Best Paper For Various Types of Drawing

By Jedida Okonkwo

The type of supplies you use is an integral part of your art. An artist’s dedication and talent help to create the image and vision, but the right tools will make your job much easier. Many other artistic instruments such as pencils, colored pencils, acrylic, and oil paints make it quite easy to overlook the type of paper used in artworks. 

If you ignore the type of paper that you use for your artwork, it will affect the result. The right kinds of paper will make your materials sit properly. It would also be able to withstand the rigors of drawing without tearing or giving out.

The type of paper you’ll use for your drawing depends on the type of project you want to do. Drawing makes use of dry media, and you’ll prefer to sketch on a surface that is quite toothy. The texture of the paper would make sure that your pencils or pastels stick to it, unlike paint that requires a smoother surface for you to apply layers of pigment. 

When choosing paper, keep in mind that it’s measured in pounds. The heavier the paper, the thicker the paper. When working with some watercolor, it’s best to use thick paper-like 140 pounds. This would keep the paper from wrinkling or curling when water touches it. 

Just like other art supplies, you’ll want to try many brands before picking your favorite. In this article, we’ll help you choose some of the best types of paper that you can use for different types of drawing. Let’s begin. 

What Are The Best Types Of Paper For Drawing?

First, think about the medium that you plan to use. The paper that you need for graphite is undoubtedly different from those that you would select when drawing with pen or ink. It may be good to experiment with some of these paper types personally.

Remember that every artist is different and what works for one may not be possible for the other. The selection of papers in this piece should be used as a guide to help you identify your preferred paper choice. Then, you can go on to discover more and experiment with what you have learned. 

Best Paper for Graphite Drawing

When making graphite drawings, a suitable paper choice is Smooth Bristol. This type of paper is available from different types of brands on different surfaces and sizes. It is available in pads and single sheets – depending on personal preference. 

For professional work, it’s best to use what many people refer to as the Cadillac of Bristol. The paper is a 500 series, 4-ply, 100% cotton, smooth bristol that Strathmore manufactures. This type of paper is only available in large single sheets. It’s a little pricey because it’s made from cotton and quite thick. But you’ll get good value for your money. This paper is a good investment because it offers a smooth blend and does not deteriorate or yellow quickly. 

For book illustrations and other smaller graphite drawings, the Bienfang brand is a suitable choice. The paper is pure white, and the contrast elements applied to it turn out beautifully. The paper is 2-ply, high-quality, acid-free material, and made of wood pulp. Papers with wood pulp deteriorate slowly and may take a few decades. 

The double-side Bristol paper made by Canson is also one of the best picks for graphite drawing paper. One side of the paper is very smooth, while the other is a textured surface. The smooth side of the paper is suitable for graphite, while the other side is suitable for colored pencils. 

Best Paper for Coloured Pencils

This choice is even harder to make. Any paper with a textured surface can easily fall into this category. All you need is a bit of tooth to give the colored pencil a proper grip. The different types of textured paper that artists can use have their unique attributes. 

Stonehenge paper is suitable for colored pencils. The textured surface of the paper is designed with an even tooth and is made from 100% cotton. Despite being made from cotton, it’s still quite affordable – about a quarter the cost of smooth bristol. The paper is sheets and pads in white and light-color tints.

An Illustration board is an ideal choice to use with your favorite color pencils. The paper is heavy, durable, and can handle a fair amount of punishment. If you want to scratch details out of colored pencil with an X-Facto knife, pick this paper because it’s resistant to gouging and light scratches. It’s available in different sizes and from various top manufacturers. 

A suede board works well in this category. It’s only available in custom frame shops and is an expensive instrument to purchase. However, suede boards are worth all the money that you can spare. The surface texture of this board will make sure that the color pencil glues to the surface with pastel-like quality. You can also blend it easily with your finger – as using a stump or tortillon to take out the fuzz could ruin the drawing. Artists are allowed to use pastels along with suede boards. Artists can use pastels for dark colors because the medium is heavy and opaque. 

Artiga’s paper by Strathmore also makes it to the list. This paper is suitable for colored pencils, pens, and ink. While it may be designed with a smooth surface, there’s still enough tooth to grip the colored pencil. The paper is designed in large sheets and pads. It’s available in many colors, with a speckled appearance. This unique material is made from recycled paper. 

Matboard also excels as a great surface to draw your favorite images. They are available at frame shops in 32 x 40 sheets that you can further cut down into smaller sizes. It brings out excellent results when used with a colored pencil. 

Best Paper for Charcoal and Dry Pastel

Charcoal and dry pastel are dry and dusty, which means they could easily go out of control when drawing. Unless you are using a charcoal pencil, don’t sharpen these materials. You shouldn’t treat them simply like a pencil or colored pencil. Getting your drawing done on a textured surface will extract some of the excess materials on the surface. 

Make sure to choose a paper that weighs more than 100 pounds because drawing with charcoal and dry pastels requires a lot of cleaning. A recommended choice is the Legion Paper Stonehenge Multi-Color Paper Pad. 

Best Paper for Oil Pastel

Oil pastel can sit nicely on rough surfaces, just like dry pastels. But they also grip smooth paper because of the oil in them. This means that you have a wide range of options to choose from when you want a suitable paper for your oil pastel. 

The vital thing to note about oil pastels is that they are never fully dry, which allows you to blend colors easily. Due to this, you need thick paper to endure all the wetness – say 300 pounds. 

What Other Types Of Paper Do We Have?

Paper for Painting

Watercolor paint is a different type of art from drawing. Artists may adopt a variety of techniques, including hot-press, cold-press, and rough painting. Hot-press paper has a smooth, tough surface that is perfect for creating small details but is commonly criticized because of its slippery surface. Cold-press had a semi-rough surface that is ideal for details and washes, but you can almost see through the texture of the material. Rough paper has a rough surface that is perfect for creating a washing of color. A recommended paper brand is Arches watercolor paper or Fabriano watercolor paper. 

Acrylic and oil may be meant for canvas, but some artists use paper because they enjoy doing so. When trying to use Acrylic paints, you need thick paper – whether rough or smooth. A smooth or rough surface would work well with acrylic as long as the paper is thick enough. When using oil paints, the artist needs to prime the surface with gesso. If you fail to prime your paper surface, the oil paint would sink and appear dull. An excellent example of a paper for this type of painting is Canson XL Series Oil and Acrylic Paper Pad.


By now, you are entirely aware of the different types of paper used for drawing and how they affect the artist. There are endless options available to artists today, and you may have to experiment a little to get a perfect choice. Go to your favorite art supply and look at the different types of paper they have on sale. You’ll be amazed at how much this would improve your art.