On Paper

Your choice of paper is somewhat dictated by your budget. Art stores and specialty paper shops offer a dazzling array of choices, but a pad or two of good vellum surface drawing paper is all you really need.

There are many other types of paper to choose from as well. Here are some of the plusses and minuses of each.

The important thing is time that's all your own—no kids, no phone, no spousal interruptions. Make it clear to the others in your household that this time is yours, and they'll soon be asking for their special times as well!

Newsprint is thin, shiny, and not very rewarding as surfaces go.

General drawing paper in pads or sketchbooks is a better surface, but not too precious. You will go through a lot of it.

Bristol board in pads is a bit heavier. The vellum finish is pleasant to work on and it can stand up to an ink line, ink wash, or water-soluble pencils.

Watercolor paper, in pads, blocks (pads with adhesive on all sides to keep it flat while you are working), or individual sheets, is more expensive but worth it later on for your finished work. A 90-lb. or 140-lb. hot-pressed paper is a good choice.

Paper surface varies as well.

Artist's Sketchbook

Vellum surface drawing paper has a velvety soft finish that feels good as you draw, and it can handle a fair amount of erasing.

Drawing paper comes in plate (shiny) and vellum (smooth) surfaces. The vellum surface is nicer for pencil drawing.

Watercolor and print paper surfaces are hot press, cold press, and rough. Think of an iron and you will remember which is which. A hot iron will press out more wrinkles, and so it is with paper. Hot press is smooth and silky, great for pencil line and tone. Cold-press papers have a texture (like wrinkles) and take drawing material differently. Experiment—it's the only way to know which you like best. Rough-surfaced paper is very bumpy and will show itself through almost any drawing media.

The Art of Drawing

Paper's thickness is labeled by its weight. Typing paper is 24 lb.; good heavyweight computer ink-jet paper is 30-36 lb.; drawing paper and printer's cover stock are about 60 lb.; good drawing, pastel, charcoal, and watercolor paper range from 70-lb. all the way to 300-lb. paper that can stand on end, with 90 to 140 lb. being the mid-range.

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