Easy Watercolor: How to Select Paper for Amazing Effects

Painting the same watercolor flower with playful hand lettering on hot press watercolor paper and plain sketching paper.

If you are new to watercolor, you are probably wondering what kind of paper you should use. After all, you want to get some amazing effects without too much work. The answer is: it depends.

I like smooth, hot pressed 100% cotton paper. Why? Because it does the most justice to my painting style. The textured kind is more commonly used, though. The reason why I prefer smooth, is that I frequently add colored pencils to my artwork. And in that case, only smooth surface will do. Textured paper creates different kinds of effects, and is good when you stick to watercolor only.

Watercolor painting can be something you do to just relax too, and not necessarily to advance any artistic skill. Just to enjoy the flow and let loose creativity without expecting any kind of result. In that case, you may want to go for ordinary sketching paper. In the video below, I am painting the same illustration on both watercolor paper and sketching paper. You will see that you can get some pretty nice effects on plain sketching paper too. Another option is to use cheaper watercolor paper that is not made from cotton. 



In the video, I have printed out my own illustration on a regular laser printer. I can do this because the watercolor paper I'm using is light, only 185g. After mounting the printed illustration on a wooden board with watercolor tape, I brushed off excess powder from the laser toner. And then I started painting.

You can print out this same illustration because you can download for free right here.

Smooth hot pressed watercolor paper vs textured cold pressed paper   Mounting smooth, hot pressed paper

I want to ask you one question. Have you noticed the word JOY in the illustration? It's my way of being creative with hand lettering, weaving words into illustrations. More on that in my next tutorial. Creative drawing without regard for realistic rendering is also super relaxing and fun!

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