pressed watercolor paper (HPC) and cold-pressed watercolor paper (CP).  A good place to start is the  Watercolor Paper article on this site.  (See the section on cold and hot presses.)

For practicing sketching and drawing, HPC paper makes a good choice for beginners.  HPC paper has a  smooth surface, which is easier to work on than CP paper.

 

Person Writing on White Paper

This portfolio of  Saunders  Studio watercolor paper contains both HPC and cold-pressed varieties.    This paper is acid-free and  100% rag,  which are two important features for artists.

Acid-free paper is important because it does not yellow over time and will last longer than other types of paper. Also, it contains no harmful chemicals that can be absorbed by the artist’s skin or interfere with a work in progress.

100% rag refers to the fact that this portfolio of watercolour paper consists entirely of cotton fibers from which the cellulose has been removed during processing to make standard-sized sheets measuring 8 1/2 x 11 inches (22 x 28 cm). It is possible to purchase 100% rag drawing and sketching paper in pad form, available in various sizes. This is the most economical choice for drawing and sketching (and there are some beautiful sheets available).

As with all art supplies, there is a wide range of prices among different types and brands of watercolor paper.  There’s no need to purchase expensive watercolor paper for sketching or practicing your skills as an artist.

Another key consideration when choosing drawing or sketching paper is working surface size.  If you’re primarily interested in making small sketches using the ink pen on the left above, then any type of drawing or supply store will carry adequate-sized sheets that will serve your purpose well.  But if you also want to work with a pencil  (and someday watercolor paint or other media), then you’ll want to invest in larger-sized drawing pads.

There is another factor to consider when choosing the size of drawing paper:  the amount of color that will be applied.  This Moleskine sketching pad left above would be excellent for a beginner who plans on making smaller drawings and using very little color.  The small sheets are ¼ inch (6 mm) thick and 6 by 8 inches (15 x 20 cm). The actual working area measures 5 1/8 by 7 3/4 inches (13 x 19 cm).

 

person writing on white notebook

Some features of good sketching paper are:

  • Acid-free –  prevents yellowing  over time  and  contains  no  harsh chemicals Safe for use with water
  • 100% rag (cotton fibers)  – The drawing surface is made entirely of cotton fibers, with no cellulose.
  • Portfolio containing sheets in various sizes and weights – versatile for a variety of uses.   One could easily switch to another size/brand or weight depending on the subject or media used. They can also be cut down to smaller sizes if need be, which increases their versatility.
  • Cold press – creates darker lines, so it’s easier to see them as you draw and sketch. This is especially helpful when working with brush pens that are not waterproof.
  • Hot Press – gives a  smoother finished appearance. The dark lines are lighter and less dense than those made with cold press paper.
  • One can also purchase drawing and sketching paper in pad form, available in various sizes. As with all art supplies, there’s a wide range of prices among different types and brands of watercolor paper.

 There’s no need to purchase expensive watercolor paper for sketching or practicing your skills as an artist. Another key consideration when choosing drawing or sketching paper is working surface size.

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