What Decisions Must You Make Before Purchasing Watercolor Paper?

Never undervalue the importance of the paper you use while creating a watercolour painting. Professional watercolour papers are often chosen for their quality and weight by fine artists. But there’s a lot more to think about.

Watercolor papers are available in three distinct textures and finishes…

HP stands for hot pressed, and it has a smooth surface.
In the UK, cold press (CP) is known as “Not” (not heat pressed) and has a medium texture.
Rough (R), which has a rougher texture by definition.
Absorbency of paper…
Watercolor papers are conventionally scaled, which is a process that diminishes the paper’s ability to absorb water.

HP papers contain a high degree of size, allowing them to be as absorbent as possible.
Water can permeate into the paper fibres because CP papers are treated with less sizing. This provides you more colour density and tone options, which is better suited to conventional watercolour applications.
Illustrators and designers use hot pressed paper for its sharpness and intricacy. Traditional watercolour methods work well on cold pressed papers, such as Rough papers.
Sizes of papers…

Watercolor paper of the highest quality is available in a variety of sizes. Divide a whole sheet (22″ x 30″) into smaller sheets to obtain the most value…

sheets cut in half (15″ x 22″)
Sheets in quarters (15″ x 11″)
You’ll receive 8 sheets at 7.5″ x 5.5″ paper weights if you divide them again.

You can also select from a variety of weights, which generally indicate the weight in pounds of a ream of paper or 500 sheets…

140lb (about 300 gsm.) and 300lb are the most popular weights. When selecting your paper, keep in mind that lower weight papers will need to be stretched to avoid cockling. For larger works or if you don’t want to deal with stretching, go with a thicker weight paper. Also, if you’re going to use a lot of wet washes, you’ll want to select a thicker paper weight.

Colors of paper…

Watercolor sheets are typically virtually pure white. However, if you look about, you’ll see that there are numerous coloured or coloured sheets available.

Paper created by hand or by machine…

The rough (deckle) edges of handmade paper and machine (mould-made) paper can typically be distinguished. Each of the four corners of handmade paper has a natural gritty finish. Cut edges will be present on machine-made paper that is rolled into huge rolls.

Hand-made paper is stronger, despite the fact that many artists will not notice. The fibres have the same strength in all directions since they are laid out randomly. The fibres in machine-made paper usually run in the same direction as the rollers. This concentrates the major strength in a single direction. Another impact you could notice while painting is that machine-made paper cockles in one direction more than hand-made paper. Don’t worry… you’re unlikely to have any issues as a result of this.

In the end, the choice of watercolour paper is entirely yours…

Because the surface is generally nonabsorbent, hot pressed (HP) sheets are great for brilliant colour. Because the colour isn’t absorbed by the water, it stays on the surface, just where you put it.
Cold pressed (CP) papers, on the other hand, are more adaptable. You’ll discover a limitless selection of watercolours to try and test with the dimpled, semi-absorbent weave surface.