Choosing the Correct Drawing Medium
February 27, 2023

Choosing the Correct Drawing Medium

When shopping for paper for art projects, it can be bewildering to choose from the extensive variety of paper types, brands, textures, and weights. Understanding why there is such a vast selection of paper and which kind best suits your job is not always straightforward.

Let us help you make sense of selecting the ideal paper. The type of paper you use depends on the task at hand. If you are drawing with a dry medium, you should look for paper with a "toothy" texture to prevent pencils or pastels from slipping off the page. If you are painting, however, a smoother surface is usually more beneficial, allowing you to create vivid, complex hues by applying multiple thin layers of pigment.

Preserving your artwork for a long period is paramount, which is why it is imperative to select acid-free paper. If not, it can discolour or deteriorate, which will detrimentally impact the visuals. Calcium carbonate, a buffer, can neutralize the acid that is exposed to the air or produced through the ageing process when acid-free paper is used.
Moreover, the paper's surface texture should be taken into account if you plan to work with numerous coatings. It can be difficult to layer further hues if the paper's surface has already been covered. To make this process smoother, choose paper with the proper tooth or texture.

People often ask about the dissimilarities between papers used for watercolour, sketching, acrylics, oils, pastels and digital printing. To shed light on this query, here is a succinct summary of the main features of each type.


1. Watercolour Paper

Watercolour paper is an essential part of the painting process, and it comes in a variety of textures to suit every artist's needs. 

The Hot Press (HP) finish is the smoothest option and is great for detailed pieces. The Cold Pressed finish has a medium textured surface and is the most popular among artists, making it ideal for beginners. Finally, there is the Rough finish which offers a highly textured surface, perfect for those looking to create a unique look to their artwork.

The watercolour paper comes in a variety of weights, beginning at 90 lb and going up to 400 lb. Generally, the heavier the paper, the less it will warp when exposed to moisture. For lighter weight sheets (140 lb or lower), it is commonly recommended to wet them and lay them on a board and secure them with gum-strip tape. An alternative approach is to use a paper stretcher device specifically designed for this purpose.

With watercolour paper, you can truly bring your vision to life in a beautiful and vibrant way - allowing you to create art that will last for longer.

Check our selection: Watercolor Paper

2. Acrylic and Oil Painting Papers

Generally, it is believed that acrylic and oil paints are only meant to be used on canvas, however, a lot of artists enjoy experimenting with paper as well.

These types of paper, ranging from medium to heavyweight, are usually canvas-textured and prepped to be worked with either oil or acrylic paint. The ones that are prepared for acrylic can be used for both oil and acrylic. It is crucial to make sure the paper is sealed completely if painting with oil, as the oil will not blend if the paper is too absorbent and can cause the paper to deteriorate over time. Though acrylic paint can be used on any paper, these sheets are specifically crafted to imitate canvas. This makes them particularly convenient for art classes or painting outdoors, and is an economical option for creating a study or sketch before starting the main work on canvas.

Check our selection: Acrylic Paper, Oil Painting Paper

3. Sketching Paper

Sketching paper is a lightweight alternative to Drawing paper and is typically employed for honing artistic skills, trying out dry media, and creating quick studies for later use in higher-grade paper compositions. Art aficionados often keep sketch papers to use as reference for future artwork. The most suitable mediums to use on this type of paper are colored pencils, graphite, charcoal drawing chalks, monochrome chalks, and oil pencils.

Check our selection: Sketching Paper

4. Drawing Paper

Drawing paper is a heavier, and better-quality paper than sketching paper.  It is commonly used for sketching and finished work.  The ideal mediums used with drawing paper are graphite, charcoal, dry monochromes, soft pastel, oil pastel, markers and pen and ink. 

Check our selection: Drawing Paper

5. Mixed Media Paper

This paper has been designed to be able to withstand a wide variety of artistic media. It is comparable to watercolor paper but with a more vellum drawing surface. This paper is compatible with graphite, colored pencil, markers, acrylic, watercolor, gouache, pen & ink, charcoal, drawing chalks, monochromes, pastels, gel pens, fine liners, calligraphy inks, and many more. It has become a favorite of many modern-day artists.

Check our selection: Mixed Media Paper

6. Toned Paper

Working with mid-level toned paper at the start of a project offers a variety of sketching and drawing potentialities, as it supplies the mid-tone that would otherwise have to be created by the artist. This provides a broader selection of values from light to dark, and the middle shade makes it simpler for the artist to precisely place shadows and highlights. Leaving the shade of the paper as one of the values in the art not only saves time, but permits the artist to take advantage of graphite or other darker media to enhance darker values and white pencils or other light media to add sparkles, making sketches and drawings stand out.

Check our selection: Toned Paper

To summarize, we have presented several types of paper and the appropriate mediums to use with each kind. We hope that this article has been of some help to you as well as provided you with some interesting facts. Have a great day full of creativity!