Am I Using the Right Paper?

Today, I want to talk to you about paper! After investing in beautiful pens, brushes and nibs, you want to make them last and for them to perform beautifully every time you pick them up.

Using cheap copier paper is good for your bank balance but not great for your tools. If you want to get the best results, you need the right paper for the job. Brush pens will fray if you use rough paper and watercolours will soak through thin paper and cause it to curl. Nothing is more frustrating than pouring your heart out onto the page and for it to end up a soggy mess.

Watercolour paper is specially made to cope with (you guessed it) water. There is a huge array out there and this article will explain it all in much more detail. You need to consider:

  • the quality,
  • production method,
  • content,
  • weight,
  • texture,
  • tinting/bleaching,
  • form (sheets, block, pad, board …),
  • acid-free,
  • archival quality,
  • and your budget.

Standard printer paper will become soggy very quickly and disintegrate. In general, our budget dictates which watercolour papers we choose until we find a favourite.

I currently stock Van Gogh watercolour paper which is 300gsm and cold-pressed giving it a lovely texture for the pigment to grab onto. It is also available in black which is stunning with metallic watercolours.

If you’re looking for something smoother for use with your brush pensEcoline paper has been specially designed to work with the vivid colours of the pens and liquid watercolours. It is also available in a printer-friendly version so you can use your brush pens to enhance your digital artwork.

“Cheap copier paper is good for your bank balance but not for your tools.”

When working with brush pens or dip pens, you need exceptionally smooth paper to avoid damaging the brush tips and nibs. Smooth paper will also allow your ink to flow.

When working on lettering drills (practising the shapes that make up the letters), I like to use a pad with dots or squares to help guide my letter formation. My favourite is the iconic Rhodia paper produced by Clairefontaine in France.

Rhodia paper is extra-white and ultrasmooth; ideal for use with delicate tools. As it is 80gsm, there will be ghosting (able to see your work through to the other side) but only the juiciest pens should cause bleeding (ink leaking through to the other side of the paper).

Want to combine your love of lettering with your love of journaling?

For watercolours and markers, I recommend Archer and Olive journals as the 160gsm is almost bomb proof. I’ve yet to find a pen or paint that causes ghosting or bleeding.

If you are a fan of fountain pens and beautiful inks, the ultrasmooth Rhodia Goalbook is the one for you.