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How to Choose Watercolor Paper

The 3 surfaces of Watercolor paper

There are 3 types of watercolor paper: rough, hot-pressed and cold-pressed.

Rough watercolor paper has a varied texture. It is great for artworks that you want to create texture on. Hot-pressed watercolor paper has a very smooth surface and almost no texture. This is good for painting detailed paintings and creating smooth washes. Cold-pressed watercolor paper is an in-between rough and hot-pressed paper – it has a slightly textured surface. This type of paper is sometimes called NOT (not hot-pressed).

I prefer the cold-pressed paper type as I can still paint very detailed paintings but also give my artworks some form of texture. The weight of the paper is also very important to keep in mind.

Watercolor moves on paper. It is the most active of all mediums, almost like a performance art.

Nita Engle

Different Watercolor Paper Weights

Watercolor paper weight is indicated by its weight, usually measured in grams per square meter (gsm). The weights range from 190gsm which is the thinnest paper and would likely warp when too much water is used – perfect for practice or beginners, 300gsm, 356gsm, and 638gsm which is the highest gsm – this is the thickest and strongest watercolor paper. How much water and paint you use influences the weight you’ll need.


1 Comment

  • Jeanne Roux
    Posted May 15, 2021 at 3:23 pm

    Wow, this was super helpful. Thanks!

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