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How to Choose the Right Type of Watercolor Paper for Your Project

Working with watercolor art projects can be tricky because this medium does not always work well with just any type of surface. It calls for special kinds of paper that are created to absorb water without compromising color quality, depth, and overall design. There are plenty of art supplies that have the label watercolor paper on them, but choosing the right one still depends on what you are planning to do with your art.     Generic types of watercolor-specific sheets can work with any project, but if you want your finished product to truly stand out, you need to be particular about the kind of paper you choose.

The two primary factors to consider when choosing a paper are weight and texture.

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Watercolor papers vary in terms of how heavy they are, ranging from 90 to 300 lbs. 90 lb paper is thin and needs to be stretched. It is also suited for training purposes. Meanwhile, 140 lb paper offers a medium thickness and is a popular choice for many artists. If you are looking for the heavier surfaces, almost cardboard-like, the best option is a 300-lb paper, which will not require any stretching. It is also more pricey.

Why does paper need to be stretched? This is because thinner sheets need to be expanded to keep them from warping or buckling when the paint is applied. In addition, it sets the sheet intact so that it becomes more enjoyable to paint on and it can absorb more water.


Watercolor sheets’ feels differ depending on whether they are hot-pressed, cold-pressed, and rough. The rough paper features a highly-textured surface and is not made for art that requires plenty of detail. However, it does help the painter succeed in creating expressive strokes that will bring emotion and personality to the work. The results can be unpredictable, but it still an enjoyable surface to use.

Hot-pressed sheets have a smooth surface and texture, making them suitable for mixed media projects. It helps produce a sleek finish and its smoothness helps artists create color gradients, making it perfect for painting skin, flowers, fashion, and skies.

Cold-pressed paper is rougher, so expect to see some of the paint settle on one part when gliding a brush over it. It’s perfect material for creating oceans and other bodies of water. It is also typically used for teaching art to newbies.

To be sure which paper is best for your project, the practical way is to conduct tests on swatches. This way, you can immediately observe how they respond to your specific style and you can upgrade or downgrade sheeting before you go all out.

It’s important to use the right type of paper for your artwork, as it will determine how good the outcome would be. Be sure to get your supplies from a trusted supplier to ensure the quality of your artwork materials. Don’t use just about any surface available. A real artist knows how to choose the best materials for his masterpiece.

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