Choosing Watercolour Paper

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Choosing the perfect paper is the first place to start when undertaking a watercolour painting.

There are 3 types of watercolour paper:

  • Hot pressed –  this is a very smooth paper and good for detailed work.
  • Cold pressed – this paper has a semi-rough surface and is sometimes called NOT paper, meaning “not hot pressed.”  This is the best paper for beginners.
  • Rough – this paper has a course finish good for producing flecked or textured effects.

All papers come with “size”.  This is a weak glue solution that makes the paper absorb less paint.  Most modern machine made papers are treated on both sides with “size”.

More expensive handmade papers are treated on only one side.  This is usually the side with sheen.  Otherwise, a good quality paper will have a watermark which reads the right way around.

Watercolour papers are also measured by weight, for example 180 GSM.  I am not sure, yet have always thought GSM to mean “grams per square metre”.  Anyway, the heavier the paper, the better the quality and the more forgiving it will be.

9 thoughts on “Choosing Watercolour Paper

  1. I’ve tried all the watercolor papers you mentioned. My favorite is usually Cold Pressed. I didn’t like the Hot Pressed much at all. I like the textures of the Cold Pressed and Rough. To me, I feel more challenged by the textures even though sometimes it can feel a little frustrating!
    Good piece of advice for painters!

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