What are the best papers for my work?

Artists work on paper with a multitude of different media including graphite, charcoal, watercolour, inks, coloured pencil and pastel. Artist paper is acid free which helps to optimise the structure of the paper, minimising deterioration over time including fading, yellowing, or even preventing the paper from falling apart. Cotton papers are considered the highest quality papers as they are made of the strongest fibres. This is important to many artists as it allows them to erase repeatedly, lift colour with ease, scrub and scratch, without holes tears and breaks appearing in the paper. Cotton papers are more expensive than the alternative, which is woodfree paper, often a mix of cotton and lignin free cellulose fibres (in loose sheets we offer Bockingford, Fabriano Woodfree watercolour paper and Fabriano 5). Different art applications demand differing qualities in the paper chosen to work on, and we will examine the varying requirements of different artists including graphic artists, watercolourists, traditional draughtsmen and pastel painters, and present our recommendations to you.

Glossary of Terms

  • Lignin-free - Lignin is an organic polymer that is found naturally in wood pulp. It increases the acidity of the paper and it is removed from artist papers to prevent it from becoming yellow and brittle over time.
  • Wood-free - The paper is made from wood pulp, but the 'woody' components, including lignin, have been removed from the paper.
  • Acid-free - The pH of the paper is neutral or slightly alkaline (pH 7 or higher). It often contains a buffering agent, usually calcium carbonate, to neutralise any acids that the paper might be exposed to from the environment.
  • Optical Brighteners - These are brightening agents which are added to paper to make it brighter and whiter. Be aware that optical brighteners will eventually fade and the paper will return to its natural colour.
  • Archival - There is no universal standard of what this means in practice. Generally, it refers to papers which are acid-free, free from optical brighteners, and are therefore resistant to deterioration or discolouration. 100% cotton papers are highly durable and naturally acid-free. They are considered to be more archival than wood-free papers.

Paper for Watercolour Painters – Loose Sheets and Rolls

At Jackson’s we sell loose sheets and rolls that have been produced using the 2 best methods for watercolour paper making.

Handmade paper – Jackson’s Eco Handmade paper, Jackson’s Two Rivers Paper Khadi paper

Papers that have been made by hand tend to be rougher, less processed, and more irregular. Many artists favour these qualities because they allow the natural characteristics of the fibres used to make the paper to shine. Handmade paper processes fail to get the paper surface as smooth as other production methods, so generally these papers tend to be a little rougher than what you might usually expect. All 3 of these paper ranges are 100% cotton, making them very tough and durable. They are particularly well suited to more expressive watercolour painters, who enjoy creating work with bold brush marks and vibrant colour.

Cylinder Mould Made Papers

At Jackson’s we sell loose sheets and rolls of Cylinder Mould Made papers including:
Arches Aquarelle
Saunders Waterford
Mill ford from St Cuthbert’s Mill
Fabriano 5
Fabriano Watercolour 130lb

Cylinder mould made papers are made using a huge machine that consists of a stainless steel vat and a cylinder mould, measuring a 260cm circumference and 130cm width. The steel cylinder is placed in the vat, and a very dilute pulp mixture is pumped into the vat. This mixture then attaches itself to the cylinder, forming a very fine fibrous web over it. The web is then drained, and then pressed to varying degrees of pressure, either between sheets of felt to create texture, or hot metal plates to achieve the very smoothest surface. Rough surface paper has a prominent tooth caused by being felt pressed, not or cold pressed has had more pressure applied and has a slight tooth, and hot pressed is the smoothest possible watercolour paper surface. Some cylinder have a special frame so that the edges of the paper can be made to look like deckled edges more commonly found on handmade papers. This is an attractive feature to many artists, who sometimes choose to float-frame their work on paper in order to show off the deckled edge. Watercolour paper tends to be creamy white in colour, as conventional pure white papers achieve their colour using harsh, unstable, abrasive bleaches, however Saunders Waterford and Fabriano Artistico both offer whiter papers that are not any less archival. Each paper brand has its own differing qualities, here are some notes to help guide you through your options. The papers are listed in approximate order of quality.

  • Arches Aquarelle (100% cotton) – Creamy white in appearance, available in rolls and loose sheets and a number of weights. Generally thought to be the finest watercolour paper we sell.
  • Saunders Waterford (100% cotton) – Is buffered with Calcium Carbonate to minimise discolouration in the paper. Available in all 3 surface textures, and in 3 weights: 140lb, 200lb and 300lb, as well as a 140lb roll. Saunders Waterford also manufacture a high white range of watercolour papers, thought to be the whitest acid free and archival watercolour paper available on the market.
  • Fabriano Artistico (100% cotton) – Is available in an extra white range and a traditional range. The paper is internally and externally sized, making it very durable for scrubbing and colour lifting. Masking Fluid can be applied and removed without damage if done correctly. Artistico paper possesses 2 deckled edges. It is available in 2 weights, and all 3 surface textures. It is also available in a 140lb roll.
  • Millford by St. Cuthbert’s Mill (100% cotton) – Was developed to replicate the now unavailable Whatman paper. It’s key sought after characteristic is extra surface sizing which makes the lifting of colour incredibly easy on this paper. The flipside of this is that the paper is less absorbent than other watercolour papers, and so colour may behave slightly differently to how you might be used to. Milford is long grain, acid free and archival.
  • Bockingford (100% woodfree) – A favourite among students and beginners because it also has heavy external sizing, making colour lifting easy. This combines with the low price, achieved by the fact that the paper is not 100% cotton, making it a great paper to use if you are starting out in watercolour, or wish to experiment with the medium without having to spend a lot of money on quality paper. Many professional artists continue to use Bockingford as their paper of choice. It is only available in not surface and rough surface, in a variety of weights raning from 90lb – 250lb, as well as a 140lb roll. Because it is not 100% cotton it is not quite as durable, however it is fully archival. Bockingford also produce a range of tinted watercolour papers, colours are Oatmeal, Cream, Grey, Eggshell and Blue, available in loose sheets as well as pads.
  • Fabriano 5 (100% woodfree) – This paper is often favoured by amateur botanical painters. It is available in hot pressed and not surfaces. It is made of 50% cotton and 50% acid free cellulose. Fabriano 5 is 140lb in weight, and is versatile – the manufacturers also recommend it for drawing and printmaking techniques including etching and silkscreen, graphite, charcoal and coloured crayons. Multi-sheet packs are available for better value.
  • Fabriano Watercolour 130lb (100% woodfree) – This paper is only available in not or cold pressed texture. It is very regular in its texture, and is low cost. It is not recommended for ‘final work’ use, but is perfect for those who need something inexpensive to experiment on, or try out, for example beginners and students. This paper can also be used for working in gouache, tempera, acrylic or ink, as well as dry media drawing applications.
  • Fabriano Pittura (100% woodfree) – 190lb weight paper that is made using Fourdrinier machines. This is the least sensitive means of producing fine art paper, and this is the only Fourdrinier paper that we sell at Jackson’s. Also the quality of the paper is not the highest available, the paper is robust and durable, and can be used for coarser painting techniques than watercolour, including tempera and acrylic painting. Perfect for schools and beginner art classes.

For artists who want to avoid paper stretching – rigid watercolour boards, line and wash boards and illustration boards

These boards mount high quality paper on to rigid boards, meaning you will not have to stretch the paper in order to avoid cockling, warping or buckling. It also makes framing finished work easier too.

High Quality Watercolour Boards for fine art Watercolour Painters

The highest quality watercolour boards we sell at Jackson’s are the Canson Arches Aquarelle Board and the Daler Rowney Saunders Waterford Watercolour Board. Both allow you to work on the finest watercolour papers available in the world today, without the need to stretch the paper or worry about whether your surface is 100% acid free and archival – both use 100% archival mounting boards. They are available in hot press, rough and cold pressed surfaces.

Crescent Watercolour Board – A 100% cotton rag surface. These boards have asuperior internal and external sizing. Heavyweight boards are 1.70 – 1.85mm thick, and the extra heavyweight boards are 3.18mm – 3.43mm thick. These boards are a little less resilient than the Daler Rowney Saunders Waterford and the Canson Arches Board, and it is recommended that board edges should be taped or waxed prior to heavy washes being applied in order to prevent the paper coming away from the board it is mounted on to.

Art Boards for Illustrators and Graphic Artists

Illustrators and Graphic Artists will want a surface that is bleedproof, white, and hard-wearing.

Daler Rowney Line and Wash Board uses an acid free watercolour paper that is particularly well suited to line and wash techniques. It is available in not and hot pressed surfaces.
Schoellershammer Line and Wash Board is 1.5mm thick, and measure 51cm x 73cm. It is only available in an ultra-smooth surface that allows colours to appear at their most luminous. It is recommended for line and wash, air brush and other techniques synonymous with illustration.

Crescent Professional Illustration Art Boards – These boards are cold pressed and have a nice subtle texture for pencil, pastel, ink, airbrush, wash, light collage and mixed media techniques. Hot Pressed (completely smooth surface) are also available. The compressed nature of the paper stops the colour from being absorbed too quickly and facilitates easy colour blending. These boards are 100% cotton and acid free, and available in heavy and medium weights. The Graffitti Marker Board is particularly well suited to sprays as well as markers as it is bleedproof and high white.

The student quality Crescent Illustration Art Boards are available in cold pressed and medium textures, and in a blue white and white. There are a little less expensive than the Professional boards, and slightly less durable.

Watercolour Glued Pads for Good Value and Practicality

Watercolour glued pads are glue bound on one side only, and the pages are designed to be pulled out and framed once work is completed.

100% Cotton Glued Pads

  • Arches Aquarelle – 12 sheet glued pads, Not and rough, Available in 11.5”x16.5” and 9.5”x12.5”
  • Saunders Waterford – Varying weights of paper (140lb, 200lb, 300lb) offer different quantities of sheets, Available in not rough and hot pressed with a black paper cover.
  • Langton Prestige – Natural white in colour with good surface sizing for extra resilience. 12 sheet pads available in 4 sizes
  • Khadi Handmade paper – 150gsm, internal and external sizing, 30 sheets in square pads either 15cm square or 20cm square.

100% Woodfree Watercolour Glued Pads

  • Bamboo Mixed Media pads – Made with 90% Bamboo and 10% rag. Age resistant, sustainable, strong and durable, Bamboo paper is also 100% acid free with a warm white colour. The texture replicates cold press surface although it is slightly more regular. It is well suited to most drawing, printing and painting techniques. Each pad contains 25 sheets and is available in 24cmx32cm, 30cmx40cm, 36cmx48cm and 42cmx56cm.
  • Winsor and Newton Artists’ Watercolour Pads – made of woodfree fibres and only available in cold pressed surface, 12 sheets in A5, A4, A3 and A2 sizes.
  • Langton Watercolour pads – inferior to the Prestige range, these pads are mouldmade and acide free but not 100% cotton. Various sizes available in hot pressed and not surface.
  • Winsor and Newton Cotman Watercolour Glued Pads - The student range from Winsor and Newton. These pads are mould made and acid free, 140lb, Not surface in a range of sizes.
  • Daler Rowney Aquafine - these pads are internally and externally sized. They are considered to be a little less durable than some other pads and it is suggested that you only use them for dry-brush watercolour techniques as washes will cause a lot of damage to the paper.

Spiral Bound Watercolour Pads

Spiral bound pads are practical and easy to use as it is very easy to flick through pages. They tend to be used in a similar way that one might use a journal or a sketchbook; a record of a creative journey over a period of time.

100% Cotton Pads:

  • Saunders Waterford Spiral Bound Pads - Cylinder Mould-made paper spiral bound. 100% cotton, Recommended by the Royal Watercolour Society and available in all 3 surfaces in 2 sizes, 7.5”x11” and 11”x15”.
  • Arches Aquarelle Travel Book - 5.75”x9.7”, cold pressed surface, 140lb, 15 sheets.
  • Khadi Wiro Pads - spiral bound pads with a soft cover. 100% rag, 30 pages, smooth/medium surface or rough surface in a range of sizes.
  • Winsor and Newton Artists’ Watercolour Spiral Pads - Cylinder mould made 100% cotton paper. Winsor and Newton’s spiral pads are extremely strong and durable, and will easily take scrubbing and lift of colour. It is 100% acid free and comes in 7 different sizes. The paper is only available in a cold pressed or not surface.

100% Woodfree Pads:

  • Fabriano Studio 130lb Spiral Bound Pads, Jackson’s Watercolour Spiral Bound Pads and Fabriano 5 Classico Spiral Bound Pads

All 3 ranges are resilient enough to support a number of different paints, including tempera, gouache, acrylic, ink, charcoal, wax, graphite, felt pens, printmaking inks and other drawing media, not to mention watercolour. The Fabriano Studio and Jackson’s watercolour pads are both 100% lignin free and made with 25% cotton, and 75% cellulose pulp. All materials made with these 2 pads are FSC certified. The Fabriano Classico is slightly superior to the other 2, as its cotton content is 50% (the remainder of the make up of the paper is described as ‘acid free raw material’).

  • Fabriano Studio 130lb Studio Pads – available cold pressed surface only, 4 different sizes, each pad holds 12 sheets
  • Jackson’s Watercolour Pads – available in cold pressed surface only, 2 different sizes each holding 25 sheets
  • Fabriano 5 Classico Pads – Available in hot pressed surface only, A5, A4 and A3 sizes, surface sized and acid free, recommended by the Royal Society of Botanical artists. 25 sheets in each pad
  • Bockingford 140lb Watercolour Spiral Pads and Tinted Bockingford Pads - Highly popular among many watercolour painters because of their low cost and good quality. Bockingford paper is cylinder mould made and has superior surface stability thanks to it’s good surface sizing. Bockingford paper is acid free and archival. These pads can be used for all drawing, painting and printmaking techniques. The tinted Bockingford pads are available in 10”x7” or 14”x10” and have 2 sheets of each of the 5 available colours.
  • Langton from Daler Rowney Spiral Pads - These pads are colour stable, cylinder mould made and acid free. 140lb, and available in cold pressed (not) and rough surfaces in a variety of sizes. Each pad contains 12 sheets.
  • Winsor and Newton Cotman watercolour Spiral Pads - These pads are highly recommended for students. They are available in 140lb or 200lb – the 200lb can withstand heavier washes of colour without wrinkling. They are cylinder mould made and woodfree, but are not 100% cotton. The paper is a natural warm white colour, and comes recommended by the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours.

Watercolour Blocks for Versatility

Watercolour blocks are pads of paper that have been glued on all 4 sides. Sheets can be worked on without them wrinkling as they become more saturated with watercolour, and once dry sheets can be sliced off the pad with a craft knife. The higher the quality the paper the more versatile the pad. Here’s a guide to the choice of blocks available at Jackson’s Art Supplies.

Blocks suitable for Repeated working, scrubbing, lifting as well as painting in other media

Professional artists are likely to favour the highest quality blocks. These are:

  • Arches Aquarelle - hot pressed, not or rough, 20 sheet blocks in a range of sizes
  • Fabriano Artistico or Fabriano Artistico Extra White - 140lb, hot pressed not or rough surfaces in a range of sizes, quantity of pages dependent on size of block
  • Saunders Waterford Blocks - Available in hot pressed, not and rough surfaces. Each block contains 20 sheets. They are also available in high white colour. All blocks are 140lb/300gsm.
  • Hahnemuhle Hot Pressed (formerly Merten Spiess) - Mould-made, 300gsm/140lb, 4 sided deckled edge, 10 sheets in each block. Each sheet is watermarked with the cockerel logo.
  • Hahnemuhle Tiepolo Blocks – mould made and acid free, 220lb heavyweight paper, 10 sheets available in not or rough surface. Very forgiving to harsh treatment!
  • Hahnemuhle Cornwall Blocks – Cornwall blocks are not 100% cotton and are made using a Fourdrinier machine, and so the quality of the paper is not as refined as the Arches, Fabriano or Hahnemuhle Hot Pressed. However this paper is 450 gsm which makes it sufficiently heavy to withstand generous washes of colour. Recommended for those who want a heavy paper but at an affordable price. The paper has a bright white appearance, it is acid free and lightfast. Cornwall blocks are available in not and rough surfaces and each block contains 10 sheets.
  • Hahnemuhle Andalucia Blocks – Another less expensive, Fourdrinier machine made block. The Andalucia block has 500gsm paper. The paper is a natural white colour, acid free and age resistant. It is matt/not/cold pressed surface on one side and rough surface on the other. It is a heavyweight version of the Veneto paper, which is also manufactured by Hahnemuhle.
  • Hahnemuhle Anniversary watercolour Block – The Anniversary block is another low price, good quality watercolour block from Hahnemuhle. It is machine made and so has a very uniform surface on which to work, but it is a heavyweight paper at 425gsm, and will withstand heavy applications of both wet and dry colour. Bceause it is not 100% it may be less forgiving to some scrubbing, but it is less likely to warp. There are only 2 sizes available in this range that is only available in not or cold pressed surface. The Anniversary block is acid free and lightfast.

Blocks suitable for student use – reasonable quality, affordable price, not too heavy but not too light! Perfect for experiments and practising and also good enough quality for exhibition

  • Hahnemuhle Britannia Blocks - Machine made with a uniform surface texture, pressed between sheets of natural felt. Available in ought or cold pressed/not surfaces. Natural white in colour, acid free, lightfast and age resistant. Suitable for both wet and dry watercolour painting techniques.
  • Jackson’s Watercolour Blocks – Please note that the paper used in these blocks differ from the paper used in the Jackson’s pads and the paper sold as loose sheets. Jackson’s blocks are 100% lignin and acid free. They are available in 12 sheet blocks in both not/cold pressed and rough surfaces.
  • Hahnemuhle Veneto Blocks - Fourdrinier machine made student quality paper. It is 325gsm weight (a little more than 140lb), is natural white in colour and both acid free and age resistant. The top side is a rough surface which has been developed to replicate the texture found on high quality cylinder mould made papers. The reverse side of the paper is a little smoother and also offers an interesting surface on which to paint.
  • Clairefontaine Etival Watercolour Blocks – These are mould made from 100% acid and woodfree materials. There are 10 sheets in each block, and the paper is 300gsm in weight. It is available in not/cold pressed surface and in 4 different sizes. 
  • Langton Prestige Blocks – 140lb, 100% cotton. The paper possesses a natural whiteness and is acid free. The paper cylinder mould made. The paper has been internally and externally sized. It is available in hot pressed, not and rough surfaces.
  • Winsor and Newton Cotman Blocks – 140lb, Not surface, 20 sheets in each block, 100% woodfree and cylinder mould made in various sizes.

Beautiful Watercolour Blocks specifically for making work for exhibition – the high end

  • Arches Aquarelle - hot pressed, not or rough, 20 sheet blocks in a range of sizes
  • Fabriano Artistico or Fabriano Artistico Extra White - 140lb, hot pressed not or rough surfaces in a range of sizes, quantity of pages dependent on size of block
  • Saunders Waterford Blocks - Available in hot pressed, not and rough surfaces. Each block contains 20 sheets. They are also available in high white colour. All blocks are 140lb/300gsm.
  • Hahnemuhle Hot Pressed (formerly Merten Spiess) - Mould-made, 300gsm/140lb, 4 sided deckled edge, 10 sheets in each block. Each sheet is watermarked with the cockerel logo.
  • Clairefontaine Fontaine Watercolour Blocks – 300gsm, 100% cotton, 25 sheet blocks in a range of sizes. Available in rough and not/cold pressed surfaces. Beautiful paper that comes highly recommended by our staff.
  • Hahnemuhle Cezanne Blocks – 10 sheet blocks of a natural white watercolour paper, 300gsm/140lb. It is cylinder mould made and 100% cotton and acid free. A high quality and durable paper.
  • Hahnemuhle Tiepolo Blocks – mould made and acid free, 220lb heavyweight paper, 10 sheets available in not or rough surface.

Watercolour Blocks for the Envivonmentally Conscious

Jackson’s Handmade Eco Paper – This 100% cotton paper is made in India using processes that minimise on CO2 emissions. The paper is 140lb in weight and contains 20 sheets of a cold pressed/not surface in 3 sizes. The paper is very absorbent and is less forgiving than some of the cylinder mould made papers, however many artists enjoy painting on this very vibrant and exciting surface.

Not sure which paper is the right paper for you? The Hahnemuhle Test Block will let you sample all they have to offer (almost)

Hahnemuhle also offer a text block of watercolour papers. There are 12 different papers to try in a block that measures 17cm x 24cm. There are 7 sheets of mould made paper:

  • Hahnemuhle 200gsm matt(not) and rough
  • Hahnemuhle 230gsm rough
  • Hahnemuhle 300gsm rough
  • William Turner 300gsm
  • Tiepolo 450gsm Rough
  • Leonardo 600gsm Rough

And 5 sheets of the Akademie (student) papers:

  • Cornwall 450gsm matt(not) and rough
  • Britannia 300gsm Rough
  • Torchon 275 gsm
  • Burgund 250gsm Matt (not)

Please note that the block does not contain the Cezanne paper.

Blank Postcards for Painting

Who needs a camera on holiday? We sell Hahnemuhle’s metal tin of 20 blank postcards as well as our own Jackson’s blank postcard pad. Both are suffiently heavy to withstand watercolour application. A very personal way of sharing your experiences with a friend or loved one.

Cartridge Sheets and Rolls

Cartridge paper is so called because it was originally used for making paper cartridges for firearms. Today artists use it primarily for drawing and printmaking. Cartridge paper tends to be very smooth or with a very light uniform grain. The finest cartridge papers are acid free and made of cotton, for the same reasons as the watercolour paper – this is the most durable paper making materials and the lack of acid content makes the paper age and light resistant. Here’s a guide to our loose cartridge sheets in order of approximate quality.

  • Stonehenge – Stonehenge is a superior catridge paper from the US. It is available in loose sheets as well as in a 50”x10 yard roll. It is relatively heavyweight for a cartridge paper at 250gsm, and is very resilient and reworkable. Stonehenge has been developed to replicate the characteristics of vellum. It has a slightly mottled surface and is almost silky to the touch. Like Saunders Waterford, Stonehenge is buffered with Calcium Carbonate to prevent discolouration and deterioration. A firm staff favourite.
  • Schoellershammer 4G Heavyweight Cartridge Paper - 250gsm, smooth to the touch and a creamy natural white colour. Schoellershammer is sufficiently durable to withstand light applications of fluid colour e.g. printmaking inks and drawing inks. The choice of many illustrators.
  • Fabriano Accademia – Lignin and acid free, made with treated cellulose. FSC Certified. Internally and externally sized, very durable and hardwearing. Suitable for use with pencil, charcoal, pastel, coloured pencil and ink. 200gsm. Available in value packs well suited to art classes as well as large rolls that can be cut to size.
  • Canson Off White Cartridge Paper – 100gsm and available in an A1 pack of 250 sheets. Less than half the weight of our heaviest cartridge papers and well suited to life drawing classes. An ideal surface on which to apply graphite, charcoal and coloured crayons.
  • Lower cost cartridge sheet packs of paper – we also sell light, very affordable packs of Snowdon and Norfolk paper, which are perfect for experiments, quick work and idea development.

Drawing Pads

Drawing is a vital part of the creative process for many artists, designers and craftspeople. Within this category you will find a range of different pads of paper that cater for a wide range of needs.

Bright White, Smooth paper pads – for crisp lines and colour, well suited to detailed work, illustration and graphic design

A crisp white, very smooth surface lends itself well to design work because it will replicate the printer paper that may be used in reproducing work. The quality of this paper does not alter the effects created by the materials applied to it, other than to show their qualities at their very best. The high white colour of such pristine smooth pads such as Bristol board pads (made by Canson, Winsor and Newton and Daler Rowney) will maximise the luminosity of the colours applied to it. Marker pads such as the ones manufactured by Daler Rowney and Crescent are designed primarily for marker and felt pen drawings – the surface is completely bleedproof, thus maintaining clean edges and good quality of line. Bright white, smooth drawing pads can be used for work in most drawing materials, including graphite, charcoal, pen and ink, technical pen, airbrush and light washes of watercolour.

For those looking for a bright white, smooth paper pad we recommend:

  • Canson Bristol Pad, 250gsm (heavy so good erasability), available in A4 and A3, 20 sheets of extra smooth white paper
  • Winsor and Newton Bristol Board Pad
  • Daler Rowney Bristol Board Pad, 250gsm, available in A4 and A3
  • Daler Rowney Lyndhurst High White and Smooth Paper Pad, 135gsm
  • Daler Rowney Marker Pad, 70gsm, available in A4, A3 and A2 sizes
  • Letraset Marker pad – 70gsm, bleedproof and ideal for lots of illustration techniques including Manga. 50 sheet pads available in A4, A3 and A2 sizes.
  • Montana Sketchbooks (the paper in these have been coated to minimise absorption of ink and show colours at their brightest. The coating also reduced drying time), 120gsm, available in A4 portrait and landscape format in A4 and A5.
  • Schoellershammer Marker Pad, 75gsm, available in A4, A3 and A2 sizes. These smooth, high white colour pads have a bleedproof coating, which means that even the heaviest marker pen marks will not show through to the other side. The high white will maximise the luminosity of the colours that you are using. The quality of the paper is also conducive to minimising the drying time of ink.
  • Crescent Maker Art Board – bleedproof, brilliant colour, hardwearing so can take lots of erasing without damage. Also recommended for airbrushing. The Graffiti maker board is particularly well suited to spraying as well as marker pen work.
  • Layout and Tracing Pads for Design work – Semi-transparent, bleedproof and favoured by designers and illustrators
  • Daler Rowney Layout Pads – 45gsm, available in A4, A3 and A2 - Crisp, lightweight illustration paper suitable for pencil, pen and ink. Good practice paper for marker and calligraphy artists.
  • Letraset Layout Pads – 60gsm, available in A4, A3 and A2 sizes. The paper is bleed resistant, and semi-transparent which is very useful in the intermediate stages of the design process.
  • Daler Rowney Tracing Pads – available in 60gsm or 90gsm, A4, A3 or A2 sizes. Superb eras ability with both erasers and blades. Perfect to be drawn on with pencil, drawing pens and inks.

Drawing Pads with texture and characteristics that will influence the look of your drawing.

There are a number of pads that may be better suited to fine artists as the texture or tooth of the paper will influence the overall look of the work made on the paper. This is likely to suit the needs of fine artists or those who are not intending on reproducing their work. It also suits some fine artists because the unfamiliarity of a unique and characterful surface on which to work can lend itself well to a higher degree of experimentation during the creative process.

  • Khadi Paperback Pads – these pads are made with the famous Khadi handmade paper; a 100% cotton rag paper which is particularly absorbent and textured. A recommended surface for those who create bold drawings, and enjoy working with materials that possess qualities that play a prominent role in the overall look of your work.
  • Hahnemuehle Sumi-e Japanese Ink Paper Pads, 80gsm, available in 30cmx 40cm and 24cm x 32cm. This paper is very unique to Far Eastern painting traditions. It is very absorbent and semi transparent, and feels very soft as a result of the lack of sizing. It’s surface is dappled with undulations in the opacity of the paper which makes it very pleasing to the eye. It is best suited to free style ink and watercolour painting as indicated by the cover design. Sumi-e is the name of traditional the Japanese approach to free style ink painting, which usually is highly impressionistic with minimal marks to describe the subject. It derives from Chinese Calligraphy, which dates back as far as the 5th Century B.C.

Coloured Paper Drawing Pads

Daler Rowney Canson Assorted Coloured Pads and Clairefontaine’s Maya Coloured Drawing Paper Pad are our choices for coloured drawing paper pads. Both contain artist’s quality paper in a range of brilliant, matte colours. Both could be used as a scrapbook might be used, but the paper is of a far superior quality to sugar paper. The pads are best used for drawing, or for other creative applications such as collage or paper sculpture. Daler Rowney Canson Assorted colour paper pads are 150gsm and heavy enough to cut, curve, crease, and emboss: in other words, an ideal material to use when making greeting cards. The Daler Rowney Canson pads have 8 different colours and 30 sheets in each pad, and are available in A4 and A3 sizes. The Clairefontaine Maya Coloured Drawing Pads are only available in A4 size and contain 10 colours, 2 sheets of each.

Drawing Pads as a visual journal – a record of your creative journey

The most common use for a drawing pads is to record ideas, preparatory sketches, quick observational drawings that may develop into ideas for other works of art. A good sketchbook for such use is likely to have paper with a bit of weight (100gsm or more). Drawing pads that are intended to be taken to classes, to the studio, or with your wherever will ideally have a hard cover to help protect the work within. They may also have a spiral binding to help the book stay open when working. They are listed in order of weight with the lightest first.

  • Daler Rowney Case Bound Pad, 100 gsm, 110 sheets, available in the following sizes: 6”x4”, 8.5”x5.5”, 8.5”x11”, 14”x11”. Natural white and medium grain paper ideal for dry applications of drawing media.
  • Daler Rowney Black Cover Spiral Bound Hard back pad, 160gsm, 80 sheets in each pad in the following sizes: 5.5”x8.5” and 8.5”x11
  • Daler Rowney Graduate Sketchbooks, 140gsm, A5, A4 and A3 sizes, with a soft glossy cover and 20 sheets in each pad
  • Daler Rowney Red and Yellow Spiral Drawing Pads, 150gsm – These pads are very popular among students. The paper is heavy enough for repeated erasing. The paper is a natural white. Perfect for observational drawing, e.g. at life drawing classes.
  • Daler Rowney Ebony Hardback and Hardback Spiral pads, 150gsm – 160gsm – acid free, 50-60 sheet of off white paper. These pads are also available with a special limited edition Union Jack cover.
  • Fabriano Venezia Hardback Sketchbook – these beautiful hardback pads bind 200gsm Accademia 100% cotton, natural white paper into a patterned cover, inspired by the mosaics found in the San Marco area of Venice. The paper is heavy enough to take both wet and dry media, including ink, graphite, charcoal, coloured pencils, watercolour and pastel. Each book contains 48 pages and comes in 3 sizes: 4”x6”, 6”x9” and 9”x12”.
  • Gnu Hardback Sketchbooks – These pretty hardback sketchbooks come in an array of brightly coloured covers with contrasting binding as well as a ribbon marker sewn into the sketchbook. They are perfect art journals to take out and about with you in order to jot down ideas and make quick sketches in to. The paper is 100gsm, and there are 192 pages in each book. The paper is FSC certified and ivory in colour. There is a useful pocket fitted into the back cover to store loose items. Gnu sketchbooks are available in A5 and A6 sizes.
  • Jackson’s Cloth Casebound Cartridge Pads – these pads hold 140gsm paper which is best suited to drawing in dry media. They are very sturdy with a high quality cover that will protect your drawings within. These pads are considered to be excellent value for money and are available in a large range of square and rectangular sizes.
  • Moleskine Sketchbooks and Watercolour Albums – Moleskine are world renowned for their high quality diaries, sketchbooks and notepads, and Jackson’s is proud to stock this famous brand. The sketchbooks hold 250gsm paper which would make it heavy enough for light applications of wet media as well as good erasability of all dry media. Sketchbooks are fitted with a ribbon marker and elastic enclosure and are available in 2 sizes: 13cm x 21xm with 104 pages and 9cmx 14cm with 80 pages. The watercolour album is available in A4 size and holds 60 x 200gsm, 25% cotton not surface watercolour paper. It too has an elastic enclosure. In addition to this we also sell plain, squared and ruled notebooks.
  • Montana Notebooks – plain and squared paper available in A6 size, 80g – these note and sketchbooks are the perfect location to develop ideas and record observations. They have a ribbon marker and an elastic enclosure, as well as a very useful pocket in the back of the book for storing loose items such as business cards, photos, cut-outs and stencils.
  • Winsor and Newton Spiral Cartridge Pads, 96gsm – The paper is lightweight and has a subtle texture on its surface and the pads contain 50 sheets. Because the paper is thin we would suggest only using these pads for sketches and drawings in dry media. The pads are bound on the short side and are available in A6, A5, A4 and A3.
  • Winsor and Newton Spiral Cartridge Pads, 150gsm – There are 2 varieties of pads in this weight of paper – one with a medium texture and the other amooth. The heavier weight can take light applications of watercolour and ink. There are 25 sheets in each pad. They are available in A2, A3, A4, A5 and A6 sizes.

Drawing Pads with versatile, high quality paper ideal for ’final’ or exhibition standard work

There are a number of pads that are gummed in a soft cover pad and are not suitable for use as a journal, as the work inside would be susceptible to damage if transported around. However the paper is of a high quality and is excellent for drawings intended for presentation or exhibition, as well as silk screen relief and etching prints. The heavier weights of paper (150gsm and heavier) are perfectly able to hold light washes in ink and watercolour.

  • Daler Rowney Fine Grain, available in 120gsm or 160gsm, in A5, A4, A3 and A2 sizes
  • Daler Rowney Fine Grain Heavyweight 200gsm, available in A5, A4, A3 and A2 - These 2 ranges have a fine grain which is lovely to draw on in wax crayon, pastel, graphite and charcoal. The grain allows the colour of coloured pencils and colour crayons to appear at their most luminous. The heavier weight paper is also great for very light applications of watercolour and printmaking.
  • Daler Rowney Heavyweight Cartridge Paper Pad – 220gsm, available in A5, A4, A3 and A2 - A very smooth heavy weight paper that is a natural white, ideal for all drawing processes.
  • Hahnemuhle Nostalgie Sketchbooks contain 190gsm weight paper, natural white with a slight texture. The paper is acid free and an ideal surface for all dry media as well as light applications of watercolour, gouache and ink.
  • Stonehenge pads, 250gsm, 15 sheets per pad in the following sizes: 18”x 24”, 11” x 14”, 9” x 12”, 8” x 8”, 5” x 7”. The paper is manufactured to resemble vellum, a rich, textured surface, and its weight allows the paper to take washes of watercolour gouache and ink with minimal cockling. It is also a highly satisfying surface on which to apply dry drawing media. The paper is 100% cotton and non-yellowing. Stonehenge is highly recommended by our staff.
  • Winsor and Newton Cartridge Gummed pads, available in 130gsm and 220gsm, and in sizes A5, A4, A3 and A2 (all sizes are available in all weights). These pads are simple gummed pads with a glossy paper cover and a rigid board backing. The lighter pads are better suited to dry media and the heavier pads are able to take light applications of wet media as well as dry, without cockling. Pads contain 25 sheets in each.

Lightweight, economical paper for experiments, fast work, sketches

The following drawing pads contain paper that is lighter that 100gsm, and is highly affordable. Such pads are perfect for observational drawings, quick idea development. The sort of paper you will not feel intimidated by, and won’t worry about making mistakes on! These pads have a greater number of pages in them, which also encourages you to keep on using as many pages as you need to get your drawing how you want it.

  • Daler Rowney Arteco Jumbo Sketching Pads – 120 sheets of 95gsm paper in A4 and A3 sizes
  • Jackson’s Soft Cover pads – these pads are staple bound with a black soft cover. They contain 40 pages of 140gsm weight paper. They are ideal for short art courses or projects and are available both landscape and portrait bound. Available in A5, A4 and A3 sizes.

Drawing Pads for the Environmentally Conscious

  • The Fabriano Eco Pads are made of 100% recycled cellulose paper. They are acid free, but not 100% cotton. They are made in Italy with Hydro or water power, i.e. the energy derived from falling water. The manufacture of these Eco pads allows to save 15 trees for every ton of paper produced. Eco paper pads are available in 120gsm or 200gsm, each weight paper is available in both an A4 and A3 sized pad.
  • Hahnemuehle Sugar Cane Multi Media Block, 280gsm, 20 sheets per pad, available in the following sizes: 24cmx32cm, 30cmx40cm, 36cm x48cm, 42cmx 56cm. The production of these sugar cane multi-media blocks is powered by renewable energy, and the paper itself is made from the materials extracted from sugar cane production waste as well as recycled cotton fibres. The paper is substantially heavy at 280gsm and is strong enough to withstand wet and dry media.
  • Jackson’s Eco Hardback Recycled Pads – Our handmade 100% cotton Eco paper is very absorbent and is full of character. It does not have as much sizing as some other watercolour papers, but to many artists this lends an interesting dynamic to the paper as a surface for watercolour and gouache painting, as well as drawing in other wet and dry media. The Eco paper pads come in an A4 casebound pad which holds 92 pages, and a spiral bound pad which holds 50 pages. The paper is 130gsm weight.

What is Pastel Paper like?

Pastel paper has a number of qualities that make it stand apart quite distinctively from watercolour paper and cartridge paper, and within the category of ‘Pastel paper’ there are a surprising number of different varieties.

What makes a good Pastel Paper?

Pastel papers, as with all fine art papers, are acid free and pH neutral in order to maximise their lifespan. Many pastel papers are coloured, but unlike other coloured papers such as sugar paper, the colour is lightfast so will not fade unless exposed to direct sunlight over a substantial amount of time.

Experienced pastel artists tend to prefer not to use fixative if they can avoid it, as fixatives have a tendency to darken colours. The majority of pastel papers will hold pastel colour to their surface without the need for fixing. This means that the colours remain as vibrant as they appeared when first applied to the surface.

How does pastel paper hold colour?

The texture of a pastel paper will allow it to hold colour in its crevices. Pastel artists have quite a diverse range of preferences with regard to what extent, or what kind of texture they demand of their paper, in order to create work that looks exactly as they would like it to. This is where the following guide will help you to find the right grain or texture for you. The coarser the grain the better the colour holding, however some artists prefer a smoother texture so that a greater degree of subtle and detailed marks can be made. Textures can be irregular as with cork lined papers, or regular as with mould made Ingres papers (which has a regular line- grain appearance).

Glassine – What is Glassine?

Glassine paper can be used to protect the surface of prints, drawings, paintings and other artworks from spilling, exposure, or rubbing during storage or presentation. It will not damage or smudge pastel, charcoal or graphite. Often used in bookbinding seperating (interleaving) pages containing plates or illustrations. Its smooth surface is resistant to grease, air and water, and is pH neutral (acid free) to ensure archival protection.

Canvas Sheets, Pads and Blocks

In this category you will find unstretched painting surfaces suitable for oil and acrylic painting.

The Arches Huile Oil Painting paper is unlike any other oil painting paper. It feels exactly the same as Arches Aquarelle Watercolour Paper, and is 300gsm, however it has been specially sized to form a barrier that oil cannot penetrate, meaning that it is resistant to the usual rotting that would happen if oil oxidises on regular paper. Arches Huile has 4 deckled edges. It is just as absorbent as watercolour paper, so colour does appear to sink into the fibres of the paper, however heavier applications of colour can be rubbed away with a rag; the paper is relatively resilient. Once painted on thinly and left to dry Arches Huile paper can be rolled up in the same way that Arches Aquarelle can be rolled up once painted on with watercolour – making it very easy to transport and store.

Canson Figueras paper almost feels as if it is made of plastic, but in fact it is paper that has 4 coats of very thin, mechanically applied universal primer. The sheets have a subtle linen texture. The paper is quite absorbent but can take any amount of oil or acrylic colour, although it does stain very easily so once colour is applied it is very difficult to remove completely. The paper is relatively thin and weighs 210gsm. Figueras paper will not warp or buckle and colour can be rubbed off and re worked; it is very durable.

Belle Arti Canvas Pads are pads which consist of 10 sheets of universally primed, medium grain cotton canvas. The priming is relatively rough and absorbent but is ready for use with both oils and acrylic. Because the sheets are unstretched, they feel a little inert, and do not have the vibrancy of stretched canvas. However they are ready to be painted on, and if you want to reinforce them on to a rigid backing, it would be very easy to glue the sheets on to compressed card or plywood in order to make canvas panels. This would also prevent the canvas from warping whilst working on it.

Oil and Acrylic painting blocks are glued on all 4 sides so that sheets can be painted on without warping. Once dry, sheets can be ‘sliced off’ the pad using a butter or palette knife. Clairefontaine produce both an acrylic as well as an oil block. The acrylic blocks have a heavier weight paper (360gsm) and they hold 10 sheets. They have a fine, linen-like texture that replicates more traditional acrylic painting surfaces. The priming will not protect the paper from oils, but this paper can be used for gouache painting. Similarly the oil block is best suited to Oil colour only, although dry media such as graphite, charcoal, coloured pencils etc can be worked on it. The surface texture is similar to the fine linen-esque texture found on the acrylic blocks, but the paper is thinner and weighs 240gsm. There are 15 sheets in each block. If you are looking for a block that would be suited to both oil and acrylic painting, we suggest you try Hahnemuhle’s Oil and Acrylic block. This has 10 sheets of 230 gsm paper. It is 100% bleedproof and is acid free, also with a linen texture. Much like Figueras and Arches Huile, if the paint is thinly applied and completely dry, sheets from any of these blocks can be rolled up for storage and transporation purposes.

Oil and Acrylic painting pads are glued only on one side, so sheets are easier to remove than in a block. Daler Rowney System 3 Acrylic Pads are only suited to acrylic colour as oil bleeds through this paper. 230gsm, with 20 sheets in each pad. The sheets have a linen texture and the paper is well suited to being a support for mixed media and collage work. The equivalent in the Winsor and Newton range is the Galeria Acrylic pad. This pad has 300gsm paper with a uniform, medium texture. The paper has been internally and externally sized and can be used for oil painting if the surface is given an extra coat of acrylic primer prior to use. Each pad contains 15 sheets of acid free acrylic painting paper. For Oil painting Daler Rowney offer the Georgian Oil Pads – these are also quite absorbent and recommended only for experiments and quick oil sketches, as well as being an ideal support for beginners to oil painting. The paper has a fine texture and is also well suited to sketches in oil pastel. There are 12 sheets in each pad of 250gsm paper.

Digital Paper - What is Digital Paper?

The fine art digital papers we offer at Jackson’s Art Supplies look and feel like traditional watercolour paper. However while inkjet inks would sink and bleed into watercolour paper, and colours would appear duller than is ideal, digital papers possess a special coating that enables ink to sit on the surface of the paper yet still fix into place, with colours appearing their most luminous and permanent. The coatings in some cases even help to increase the lightfastness ratings of the printer ink, and lend stability to the finished print.

Double sided or one sided printer paper

If you are looking for a double sided paper, the choice is between the Someerset enhanced and the Bockingford digital papers. These 2 varieties of digital paper have the special sizing added to the paper during production, so it is present throughout the paper fibres. The Hahnemuehle digital papers are sprayed with their coating after production, and so they are only coated on one side. The coated side is very slightly sticky if you wet it, so if you are not sure which side to use our tip would be to lick your finger and then see if the paper sticks to it once you press the very corner of one side.

100% Cotton or Cellulose Fibre Paper?

Somerset Enhanced and Hahnemuehle papers are both 100% whereas Bockingford is 100% Cellulose. Cotton fibres are longer and therefore stronger, producing a much more durable paper. All papers are acid free and with the correct treatment (keeping in dry conditions away from direct sunlight) they are all able to maintain their quality for a lifetime.

Textures – Not, Rough and Hot Pressed

As with traditional watercolour paper, the surface texture of your digital paper will affect the overall appearance of your print. If you are making prints of a watercolour painted on rough paper, it makes sense to also use a rough paper to print the work on to so that it can resemble the original work as closely as possible. If on the other hand you are printing a highly detailed photograph then it might be wiser to print on to a completely smooth paper. Hahnemuehle digital papers are recommended if you require a specific surface to print on, as they have the greatest choice, which includes both matt and glossy papers in a variety of textures. Somerset can offer 3 textures – Satin, textured and velvet; all very well suited to the printing of fine art works such as drawings, paintings and prints.

Weights of paper and recommended uses

Bockingford paper is only available in the relatively light 190gsm weight and is well suited to printing limited edition books, greeting cards (although paper may have to be double folded so that it is strong enough to stand on its own depending on the size of the card) and limited edition fine art prints.

Somerset Enhanced inkjet paper is heavier, 255gsm, and feels more robust. It is possibly too heavy to be used for the pages of a book but would be an excellent surface on which to print fine art prints or very high quality greeting cards.

The digital papers in the Hahnemuehle range have an extensive range of paper weights, from 188gsm to 410gsm, to suit every kind of fine art inkjet printing need. We suggest you really think about what you’re printing and what weight of paper you need very carefully before ordering, as the weight will significantly impact upon the overall look of the finished print.