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The 3 Types of Watercolor Paper

Watercolor paper is a crucial element in the world of watercolor painting. It is specially designed to handle the various techniques and applications that are unique to watercolor painting. Choosing the right watercolor paper is essential to ensure the best results in your artwork. In this blog post, we will explore the different types and uses of watercolor paper.

Amongst the brands of professional grade papers (see next post), there are primarily three types of watercolor paper based on their texture – Hot Pressed, Cold Pressed, and Rough.

Hot-Pressed Watercolor Paper:

Hot-pressed paper is smooth and has a uniform surface texture. This texture allows water and pigments to sit on the surface, which makes it ideal for detailed work, such as botanical illustration or portraits. Hot-pressed paper is also suitable for techniques like dry brushing, as it allows for more control over the paint application.

Cold-Pressed Watercolor Paper:

Cold-pressed paper has a slightly textured surface, which makes it a popular choice for most watercolor artists. The surface texture provides just enough tooth to hold the paint, while still allowing for some controlled blending. Cold-pressed paper is ideal for a wide range of painting techniques, including wet-in-wet, wet-in-dry, and glazing.

Rough Watercolor Paper:

Rough watercolor paper has the most texture, with a rough and irregular surface. This texture makes it ideal for creating expressive and loose paintings with a lot of texture and movement. The rough surface also allows for interesting paint effects such as granulation, where the pigments settle in the texture of the paper, creating a unique look.

Ultimately, the type of paper an artist uses comes down to personal choice. Each option has a different feel that you either like or don’t. After painting for many years, I typically use cold-pressed paper for its easy utility, but I always keep hot pressed and rough on hand too – just in case. 

Look under “Papers and Boards” tab on the Utrecht and Blick websites for lots of options and brands (more on that later).

Read on for more about student vs. professional grade watercolor papers!

Close-up view of 3 textures of watercolor paper

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