Watercolor Paper Basics

Learn How To Choose The Right Paper For You

Watercolor paper has several characteristics that affect the way the paper works when you paint on it. In this short lesson, we go over the important factors so you’ll know what paper to get for your kind of painting.

Watercolor Paper

Paper is one of those necessities for painting in transparent watercolor. Since water is the medium, an absorbent surface is a requirement and paper fills that requirement better than anything else. 

There are many different brands of watercolor paper available but they are not all the same. Many are not really suitable as the support when longevity and light-fastness are required.  Indeed, there are many papers that really fall into the category of “student-grade”. These are the less expensive papers, and they are not recommended even for those who are “students” or just learning watercolor painting.

In this short tutorial lesson, we go over the important characteristics of watercolor paper.  We only cover professional grade paper – if you’re not sure what that means, we cover it in this lesson.

What You Need To Know About Watercolor Paper

There are four things you’ll want to know about your paper: the source of fiber to make the paper – this is what determines whether it is professional or not; the kind of surface texture; its thickness or weight; how it is “sized” and to what extent

Once you understand each of them, it’ll be easier to decide what paper to use for your paintings.

The Paper We Use

The lesson uses three different sheets of Arches watercolor paper as examples. You can find all three papers in loose sheets by clicking here

Related Lessons

Basic Materials and Information

Choosing The Right Cerulean Blue Watercolor Paint

Choosing The Right Cerulean Blue Watercolor Paint

Choosing The Right Cerulean Blue Watercolor There Are Differences Between Brands. Let's Take A LookCerulean Blue is one of those ...
See the Video
Permanent Alizarin Crimson Watercolor

Permanent Alizarin Crimson Watercolor

Picking Permanent Alizarin Crimson Every Brand Is Different. This Lesson Shows You WhyIt can be confusing and disappointing to discover ...
See the Video
Watercolor Paper

Watercolor Paper

Watercolor Paper Basics Learn How To Choose The Right Paper For You Watercolor paper has several characteristics that affect the ...
See the Video
Watercolor Painting Supplies & Materials

Watercolor Painting Supplies and Materials

BASIC MATERIALS FOR WATERCOLOR PAINTING A Simple Set Of Materials To Get You Started And Keep You Going DOWNLOAD SUGGESTED ...
See the Video
Setting Up To Paint in Watercolor

How To Minimize The Cost of Your Watercolor Supplies and Materials

How To Minimize The Cost of Your Watercolor Supplies and Materials BASIC MEMBERSHIP IS FREE! Access to Basic Watercolor Painting ...
See the Video
Three Ways To Stretch Watercolor Paper

Three Ways To Stretch Watercolor Paper

Three Easy Ways To Stretch Watercolor Paper Two Quick and Easy, One More Effective Here are three ways to stretch ...
See the Video
Setting Up To Paint in Watercolor

Setting Up And Working With A Limited Primary Color Palette

Limited Twelve Primary Color Palette Using A Limited Palette Actually Strengthens Your Paintings Working With A Limited Palette Gain Important ...
See the Video
Setting Up To Paint in Watercolor

Getting Set Up To Paint In Watercolor

Setting Up Your Paint, Brushes and Supplies For Your Watercolor Painting Session Whenever you are ready to begin a new ...
See the Video
How To Clean Watercolor Brushes

How To Clean Watercolor Brushes

How to Clean Watercolor Brushes After Painting Cleaning your brushes after painting is easy! Rinse them well in clean water ...
See the Video