Drawing papers for pen and ink artwork

There are tons of interesting drawing papers that you can use for your pen and ink artwork!

From sleek Yupo to ancient papyrus, you can delight in the plentiful array of textures, colors and weights

The type of drawing paper that you use for your pen and ink artwork has a great bearing on the final outcome of the piece. The paper can actually set the entire tone for a piece. For instance, bark paper will feel earthy and primitive, while metallic paper will present a modern and synthetic aesthetic.

When choosing the right drawing paper for your particular pen and ink project, ask yourself:

What am I trying to convey with my artwork?

Will I use any other materials in the artwork, such as watercolor, pastels, etc?

How do I intend to display the artwork?

Am I practicing, doodling, or creating a finished piece?

Am I concerned about the artwork lasting forever?

Your answers to these questions will help you figure out the right type of drawing paper to use for your pen and ink artwork.

drawing papers

On this page I'll show you some of the traditional drawing papers that you can use to create pen and ink artwork. Soon I will put up another page about the many types of exotic drawing papers that you may not have heard about.

Most of these drawing papers are sold as individual sheets, which means you can experiment and try them out at a low cost!

traditional drawing papers

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The most traditional kind of drawing paper is plain white drawing paper that you can buy in pads or in single sheets.This type of paper is usually heavier than regular writing paper, but it is not as thick or heavy as the other types of drawing papers that you can use that I will talk about below.

If you want to work on paper that is heavy and won't easily buckle or crinkle, try one of these types of paper for creating your pen and ink drawings:

Watercolor paper comes in 3 types: hot-pressed, cold-pressed, or rough. Hot-pressed watercolor paper is generally smooth. Rough watercolor paper is, well, rough. Cold-pressed watercolor paper is somewhere in between. If you use watercolor paper for your pen and ink drawings, you can also apply watercolor washes above or below the ink marks.

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Printmaking paper can also be used for drawing pen and ink artwork. Printmaking papers are generally strong and sturdy. They can easily accept a lot of washes from watercolor or acrylic, as well as soak up lots of ink.

Illustration board is thick and sturdy, providing a strong surface that can handle many mediums besides pen and ink. Illustration board allows you to create mixed media pieces that combine pen and ink with paints, like acrylic.

Bristol board comes in two forms: smooth and vellum. Both kids are great for pen and ink artwork, and you can also add mixed media elements too!

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Once you finish your pen and ink drawing, protect your artwork with an archival spray, such as Krylon Crystal Clear. This will prevent your pen and ink artwork from fading and smudging. 

How to Draw Course

If you’re interested in taking your drawing skills to the next level, check out my review of the How to Draw course from The Great Courses Plus.

The 18-hour video course is perfect for those who’ve never drawn before and even advanced students. The professor covers basics like art supplies and construction lines, but gradually moves up to more advanced topics like linear perspective.