Alternatives to Drawing Paper for Colored Pencil

Are there alternatives to drawing paper for use with colored pencil?

The short answer is yes. There are times when choosing the best support for your next drawing involves choosing something other than drawing paper.

Alternatives to Drawing Paper for Colored Pencil

Why You Might Want Alternatives to Drawing Paper

First, lets take a look at a couple of reasons why you might be looking for drawing paper alternatives. (There are more than you might expect.)

You Need to Frame Without Glass

It is possible to frame colored pencil art without glass, but you need to make preparation from the beginning. Since the primary reason for framing colored pencil drawings under glass is to protect the drawing paper, the only way to safely frame without glass is to draw on a rigid support—something that cannot be easily torn or punctured.

Some drawing papers are available with rigid backing, but not all. So if you need (or want) a rigid support, you need an alternative to traditional paper.

You Want Your Colored Pencil Drawings to Look More Like Paintings

There is a perception that artwork on paper is less valuable than artwork on supports such as canvas, canvas panel, or hardwood. The bias isn’t usually accurate—most mediums suitable for paper are just as archival as other mediums if used and displayed correctly—but the bias does exist.

Colored pencils can be used on all of the rigid supports above and many others. I’ve tried it on canvas and have drawn on wood supports and liked the results.

You Want Your Colored Pencil Drawings to be More “Approachable”

A lot of colored pencil artists perceive glass to be an obstacle between their work and the audience. To avoid that, they frame colored pencil art without glass.

You and Traditional Drawing Paper Just Don’t Get Along

It may be that traditional drawing papers just don’t work with your method of drawing. That’s perfectly all right! Nothing works all of the time for everyone. Even those of us who like drawing paper often have several favorites. I know I do.

But sometimes, an artist needs something totally different. Watercolor paper for watercolor pencils or mixed media. Sanded paper for lots of layering. The list is endless.

That’s when you need a alternative to drawing paper.

You Want to Experiment

Lets face it, some of us just like to try new things! There’s nothing wrong with that! Alternatives to drawing paper are only one way to experiment, but they are often the least expensive way to experiment.

Whatever your reasons for wanting to draw on something besides paper, what are your choices?

4 Alternatives to Drawing Paper

In a previous article, I described some of the non-paper supports I’ve drawn on. You can read about mat board, sanded art papers, and wood in 3 Excellent Drawing Paper Alternatives, so I won’t do more than just mention them here. Instead, let’s take a look at some of the other types of drawing paper alternatives.

Let’s begin with something I mentioned earlier: drawing paper boards.

Bristol Paper Boards

These papers are all mounted on rigid supports that are archival and acid-free. Most of them can withstand heavy use, and some are even capable of holding up under light washes of water soluble color.

There only two disadvantages:

First, they are probably not the type of support you’d want to frame without glass. They are more durable than drawing paper, but because they are drawing paper mounted to a rigid support, they are still susceptible to damage.

Second, they are available in only two surfaces: Vellum and plate. Plate is very smooth and are therefore not reliable for drawing methods that require lots of layering. Vellum is better for layering, but may still be too smooth. As I mentioned in our discussion of paper tooth, neither may be suitable if you do a lot of layering.

I’ve included Rising Museum Board in the list below, but it is actually not intended as a drawing surface. It’s not a surface I’ve drawn on before, but I do like Rising Stonehenge paper, so wouldn’t be afraid to give this a try. I’ve also used mat board effectively, so wouldn’t be afraid to try this.

The links below are to the Dick Blick website, where more information is available on each support.

Suede Board

Gemma Gylling has been using suede board for years and creates the most phenomenal pet and wildlife artwork.

I’ll be honest. I was biased against suede mat board because of past experiences with velvet paint-by-numbers. I tried one or two of those and absolutely, positively did not like them. So whenever someone asked if I’d tried colored pencil on suede board, I said I hadn’t. I didn’t intend to, either.

But colored pencil works much more nicely on suede mat board than oil paints work on velvet. All I had to do was draw one eye from imagination on a sample of blue suede board to decide I wanted to try it for a larger drawing (stay tuned for a work-in-progress demonstration on that).

Although its surface is best described as “plushy”, it can take a lot of color. You can also render a lot of detail on it. You will have to adjust color application methods somewhat and you’ll need to build up three or four layers before the colors begin to pop, at least on the darker color I was using.

But it produces a type of drawing that I’ve not been able to duplicate on any other paper. It’s definitely worth a try.

Pastel Boards

Pastel boards are designed to be drawn on with pastels. They generally have more tooth because pastels require more tooth to stick to the drawing surface. Some are actually sanded art papers, while others are just a toothier form of drawing paper. There are so many that I can list only a few here.

But you may recognize many of the brand names: Names like UArt, Art Spectrum, Canson Mi-Teintes.

Most of these surfaces are listed as “multi-media”. I’ve seen the most luscious oil paintings on Ampersand Pastelbord, for example.

Some of these supports are on my wish list. All of them sound intriguing. If one of your primary reasons for wanting to draw on something other than drawing paper is framing without glass, give one of these a try.

Canvas

The last surface I’ll look at today is canvas. Plain and simple oil or acrylic painting canvas. Granted, this is not a support I’ve ever considered, though John Ursillo’s work on canvas does make the prospect more inviting. Canvas is so toothy that about the only way to use it successfully with colored pencil is to use solvents to melt the color down into the weave.

Master that method, though, and you can produce any level of detail you desire AND have a surface that never needs glass in the framing process.

Conclusion

These are just a few of the more common alternatives to drawing paper. There are many others, so if you really want to experiment, you have lots of options.

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Which Paper is Best for Colored Pencils?

A short time ago, I wrote a post about the best colored pencil papers. Jana Botkin read that post and had a question.

Will you expand on the paper in the basic list? I use Strathmore 400 series Bristol smooth for graphite, but prefer the vellum for cp. Which surface and weight were you thinking of? The Michael’s in my county only carries 300 series, which has inconsistent grain, so I order from Blick. –Jana Botkin

Thank you for your question, Jana. I’d be glad to share my thoughts on drawing paper. There are a lot of choices available so I’m confident many of your fellow readers have the same question.

Best Colored Pencil Papers

Best Papers for Colored Pencils

The truth is, choosing paper for colored pencil work is as much a personal preference as anything else. So many things factor into those decisions. Jana mentioned the surface and weight of the paper and those are two important things to consider.

But they aren’t the only things, so before I get to my recommendations, lets take a look at a few “paper basics”.

Paper Basics

There are six things to consider when considering which paper to buy. Fiber, weight, surface texture, sizing, longevity, and color.

Fiber

Paper is made from plant fibers. The most common plants for paper making are cotton, linen, flax, jute, hemp, bamboo, rice straw or rattan. The size and shape of these fibers determine the type and sturdiness of the paper.

Cotton papers are made from cotton fibers, the longest fibers of all the plant types. It’s generally considered the highest quality paper and is referred to as 100% cotton rag. 100% cotton rag paper can withstand heavy erasing and drawing. The highest quality 100% cotton paper can last over 100 years, but not all cotton papers are the same. The shorter the fibers, the more the paper may tend to get “fuzzy” with use. Check the specifications on cotton paper to know what you’re buying.

Cellulose papers are made from wood pulp. Wood pulp papers are usually less expensive, but they’re also usually less archival (long lasting). That’s because wood pulp contains a natural acid that breaks down the fibers over time. Buffers can be added during the manufacturing process to neutralize the acids. Look for the words “buffer”, “buffered”, or “neutral” when deciding which cellulose paper to buy.

Weight

Paper weight is a measurement of the thickness—or heaviness—of paper. Traditionally, it’s been measured by weighing 500 sheets (a ream) at a standard size. The more a ream of paper weighs, the thicker each sheet is.

The thicker a sheet of paper is, the more color it can accept without buckling (if you’re using wet media), tearing, or falling apart.

Tracing paper is a light-weight paper. Strathmore 300 series papers are heavier. Card stock papers are still heavier.

Papers used to always be measured in pounds. 300-pound watercolor paper, for example.

But many art paper manufacturers have converted to a grams per square inch (gsm) measurement. A 50-pound paper is the same as an 81gsm paper. Many art retailers show both forms of measurement.

Surface Texture

Surface texture is properly known as “finish” when discussing art papers. How the paper is dried during manufacture determines the finish.

Paper with a rough finish is allowed to air dry without being smoothed or pressed. The resulting finish is very textured and is best suited for water media and pastel.

Cold press paper has been pressed before it dries. Handmade papers and machine made papers are pressed in different ways, but the result is the same. The surface fibers are “pressed down” somewhat. Since the pressing is done without heat, the paper isn’t completely smooth. Cold-press paper is the most popular and versatile and is suitable for most media, depending on its weight.

Hot press paper is made by pressing newly made paper through heated metal rollers or plates. All texture left after manufacture is pressed out of the paper. This paper is excellent for highly-detailed illustrations, printmaking, etching, drafting, sketching, and drawing.

Sizing

Sizing is added to make paper more water-resistant. The paper doesn’t absorb as much moisture or pigment, so watercolors and inks stay brighter and lines stay crisper.  It’s less important for papers used for dry media. Sizing also can affect a paper’s archival qualities.

Internal sizing is added while the paper pulp is still in a liquid state. It becomes part of the paper.

External, Surface or Tub sizing is applied to the surface of the paper after the sheet is formed and dried. Some paper is both internally and surface-sized.

Longevity

Also known as being archival. Archival papers have a proven history of stability over time. They don’t yellow or fade. They’re also more likely to be acid-free, which means they contain little or no cellulose acid natural to wood pulp papers.

Many sketching papers are wood-pulp based papers and are not archival. They’re perfectly suited for sketching, but if you want your drawings to last a long, long time, use higher quality papers.

Color

Some drawing papers come in only one color. White.

But many others are available in a range of colors. Working on colored paper can be both fun and frustrating. Paper color does affect the way colored pencil looks, but it can also provide a good foundation for your drawing and reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a colored pencil drawing.

What I Use & Why

I buy the best-quality papers possible for colored pencil work because many of my drawings are portraits. Portraits or not, I want all of my best drawings to  look fresh and new for years.

My favorite papers are Stonehenge, Canson Mi-Teintes, and Bristol Vellum pretty much in that order.

Stonehenge

I’ve used Stonehenge for years. It’s a cotton-based paper suitable for watercolor (in limited amounts), drawing, and printmaking. It has enough tooth to take a lot of color, but is smooth enough for drawing details. It’s available in several sheet sizes, in pads, and rolls, and comes in white and a selection of light colors and black. It has no sizing (that I’m aware of) so the surface is relatively soft, almost velvety.

It’s my go-to paper for large and small drawings. For smaller drawings, the 90-lb (250 gsm) is very good, but I prefer the heavier 120-lb (320 gsm) paper. It’s also available as a rigid support, which I haven’t yet tried.

The biggest disadvantage to Stonehenge is that it can be difficult to find locally. I order mine from Dick Blick.

It also should be handled with care, since the surface can be easily impressed. Flat storage for sheets is recommended.

Canson Mi-Teintes

Canson makes Mi-Teintes paper for pastel artists, so it has quite a bit of surface texture (tooth) on the front. The texture is also mechanical in nature. Lay a little color over the paper and you see a pattern of hexagon shapes.

But the back is less textured and the texture is less dramatic. It still has more texture than Stonehenge, but it’s great for colored pencil work of all types.

What makes Canson Mi-Teintes one of my favorite papers is that it handles solvent blending and a moderate amount of water media work with ease. Make sure it’s taped securely to a rigid support and you can do several solvent blends in a single drawing.

Bristol Vellum

Bristol paper is a more economical paper. Usually acid-free and generally heavier than other papers, it’s often referred to as “Bristol board”; usually 100-lb (270 gsm).

It comes in two surfaces. The smooth (or regular) surface is very smooth and somewhat slick.

Vellum finish has a little more tooth and is ideal for drawing. I have a pad of it in my paper drawer and use it for article illustrations, but layering a lot of color can be difficult without the use of solvents or workable fixative.

Bristol comes only in white and is available from a variety of manufacturers. I currently am using Beinfang Bristol Vellum because it’s available in 146 pounds.

Things Not to Do When Using Watercolor Paper

If you’re been following this blog for any length of time, you know I frequently post tutorials. The subjects differ, but the focus of all those tutorials is showing you how to do something. This week, I want to share some things not to do when using watercolor paper!

Things Not to Do When Using Watercolor Paper

This may seem like an odd topic for a how-to blog, but I can’t tell you how many things I’ve tried that were disasters. Nor can I tell you how many times I’ve wished someone would have warned me before I tried those things.

So I decided to share some experiences with the hope of saving you a few ruined pieces of paper or nearly finished drawings. Are you ready?

Things Not to Do When Using Watercolor Paper

Don’t Forget to Tape Your Paper!

Unless you’re working very small or using a rigid support, you MUST tape watercolor paper to a back board of some kind. If you don’t, the paper will buckle if you use too much water.

Things Not to Do When Using Watercolor Paper - Don't Forget the Masking Tape

If you happen to be using a paper like Stonehenge or Canson Mi-Teintes (both of which can handle modest amounts of water or solvent,) you have to tape them to a back board. That’s the only way they’ll dry flat.

(I have tried working on small pieces of Stonehenge without taping it first. It does dry. It does NOT dry flat.)

Don’t use a misting bottle to blend color

I’m all for saving time whenever possible. Once while working on a small watercolor pencil piece, I tried wetting a piece of paper with a misting bottle. I wanted to drop color onto a wet surface and what could possibly be easier or faster than spritzing the paper a couple of times?

Big mistake!

Even at the finest setting, way too much water ended up on the paper.

So much that it pooled on the paper, and ran off the edges. I let the paper dry on a piece of paper towel, but it didn’t dry completely flat.

The place where the water (and color) pooled also left marks I was not able to cover over despite adding several more layers of wet and dry color on top of it. Fortunately, those marks lent themselves to the drawing I ended up doing, but I do not recommend a misting bottle.

Things Not to Do When Using Watercolor Paper - No Misting Bottles!

Don’t keep blending

As an oil painter, my philosophy was that if one stroke was good, two were better, and there was no harm in three.

The problem is that there can be harm in two or three strokes. It’s called over blending in oil painting.

With watercolor pencils, it’s called destructive.

Once the color is wet, it’s very easy to move around. The best thing you can do is stroke the paper once to blend the color, then leave it alone.

Things Not to Do When Using Watercolor Paper - One Stroke and Leave It

If you happen to be adding color with a brush, you have a little more room for multiple strokes. But in almost all cases, the fewer brush strokes, the better!

Don’t always use little brushes

The best way to minimize the number of strokes you need is to use the largest brush possible for each area.

Small brushes are great for blending small areas or adding details. But small brushes require a lot of strokes for larger areas. The more strokes, the more chances for unwanted edges where strokes overlap.

Things Not to Do When Using Watercolor Paper - Largest Brushes

Also use a soft brush. If you have a naturally light touch, you can probably get away with using a bristle brush, but only if that’s all you have.

And forget a sponge brush! That sounds like the logical choice, but it isn’t. Sponges soak up water. When you’re using water soluble colored pencils, that means a sponge brush will also soak up color. So unless you need to lighten a color, avoid the sponge brushes!

Don’t draw with a dry pencil on wet paper

This is the most important advice I can offer. Why? Because it applies not only to watercolor pencils on watercolor paper. It also applies to paper that’s still wet from a solvent blend.

Absolutely, positively do NOT use a dry pencil on wet paper! Paper is especially delicate when wet. Drawing on it with a dry pencil—especially a well-sharpened dry pencil—can put a hole in the paper.

At the very least, you risk scuffing the surface of the paper.

Yes, you may be able to get some neat affects with this method, but do you really want to risk ruining a drawing? I sure don’t.

Conclusion

Those are five things not to do when using watercolor paper with colored pencils. Those aren’t the only things you should avoid, so if you’ve tried something that ended up disastrously, leave a comment below!

Drawing on Colored Papers to Finish Faster

Looking for an easy way to complete colored pencil work faster? Have you considered drawing on colored papers?

If not, you should.

Drawing on Colored Papers to Finish Faster

One of the most frequent complaints about colored pencil as a medium is the amount of time needed to finish a piece. If the drawing is very large or if you work in a representational style, you can easily spend weeks on a single project.

Maybe even months.

Blending with rubbing alcohol or turpentine are two ways to create layers of vibrant, saturated color quickly, but there’s an even more basic method you might want to consider.

Drawing on Colored Papers to Reduce Drawing Time

Using a colored support is a great way to jump start your next colored pencil project. If you choose a color that provides a base color or a base complementary color to most of the drawing, you won’t need to draw that base as you would if you were to do the same drawing on white paper.

Art papers and museum quality mat boards are available in an array of colors from pastel tints to bright primaries.

An artist with an adventurous streak could spend a year doing the same drawing over and over on different colors and never use the same color twice.

Those two factors alone give you an idea of how  much time you can save by drawing on colored paper. Let’s take a look at a few more.

Drawing on colored papers is a great way to set a mood from the start.

Let’s say you want to depict a landscape on a rainy day. You love the light of a gray day and those deeply saturated colors make you itch to draw them.

If you work on white paper, you’ll use a lot of grays and spend a lot of time creating the atmosphere of your subject on a gray day.

Choose light gray or light gray-green paper, on the other hand, and more than half the work is done before you put pencil to paper. Gray paper provides an excellent base for a gray sky or misty air with very little work. Gray-green paper is a good base for the greens in a landscape. Either way, you can skip most of the grays in your pencil box and focus on the subject.

Add a little texture to make color even more time saving.

If you choose a surface with a bit of texture as I did for West of Bazaar below, you can save even more time and still get great results by letting the tooth do some of the work for you. Especially if you’re drawing a rainy landscape or other subject with a soft focus look.

Drawing on Colored Papers - West of Bazaar

The same scene drawn on white paper, blue paper, or even a brighter paper, would produce different results, and create different moods.

August Morning in Kansas (below) was drawn on sanded art paper. Most sanded art papers are some shade of tan, though Uart now makes a dark gray version, as well.

The tooth of the paper and the color perfectly suited my idea for the hazy, hot August morning I wanted to draw. I could have gotten much the same results with a cream, gray or white paper, but it would have taken more time and effort.

Drawing on Colored Papers - August Morning in Kansas

August Morning in Kansas was my contribution to Ann Kullberg’s DRAW Landscapes book*. The book includes a step-by-step tutorial on this piece.

Colored paper can provide a base color or middle values.

This drawing of Blizzard Babe was drawn on light gray mat board. The gray color provided an ideal foundation for this light gray filly and her black gear.

It also worked very well with the blue accents, and was a good foil for the flesh tones.

But the real time saver came in painting the blanket. Or rather, what I didn’t have to paint. Most of the work necessary involved adding highlights and reflected light, and the blue trim. Everything else? That’s the color of the mat board!

Drawing on Colored Papers Blizzard Babe

For Buckles & Belts in Colored Pencil, I chose light brown mat board with a neutral tint. The color provided a natural highlight color for the horse. It was also a great base color for all of the other colors in the horse’s coat.

I had to draw the facial marking and accent the eye and buckles, but did very little with the background. A light glaze of light blue to create the cool tint of a distant sky and it was done.

Since I painted this piece using the umber under drawing method, beginning with a surface that was already close to the middle values allowed me to concentrate on the shadows and darker middle values. A considerable time-saver for a complex subject like this.

Drawing on Colored Papers Buckles & Belts

Colored papers improve sketching speed by providing a second (or third color) for limited palette sketches or studies.

I’ve been drawing outside a lot.

Or looking through a window to draw something outside.

Many of my sketching happens while in the car, when I don’t have all of my pencils. Most of the time, I grab a handful of pencils when I leave the house and do limited-palette sketches and studies.

But even with just one or two pencils, I can make a realistic sketch in much less time by working on colored paper.

This drawing, for example. I used one brown pencil on Fawn Stonehenge paper to create this tree study in 30 minutes or less. I could have added a white pencil to draw highlights and made the drawing even more three-dimensional.

Drawing on Colored Papers - Plein Air Drawing

Drawing on Colored Papers is A Great Time Saver

No matter how you work or what you prefer to draw, drawing on colored papers can save you a ton of time and help you finish each piece faster. And you know what that means.

You can finish more pieces!

And isn’t that a goal to which we all aspire?

*Affiliate Link

Tips for Using Sanded Pastel Paper

Lets talk about sanded pastel paper today. You know, that paper that looks and feels like the sandpaper from the local hardware store.

And lets begin with a reader question.

I was interested in the brand of sanded paper you prefer to use. I’ve used Uart 800 before but I find it a little hard to work on. I would appreciate your opinion.

Tips for Using Sanded Pastel Paper

The paper I use most is Uart, but that’s not because it’s better than any other paper out there. It’s because I started wtih Uart. I have also used Fisher 400 and while there isn’t much difference between them if you use 400 grit paper. I prefer the finer grits available through Uart.

How I Got Started Using Sanded Pastel Paper

I got a sample pack from Uart years ago. It contained the four “grits” they had available at the time. If I remember correctly, that was 400, 500, 600, and 800.

I chose to try the 800 grit because I thought it was the closest to regular drawing paper. It isn’t. None of them are like regular drawing paper in the least.

Read how I used sanded pastel paper for this first drawing on EmptyEasel.

My Initial Response to Sanded Pastel Paper

After finishing that first ACEO, I thought sanded pastel paper was interesting, but not something I wanted to use on a regular basis.

Then I received a request for a project on sanded pastel paper. I didn’t want to turn that down, so I looked up those sample sheets and ordered more, then started practicing. The first couple of drawings were satisfactory, but were also definitely learning experiences!

By the third or fourth one, I was beginning to find my stride. You know what? I also realized I liked drawing on sanded pastel papers.

Tips for Using Sanded Pastel Paper

Those “practice drawings” revealed that the right methods, and the right pencils go a long way toward making sanded pastel paper useful and now I almost prefer it to any other type of paper for landscapes.

Following are a few suggestions to consider if you’re thinking about trying this unique drawing surface.

Find the Right Paper

Uart is my preferred sanded paper, but there are others. Fisher 400 is a good paper and comes in sheets, rolls, and in board form. Ampersand pastelbord and Art Spectrum Colourfix sanded papers (and panels) are available in a variety of colors. Canson Mi-Teintes is also now available in a sanded surface. A lot of artists are also using Clairefontaine Patelmat.

Although they are all sanded papers, they’re not all be the same. To find the best fit, try as many as you can afford, or care to try.

Try Different Grits

“Grit” refers to the coarseness of the paper. The lower the number, the coarser the paper. I don’t know about other companies, but Uart has six different grits, ranging from 240 to 800.

I’ve used 400, 500, 600, and 800, and prefer the finer grits, but will also be trying some of the coarser papers. 600 and 800 grit are my favorites.

Try the different grits to find the one that suits your working methods and drawing style best.

Try Different Pencils

So far, I’ve used Prismacolor Soft Core, Koh-I-Nor Progresso Woodless, and Faber-Castell Polychromos.

Faber-Castell Polychromos work the best (for me.) They blend with a stiff brush with or without solvent. They also produce a powdery residue you can blend with a dry, stiff brush, almost like pastel.

Woodless pencils (I use Koh-I-Nor Progresso Woodless pencils) are great for laying down a lot of color fast. I haven’t tried dry blending them with a stiff brush, but I don’t think they produce the same amount of powder as the oil-based Polychromos. I’m going to have to do some testing on that to find out for sure.

Woodless colored pencils are ideal for laying down initial color on sanded pastel paper. Not only are they larger than even the largest colored pencil; you can use them like a piece of chalk and draw with the sides.

If you work large, or if there are large expanses of color in your composition, give this a try. The speed with which you can block in colors and shapes is amazing.

Or use your regular pencils like a pastel and draw with the side of the exposed pigment core.

General to Specific

Working on sanded pastel paper is a lot like training a dog (or cat—yes, it is possible.) It’s best to start general and work toward specific.

What do I mean by that? Roughly block in colors, values, and shapes, then develop detail.

Because of the tooth of the paper, you can continue to add details, accents and even highlights late in the drawing process. Even the finest grits take additional color after a dozen or more layers.

You Can Work Light over Dark

It is possible to work light over dark with most colored pencils on sanded pastel paper. It’s not the same as painting light over dark, but you can add lighter or bright highlights if you need to.

It’s still advisable to work around highlights whenever possible, but sanded pastel papers are more forgiving in this area than most traditional drawing papers.

Conclusion

Those are just a few of the things I’ve learned about how drawing with sanded pastel papers differ from drawing on regular papers. The bottom line is that it’s to your benefit to experiment, and that it is worth the effort.

Want to Know More?

I wrote an article on this subject for EmptyEasel. 5 Tips for Drawing on Sanded Pastel Paper with Colored Pencils features additional tips for drawing on sanded pastel paper.

2 Questions About Paper and Pencils

Today I want to answer two questions about paper and pencils. The questions were asked by Linda after she read Which Paper is Best for Colored Pencils? I answered her comment directly, then decided to expand on those answers.

2 Questions About Paper and Pencils

First, I want to thank Linda for taking the time to read that post and to ask her question. I’ve learned over the years that if one student has a question, it’s likely other students do, too, so I’m grateful for everyone who asks questions!

If you have a question, may I encourage you to ask it? It’s easy to do. Just click on the Ask Carrie button at the right or at the bottom of this page, or follow this link. Fill out the form, hit SEND, and that’s it. I will answer you directly, of course, but you may also provide the topic for a more in-depth post!

Now, on to the answer to Linda’s questions!

2 Questions About Paper and Pencils

Is Stonehenge in the pad different from Stonehenge full sheets?

I read somewhere that the Stonehenge pad and Stonehenge single sheets are different. I have been buying the pad, because I have to order from online also and shipping and handling costs become a factor. Are the single sheets of a higher quality opposed to the pad? Does it have more tooth? I also use Saunders Waterford Hot press and Strathmore Bristol Vellum.

Stonehenge full sheets were designed for printmaking, so they’re a soft-ish, absorbent paper. They take a lot of layers, but can also have marks or lines impressed in them quite easily by accident.

The pads have a smoother finish. To me, the surface is a little “harder.” Almost like Bristol.

It seems to me the full sheets have more tooth than the pads. However, the company says the formulation and manufacturing process is exactly the same, so the quality is the same for full sheets and for pads.

Is one better than the other? No. They’re just different. But one will definitely suit certain methods better than the other.

For example, I do a lot of layering and blending by drawing one color over another with light to medium pressure. But, I like deep color and full saturation (no paper color showing through the colored pencil.) For me, the full sheets definitely provide a better surface.

The fact is, that while I used to use Bristol vellum as well, I considered that paper better suited to more direct drawing methods with fewer layers applied with heavier pressure. I drew Afternoon Graze (below) on Bristol Vellum, but if I were to do a similar drawing and wanted a smoother paper, I’d use Stonehenge in the pad.

Questions About Paper and Pencils - Afternoon Graze

If you like Bristol, the Stonehenge pads are probably going to work better for you. They also come in more colors than either Bristol or watercolor paper!

PS

By the way, I took a look at Saunders Waterford watercolor paper. It looks interesting! I might have to get a sheet of hot press and give it a try.

Are Certain Pencils Better for Certain Papers?

I have been using Pablo pencils. Recently I bought a set of [Faber-Castell] Polychromos. They seem to be fine on the Stonehenge paper but not so much on my other paper. I have never heard or read anyone saying a certain pencil works better on one paper or another. Have you experienced a difference? Or is this just me getting used to a different pencil?

Caran d’Ache Pablo pencils are the same basic formulation as Caran d’Ache Luminance, except that the pigment cores are harder. They hold a point longer and are better for fine detail. If you’ve ever used Prismacolor Verithin, that’s what Pablos are like. They’re all wax-based pencils, but the ratio of pigment to wax binder is different. In short, the Pablos have less wax.

Faber-Castell pencils are oil-based pencils. They are harder than Prismacolor Soft Core pencils, but not as hard as the Verithin or Pablo pencils. As with the Pablos, the hardness is due to there being less wax in the Polychromos.

But the oil binder also makes a difference. It responds differently to paper than wax binder does. Some artists refer to the feel of oil-based pencils as “scratchy.”

One of two factors may play a role in the difference you’ve noticed between one paper and another: drawing method and type of paper.

Drawing Method

The softer the pencil, the more quickly it puts color on paper. The harder the pencil, the more difficult it is to get the same amount of color on the paper. By that, I mean you’ll have to do more layers or press a little harder with hard pencils than soft ones.

Hard pencils are better for drawing detail. That’s where they really shine.

I use Prismacolor Soft Core and Faber-Castell Polychromos together. I do the first several layers with Prismacolor, then finish with the Polychromos. The two brands work very well together that way.

Type of Paper

Harder pencils layer better on smoother paper. Bristol vellum and a pencil like Prismacolor Verithin are a great match for a lot of things. They don’t leave as much wax on the paper, so the paper doesn’t get that “slick” feel as quickly.

Oil-based pencils and wax-based pencils with a harder pigment core work on a toothy paper like Canson Mi-Teintes, but they may feel scratchy to you. It may also seem like you’re not making much progress until you’re well into the drawing process. That’s because each pencil stroke leaves less pigment on the paper.

I have a drawing in progress on Canson Mi-Teintes that I started with Polychromos back when I first got them. It was going to be my review project.

But l didn’t do more than two or three layers before switching to Prismacolor because it took so many layers to make an impact, even with a solvent blend.

You may be experiencing the same thing in your work. Try working with a softer pencil first, then switching to the harder pencils for detail work.

Conclusion

The fact of the matter is that you can use almost any pencil on almost any drawing paper, but the results will vary. Some pencils will seem to fight with some papers while gliding onto others.

There is also a lot to be said for having to learn how to use a new brand or type of pencil. They do behave differently. I’ve used Prismacolor pencils for years and the Polychromos disappointed me the first time I put them to paper. But they are good pencils once you learn how they behave and feel.

So I recommend you spend time trying similar drawing methods with each pencil on different types of paper. Figure out which pencils work best for what drawing method and on which paper. Yes, it takes time, but you’re far more likely to learn the best way to use those tools with your drawing methods by simply using them.

Drawing on Wood with Colored Pencils

Are you ready to experiment with your colored pencils? Maybe you’re looking for something other than paper. How about drawing on wood?

Drawing on Wood with Colored Pencils

Yes! I’m serious. Drawing on wood is not a far-fetched idea.

Nor is it a new idea.

Drawing on Wood with Colored Pencils

Birch wood has long been an accepted support for oil paintings and other artistic mediums. Many of the Great Masters used hard woods as a supports for their oil paintings. Why? Because it was readily accessible, reasonably easy to prepare, and lasted a long time.

Since much of their artwork was for clients and on pieces of furniture, it was also the logical choice.

For some, it may also have been the only choice, since painting on wood pre-dates canvas.

Why Drawing on Wood May Be Your Best Choice

Should you consider wood for colored pencil work? Absolutely, and here are seven reasons why.

Wood is Rigid

It’s a solid support that’s impossible to tear or puncture. No framing required!

The fact of the matter is that some wood supports are designed with keyholes in the back so you can hang them without adding a hanging device.

Wood Grain Makes a Great Background Treatment

You know how many times you’ve wished for a better way to do backgrounds? I’ll bet you never considered wood grain.

You should. Some hardwoods have beautiful wood grain. Depending on the type of art you do, and the subjects you draw, you might not be able to find a more natural fit for a background treatment.

It’s Readily Available

Believe it or not, wood is still readily available in a variety of locations. When’s the last time you visited a lumberyard?

Yes, that wood is milled for construction uses, but if you choose carefully, you can still get great wood for drawing on. The best part? It’s already kiln dried, so you can draw on it immediately.

Don’t want to use lumberyard wood? That’s okay. It’s also available as an art supply from many locations, including Dick Blick. Primed and unprimed selections are available. You will pay more, but the panels come in a variety of standard and exotic hardwoods, and in a number of standard sizes.

I’ve even used wood from a tree felled in our front yard. I had to let it air dry for a year, but it was beautiful to draw on.

It’s Inexpensive

You  can, of course, pay a lot of money for exotic woods, but you don’t have to. Maples, oaks, and other hardwoods are readily available at reasonable prices in most locations.

Especially if you buy from a lumberyard outlet.

Its Long-Lasting

Some of the best preserved oil paintings from centuries ago were painted on wood. Wood lasts just as long if you use colored pencils on it.

Just make sure to use the best, most lightfast pencils you have, though.

It Smells Great

At least I think it does. I love the smell of milled wood! Sawdust even smells good.

But the thing I like best about drawing on wood is….

It Stands on Its Own

Seriously. I did one small piece on a quarter-inch thick piece of wood, and it stands up by itself! Art like that is a great novelty item for people who love art, but may not be able to afford a full size drawing or painting.

Besides, those little drawings make great gifts.

Drawing on Wood with Colored Pencils

I hope to do a tutorial on this subject in the future, so stayed tuned.

Drawing on Wood with Colored Pencils Miniature Landscape

In the meantime, I wrote a tutorial on drawing on wood for EmptyEasel, showing you how I drew the miniature landscape shown above. You can read Drawing with Colored Pencils on Wood here.

Are You Curious about Drawing on Wood Yet?

I hope so!

Here are a few recommendations on wood panels to try. They’re all from Dick Blick, but you can find similar products elsewhere.

American Easel Maple Panels

Ampersand Value Series Artist Wood Panels

100% Satisfaction Guaranteed Art Boards Natural Maple Panels

Baltic Birch Panels. I’ve painted on these and they’re absolutely gorgeous for oil painting. One unprimed 16×20 begs constantly to be used for colored pencil work.

Blick Studio Wood Panels

Duho Studios Exotic Hardwood Fine Art Panels. These are quite expensive because the woods are all exotic (have you ever heard of Zebra Wood?) But they’re beautiful!

Stonehenge Aqua 140lb Hot Press Paper Review

Artist’s love new things. New pencils. New equipment. Yes, even new paper. Maybe especially new paper. The latest paper on my list is a watercolor paper from Legion. This is my Stonehenge Aqua 140lb Hot Press Paper review.

Stonehenge Aqua 140lb Hot Press Paper Review

Legion offers trial samples of all their papers, so if you’re thinking about trying something, this is a great opportunity.  I got free samples of Stonehenge Aqua a few weeks ago.  They’re now 99 cents, but that’s still a great price.

I received three 8.5 x 11 inch sheets of paper: one each of 140lb hot press, 140lb cold press, and 300lb cold press. They were packaged in a clear, resealable envelope from Clear Bags, a company I’ve used for packaging artwork. The packaging is ideal for storage, too, so the paper I haven’t yet used will stay crisp and clean.

The samples arrived in a large, cardboard envelope sent by regular mail, so they arrived undamaged. Crisp and clean and unbent.

Stonehenge Aqua 140 Hot Press Paper Review

General Impressions

If drawing paper can be beautiful, this is. The texture is wonderful. The 140lb hot press looks and feels almost identical to traditional Stonehenge. Since I wasn’t sure what to expect, this was a delightful discovery. (The other two sheets were also lovely. I plan to try one with water soluble media and one with solvent blending.)

The hot press also performs much like traditional Stonehenge for dry mediums. I used colored pencils on it without the use of solvents and had good results. I also tried water soluble colored pencils, with equally good results.

The jury is still out on using solvent blending (I haven’t yet put it to the test,) but I believe Stonehenge Aqua 140lb hot press paper would also perform with solvent blending.

Read How to Draw Complex Flowers Part 1.

What I Like about Stonehenge Aqua 140lb Hot Press Paper

Looks and feels like traditional Stonehenge 90lb paper

In fact, I placed a sheet of Stonehenge paper and Stonehenge Aqua 140lb hot press paper side by side. Other than the thickness of the Aqua, it was very difficult to tell them apart just by looking at them.

Pencils behave much the same on each, so if you like the way your pencils feel when you draw on regular Stonehenge, chances are you’ll like the way they feel when you draw on Stonehenge Aqua 140lb hot press.

Works very well with dry media

As already mentioned, drawing on this paper was a delight. Both wax-based and oil-based pencils colored well, with even color down and excellent blending.

My test with wax-based pencils produced solid color faster, but that’s not unexpected. Wax-based pencils are usually softer than oil-based pencils, so they lay down color more easily on almost any kind of paper.

But the oil-based pencils also layered well.

In the following illustration, the large flower was drawn with a combination of Faber-Castell Polychromos (oil-based) and Prismacolor Premier (wax-based.)

Stonehenge Aqua 140lb Hot Press Paper - Dry Media

The smaller flower was drawn only with Prismacolor.

The large flower is finished; the small one is not.

Those two dark shapes are areas where I layered and burnished. Color saturation is so rich and deep, you’d have to use a magnifying glass to find places where the paper shows through after burnishing.

Works very well with wet media

Since Stonehenge Aqua is a watercolor paper, I had to try it with water soluble colored pencils. I used Faber-Castell Art Grip Aquarelle pencils. Not the best water soluble colored pencils available, but useful.

But as you can see here, the results are still good. I applied color dry, then activated it with a damp brush and finished it with dry color. Would the results have been better with an artist grade water soluble pencil? Probably, but I was still quite pleased.

Stonehenge Aqua 140lb Hot Press Paper - Wet Media
This is just a couple of layers of color drawn on dry, then activated with water. I drew one layer on the inner portion of the bottom petals, then pulled wet color into the outer portions.

The shadow represents two or three layers of color activated with water, then drawn over again with dry pencils.

Both sides of this paper are excellent for drawing. It’s also heavy enough that if you mess up one side of the paper, you should be able to start over on the back.

At least for dry drawing. You can use water to activate water soluble colored pencil when you draw on the back, but if you do more than one stroke with a wet brush, you will lift color. That can make for some interesting results, but it also makes for a good deal of frustration! Stay tuned for a tutorial on that drawing.

What I Don’t Like About Stonehenge Aqua 140lb Hot Press Paper

At present, I have nothing negative to say about the paper. I wasn’t happy my first drawing, but that had more to do with color choices and my first time drawing a flower, as I mentioned at the end of the tutorial on drawing complex flowers.

The paper performed to expectation.

I did prefer working on it dry, but that reflects more experience with dry media than with wet. I’m currently working on a small landscape using water soluble colored pencils, and it’s coming along quite well.

The only other thing I have to complain about is that I used up most of the sheet for my experiments!

My Recommendation

Should you try Stonehenge Aqua 140lb hot press paper? Yes. It’s almost always worth your time to try new papers.

It’s my opinion that if you like regular Stonehenge, you’ll like this paper. Not only will it be able to do everything regular Stonehenge can do; it will allow you to do much more.

If all you do is buy the sample set, it will be well worth your time and money.

Colored Drawing Papers

Are you looking for good colored drawing papers for colored pencils? Something heavy enough to take a lot of layers, but in colors to save time?

If you’re asking that question, you’re not alone.

Read your article about using [colored] paper with colored pencils. What weight paper and what types of colored paper were you using? I can’t seem to find light color paper for backgrounds that are heavier than the thin pastel paper.

Colored Drawing Papers

Finding the right paper for the subjects you draw and the style in which you draw can be a challenge. The best option is to try as many different papers as you can get your hands on. But that can be expensive and time-consuming.

The next best thing to do is know what types of papers work best with your method of drawing. For example, if you like a lot of layering, you need paper with enough tooth to handle all those layers. Tooth and weight are important. Pastel papers may be a good fit for you.

If you prefer fewer layers, but like to use solvents to blend, you need a paper sturdy enough to stand up under the moisture of solvent blending. Tooth may still be important, but it won’t be the first thing you consider. Bristols and some of the smoother, heavier papers will be your best options.

If you prefer one of those options, that automatically eliminates many possible choices. The papers that are good for your particular drawing style are the ones you should try first.

My Favorite Colored Drawing Papers

For the purpose of this article, the primary factor is color, so we’ll look at various papers that are available in colors.

I’ll begin with the papers I use most often.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge is available in ten colors in addition to white. Most of the colors are light neutral colors and grays, but they also have black and a lovely light blue that I want to try. Fawn is my favorite color for horses and landscapes. It’s a 90-pound paper, is quite “soft” to the touch, and can take a lot of layers.

It also handles limited use of wet media or solvent blending.

Stonehenge is available in 22×30 inch sheets in all colors. Warm white is also available in 30×44 inch sheets, and white is available in 22×30, 26×40, 30×44, and 38×50 inch sheets at 90lb weight. 120lb white is available in 30×44 sheets.

If you find you really like it and want to stock up, Stonehenge roll paper may be the way to go. Seven of the eleven colors are available in 90lb rolls measuring 50″ by 10 yards.

For those of us whose pockets aren’t quite a deep, Stonehenge pads are also available in all white or assorted colors at 5×7, 8×8 (white only), 9×12, 11×14, and 18×24 (white only.) Personally, I don’t recommend Stonehenge in the pad because it’s quite a bit smoother than the full sheets and behaves more like Bristol board. It’s great for fine detail, but not as good for lots of layers.

I buy Stonehenge from a local print/drafting shop. If you have a drafting shop in your area, check them out.

Canson Mi-Teintes

Canson Mi-Teintes is actually a pastel paper so has a lot of tooth (texture) on the front. The back is smoother, and is ideal for colored pencil. It comes in over 40 colors and white. It’s a 98-pound paper that can take a lot of layering and solvent blending.

It’s an excellent paper if you blend with solvents. I haven’t done much work on it with water-based pencils, but think it would probably also do well if you don’t use a lot of water.

Available as sheets (8-1/2 x 11 and 19×25), pads (9×12 and 12×16), and boards and sanded surfaces (218lb, very sturdy.) I don’t mind admitting that the sanded version is intriguing! The boards may not be suitable for colored pencil unless you really like toothy paper.

I buy Canson Mi-Teintes in the full sheet or pads from Hobby Lobby for about $3.00 a sheet, 40% off with a coupon.

Strathmore Artagain Drawing Paper

Strathmore Artagain Drawing Paper is a my backup paper. It comes in eight colors ranging from Flannel White (the closet thing to white available) to Desert Rose (a lovely medium to dark pink) and black. It’s a resilient, sturdy paper. It handles layering well. I don’t use it that often because it has a slightly slicker feel than either Stonehenge or Canson Mi-Teintes, possibly due to the use of post-consumer content in the production.

All colors are available in 19×25 inch sheets. It’s also available in pads at 6×9 inches (black only), 9×12 inches in black only or assorted colors, and 12×18 inches in assorted colors only.

Artagain drawing was once available in my local Hobby Lobby by the full sheet, but was not available the last time I looked. Pads were available. Before ordering online, you might want to check out the Hobby Lobby or other art supply store nearest you.

Other Colored Drawing Papers

I have no personal experience with these papers, but they are listed as artist quality papers suitable for colored pencil, and they are available in colors.

Canson

Canson Ingres Drawing Paper is a lightweight paper similar to Canson Mi-Teintes. It’s only 27 pounds in weight, so may feel flimsy to the touch. It comes in seven colors (including white and black) in mostly blues, grays and neutrals. It’s available only in 19×25 inch sheets.

Daler-Rowney

Daler-Rowney Canford Papers is a 90lb paper available in over 30 colors, including two shades of white. If you love bright colors, take a look at this paper. Some of the reds, greens, and blues are beautiful!

Canford is marketed as a fine art paper as well as for screen printing, block printing, and photocopying. It even comes in card stock if card making is one of your artistic interests.

All colors are available in 20-1/2 x 30-1/2 inch sheets.

Pads are also available in 8-1/4 x 11-3/4 inch (A4), 11-3/4 x 16-1/2 inch (A3) in either assorted colors, festive colors, or all black.

Daler-Rowney Murano Textured Fine Art Paper differs from its Canford line in that it has more tooth. It’s a 98lb paper and comes in 35 colors, including a soft white (white is not available.) It’s available only in 19×25 inch sheets, but may be worth a try if you’re feeling adventurous!

If you also like more crafty forms of art, this paper will serve you well in that area, as well.

Strathmore

Strathmore 400 Series Toned Paper comes in only two colors—a light tan and a light gray. At 80 pounds, it is a little lighter weight than most of the papers on this list.

It’s available in 19×24 inch sheets, soft cover artists journals (8 x 5-1/2 and 9-3/4 x 7-3/4,) wire-bound journals (8-1/2 x 5-1/2, 11×14, 12×9, and 18×24),  and rolls (42″ x 10 yards.)

Other Colored Drawing Papers

This list is by no means exhaustive, even just for drawing papers. There are other lighter or heavier papers available if those are your preferences.

Want more options? Consider papers and supports for other uses.

A quick search of pastel papers on Dick Blick’s website shows eight manufacturers of pastel papers, most with more than one line. Most pastel papers come in multiple colors (often bright,) and more than one form (sheets, pads, rolls).

Throw mat board into the mix and the options expand even further!

All I’ve done here is provide a starting point for anyone interested in trying colored drawing paper. So take a look at these colored drawing papers, then see where that might lead you.

How to Choose the Right Surface Texture for Your Next Drawing

Last week, I shared tips for choosing the right color of paper for your next drawing project. Color is important, but it’s not the only thing you should consider. It’s just as important to know how to choose the right surface.

The paper you draw on should help you achieve your personal goals for the drawing. Choosing a smooth paper when paper with a medium or even rough surface would be better probably won’t ruin the drawing, but it may make it more difficult to finish.

So this week, I want to share some ideas for knowing what surface is best for your next subject—whatever that subject may be.

How to Choose the Right Surface Texture

Why It’s Important to Choose the Right Surface

Papers come not only in different colors, but different surface textures. The surface texture of a drawing paper depends on how it’s made and what it’s made for. The roughness or smoothness of paper is called its “tooth”. The rougher the paper, the more tooth it has.

I wrote about the basics of drawing paper tooth in a previous post, but the illustration below will give you an idea of the three main types of surface texture and how colored pencil responds to each.

How to Choose the Right Surface Texture for Your Next Drawing - The Differences in Paper Tooth

Each type of paper—rough, medium, and smooth—is made for a specific medium and sometimes for a specific purpose. Illustration boards are made for illustrating mediums such as markers and inks, and are very smooth.

Watercolor papers can be either smooth or rough, but are generally much rougher than drawing papers.

Most drawing papers are somewhere between illustration board and watercolor paper.

You can use any of the papers for any of the mediums, but your choices will affect the amount of time and effort it takes to complete a drawing and the way the finished drawing looks.

How to Choose the Right Surface: When Rough is Better

Rough drawing papers are good for layering. The more tooth a paper has, the more layers of color it can take without buckling or being scuffed. A “toothy” paper is perfect if you like to use solvent blending.

However, it is more difficult to fill in the tooth of a rough paper because the pigment core doesn’t reach down into all the “hills and valleys” of the tooth. Unless you use heavy pressure or solvent blending, you’re more likely to end up with specks of paper color showing through the drawing. These “paper holes” may not bother you. If so, they can lend quite an artsy, painterly look to your colored pencil drawing.

If that’s your goal, a rougher paper is probably the best choice.

This drawing is colored pencil on sanded art paper, which is about the roughest paper available. Sanded art paper not the same as even rough drawing paper (read about the differences here), but you can see how the colored pencil looked on rough paper. I could have filled all the paper holes, but it would have taken a lot of time and effort.

How to Choose the Right Surface Texture - Colored Pencil on Rough Paper

Use Rough Paper If:

  • You like to use solvent to blend colors
  • Want to do a lot of layering and/or use heavy pressure most of the time
  • Prefer a more painterly look for your drawings

How to Choose the Right Surface: When Smooth is Better

Smooth papers still have tooth, but they have much less tooth than rough papers. The little “hills and valleys” are shallower, and are therefore easier to fill in. That’s good if you don’t like paper holes showing in your finished drawing.

Papers that have less tooth are also ideal for drawing detail.

However, the lack of tooth also makes it more difficult to layer color effectively. You can still layer, but you’ll find it gets difficult to make color “stick” after just a few layers of color.

Solvent blending might help, but the smoother the paper, the more likely you are to damage the drawing if you use too much solvent. If the paper you use also is heavily sized (to keep it from absorbing moisture), the more likely it becomes that you could remove the drawing altogether, even with a solvent as mild as rubbing alcohol.

The drawing below is on Bristol paper with a vellum finish. Bristol vellum is a popular drawing paper because it’s very smooth that’s perfect for drawing detail.

However, it doesn’t take very many layers, and layering is key to my drawing method. I was able to complete the umber under drawing, but have had difficulty glazing color over that. Will the drawing ever be finished? I hope so, but I will have to compensate for the loss of tooth before going any further.

How to Choose the Right Surface Texture - Unfinished Drawing on Smooth Paper

Or I could start over with a toothier paper!

Use Smooth Paper If:

  • You don’t usually use many layers
  • You usually apply color heavily from the start
  • Highly detailed drawings are your goal

How to Choose the Right Surface: When Medium Tooth is Better

If your preferred drawing method falls somewhere between those two extremes, then paper with a medium tooth is probably your best bet.

Medium tooth paper has enough tooth to take a lot of layering (like rough paper), but also allows you to draw a high degree of detail (like smooth paper.) There is more paper tooth to fill in than you’d have with smooth papers, but it doesn’t take as much effort or pressure.

These types of papers can also often stand up to limited use of solvents, and may also be capable of accepting judicious use of water media such as water soluble colored pencils or watercolor.

All of those reasons are why my favorite drawing papers are medium tooth papers. The drawing below was drawn on Strathmore Artagain paper.

How to Choose the Right Surface Texture - Medium Tooth Paper

Use Medium Tooth Paper If:

  • Your usual method involves a lot of layers
  • You draw a lot of detail
  • You begin with very light pressure and increase pressure to heavy pressure at the end of the drawing

Conclusion

Two factors play an important role in knowing how to choose the right surface texture: Your method and your artistic vision.

If your method of drawing involves lots of layers, you may want to avoid the smoother drawing papers, even if you do enjoy drawing detail. Find a paper with enough tooth to take a lot of layering, but still smooth enough to allow you to draw detail.

If, on the other hand, you apply color in only a few layers, smooth paper is probably going to work best for you, whether you like drawing detail or prefer a more painterly look.

And if you really want to lay down lots of color fast, and aren’t concerned about details, give rough paper a try (especially those made for pastels.)

Finally, for those of us who like experimenting, try different kinds of papers with different subjects or for different effects. After all, there is no rule that says you have to draw the same way—or on the same paper—all the time!

Additional Reading

Drawing Paper Basics: Surface Texture

4 Frequently Asked Questions About Colored Pencil Papers

Which Paper is Best for Colored Pencils