What's your favorite paper for colored pencil art, and why?

My favorite is Strathmore ArtAgain paper, which comes in a range of tints.  I love the texture and the way it handles colored pencils - it can take many layers.

If I want to draw on white paper, I like 300lb hot-pressed Fabriano paper. It's really thick, sturdy and strong, which means it won't buckle, bend or crease.

I've heard good things about using colored pencils on vellum, and also Stonehenge paper.

What's your favorite?

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Hi Lizzie,

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with Bristol Board smooth paper, as well as Mountboard.  Using the backside of heavy watercolor paper sounds promising too.  I can understand why texture would cause a problem for detailed work.

I would like to branch out and try new surfaces for colored pencil because I feel I have gotten too attached to my 2 favorites... time to start experimenting again!  I've never used Bristol Board so that is something I'd like to try.

I have used colored pencils on mat board in the past (which may or may not be similar to the mountboard you are referring to - the US terms the mat board is the part that gets the middle cut out and is laid over the artwork, whereas the mount board goes behind the artwork).  The results were quite good, so that is another good option.

My favorite paper is Stonehenge. You can use both sides. It takes tons of layers. Bristol vellum is another favorite. Smooth papier is often use for graphite. I do not like it too much for colored pencils because the amount of layers is limited because there are no teeth on the surface.
I use Winsor and Newton smooth surface cartidge 220gsm for coloured pencil work, as I find that the Polychromos and Prismacolours blend well on it without lifting.

Has anyone used Daler and Rowney Airbrush Paper. I order some Vellum paper and they sent me airbrush. I only just noticed it today and it is too late to return it.  It is very smooth.  Thanks so much Pauline

Someone asked me in a private message about what type of paper is suitable for using colored pencils, so I thought I would answer the question here.  She asked if she should use rough paper or smooth paper.

I think Iris summed it up really well when she wrote (above): "Smooth paper is often use for graphite. I do not like it too much for colored pencils because the amount of layers is limited because there are no teeth on the surface."

The best kind of paper for colored pencils has a certain amount of "tooth" to it, which refers to how much smoothness or roughness the paper has.  It the paper has no tooth, it will be smooth, and if it has a lot of tooth, it will be rough.

In my experience the best paper for colored pencils would be somewhere in between rough and smooth.  If it's too smooth, it will be difficult to build up many layers and the colored pencils may not adhere to it very well.  If the paper is too rough, the colored pencils may "skip" across the peaks and valleys of the paper, and as a result there will be little pockmarks or holes between the colors, where the paper shows through.  So somewhere in between rough and smooth is just right! :)

Hi Pauline,

I haven't used that type of paper before, but it sounds like you could use it to do some experimenting to see what works best on it.  Graphite, colored pencils, watercolor, ink, acrylics?  If it's very smooth then graphite and colored pencil might have trouble sticking to it, but perhaps you could use ink or paint on it.  In any case I'm interested to find out what you do with it. :)

Pauline Donohoe said:

Has anyone used Daler and Rowney Airbrush Paper. I order some Vellum paper and they sent me airbrush. I only just noticed it today and it is too late to return it.  It is very smooth.  Thanks so much Pauline

I like Stonehenge paper and Strathmore 500 vellum surface. The Strathmore I find more durable and it wont bleed when/if you use lay marker down first before you color pencil over it.

I use acid free foam core for all my colored pencil art. The board has a texture that holds the pigment.  Foam core is sturdy.  Picture framers use acid free foam core board to back limited edition prints. Check out my work, all of it produced on foam core.

I have used Canson Mi-Tentes paper. It comes in a variety of colors. There is a textured side and a smoother side so you can use either. It does take several layers which is the key when trying to establish a painterly effect.

Dear Penny:

When I was considering paper stock to use for colored pencil work, I grabbed a sheet of acid- free conservation board. You are probably aware of the material.The board is used in the picture framing business to back up prints. The print is laid over the board. The board prevents the print from discoloring over time, thus protecting the art from ageing. Then the framer cuts matts and places them over the print and board.  The board takes colored pencil very well. I use the colored pencil and graphite together to execute my work.  It is also nice to use because it is sturdy. If your not careful, paper can crimp on you. Take a look at my work,all of my work is done on the board. Just a suggestion.

Very interesting Thomas! Your work is wonderful! Thanks for sharing that info. I definitely will give it a try! May I ask where do you purchase your supply?

I like Art Spectrum colourfix supertooth board.  It is like sanded paper used with pastels.  The tooth is very fine so you don't get the unwanted texture while it holds many layers.  For paper, I prefer Stonehenge.  Incidentally, I've just started using the Icarus heat box, which is like a light box but with heat...it really helps lay down a smooth coat of wax and make blending much easier.

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