10 Best Watercolor Paper for Painters of All Skill Levels

Best Watercolor Paper

Between its portability and beauty, it's no wonder that watercolor is one of the most beloved mediums for artists. And while choosing the right set of paints and brushes is important for watercolors, finding suitable paper is just as vital to the creative process.

Do you need help finding the best watercolor paper for your artwork? There are a couple of things you'll want to consider before you make your choice. For instance, deciding which format you want the paper in will have an effect on your experience. Loose-leaf paper is a convenient choice for experimenting techniques, as you can buy sheets one at a time and cut them down smaller.

However, purchasing blocks may be better if you're inclined to travel, as the packaging protects the paper from bending or tearing. Similarly, pads of paper are a popular choice to have in the studio as it is easy to remove the paper when needed.

Arches paper is a favorite among watercolorists, calligraphers, and other artists. They are made in France with 100% cotton fiber and make the perfect canvas for vibrant and long-lasting paintings. All of their paper is acid-free, pH-neutral, gelatin-sized, and air-dried.

If you're a student or an artist looking for a value watercolor pad, then Canson's XL Watercolor Pads are some of the best. It features 30 sheets of 140 lb (300 gsm) student-quality paper that is an ideal surface for watercolor and mixed-media work.

Another great value pad for beginning watercolorists and students is the Bienfang pad. At an economical price, it provides 15 sheets of 90 lb (243 gsm) paper that are perfect for refining techniques and creating practice paintings.

Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolor Blocks includes 20 archival-quality sheets of 140 lb (300 gsm) paper that have an ideal surface for displaying the natural transparency of watercolor. This paper is available in cold press, hot press, and rough finishes.

The name Sennelier is synonymous with high quality, and their watercolor blocks are no different. Made of 100% cotton, this paper is acid-free and 140 lb (300 gsm). It is available in a variety of unique sizes that are perfect for landscapes and portraits alike.

If you want paper that's a shape other than a square or rectangle then Yupo‘s round pad is an ideal choice. Each pack contains 10 sheets of 74 lb (200 gsm) paper that are all waterproof, non-absorbent, and extremely durable with a smooth surface.

Another staple brand in the watercolor world is Grumbacher. Their pad of paper includes 12 sheets of 140 lb (300 gsm) cold press watercolor paper that is perfect for wet and dry lifting techniques. It includes a cover that can easily fold out of the way as you work.

Fabriano is an established brand known for its high-quality art supplies. Their watercolor paper is machine-made in Italy from 25% cotton and 75% alpha cellulose. This combination creates a surface that feels like 100% cotton rag at a much lower price.

Instead of buying a pad or block of paper, you can also purchase a large sheet of paper and cut it down to your needs. Blick Student Watercolor Paper is economically priced for students and beginner painters. It is 90 lb (243 gsm), making it ideal for practice work.

Have you ever heard of black watercolor paper? That's because Legion Stonehenge Aqua Black Paper is the first of its kind. One pad includes 15 sheets of 140 lb (300 gsm) black watercolor paper that is pH-neutral, acid-free, lignin-free, and chlorine-free.

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. When she’s not writing, Margherita continues to develop her creative practice in sequential art.