I draw daily using watercolour pencils in a Moleskine watercolour (13 x 19 cm) sketchbook, which I love and will continue to use.
But sometimes I want to do a more “finished” drawing on a single A4 or A3 sheet. I have been trying to find the equivalent of my Moleskine textured paper in this format, as Moleskine do not make their own paper and cannot be bought in sheets.
Recently I have been also using a pad of Arches Smooth 300gsm , was getting increasingly frustrated with the interaction of my watercolour pencil, water and the paper . I was finding that the pencil pigment on the Arches gets “furry” or “fuzzy” as I pull the colour across the paper with water. This is the only way I can describe it.
In reality the difference is so subtle it is probably something that no one else would notice. So this is a very subjective review, as I am looking for something that suits me. But I thought I would share my experience.
I asked advice on Facebook groups and also looked online. I received a number of number of suggestions which I took to my local art shop Parkers in Sydney . After half an hour with a very patient assistant, I walked away with six sheets of paper (they did not have some of suggested brands : Aquabee, Holbein Rhodia & Levenger) . Even when I was in the shop I could see and feel the difference between the papers, although after a while they all started to look the same and I was a little overwhelmed, so I made my purchases and went home.
Of course when I got home I sketched my newly purchased papers
there are subtle differences in the colour of the papers
UPDATE 2015 – I found the perfect paper – .It is called University paper. I believe it is produced by St Cuthberts Mill in the UK . Available at Deans Art in Melbourne ! In sheets. 210 gsm
I have never tested papers before, so it was all experimental. I cut the paper into 13 x 19 cm rectangles (size of the Moleskine) . I had only recently discovered that papers have a front and back side to them, so I have one for each.
I decided to test the colours and shapes that I have been drawing recently . Ivory Black – a colour I use in feathers and Magenta for macarons. I did a scribble of colour and then spread it out with a paintbrush. I wrote my thoughts down immediately on the paper before moving onto the next one. Some were quite similar, but there was a difference.
Unfortunately the scans of the completed tests shows no difference between them. It looks like the same test fourteen times. so I won’t put them up online, but I will describe my immediate reactions and thoughts.
I have listed them from the best match to the least
The winner is ….
Lana 300 gsm Hot Press
FRONT – has more texture than back
BACK – smoother than front. Not furry at all spreads well
I then drew a whole egg, feather and macaron, just to double check. It feels good!
Here are the other papers I tested and my thoughts.
Fabriano Soft Press 300 gsm
BACK not furry & spreads well, but settles furry. Paper has a bit of texture , not good for fine lines of pencil only
FRONT Paper fells thick not furry
Canson Montval 300 gsm
FRONT Textured paper
BACK not furry at all. Too much texture on paper
Arches Smooth 300 gsm
Whoosh – glides off the page too smooth. Can’t get really dark lines
Fabriano Hot Press 300 gsm
FRONT Pigment does not spread well , stops and starts shows edges. A little more furry
BACK a little furry pigment does not spread well. stops and starts shows edges spread across spreads too much pigment
Saunders Waterford 300 gsm HotPress
FRONT furry . takes pencil well on its own. Not so good with dark colours. Front more furry than Back
BACK a little furry
if anyone has any other thoughts or suggestions please let me know. I now just have to learn how to cut sheets into even papers….