Watercolor paper for line and wash


  • SVS OG

    Another question for the watercolor experts out there:

    I use Arches 140 lb cold press paper for watercolor paintings in which the line is minimal (some contour, a tiny amount of texture) but during Inktober I played with more intensive line work where I was trying to let the line do most of the work and just do simple washes over it. I really liked that style but I was doing it all in my Pentallic Watercolor sketchbook and am having problems finding a sheet or pad paper similar to what is in the sketchbook. Their description says it is cotton, 140 lb, cold press but the tooth isn't quite as deep as the Arches paper which makes the pen work easier.

    I tried Arches hot press which is nice for the inking but it's so smooth, I'm having difficulty with the watercolor, especially in large washes.

    Do you use a different paper for paintings with more intensive line work? What works best for you?



  • I use Canson XL Mixed Media most often for line with a few washes (98 lb) I keep the washes light when I do that. If I want more water tolerance I use the watercolor (140 lb cold press). For full paintings I'm using a strathmore paper that has more texture on a larger pad I think it's called 400 series. I love it for gouache but not pen.

    Is the paper rumpling up and buckling under washes? I tape it down with acid free tape and tolerate that if going heavy. You can also stretch it or wet the back when it starts buckling. Or use less water.


  • SVS OG

    @thiskatecreates When you ask if the paper is rumpling up, do you mean the hot press? If so, no. The problem with the hot press is that the paint lifts too easily so it’s hard to get a nice even large wash or to do much glazing.



  • @demotlj Lifts easily? Does the paper come apart or you just want the pigment to sink in?
    I don't really glaze with water color. I let whichever part I'm working in blend where it's wet. I'm not sure I understand or maybe just can't be much help. 😕


  • SVS OG

    @demotlj I use canson XL watercolor 140 cold press..it’s not super pricey either. It seems to be fine with line and watercolor. It’s still a little bumpy for lines, but works good. It’s not slick like arches hot press. It can’t handle heavy washes without some curl, but no real wrinkles. For heavy duty large watercolors it’s arches 300lb. It doesn’t work well for fine inking, but pencil outlines works well with it.

    I like Bristol for more inking and slight watercolor. Not good for large washes. Doesn’t seem to absorb the color. You can’t play with the color either. You know, move the paint around.


  • SVS OG

    @whitney-simms @ThisKateCreates Whitney is describing my issues with the hot press better than I did. The paper feels too slick, and as she says about the Bristol Board, it doesn't absorb the color as well which means when I go to darken with another layer, for example, it just streaks. It feels like the color is harder to control -- it just all runs together. Even though wet on wet is supposed to do that, on cold press the colors remain more distinct.

    I used Hotpress once a long time ago for an entire book (self-published) but I never did more than one layer of color and had problems getting nice even washes even then if they were too large an area. Anyway, I will have to try the Canson XL watercolor since that's what you both use and see if that fees closer to my Pentallic sketchbook. It's always fun to have an excuse to try new supplies.



  • @demotlj I've never experienced that. You guys both taught me something. 🙂



  • Strathmore is my favorite cold press 100% cotton watercolor paper. It is beautifully textured and I find it ideal for my landscape paintings. You can paint on both sides of the paper. While it warps a bit when wet, it drys nice and flat. The texture assists in loose painting styles and Also is the perfect complement to granulating watercolors.



  • @demotlj ah, a question as old as time. The best results for me have been with Fabriano Artistico. It’s a little smoother than Arches. As far as washes go, you do have to soak it if you want a smooth wash. I put mine in a washtub and just get it soft enough to sink down, then I blot and tape it down to a board.

    The type of nib you use makes a big difference, too, and actually I began drawing with a very fine brush a long time ago, which renders this whole issue somewhat moot, so that’s something worth trying.

    A few folks mentioned during the book breakdown the other day that drawings looked like pen and ink, and they were actually done with a fine brush. Something new to have a go at, worth the trouble.



  • I use Arches 140lbs hot press, and the heritage line by Canson, also hot pressed, without any problem. You may want to flatten the paper with water, some paper towel, and a damp sponge once you finished painting (painted side down).

    There are tutorials on youtube, f
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lK9dw5WjnBY


Log in to reply