How to Select the Right Drawing Paper

As an artist, one of the most important decisions you will make is choosing the right drawing paper for your artwork. The type of paper you use can greatly impact the final result of your drawing, whether it’s a simple sketch or a detailed masterpiece. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to know which paper is best suited for your needs. In this article, we will guide you through the process of selecting the right drawing paper, taking into consideration factors such as paper weight, texture, and color.

Understanding Paper Weight

One of the first things to consider when selecting drawing paper is its weight. Paper weight is measured in grams per square meter (gsm) and refers to the thickness and sturdiness of the paper. The higher the gsm, the thicker and heavier the paper will be. The weight of the paper can greatly affect the outcome of your drawing, as it determines how much pressure you can apply without damaging the paper.

For beginners, it is recommended to start with a paper weight between 90-120 gsm. This weight is suitable for most drawing techniques and is also more affordable. As you become more experienced, you may want to experiment with heavier paper weights, such as 200 gsm or more, which are better suited for techniques that require more pressure, such as charcoal or pastel.

Considering Paper Texture

The texture of the paper is another important factor to consider when selecting drawing paper. The texture refers to the surface of the paper and can greatly affect the appearance and feel of your drawing. There are three main types of paper textures: smooth, medium, and rough.

  • Smooth: Smooth paper has a flat surface with little to no texture. It is ideal for detailed drawings and works well with pencils, pens, and markers. However, it may not be the best choice for techniques that require blending, as the lack of texture can make it difficult to achieve a smooth finish.
  • Medium: Medium-textured paper has a slight tooth or grain to its surface. It is a versatile option that works well with a variety of drawing techniques, including graphite, charcoal, and pastel. The texture allows for better blending and layering of colors.
  • Rough: Rough paper has a pronounced texture, making it ideal for techniques that require a lot of texture, such as charcoal or pastel. It can also add an interesting effect to your drawing, giving it a more organic and natural look.

When choosing the texture of your drawing paper, consider the type of medium you will be using and the effect you want to achieve. For example, if you want to create a detailed and realistic drawing, a smooth paper may be the best option. On the other hand, if you want to create a more expressive and textured drawing, a rough paper may be more suitable.

Exploring Paper Color

The color of the paper may not seem like an important factor, but it can greatly impact the overall look of your drawing. White is the most commonly used color for drawing paper, but there are also other options available, such as cream, gray, and toned papers.

White paper is a neutral color that works well with most drawing techniques and allows for a wide range of colors to be used. Cream-colored paper has a warmer tone and can add a subtle warmth to your drawing. Gray paper is a popular choice for charcoal drawings, as it provides a mid-tone background that can enhance the contrast of your drawing. Toned papers, such as beige or light blue, can add a unique and interesting effect to your drawing, especially when using colored pencils or pastels.

When choosing the color of your drawing paper, consider the mood and atmosphere you want to create in your drawing. A white paper may be more suitable for a bright and cheerful drawing, while a toned paper may be better for a more dramatic and moody piece.

Understanding Paper Quality

The quality of the paper is another important factor to consider when selecting drawing paper. High-quality paper is made from 100% cotton or alpha cellulose fibers, which are more durable and can withstand multiple layers of drawing without tearing or warping. Lower quality papers are often made from wood pulp, which can cause the paper to yellow and become brittle over time.

Investing in high-quality paper may be more expensive, but it can greatly improve the overall look and longevity of your artwork. It is also important to note that not all papers are acid-free, which can cause your drawing to deteriorate over time. Look for papers that are labeled as acid-free to ensure the longevity of your artwork.

Considering the Format of the Paper

The format of the paper refers to its size and shape. Most drawing papers come in standard sizes, such as A4, A3, and A2. However, there are also other formats available, such as rolls or pads. The format of the paper can greatly impact the composition of your drawing and should be considered when selecting the right paper.

If you prefer to work on a larger scale, a larger format paper may be more suitable. However, if you prefer to work on smaller, more detailed drawings, a smaller format paper may be a better option. It is also important to consider the shape of the paper, as it can affect the composition of your drawing. For example, a square paper may be better suited for a portrait, while a rectangular paper may be better for a landscape.

Experimenting with Different Brands

With so many brands of drawing paper available, it can be overwhelming to know which one to choose. The best way to find the right paper for you is to experiment with different brands and types of paper. Each brand may have its own unique qualities and characteristics, and what works for one artist may not work for another.

Start by purchasing small quantities of different papers and testing them out with your preferred drawing techniques. This will allow you to get a feel for the paper and determine which one works best for you. You can also read reviews and ask for recommendations from other artists to help guide your decision.

Conclusion

Choosing the right drawing paper is crucial for creating a successful and visually appealing artwork. By considering factors such as paper weight, texture, color, quality, and format, you can select the paper that best suits your needs and preferences. Remember to experiment with different brands and types of paper to find the perfect fit for your drawing style. With the right paper, you can take your artwork to the next level and create stunning and professional-looking drawings.