What are the different types of watercolor paper?

Watercolor enthusiasts are lucky as there are many types of different watercolor papers available in the market. Based on your skill and expertise, you may choose the type that suits your interest the best. No matter which paper you choose, it is important to try and try until you find the one that works best for you.


As a starting point, your first step of choice will be to choose the correct grade of paper. Are you a beginner looking to try your hand at watercolor or are you someone who knows their art and is looking for a more professional and responsive paper? Based on this you may opt for the correct quality.


• Paper Quality

1. 100% Cellulose Watercolor Paper /wood pulp paper

Wood pulp (also known as woodfree) paper is made using a chemically treated pulp with lignin (which gives wood its rigidity) removed. This paper is an inexpensive alternative to cotton paper and is a good choice for amateurs and beginners.

2. 100% Cotton Watercolor paper

100% cotton papers are professional quality, and are considered to offer the very best painting surface. Cotton gives incomparable stability and ensures that your work will stand the test of time. Compared to cellulose papers, 100% cotton papers are much more expensive. Perfect for professional artists, commissioned art works, seasoned watercolor artists looking for long life archival quality paper.


• Paper Surfaces

Perhaps one of the first choices you will encounter when selecting a watercolour paper is choosing a surface type. Generally, watercolour papers are one of three different surface types; Hot Pressed (HP), Cold Pressed (CP) and Rough. 

1. Hot pressed is the smoothest watercolour paper and is great for artists looking to render their subjects in fine detail. This paper is popular with illustrators and designers as it gives a flat finish good for reproduction. This paper can be easily digitized. Owing to it’s smooth surface, it allows the use of pens with delicate nibs without any fear of damage or wear and tear.

2. Cold Pressed paper has a medium textured surface favoured by beginners as it is compatible with a variety of techniques and applications. It is one of the most popular surfaces. Depending on the paper you are buying, the surface varies from mild tooth to heavy tooth. It is always advisable to sample the papers before making a purchase by purchasing a loose sheet pack.

3. Rough, as suggested by the name, is the most textured watercolour paper. The deep pits in the paper are brilliant if you want to get the most out of the granulation of your watercolour paints. This heavily textured paper is well suited to those with a loose watercolour painting style who love depicting bold & expressive paintings. Some of the exclusive rough surface papers have a moon like surface with deep valleys that give a unique life-like feel to your art.


Product Forms

Loose Sheets – Ready to paint sheets cut in various sizes such as A3, A4, A5, etc. 

Pad Form – One side glued or wire bound pads in assorted sizes.

Block Form – When all the four sides of the watercolor paper are glued, it is known as a watercolor block. 

Roll Form – Watercolor paper in roll format of various lengths as required.


If you are just beginning with watercolor, we suggest the first 3 options. Rolls are suited to those who are clear about the paper they desire and hence may buy in bulk.


Our Watercolor Paper Range

At Scholar, we offer a great range of watercolor papers, with surfaces suitable for absolute beginners, seasoned professionals and all artistic abilities in between. Whether you prefer to work with a loose technique or in fine detail, we’re sure to have a paper perfect for you! You can find out a little more about the different papers we stock below.

1 reply on “What are the different types of watercolor paper?”

Leave a Reply