18 Best Paper Types For Art Projects: Choosing What Works Best
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Do you love to do art projects but don't know what type of paper to use? Or maybe you've tried a few different kinds of paper, but you're not sure which one is the best for your project. This blog post will review some of the best paper types for artists, including traditional and non-traditional mediums. We'll also give tips on choosing the right type of paper for your needs.
Every artist needs a good quality drawing paper for their projects. Drawing paper uses high-quality, acid-free paper that you can use for both wet and dry media.
Charcoal paper is an interesting medium-weight paper that you may use for various art applications. Aside from drawing with charcoal, most charcoal drawing papers are acid-free and perfect for soft pastels, crayons, oil pastels, and pencils. The double-spiral binding and heavy chipboard backing make it perfect for artists on the go.
Pastel drawing paper ranges from medium to heavyweight, with a smooth surface perfect for soft or hard pastel. The heavyweight chipboard backing provides stability and prevents bending, while the glue-bound binding ensures your paper stays together when needed.
Mixed media paper is the perfect surface for any artist looking to explore a variety of mediums. The dual-spiral binding easily allows the pages to flip open, making it easy to work with wet and dry media whether you're using ink, watercolors, acrylics, or pencil and pen.
Plus, the medium-weight construction makes it durable enough for extended use while still providing a level of flexibility that won't damage delicate surfaces. Best of all, the acid-free properties help keep your artwork from fading over time.
Let your creative side run wild with toned papers with colors available in gray, tan, or blue. Unique as they come, the toned paper uses post-consumer fiber, making it more environmentally friendly. It's also acid-free, ensuring that your photos and drawings will last for years to come. This paper is also perfect for dry media, whether light or dark.
Look no further than a painting paper when you want a paper that'll make your paintings POP, look no further than painting paper. This heavyweight paper is perfect for acrylics, oils, and even watercolors! It's also acid-free to help prevent any damage over time.
Watercolor paper has a cold-press texture, ensuring that your paint will stick while still providing a painterly quality to your work. The heavy-duty paper is acid-free and natural white, making it archival and perfect for your most important pieces.
Acrylic paper is heavyweight paper with a textured linen surface that prevents bleeding and is acid-free for layers of paint. It is perfect for artists who want to create beautiful pieces with precision and ease.
It holds layers of paint and mimics the effect of the canvas. The absorbent surface also prevents the paint from drying out too quickly, giving you more time to work on your masterpiece.
The canvas paper is acid-free, heavyweight retains oil paint, and you can use it for various applications. It is perfect for artists who want to create beautiful pieces with precision and ease.
It has a good texture, is acid-free, and does not bleed. It is also an excellent option for mixed media, as it can hold multiple layers of paint without buckling or warping.
Artists use several papers for their papercraft projects. You may use cardstock, construction paper, and even specialty paper.
Cardstock comes in different colors and styles - white, kraft, colored, glittered, and even specialty cardstock. They're thicker than construction paper, with the thinnest at 176gsm and the heaviest at 300gsm. Cardstock is best to use as a base for greeting cards, invitations, and other papercrafts that need thick paper.
Construction paper is excellent for origami, making cards, and scrapbooks. Most art teachers use this paper type for various art activities. They may get a bad reputation for being too thin, but you can create several crafts - paper flowers, garlands, woven paper, or quilling.
Specialty paper may include double-sided printed paper, metallic, holographic, scented, textured paper. This type of paper is great to use when you want your project to have more allure.
Vellum paper may look similar to tracing or parchment paper, but they are entirely different. Vellum may be transparent or slightly opaque. Artists use vellum to accessorize their greeting and invitation cards, scrapbooks, journals, or trace designs.
Colored vellum is also available. Aside from similar uses for white vellum paper, you can also use it for copying and printing.
Printmaking involves different techniques, including woodblock printing, etching, lithography, screen printing, risograph, and digital printing. Here is some paper you can use for printmaking.
It is best to print your photos on photo paper because of their quality and surface. Photo paper comes in different sizes and weights, with the heaviest paper best for professional photographers.
Glossy photo paper is best known for its crisp image and vibrant colors. However, glossy photo paper smears easily, so let it dry well before touching the image itself. Another downside of glossy photo paper is the glare.
On the other hand, matte photo paper dries quickly and is water-resistant. The images have a muted look, but they show color contrasts more easily than on glossy paper.
Artists may use an inkjet printer for printing their art projects. Most inkjet papers are virgin paper bleached to achieve bright whiteness and smooth surfaces. However, they're not the best option for printing highly colored or complex images.
You can use inkjet paper for printing coloring pages, documents, and lightly colored images.
Paper roll is best if you're looking for large-format paper to work on your projects. They're great for drawing and painting, as they don't curl when wet. You can also tape them to a wall or easel for easy use. They come in different widths, but the standard size is 36 inches wide by 100 feet long.
The kraft paper roll is a versatile and essential tool for any artist or crafter. Crafters use it to make sturdy paper bags for shopping and packing lunches. You may also customize it into an eco-friendly all-occasion gift wrapping paper. Its absorbent surface makes it perfect for painting with acrylics, watercolors, and tempera.
Some crafters even use kraft paper rolls for origami projects, making rustic wreaths, DIY envelopes for cards and invitations, or use it for embossing and die-cutting projects.
Tracing paper rolls are best if you're looking for long-format paper for drawing, making sewing patterns, or drafting plans. You may also use it to create personalized cards and invitations, design your scrapbooks, or trace over photos, drawings, and designs.
Easel paper is an excellent replacement for easel-mounted art projects. This is high-quality paper ranging from 65-328 feet long and 15-18 inches wide. Compared with ordinary thick paper, easel paper is usually resistant to bleeding, making it usable for markers.
Sketchbooks and Pads
Sketchbooks are available in various formats. They also come in different sizes for convenience, thickness, and binding.
Some have hard or softcovers, and others have fancy PU leather, leather, and cloth cover. The pages inside come in various weights, ranging from 70gsm to 200gsm. Some sketchbooks are for watercolors, markers, and even mixed media.
Pads, on the other hand, are usually thinner and less expensive. You can find them glued at the top or spring-bound, so you can easily tear them off.
Aside from the usual paper you use for art, there are still other paper options that you can use for your projects.
Newsprint is a low-quality paper that artists may use for their practice pieces. Some newsprint has a natural grayish tone while others are natural while. It is available in various sizes. You may also use this paper to make paper mache projects, pack your art, or protect your floor from paint.
Sticker paper is a self-adhesive paper that can print labels and stickers. It comes in various sizes, colors, and finishes. You may use this type of paper to add embellishments to your artwork or create your stickers.
Paper Types for Art - What to Look for
Here are some of the most important features you should look for when buying any paper for art:
Compatibility is the foremost choice you have to make when looking for a paper to use for your art. The weight and texture of the paper alone don’t make it appropriate for an art project. Photo paper is not the best choice when making cards, even if you think they look great. On the other hand, you can’t make good prints using cardstock.
Always check the paper’s specifications before buying a set, especially if they’re expensive or you can’t buy them in smaller packs.
What is your purpose for buying the paper? If you’re working on DIY puzzles, thick cardstock is good, but see if it works on your printer. For origami projects, construction paper and scrapbooking paper are great choices.
However, scrapbooking paper is more expensive because they’re acid-free and usually printed on both sides or has special designs. They work great for making DIY gift wrappers, though.
If you’re a professional artist, you’re familiar with “tooth.” This term refers to the texture of the paper. The material used for making the paper and the process with which the paper is made determine the paper's texture.
When drawing with charcoal, smooth paper is not the best choice since this medium needs paper with some tooth to take on the pencil. On the other hand, you need smooth paper when coloring with markers.
Choose also the right side of the paper for your art. You can choose journal size sketchbooks for sketching on the go. Large-format drawings, like a charcoal landscape, on the other hand, may need a larger size of paper.
If you’re looking for cheap but large paper for kids’ drawings, an easel paper roll is the best. On the other hand, sticker papers are usually A4 or letter-sized, so it fits your inkjet printers.
Paper may come from different materials. Linen paper that works best for wedding invitations is usually made from post-consumer waste, thus its texture. Most bright white printer paper comes from reforested wood.
Cotton rag paper comes from cotton pulp or old cotton shirts, making them very textured and absorbent, and they have a nice deckled edge, giving it a vintage look. However, you can use this paper for digital prints, drawing, sketching, and similar projects.
When you want excellent archival quality on your paper, go for paper made from cotton pulp or paper from wood pulp with the lignins removed to prevent discoloration and crack over time. As a rule of thumb, look for something resistant to deterioration that extends your artwork’s life expectancy.
Best Paper for Making Art FAQ
1. Which paper type is most suitable for artwork?
Depends on the artwork you’re working on. We recommend matte, cotton rag, or canvas paper. Cotton rag paper is the strongest and most durable because it comes from cotton fibers. However, they’re also a lot more expensive than regular paper. This paper is best for keeping your artwork for a long time because of its archival quality.
On the other hand, matte paper has a thin layer of coating to allow the ink from an inkjet printer to set properly on the surface. Matte paper is more resilient compared to glossy paper. It is best for projects that get handled a lot since it resists fingerprint marks, has less glare, and keeps the print in good condition even when exposed to sunlight. Matte paper is the best choice for printing your artwork for your portfolio.
The canvas paper is best for working with wet media because it replicates the feel and absorptive capacity. For beginner artists perfecting their painting skills in acrylic or oils, canvas paper is the perfect choice since you can have the texture and fill it with real canvas without spending too much. It has good archival quality too, so if you decide to frame your work, it will stay good for a long time.
2. What is the best paper for papercraft?
For papercrafts, cardmakers usually use textured paper, gloss paper, marbled paper, or metallic paper instead of plain cardstock. They also use transparent vellum to accentuate cards.
Though newsprint is not the best option for paper crafts that involve folding and cutting, they work best for papier mache projects because they’re a cheap alternative if you don’t have enough old newspapers.
3. Is 120 GSM paper good for drawing?
Drawing paper should range between 100-130gsm (70-80lb), so 120gsm paper is good for drawing. It is thick enough to withstand erasures and not thin enough to make the drawings see-through.
However, while the adequate weight of the paper is a good characteristic of drawing paper, it does not make a paper good for drawing. Other factors you have to consider when choosing a drawing paper are the tooth (texture of the paper), the material used, the archival quality, and the type of paper. Check the What to Look For section to learn more about paper for drawing.
Copy paper or printer paper is good for drawing, especially for kids or someone looking for cheap paper for practice. Most printer paper range from 70-100gsm. However, it has a limited capacity to take on erasures and a heavy hand; therefore, use it only for practice pieces.
4. What paper do professional artists use?
Professional artists (and crafters) use the right type of paper for their work to get the best result. For example, mixed media artists choose sturdy paper to take on wet and dry mediums, while charcoal artists prefer paper with a slight tooth. Professional photographers prefer matte paper over glossy paper because it won’t affect the quality and longevity of the print.
Oil painters won’t use watercolor paper because it is very absorbent and won’t hold the oil paints. Instead, they use canvas paper. Conversely, canvas paper is not good for watercolors and acrylics because it does not have enough absorbency that the medium requires.
Calligraphers mostly prefer smooth paper to prevent a break in the flow of their letterforms. For the same reason, they don’t use paper with a waxy finish because it won’t absorb enough ink.
5. What is the difference between acid-free and archival paper?
All archival papers are acid-free, but not all acid-free papers are archival. Acid-free paper results from the process; archival paper stems from the material itself.
One of the basic differences is the source of the paper pulp. Pulp made from wood contains lignin, a polymer that makes the cells on the wood and the bark rigid, thus giving it shape. However, it causes discoloration and brittleness on the paper.
Paper made from cotton pulp is 100% acid-free, so they keep its color, texture, and strength even after many centuries. Archival paper, however, is more expensive than regular paper. Aside from the material used, most archival paper bears the manufacturer's watermark to show that you’re getting authentic archival paper.
Other differences are the permanence, durability, and lightfastness of archival paper. If you’re preparing certificates or legal documents, art prints, and other artwork you want to last, it is best to use archival paper.
Artists should know the type of paper for their project to get the most out of their art supplies. With the right paper, your artwork will look amazing and professional. What is your favorite type of paper to use for art? Let us know in the comments below.