Watercolor Paper for Beginners: 6 Things You Need Know About Paper

Watercolor paper is the most important part of your whole painting! Without the proper paper you will never achieve a vibrant, luminous, glow to your painting no matter how good your paints are.

Watch the video below to learn all the important aspect you need to know when picking out watercolor paper.

Watercolor Paper Video Tutorial

What to Look For When Choosing Watercolor Paper

Understanding these 6 aspects below will give you the knowledge you need to confidently pick out the right paper for you:

  • How do you want your paper? Paper can come in a pad, block, sheet, and a sketch journal. If you buy your paper by the sheet chances are it’s mould made which is typically desired by watercolor artist because of the uniqueness of the texture and the deckled edge.
  • What weight do you want your paper? The most common paper weights are, 90 lb, 140 lb, and 300 lb. 300 lb is the thickest, heaviest, and my favorite paper to paint on because it can soak up more washes with the least amount of breakdown to the fibers.
  • What texture do you want? Paper can come in hot press which is smooth, cold press which has a texture, and rough press that had even more texture. They’re all great, it just depends on your own personal preference when choosing the texture.
  • Is your paper 100% cotton? Professional grade paper will be 100% cotton which is important if you want paper that will hold up to layers and lifting out.
  • Is it Acid Free? Acid free paper is important for the longevity of the paint. It will hold up to sunlight and prevent yellowing of the paper over time.
  • Is there Sizing in the paper? Sizing preserves the vibrancy of the paint and creates an evenness throughout the paper that prevent the colors from soaking into the paper too fast.

Kowing all your options when choosing watercolor paper is only half the battle. It’s VERY important to experiment with different papers, and see what works best for your style of painting! I highly recommend trying different combinations of paper weight, texture, and brands.

Professional Brands I Recommend

Arches Watercolor Paper  (My personal favorite)

Fabriano Watercolor Paper

Strathmore Imperial 500 Series Professional Grade (They also have a student grade)

Winsor & Newton Watercolor Paper

Hahnemuhle Watercolor Paper

Do you have a favorite paper to paint on?

I would love to hear it!

Comment below:)

Wanna know what happens if you overwork your watercolor paper? See my Tutorial on the Worst Mistake in a Watercolor Painting.

Want an easy to follow step-by-step system for painting realistically with watercolors?

Give my 3 day free course a try and see if you like my teaching methods.