Are you looking for good colored drawing papers? 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. This reader has the same question.
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.
Finding the right paper 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. 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 is available in nine colors in addition to white. Most of the colors are light neutral colors and grays, but they also have black. Fawn is my favorite color for horses and landscapes. It’s a 90-pound paper, is quite “soft” to the touch, and but can take a lot of layers.
It also handles limited use of wet media or solvent blending. If you tape it to a rigid support before using solvent, it dries flat.
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 98lb weight. 120lb white is available in 30×44 sheets.
If 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.)
Canson Mi-Teintes is 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. Just make sure to tape it to a rigid support first, so it dries flat.
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 sometimes buy Canson Mi-Teintes in the full sheet or pads from Hobby Lobby. However, I prefer the drawing pads, which are available in a couple of color assortments.
Clairefontaine Pastelmat is a recent addition to my list of preferred papers, but it has quickly become a favorite. It’s very sturdy, at about 130lb. Designed for pastels, it has a sandpaper-like surface texture and is heavy enough to stand up under lots of layers and solvent blending. It comes in a wide range of colors, though mostly earth tones, grays and whites.
Pastelmat is available in 9-1/2 x 12-1/2 sheets, 19-1/2 x 27-1/2 sheets, and in pads of single and mixed colors measuring 7 x 9-1/2 inches or 9-1/2 by 12.
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.
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 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. I do not recommend this paper because it’s so lightweight, but it may work for you.
Daler-Rowney Murano Textured Fine Art Paper is 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 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.
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