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25 Different Types of Drawing Paper

A close look at a person about to draw on paper with accessories on the side.
  • Creating art is an incredibly personal experience that is usually shared with many people.
  • The paper, or surface, you use to create your art is the foundation and where it all begins.
  • There are many different types, textures, and materials that make up the paper you can use to draw or create other forms of art.

When you are an artist, the tools that you use to create art are essential to your piece. The type of paper you use is a critical component. It may even be the first thing you consider when you are going to start a new project.

The surface you are using can make a difference in how it looks, feels, and presents to people. No matter how much experience you may have as an artist, you may not know all the differences in the paper you can use. Continue reading this article to find out all the different types of drawing paper that are available to you.

Types of Drawing Paper

Acid Free Paper

COLOUR BLOCK 2 Pack, 12”x16” Black Professional Soft Pastel Paper Pad, 24 Sheets 230GSM Cold Pressed Acid Free Artist Paper, Glue Bound, Soft Cover, Paperback

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Acid free paper does not have acid in it. It is the opposite of acid paper. The paper may have been treated to make it acid free.

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The treatment includes buffering with calcium carbonate to neutralize the acid in the paper. This acid is absorbed through the age or as the paper ages. Eventually, this treatment will wear off, and the paper will begin to deteriorate.

When paper is not acid free, it will become yellow, which impacts the artwork. 

Acrylic Paper

Arteza Acrylic Pad Set, 11 x 14 Inches, 2 Pack, 16 Sheets Each, Heavy 400 GSM Art Paper, Art Supplies for Acrylic Painting, Oil Painting, & Drawing

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Acrylic paper is both a delicate linen and textured paper that is an ideal size for use with acrylic. Graphite pencil and acrylic are ideal mediums for this paper. 

Bristol Paper

Canson XL Series Bristol Pad, Heavyweight Paper for Ink, Marker or Pencil, Smooth Finish, Fold Over, 100 Pound, 9 x 12 Inch, Bright White, 25 Sheets

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Bristol paper is a cotton fiber type of paper. It is usually multi-ply but can be found in one-ply and three-ply. One-ply is ideal for tracing. Bristol is versatile and durable. It has come to represent a high standard for drawing paper. It can also be found with a vellum finish. 

Canvas Paper

FIXSMITH-Painting-Canvas-Panels,8x10 Inch Canvas Board Super Value 12 Pack Canvases,100% Cotton,Primed Canvas Panel,Acid Free,Artist Canvas Boards for Professionals,Hobby Painters,Students & Kids.

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Canvas textured paper is ideal for oil and acrylic because it is sized so that the oil does not seep to the sides of the paper. This paper is ideal for practicing techniques for using paint. This type of paper is often used in school to help while teaching techniques. Colored pencils, oils, acrylic, graphite, and painting mediums are ideal for this paper. 

Cellulose Fiber Paper

Cellulose fiber paper is made from wood pulp and the most common paper you will find. This paper is acidic but can handle different writing implements and erasing. 

Charcoal Paper 

Strathmore 300 Series Charcoal Pad, White, 9"x12" Wire Bound, 32 Sheets

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Charcoal paper is 100 percent cotton with a finish that is unique. Charcoal paper is consdiered a laid paper. It gives you precise control over your medium for shading purposes. The best mediums include monochromes, pastel, graphite, charcoal, and drawing chalks.

There are artists who have used light washes of ink, watercolor, and gouache. It would be best if you kept in mind that this paper is lightweight and cannot accept much water.

Cold Press Paper

Arteza Watercolor Pad, 9 x 12 Inches, 14 Sheets, Cold-Pressed, 100% Cotton, 300 GSM Art Paper, Art Supplies for Mixed Media, Acrylic Painting, Watercolor Painting, Drawing, & Sketching

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Cold press paper has been smoothly a little from a cold finish. Cold press paper does not have as much texture and has a weaker tooth than paper that is considered rough paper. However, many artists consider the texture of this paper to be just right for them. 

Cotton Fiber Paper

Arteza Blank Watercolor Cards with Envelopes, Set of 50, 5 x 6.9 Inches, 140 lb Heavyweight Paper, 100% Cotton Watercolor Postcards, Art Supplies for Thank You Notes, Invitations, and Greeting Cards

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Cotton fiber is the most durable paper you can find. It is of the highest quality and can handle the most erasing. 

Drawing Paper 

Bellofy 100 Sheet Sketch Book 9x12-Inch | 64 IB 95 GSM | Top Spiral-Bound Sketchpad for Artist | Sketching and Drawing Paper | Micro-Perforated & Acid Free

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Drawing paper is most often used for finished work but also for sketching. It is a higher quality and heavier paper than sketch paper. Soft pastel, oil pastel, charcoal, dry monochromes, graphite, markers, and pen and ink are the best mediums for this type of paper. 

Hot Press Paper

OAT ART STUDIO Watercolor Paper Pad, Heavyweight Hot Press and Micro-Perforated, Side Wire Bound, 140 Pound, 9 x 12 Inch, True to Size, 20 Sheets

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Hot press paper undergoes a process that is similar to ironing clothes to smooth the paper. The hot press allows you to have the most details on your paper. This type of paper is ideal for drafting, etching, printmaking, or polished sketching. 

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Layout Bond Paper

Strathmore (411-9 400 Series Layout Bond Pad,White , 9"x12", 50 Sheets

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Layout bond paper is most often used my comic artists, designers, and calligraphers. It is a semi opaque paper. Layout bond paper can be used with many mediums, including chalk, monochrome pencils, graphite, a colored pencil, and charcoal. In addition, it is often used for finished drawings, roughs, and tracing paper. 

Marker Paper

Arteza 9x12 Inches Marker Paper Pad, 2-Pack, 50 Sheets, Glue-Bound, Smooth Coated Marker Paper for Alcohol Markers & Pigment Markers, Art Supplies for Drawing, Sketching, Coloring, Lettering

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Marker paper is heavyweight, making it ideal to be used for markers. It has a super smooth surface which allows you to blend while keeping the markers from bleeding and feathering.

This paper is made for markers but can be used with graphite. Pencil marks will not erase well from this type of paper. This is a newer type of paper that is used by those in comics. 

Mixed Media Paper 

Bianyo Mixed Media Paper Pad, A4 (8.26" X 11.69"), 60 Sheets/Each, 123 LB/200 GSM, Pack of 1 Pad, Spiral-Bound Pad, Ideal for Wet & Dry Media Like Art Marker, Watercolor, Acrylic, Pastel, Pencil

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Mixed media paper is a newer type of paper in the art world. This paper was intended to do exactly as its name suggests, which is to withstand many different types of media.

Many feel this paper has qualities of watercolor, but the drawing surface is like vellum. The best mediums for this paper are just about anyone from acrylic to watercolor to gel pens and many more. 

Newsprint Paper

Packing Paper Sheets for Moving - 10lb - 320 Sheets of Newsprint Paper - Must Have in Your Moving Supplies - 27" x 17" - Made in USA

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Newsprint paper is ideal for beginning sketchers or those who like to sketch out an idea before committing to it. Unfortunately, newsprint paper is not acid free paper, and it gets yellow with time. Graphite, carbon, charcoal, markers, oil pencils, and monochrome chalk are the best mediums for newsprint paper. 

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Oil Painting Paper

Arteza Canvas Pad, 9 x 12 Inches, 10 Sheets, 100% Cotton, Primed with Acid-Free Gesso, Glue-Bound Canvas Paper for Oil and Acrylic Painting, Art Supplies for Mixed Media Techniques

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Oil painting paper is paper that is linen textured. It is appropriately sized, so the oil does not seep to the side of the paper. When finished, the artwork must be mounted to a board before framing. Mediums such as oil, charcoal, and graphite are ideal for this paper. 

Palette Paper

Strathmore (365-9 300 Series Palette Pad, 9"x12", White, 40 Sheets

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Palette paper is a paper that is poly-coated and used specifically as a palette for mixing paints. It is meant to be disposable. This allows you to continue to paint and create without having to worry about cleaning a palette. Palette paper is most often used for oil and acrylic paint but could be used for watercolor and gouache. 

Pastel Paper 

Strathmore 400 Series Pastel Pad, Assorted Colors, 9"x12" Glue Bound, 24 Sheets

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Pastel paper is unique because it is smooth on one side and slightly rougher on the other. The rough side has a pebbled type of surface. Pastel paper is best for pastels, but other mediums can also be used. For example, you can use charcoal, drawing chalks, and monochromes. A color pencil may also be used, but artists tend to use the smooth paper side for them. 

Printmaking Paper

Ucreate Printmaking Paper, 9"x12", White, 100 Sheet, P9001

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Printmaking paper is a versatile and heavy weight paper. It is the perfect size for a large number of printing inks. It is used for many drawing styles such as woodblock, lithography, fine drawing, and aquatint. The ideal mediums for printmaking paper are water-based inks, oil-based inks, watercolor, drawing chalks, graphite, monochromes, and acrylic. 

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Sandpaper 65Pcs, Sandpaper Assortment, Sand Paper 80-800Grit, 40/80/120/160 Grit Sanding Block Sponges, Holder for Sanding Wood, Metal, Wet and Dry Sanding

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Believe it or not, sandpaper can be used for drawing. This light sandpaper is intended for heavy application of media while remaining rough. When you use sandpaper for a drawing, it has a smoky look to it because the paper is often visible in areas. The best medium for sandpaper is a pastel pencil or a coloured pencil. 

Sketching Paper

A person about to sketch on the piece of paper.

Sketch Paper is most often used for practice, experimenting with new media, and a quick mark up of what will be completed on a heavier paper. Sketch paper is lighter than drawing paper. Many artists have a sketchbook with this type of paper when they keep items to use for reference later. Colored pencils, graphite, monochrome chalk, oil pencils, and charcoal drawing chalk are the best medium for this paper. 

Tracing Paper

A close look at a tailor using tracing paper.

Tracing paper is transparent and lightweight. It is used to transfer images from one paper to another or for tracing. It is ideal for sketching, overlaying imagine, and preliminary drawing. Graphite, marker, and ink are ideal mediums.

Toned Paper

Toned Tan Sketch Book - 9x12 Inches 70 Sheets (107 lb/175gsm) Fine Tooth Spiral Bound Drawing Paper Pad for Kids and Adults

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Toned paper comes in shades: blue, gray, and tan. The tone of this paper gives you the ability to sketch and draw on mid-range colored paper to give it a different look. In addition, it allows you to use light and dark values to make it easier for highlights and shadows. 

Unfinished Paper

Unfinished paper is paper that is rough and retains its original texture. It has a rough tooth, which is how the surface is described. It can grab and hold on to even the smoothest materials, like pastels and charcoal. 

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Vellum Paper

A roll of vellum paper for baking.

Vellum is a paper that is translucent and has a variety of uses, especially for arts and crafts. It is used as tracing paper but also can cover art or be used as decoration. Graphite, markers, chalk, pastels, markers, and colored pencils are the perfect medium.

Watercolor Paper

Ashby 100 Sheets of Practice Watercolor Paper (9" x 12") - 190 GSM, Acid-Free and Cold Pressed. Perfect for Painting or Drawing. Wet, Dry and Mixed Media. Bulk Pack

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Watercolor paper is the largest category of paper. It comes in a wide variety of weights and textures. Typical weights include 90 lb, 140 lb, and 300 lb. The higher the weight means, the stiffer the paper is. Often, artists will stretch 90 and 140 lb paper to prevent it from moving while painting.

Watercolor paper comes in three different textures, which are hot press, cold press, and rough. (These textures are described in this article.) Appropriate mediums include watercolor pencils, liquid acrylic, drawing chalks, and graphite, just to name a few. 

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