Which is the best paper for ink and watercolors?


5 of the best watercolor paper pad brands

One of the most important elements of any watercolor or sketch creation is the paper on which it’s created.Choosing which types of watercolor paper is critical.  Skimping on the paper or using the wrong type will kill the design before it can see the light of day. Artists, beginners and professionals, use and abuse their paper with pencil erasures and watercolor paints and other liquids. So make sure the type of paper pad you’re using was made to handle the type of medium you plan on using.

High quality paper should be acid free. This ensures that white paper doesn’t turn yellow and has an extensive life span. Rather than use individual sheets, pads offer portability so ideas can be put on paper immediately. Read on to compare what paper to use for watercolor artwork in your next creative project. 

canson-water-color-paper-padCanson Watercolor Paper Pad

This pad is good for beginner artists who want to do more than just draw with a plain pencil. The Canson pad makes excellent drawing paper that can be used for sketching, but it can also withstand painting. The paper is cold press, so the surface has some texture – little bumps, or grooves, that hold the paint pigment and sucks up the water. If you want to show texture in your painting, cold press paper is the way to do it. So break out the oil pastels, acrylic paint, markers, and watercolors and get creative.

The paper is a bright white which enhances the slightest mark up by the artist. Your paints and sketches come to life, and the colors jump off the page with this multipurpose artist’s pad. The paper measures 9 x12 inches, and it contains 30 sheets of 140-pound paper.

Heavyweight paper means no pilling
Acid-free sheets
Can draw over watercolor painting

Pigment colors may be slightly duller than hot press paper

Get the latest price for the Canson Watercolor Paper Pad right here…

reevers-water-color-paper-padReeves Water Color Paper Pad

This is the ultimate pad for beginners who make mistakes and need a lot of paper at an inexpensive price. With 35 sheets of 90-pound paper, you can easily draw and erase while not worrying about running out of paper too quickly. The paper measures 9 inches by 12 inches which is a sizable work surface for most types of medium.

It is manufactured with as a heavyweight paper which makes it perfect for maximizing the brightness of colored pencils, markers, watercolor painting, and even plain pencil marks. It even works with charcoal, markers, and chalk.

Heavyweight paper makes it durable for lots of erasing
Handles multiple types of drawing tools, not just paints

Paper curls slightly if it gets too wet

Get the latest price for the Reeves Water Color Paper Pad right here…

us-art-supply-extra-heavy-water-color-padU.S. Art Supply Premium Extra Heavy-Weight Watercolor Painting Paper Pad

This pad offers acid-free cold press paper and handles wet painting beautifully. It soaks up water quickly so you can paint faster. The paper is a natural white color, so watercolors look amazing on it. It’s 90-pound heavyweight paper, so it can stand up to water absorption without curling or bleeding.

With 24 sheets per pad and a 9 inch by 12 inch work surface, there’s plenty of blank space to let your artistic side loose. With a neutral pH balance, this pad has a higher archival quality so it lasts much longer.

Neutral pH for archival purposes
No pilling or tearing when wet

Paper is not a bright white so paint colors will need to be adjusted

Get the latest price for the U.S. Art Supply Premium Extra Heavy-Weight Watercolor Painting Paper Pad right here…

windsor-and-newton-cotman-water-color-padWinsor & Newton Cotman Water Colour Paper Pad

Artists will love this pad that comes with 10 sheets of 200-pound heavyweight cold press paper. It’s the standard 9 inch by 12 inch size, but the heavier weight means it soaks up much more water. That makes it stand out against its competition and makes it perfect for watercolor painting.

It’s manufactured from high quality wood-free paper, has a higher resistance to tearing due to more interwoven fibers used per sheet, and being acid-free ensures it won’t yellow over time. The pad has a gum binding for easily tearing the sheet off when you’ve completed your masterpiece.

Handles high amounts of water
Erase, sponge, and remove masking fluid without damaging paper

Gum binding may leave residue on paper (easily removed)

See the latest price for the Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colour Paper Pad right here…

canson-arches-block-cold-pressArches Watercolor Block Paper Pad

This is the more expensive of the pads we’ve listed here, but well worth it if it means that your creations can literally come to life on the page. The Arches watercolor paper pad contains 20 sheets of paper that are made of 100 percent cotton. That means it’s at the professional grade level for watercolors. The surface is smooth, yet durable enough to get wet and shine with bold colors.

The sheets are the standard 9 inches by 12 inches and are made with a hot press. Hot press paper has an extremely smooth surface which is great for pen or ink drawings. It’s wonderful for painting as well because it doesn’t soak up water quickly due to the lack of grooves (such as cold press paper) so you can play around with the paint more before it dries.

Forget taping your paper down on a drawing board to keep it in place while you draw. The block holds it in place until it’s dry and ready for removal. The pad is glued on all four sides to hold the paper in place. When finished, slice the paper off with a dull tool.


Professional grade 100% cotton paper
Paper is bound on all four sides
Colors are more vivid than cold press paper

Requires a tool to remove the paper from the block (a plastic knife works well)

See the latest price for the the Arches Hot Press Watercolor paper Paper Pad right here…


If you’re a budding artist or an art student on a budget, the Reeves Watercolor Pad may best serve as your paper of choice since it can handle a variety of drawing mediums. Plus it has more sheets than the other pads with an affordable price. The professional artist may want to lean towards the Archer Watercolor Block with its added stability, extra durability, and professional grade paper that withstands higher amounts of water.