Tools & Materials




Paper could fill up a whole website of its own!  However, we will look at some basic factors that you may wish to consider when choosing the paper to use; one of the most important factors being the weight.  The weight of the paper is measured by the ‘tooth’; the more toothy the paper the rougher its surface is.  Toothy surfaces hold on to more of the drawing, or, painting medium and are better for high contrast and lower detail works.  The heavier the paper the better for erasing and mark making.  The weight of paper is often measure in lbs (pounds) or gsm (grammes per square metre).  




In general, drawing paper that is bought in pads or single sheets is usually heavier than regular writing paper - but not as heavy as some of the papers that will be discussed later in this section.


Approx. 75-90gsm: This paper weight is well suited for sketching such as using pencils, pastels, charcoal and crayon. However, ink and markers may bleed through this weight of paper so it is usually not a great paper for this medium.  Smoother surfaces take up less media and are better suited to more detailed work eg graphite pencil, colored pencils and ink pens.  


* Approx. 100-130gsm:  Usually suited to most drawing media.

Black drawing cartridge (approx 130-230gsm):  This is a heavy drawing paper used for dry mediums such as white charcoal.

* Canson Mi-Teintes (160gms): This is a popular pulp-dyed color paper which can be bought in many colors.  It is textured on one side and smooth on the other side.  It is often used for pastel, charcoal, sanguine, pencil and even watercolors, gouache and handicrafts. 

* Approx. 180-260gsm:  Heavy-weight drawing paper.

Approx. up to 300gsm:  Often used for painting rather than drawing.  For watercolor paper that is less than 300gsm it is essential to stretch it as you will be getting it very wet with paint so you need to stretch it in order to avoid it going out of shape.  Here is a helpful video to show you how to stretch the paper.

* Charcoal and pastel paper are available to buy specifically for charcoal and pastel drawing.  This weight can be a matter of preference depending on what you wish to achieve in your drawing.  The best way is to experiment with some of the weights to see which weight best suits what you are trying to achieve in your work.



PAINTING: Watercolor Paper - Texture


*  Rough (Torchon or Grossa):  This type of paper contains the most texture. It is usually used for watercolor (such as landscape) & mixed media where dusty or dry pigments are attracted to the ‘tooth’ or surface texture.


*  Cold Pressed (Fina or Fin):  Not as strong texture as Rough.  Most commonly used for watercolor & drawing.


*  Hot Pressed (HP. Satinata or Liscia):  Smoother due to further pressing.  Usually used when fine detail required.  It is also used in watercolors and inks.




*  Canvas / Canvas paper

*  Acrylic paper eg Strathmore 400 series acrylic paper (heavyweight)

PAPER: Printmaking


The paper used in printmaking can vary between 120 - 640gsm.  It is generally strong and accepts a lot of washes from watercolor, or, acrylic as well as soaking up inks.


Paper: Pastel

'Windsor & Newton' is quite a good brand to buy for their pastel paper (160gsm).

PAPER: Other


*  Tissue paper (approx. 10-35gsm)

*  Tracing paper (approx. 40gsm)

*  Newsprint paper (approx. 45-50gsm)

*  Papyrus Paper

*  Construction paper

*  Wax/paraffin paper (approx. 60-80gsm). This paper is made moisture-proof through the application of wax.

*  Kraft paper (approx. 51-153gsm).  This is the same paper that is used to make brown paper bags.  It is good with mid-tone charcoal eg 140gms.

*  Bristol board (approx. 220-250gsm).  This is used for printing items such as documents, brochures, water color painting, illustration projects, comic book art and technical drawing.  It comes in plate (smooth, good for pen and ink) and vellum (more appropriate to friction based media eg chalks/charcoal).


Other ideas to use for drawing/painting on:

*  Brown paper bags can be fun to use

*  wood

*  coffee filters / teabags

*  paper towels

*  clear contact paper

*  newspaper

*  book / music manuscript

*  envelopes

*  napkins 

*  MDF Panels

*  cardboard / lightweight cardboard



Once you’ve finished your piece, it is a good idea to spray with varnish, acrylic coating or clear finish in order to protect it from fading.