How do I know what type of watercolor paper to use?
Reader Question: I am a beginner watercolor painter and I'm not sure what type of paper to buy. It seems like there are so many that it's almost overwhelming. I want to make sure I buy the best thing. How do I know which is a good watercolor paper to choose?
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There are indeed many different types of watercolor papers available - this is part of what makes watercolor painting so fun! If you have the budget, you can experiment with all different types of watercolor paper, using a bunch of different watercolor techniques, to get a feel for what you like best. That is one way to narrow it down.
To give you an overview, watercolor paper comes in four forms: as single sheets, in a pad, in a block or as a roll. For a beginner to watercolors, I would suggest trying the first three, with rolls applicable only when you know what you like and prefer to buy in bulk.
Next, there are two "qualities" of watercolor paper: student quality and artist quality. Your budget will dictate which one you should buy; just keep in mind that artist quality watercolor paper will be better than the student quality.
Your last choice is what type of watercolor paper to buy. There are 3 main types of watercolor paper - Hot Press, Cold Press and Rough Press. Most watercolor artists tend to use Rough or Cold Press watercolor paper, because they are absorbent and have a nice ridged/textured look and feel. The Rough Press will be more textured than the Cold Press. Other artists like the smooth quality of the Hot Press watercolor papers.