Watercolor Paper Types

Watercolor Paper Types

Distinctive Features of Watercolor Paper

Watercolor is a technique that involves using a lot of water. In other words, the quality paper should not get wet, or deform under the influence of moisture. Besides, it must withstand several corrections if an artist wants to change something in the painting.

Paper for watercolor differs from all other types, including office paper, in its characteristics. First, it withstands moisture and paint during the production process. Second, the surface is made using special mechanisms that have a certain type of embossing, which affects the surface pattern.

Watercolors can also be painted on offset (coated) paper, but only using the glaze technique (the work does not involve any washing and scraping), because such paper, not being glued, cannot withstand corrections with water. With regard to external differences, then watercolor paper can have different forms, types of design. We will talk about them in detail today, but for now, let's recall the main important characteristics of watercolor paper.

How Is Paper for Watercolor Produced?

In accordance with the manufacturing methods, the following type of paper for watercolor is distinguished:

  • •    handmade paper with a unique live texture of sheets. These sheets usually have a filigree watermark. Such large painting paper may have an uneven edge, which characterizes its handicraft production method and gives it a special charm.
  • •    machine-made is an industrial (accelerated) manufacturing method. These are the least durable, water-resistant full sheet watercolor paper intended for training activities. Sheets of paper made in this way have all edges cut off. They may have a watermark, but it is applied to the finished, still wet sheet by embossing, and not using a filigree motif.
  • •    mold-made - a combination of manual labor and machine. These watercolor paper rolls usually have a filigree watermark. Besides, this paper for watercolor may have an uneven edge, which gives it a special charm.

What Are the Types of Watercolor Paper?

The basis for watercolors is almost always paper. School albums for watercolors are not very suitable for professional art. Moreover, the paper is smooth and does not differ in weight. But special paper is a completely different matter. And there is something to talk about here. There are:

  • •    Watercolor pads;
  • •    Watercolor sketchbooks;
  • •    Watercolor blocks;
  • •    Watercolor paper rolls;
  • •    Large painting paper.

It is very convenient to work with notebooks and sketchbooks. You can use them at home. Besides, put them in your bag and go to the embankment or go for an outing. In turn, a wood base (board) is needed for full sheet watercolor paper. Most often it is attached to the board with buttons or masking tape.

Watercolor paper is divided according to the pressing method and texture (on its painted surface). Another important characteristic is paper weight. The thicker the paper, the less it becomes wavy from the large amount of water during the drawing process. Also paper for watercolors can be with a slightly yellow tint. That is normal and due to the manufacturing process. As for the material from which they are made, the following ones prevail on the market:

  • •    100% linen (when working on such paper, it is easy to make corrections, scrape and rub. On linen you get the smoothest and brightest color layout);
  • •    100% cotton (the most common base of modern high-quality papers for watercolor. Compared to linen and hemp, cotton fiber is softer and looser);
  • •    Blend of Linen and Cotton in various percentages.

Watercolor Pads

Watercolor paper pads are of both types on a spiral and glued. They have several features:

  • •    Beautiful embossing on paper;
  • •    Neat texture;
  • •    The ability to apply all techniques at once.

Many artists like to work with notebooks. With it you can make large fills and wash out paint. Also, the paper allows some corrections due to its good texture and quality. Besides, the paint looks bright and saturated after drying. Some artists distinguish between spiral and glued notebooks. However, most do not attach much importance to this, since they prefer to immediately separate the used sheets of paper.

If you are going to work not in a studio, but somewhere on the way where there is not enough space to fit well, then it is better to buy spiral notebooks for watercolor, as you can turn the sheets and move from one painting to another. When working with glued watercolor pads, you will not be able to flip the sheets, and then you will have to tear off the previous one to move on to the new one. In any case, it will not be possible to collect a collection of road sketches. But the choice, of course, is up to you.

Watercolor Sketchbook

A sketchbook for watercolors is a wonderful gift for both a professional and an amateur. Besides, it is not necessary to wait until friends and relatives figure out to give it to you - buy it yourself and enjoy painting. The design of the watercolor sketchbooks can be very different: color variations, ornaments, drawings, gradient transitions, inscriptions, lines, stripes - the choice is endless. You can also create a sketchbook yourself.

In the best watercolor sketchbooks only a high quality fine grain watercolor paper is used. It is produced on a special cylindrical machine simulating hand casting. Also, the paper can have a special impregnation against mold formation, does not contain chlorine, acids and optical brighteners, which guarantees long-term preservation of work. Sheets can be assembled in a spiral. Sometimes they are glued together as well. Often watercolor sketchbooks come in both landscape and book format.

Most often, the back of the cover is made of solid cardboard, which makes it possible to draw on the move. A watercolor sketchbook will be especially convenient when traveling, since it is small in size and has modest dimensions. Some models have rounded corners that will not ruin your bag or pocket. Watercolor sketchbook is ideal for watercolor, tempera, gouache, acrylic, ink, charcoal, graphite.

What Is a Watercolor Block?

The watercolor block looks rectangular. It contains several dozen sheets. A special feature is that all sheets are glued together and have a cardboard base. After you use the first sheet and finish the painting, you need to separate it from the other sheets. That is all the insidiousness of watercolor blocks, since not everyone can immediately understand how to use them correctly. Sometimes people even manage to damage the sheet when trying to remove it from the block. We will show you how to use the watercolor block.

Watercolor paper block is glued all the way around except for one small area at the top. Typically to get the paper off one uses something that is sharp enough to separate. However, be careful so as not to scratch the paper underneath. Thus, use the pallet knife to angle it up so it does not scratch the paper. You can also use a credit card, a razor blade. In such a way, take the cover off. The upper layer of the watercolor paper block is ready to use. Then, when you have finished the painting, to get it off do the same thing using a pallet knife. Keep it angled up and separate the sheet of paper from the rest of the watercolor block. You will see that even though the painting is completely painted the paper underneath is still clean. You could still use the back of this sheet if you want it.

Watercolor Block vs. Pad

Watercolor blocks and watercolor pads remain the most sought-after commodities for artists. There is nothing strange about it, as they are very convenient and practical. Some artists, especially beginners, do not see any significant difference between them. However, they are. Let's figure it out: watercolor block vs. pad.

  • •    Watercolor paper pads have individual sheets that are bound on the top. You can just run it through your jet printer as soon as you remove the theme from the pad.
  • •    Watercolor blocks are bound on oil from all four sides. However, some are only bound on two and that keeps the paper stretched for you. Thus, you cannot run them from your printer without removing them from the watercolor block.

Watercolor Paper Rolls and Large Painting Paper

If you just adore watercolor and paint with it often, then you are better off using a large watercolor paper roll. First, you save a lot of money. Second, the painting surface will always be at hand. Watercolor paper rolls are huge rolls of paper that you can cut to your liking (that is, adjust their size). That is great for when you want to stretch the paper on a watercolor painting board.

Another common option is large painting paper. You can buy big watercolor paper sheets of different sizes. They are perfect for drawing paintings, huge drawings. As for quality, like all paper, paper rolls and large full watercolor sheets have their own characteristics that may differ. These include both grain size and production method.

Low-quality paper used for watercolors may serve as a reason for refusal to purchase a work by a gallery or museum, which impose strict requirements on the preservation of the paper and its color, on the influence of the components included in the paper. Besides, exclusive exhibitions are interested in only well-prepared works. Bad surfaces for painting are out of question in that case. Firms that traditionally produce materials for artists (and some for more than one century) try to satisfy these requirements as much as possible. The quality of their watercolor paper full sheets has already been tested by time. Watercolor paper can be used as a base for any water-borne paint, as well as for drawing. Typically, the distinctive characteristics are written on the packaging of watercolor paper. If some of the characteristics are missing, then the paper has the simplest characteristics.


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