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How to Choose Watercolor Paper: Pick the Best you Actually Need

How to choose Watercolor paper from the plethora of choices out there! Are YOU Confused? Fear not here are some helpful tips that will help you understand your paper and the choices better, I also have a Free guide that can help you dig even deeper into the world of Watercolor paper!


How to Choose Watercolor Paper: Pick the Best you Actually Need

Why you should use only Watercolor Paper for doing Watercolor?

Watercolor paper is very unique in characteristics. Watercolor paper has a higher absorbency, and it holds more water and does not buckle like other low quality papers. If you want your watercolor paintings to be frustration free then do not use the regular paper no matter how thick it is.

Cheap paper can result into bad quality paintings, cause bobbling and warping, fading and staining. It is almost impossible to lift colors from that kind of paper, So all in all any paper other than specific cotton watercolor paper is a big NO NO!

How to Choose Watercolor Paper: Pick the Best you Actually Need

Watercolor paper also has a textured surface, which allows the watercolor paint to work better and create more interesting effects. It is easier to control the paint on proper watercolor paper.

If you want a good outcome then only go with the watercolor paper, again when it come to watercolor paper there are many choices and this FREE guide can help you choose what will work best for you.

10 benefits of using Watercolor Paper for Watercolors

Here are 10 benefits of using Watercolor paper for Watercolor Painting-

1. Better absorbency: Watercolor paper is designed in such a way that it can absorb more water without any buckling.

2. Less buckling: Watercolor paper does not buckle easily so it is much more better to work with.

3. More Durable: Watercolor paper is stronger and more durable as it can hold more water and multiple layers of paint.

4. It has Texture: Watercolor paper comes in various textures from fine to rough and this make the paint look more beautiful, especially with graining.

How to Choose Watercolor Paper- Watercolor paper comes in various textures


How to Choose Watercolor Paper- Watercolor paper comes in various textures

5. Non Yellowing: Watercolor paper is made from acid-free materials, which helps to ensure that the paper will not become brownish, yellow or faded over time.

6. Variety: Watercolor paper comes in a variety of textures, weights, and sizes, allowing for versatility in painting styles.

7. Compatibility: Watercolor paper is best suited for watercolor techniques like, wet on wet, layering and such.

8. Increased value: Using watercolor paper instead of regular paper can increase the value of your artwork and it is must if you wish to sell your paintings.

9. Long lasting: High-quality watercolor paper is made to archival standards, ensuring that your artwork will last for decades.

10. Best Results: Watercolor paper helps you get rid of the frustration that might come with using cheap quality paper and saves the disappointment that you might not be a good artist.

How to Choose the right watercolor paper?


    1. Weight: Watercolor paper is available in different weights, measured in pounds or gsm (grams per square meter). The higher the weight, the thicker and sturdier the paper. For high quality work use a higher gsm, for practice you can use a lower gsm as that is much cheaper.

    1. Texture: Watercolor paper can have various textures, such as extra fine, fine, rough etc. Rough textures are good for a more textured and grainy look, fine is better for a smooth finish and works well with ink too.

    1. Absorbency: Watercolor paper can vary in absorbency, which means the water holding capacity. The more the better.

    1. Brand: Some watercolor paper brands are known for their quality, while others are more affordable, so choose as per your budget.

    1. Size: You can choose a size that suits your needs and budget as it comes in various sizes.

    1. Color: Some watercolor paper has a natural cream or white color, some might be dyed in in a light tint, they also come in browns, greys and black which works with gouache.

    1. Type: There are available in various types, like cold pressed, hot pressed, rough texture, fine texture, so have to try them and find something that works well with your style.

So the best watercolor paper for YOU depends on your artistic preferences and your painting style, It take trial and error just consider the above pointers while choosing the paper that is right for you.

Not just the type of paper but the variety of formats that are available can be overwhelming for beginners.
Let’s go through all aspects and options available.

Other Aspects of watercolor Paper


    1. Grade or Quality
      a. Artist grade
      b. Student grade

    1. Type or Surface
      a. Hot Pressed
      b. Cold Pressed or NOT (Not hot pressed)
      c. Rough

    1. Texture
      a. Smooth or Fine
      b. Semi Rough
      c. Rough

    1. Edges
      a. Smooth
      b. Deckled

    1. Material
      a. Cotton
      b. Wood Pulp

    1. Thickness or Weight

    1. Format
      a. Loose
      b. Pad/Sketchbook
      c. Block
      d. Board
      e. Roll

    1. Tinting
      a. Off White
      b. Yellowish
      c. Other – Black, grey and khaki

    1. Manufacturing
      a. Handmade
      b. Machine made
      c. Mould made

    1. Sizing

    1. Soaking and Stretching

If you want to get into details of these you can check my FREE guide here

The Secrets of Watercolor paper- All You need to Know


The Secrets of Watercolor paper- All You need to Know

What will work best for you only YOU can decide so keep experimenting! It all about trial and error as I mentioned before, if budget is not a constraint you can try it all! If you are on a budget then work a little on your preferred style and then use the information I have shared and use it to choose what will work better for you.

In any case you will be the final judge!

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