Line and Wash process - question about stretching the paper


  • SVS OG

    I have been experimenting with ink and watercolor wash where the ink is more dominant (more hatching etc.) and I'm adding watercolor almost as a tint to the line work. I've been doing this mostly on hot press though have also played with doing it on cold press. Hot press is easier to ink but cold press gives better color and control for the wash.

    I am wondering if anyone else does this and if so, at what point do you stretch the paper (or do you?) Do you complete the line work entirely, let the ink dry, and then stretch the paper or do you stretch it before inking? Or do you not stretch it at all if the watercolor wash isn't a heavy wash?

    I find stretching to be a pain, mostly because I have to wait for it to dry before working on it so it often interrupts my flow. (I can't pre-stretch because I have to be able to trace the line work onto the paper with my light box.) I'm just curious to see what others do.


  • SVS OG

    I use lining paper at the moment I've found it perfect. A lot cheaper than artist paper too 😁



  • I am unfamiliar with these things please use more art speak ❤ I would like to learn


  • Moderator

    Now that I have a new artboard to mount on I am going to start inking or drawing before I stretch the paper. My friend @kaitlinmakes recently got an inexpensive light tablet and proved that you CAN trace on watercolor paper so that’s the route i’m gonna go as well. That being said, I have not actually attempted it yet so I can’t vouch that the ink won’t fade. 🙂


  • Moderator

    @Aleksey when you stretch water color paper you basically soak it with a sponge or in a bath for about 20minutes, which expands all the fibers. Then you staple it onto an artboard while still wet, then let it dry. It eliminates the paper buckle when you apply a large wash, if you do it right🤪, In college I always had one side that would pop loose, but we used tape instead of staples. I know better now. 😬

    @Jason-Bowen what is lining paper?


  • SVS OG

    @Jason-Bowen What is lining paper and how do you use it to do line and wash?

    @Aleksey My current process is to do a sketch on regular paper or more often in Procreate on my iPad which I can then print off at the size I want my final work to be. I use my light table to trace that with an HB pencil onto watercolor paper, either hot press paper which is smoother and easier to draw on, or cold press paper which is a little rougher but I think is easier to work with the watercolor paint. (I keep going back and forth as to which paper I like better for the line and wash but have been mostly choosing hot press for anything that has a lot of line work.)

    Usually when I am doing watercolor paintings, I stretch the paper before I go any further as @burvantill explains. When I do it I soak it in water for 8 minutes, and staple it to gatorboard (a stiff lightweight dense foam board) and let it dry overnight. That means that I have to stop what I'm doing to let it dry which can be frustrating. With my line and wash, however, I'm not putting that much paint on in the end so I'm debating whether I even need to stretch the paper and if so, whether I should do it before or after I do the ink.



  • @burvantill whatt this sounds so cool. Ive been meaning to take Lee Whites watercolor class to learn more about this. As you can probably tell I focus too muc on line and ink and not enough on washes and watercolor.


  • SVS OG

    @burvantill @demotlj

    Lining paper is for wallpapering. The paper is almost like what the masters would have used eg. Turner and you can get a good heavy roll of paper that's millions cheaper than artist paper etc.

    This is a video of me using lining paper 😉
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJ1x4uRgtgI


  • SVS OG

    @Aleksey I love your line work so I would argue with your use of the words "too much" but adding the watercolor is fun.

    Here's what I am working on now so you can see what I'm talking about. (I still have some inking to do.) This is on hot press paper which I taped to the gaterboard but I decided not to stretch this one at all, especially because the owl will be mostly white so I won't use tons of paint. We'll see what happens. I keep going back and forth on my process though and can't decide what I prefer which is why I wondered what others do. IMG_5899.JPG



  • @demotlj this is very cool



  • It's been forever and I'm certainly not a pro but I used to just wet the back to stretch it. Maybe this wouldn't work right though?


  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    @Heather-Bouteneff you need to wet the entire paper for stretching to work. What happens is the fibers expand and then you tape or staple the paper when it's in it's expanded state. Then when the paper drys and shrinks, it is tight as a drum. Only wetting one side will cause massive waves in the paper.


  • SVS OG

    @Lee-White I'll attest to that. I had read about that shortcut and tried it on one of my recent paintings and got lots of ripples.


  • SVS OG

    I ended up doing the ink on hot press without stretching it first and am going to try just leaving it taped (no stretching) and putting down light washes to see what happens. In the meantime, I imported it into Procreate to do a color study and this is what I came up with. We’ll see if I can translate this with watercolor and without stretching the paper. If I make a mess of it, at least I’ll have this digital paint/traditional ink hybrid.

    CF1ADE04-D46F-4D2E-BC63-1827B86D54E2.jpeg


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