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Which watercolor paper should I use?

Time to time I receive a message about which materials to use for painting with watercolor, so I thought to write 3 different posts about, paper, brushes and paint.

But first, I want you to remember, I´m not a master, neither a teacher in Art school, I´m just a dude who start to paint not long time ago, that is going to share what he knows.

So please, doubt my words and go check other fonts after this. :)

waves by johny painting with watercolor Portugal
Johny Vieira

Watercolor Paper

What is made of : cotton, cellulose, or a mix of both. For watercolor I recommend 100% cotton paper. Cotton fiber handles the water much more than a cellulose paper. I already saw other fibers, like hemp, but never tried still

watercolor painting, surfers in the tropical water
Watercolor painting by Johny Vieira


Cold press, where you have a fin texture or rough texture, or hot press that is a very very smooth texture. A rough texture will help to make dry brush effects, and a hot press will be good for very detailed paintings without using too much water. So the texture it's more a choice of the artist, depending on the style he/she wants to paint with.

surfer surfboard painting surfart
A love story - Watercolor painting by Johny Vieira


from 185 to 850 gsm( grams per square meter) depends how much water you will apply, and how big is the area of the painting. Usually around 300gsm is what I use from small sizes until A2 size maximum. Pretty good how strong the fibers handle. I never saw a 850 gsm paper but I believe it is similar to a log.

A bad quality paper will bring a lot of difficulties into your painting, so better to give out more $$$ to avoid frustrations during the process.


100% cotton, forget cellulose paper, Thickness will depend on the size and amount of water you use. Start with 300gsm, And about the texture, is an artist choice, so with time try them all :)

What do I use mainly : @archespapers 100% cotton cold pressed (fin grain) 300 - 356gsm.

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