Best Paper for Colour Pencil Drawing

Best Paper for Colour Pencil Drawing

Colour pencil drawing is a versatile and rewarding art form that can be enjoyed by artists of all levels. Creating beautiful, vibrant artworks with coloured pencils requires the right paper, as the surface you draw on can greatly impact the outcome of your piece.

Choosing the best paper for coloured pencil drawing is essential for achieving the desired look and feel. Different types of paper have unique characteristics that affect the way coloured pencils apply, blend, and layer. In this article, we’ll dive into the world of coloured pencil papers, exploring their properties and providing tips to help you select the perfect paper for your next project.

Before delving into the specific qualities of various coloured pencil papers, it’s important to understand the general factors that contribute to a good drawing surface. These include surface texture, weight, and acidity levels.

Best Paper for Colour Pencil Drawing

Choosing the right paper is essential for creating beautiful coloured pencil drawings. Here are five important points to consider:

  • Surface Texture: Smooth vs. Rough
  • Paper Weight: Thick vs. Thin
  • Acidity Levels: Acid-Free vs. Acidic
  • Colour: White vs. Tinted
  • Brand and Quality: Reputable Brands

Remember, experimenting with different papers is key to finding the one that best suits your style and preferences.

Surface Texture: Smooth vs. Rough

The surface texture of the paper plays a crucial role in how coloured pencils interact with it. Generally, there are two main types of surface textures to consider: smooth and rough.

Smooth Paper:

  • Advantages:
  • Produces clean, crisp lines and details
  • Allows for precise blending and shading
  • Good for detailed and realistic artworks
  • Disadvantages:
  • Can be less forgiving for beginners
  • May not provide as much tooth for heavy layering

Rough Paper:

  • Advantages:
  • Provides more tooth for better colour adhesion
  • Easier to blend and layer colours
  • Can create a more textured and painterly effect
  • Disadvantages:
  • May not be suitable for fine details
  • Can be more difficult to achieve smooth transitions

Ultimately, the best surface texture for you will depend on your individual style and preferences. Experimenting with different papers is the best way to discover what works for you. However, as a general rule, smooth paper is a good starting point for beginners, while rough paper may be better suited for experienced artists looking for a more painterly effect.

Paper Weight: Thick vs. Thin

The weight of the paper is another important factor to consider when choosing the best paper for coloured pencil drawing. Paper weight is typically measured in grams per square meter (gsm) or pounds per ream. Heavier papers have a higher gsm and are generally more durable and less prone to buckling or tearing.

  • Thick Paper (140gsm and above):


  • More durable and less likely to buckle or tear
  • Can withstand multiple layers of colour and blending
  • Suitable for detailed and intricate artwork


  • Can be more difficult to find and may be more expensive
  • May require more pressure to apply colour

Thin Paper (90-120gsm):


  • Easier to find and generally more affordable
  • Requires less pressure to apply colour
  • Good for quick sketches and studies


  • May be more prone to buckling and tearing
  • May not be suitable for multiple layers of colour or heavy blending

Medium Weight Paper (120-140gsm):


  • A good balance between thick and thin paper
  • Versatile and suitable for a variety of drawing styles


  • May not be as durable as thick paper
  • May not be as easy to find as thin paper

Ultimately, the best paper weight for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences. If you’re unsure, it’s a good idea to experiment with different weights to find what works best for you.

Acidity Levels: Acid-Free vs. Acidic

The acidity level of the paper, measured by its pH value, is another important factor to consider when choosing the best paper for coloured pencil drawing. Acidic papers have a pH value below 7, while acid-free papers have a pH value of 7 or higher.

Acidic Paper:

  • Disadvantages:
  • Can cause the paper to become brittle and yellow over time
  • May react with the pigments in coloured pencils, causing them to fade or change colour
  • Not suitable for archival or long-term storage of artwork

Acid-Free Paper:

  • Advantages:
  • Resists yellowing and embrittlement over time
  • Helps preserve the colours and longevity of coloured pencil artwork
  • Suitable for archival and long-term storage

It is highly recommended to use acid-free paper for coloured pencil drawing. Not only will it help preserve your artwork, but it will also provide a better drawing surface that is less likely to react with the pigments in coloured pencils.

You can usually find the pH value of the paper indicated on the packaging. If you’re unsure, you can also test the acidity of the paper using a pH testing kit.

Colour: White vs. Tinted

The colour of the paper can also affect the overall look and feel of your coloured pencil drawings. While white paper is the most common choice, tinted papers can add a unique and interesting touch to your artwork.

White Paper:

  • Advantages:
  • Provides a neutral and clean background for your artwork
  • Allows the true colours of your pencils to shine through
  • Suitable for a wide range of coloured pencil techniques

Tinted Paper:

  • Advantages:
  • Can create a specific mood or atmosphere in your artwork
  • Can be used to create subtle shading and highlights
  • Can add depth and richness to your colours

When choosing a tinted paper, it’s important to consider the following factors:

  • Colour: Choose a colour that complements the colours of your pencils and the overall mood of your artwork.
  • Value: Consider the lightness or darkness of the paper. A light-coloured paper will allow your colours to appear brighter, while a dark-coloured paper will create a more dramatic effect.
  • Texture: Some tinted papers have a textured surface, which can add an interesting visual element to your artwork.

Experimenting with different tinted papers is a great way to discover new and exciting possibilities for your coloured pencil drawings.

Brand and Quality: Reputable Brands

When it comes to choosing the best paper for coloured pencil drawing, it’s important to consider the brand and quality of the paper. Reputable brands typically use high-quality materials and manufacturing processes to produce papers that are durable, acid-free, and have a consistent surface texture.

Some of the most popular and respected brands of coloured pencil paper include:

  • Strathmore: Known for its high-quality art papers, Strathmore offers a wide range of coloured pencil papers in different weights, textures, and colours.
  • Canson: Another reputable brand, Canson offers a variety of coloured pencil papers that are known for their smooth surface and excellent tooth.
  • Fabriano: An Italian brand known for its high-quality papers, Fabriano offers a range of coloured pencil papers that are strong and durable, with a slightly textured surface.
  • Arteza: A more budget-friendly option, Arteza offers a variety of coloured pencil papers that are good for beginners and students.

In addition to these brands, there are many other reputable manufacturers of coloured pencil paper. When choosing a brand, it’s a good idea to read reviews and recommendations from other artists to get a sense of the quality of the paper.

It’s also important to keep in mind that not all papers within a brand are of the same quality. For example, Strathmore offers both student-grade and professional-grade papers. The professional-grade papers are typically made with higher-quality materials and have a more consistent surface texture.


Here are some frequently asked questions about pencil drawing:

Question 1: What type of pencil should I use for drawing?
Answer: The type of pencil you use will depend on the desired outcome and your personal preferences. For general sketching and drawing, a medium-hard pencil, such as an HB or 2B, is a good starting point. Softer pencils (3B and above) are good for creating darker, richer tones, while harder pencils (H and above) are better for crisp lines and details.

Question 2: What is the best paper for pencil drawing?
Answer: Look for smooth, heavyweight paper specifically designed for drawing. Some popular choices include Bristol paper, vellum, and tracing paper. The surface texture of the paper can also affect the outcome of your drawing, so experiment with different types to find one that suits your style.

Question 3: How do I hold a pencil correctly?
Answer: Hold the pencil near the tip with a relaxed grip. Rest the pencil on the side of your hand and let it glide effortlessly across the paper. Avoid gripping the pencil too tightly, as this can lead to fatigue and loss of control.

Question 4: How do I create different values in my drawing?
Answer: Values refer to the lightness or darkness of an area in your drawing. To create different values, vary the pressure you apply with your pencil. Pressing harder will create darker values, while pressing lightly will create lighter values. You can also use hatching and cross-hatching techniques to create a range of values.

Question 5: How do I blend and smudge in pencil drawings?
Answer: Blending and smudging can help you create smooth transitions and soft edges in your drawing. To blend, use a tortillon or blending stump to gently rub and mix the pencil marks together. For smudging, use your finger or a tissue to gently spread the graphite around. Experiment with different blending and smudging techniques to achieve various effects.

Question 6: What are some common mistakes to avoid in pencil drawing?
Answer: Some common mistakes beginners make include pressing too hard with the pencil, resulting in muddy or overworked areas. Another mistake is not paying attention to proportions and perspective, which can lead to distorted or unnatural-looking drawings. Additionally, it’s important to avoid smudging your drawing prematurely, as this can ruin the details and texture.

Question 7: How can I improve my pencil drawing skills?
Answer: Practice regularly and consistently. Experiment with different techniques, study the work of other artists, and seek feedback to identify areas for improvement. Additionally, consider taking classes or workshops to learn from experienced instructors and gain new insights into pencil drawing.

Remember, the key to improving your pencil drawing skills is to keep practicing and experimenting. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, as they are a natural part of the learning process.

Now that you have a better understanding of the basics of pencil drawing, let’s explore some additional tips and techniques to help you improve your skills.


Here are some practical tips to help you improve your pencil drawing skills:

Tip 1: Start with Basic Shapes:
Break down complex objects into basic shapes, such as circles, squares, and triangles. This will help you understand the structure and proportions of the object and make it easier to draw accurately.

Tip 2: Pay Attention to Light and Shadow:
Observe how light falls on the object you’re drawing and how it creates shadows. Use different values to capture the highlights, midtones, and shadows, which will add depth and realism to your drawing.

Tip 3: Use Different Pencil Strokes:
Vary the direction, length, and pressure of your pencil strokes to create different textures and effects. For example, short, light strokes can create a sense of softness, while long, bold strokes can convey strength and movement.

Tip 4: Experiment with Blending and Erasing:
Use blending techniques, such as smudging and hatching, to create smooth transitions and soft edges. Additionally, don’t be afraid to use an eraser to lift out areas and create highlights. Erasing can be just as important as drawing in creating a successful artwork.

Tip 5: Practice Regularly:
The more you practice, the better your pencil drawing skills will become. Set aside time each day or week to practice drawing different objects, scenes, and subjects. You can also try drawing from life, using real-world objects as references.

Remember, pencil drawing is a skill that takes time and practice to master. Be patient with yourself and keep experimenting with different techniques. Eventually, you’ll develop your own unique style and be able to create beautiful and expressive pencil drawings.

With consistent practice and dedication, you can elevate your pencil drawing skills to new heights and create stunning artworks that capture the beauty and complexity of the world around you.


In the realm of art, pencil drawing stands as a timeless and versatile medium, capable of capturing the essence of the world around us. Its simplicity and accessibility make it a perfect starting point for aspiring artists, while its depth and expressive potential offer endless possibilities for seasoned professionals.

Throughout this article, we explored the various aspects of pencil drawing, from choosing the right paper and pencil to understanding fundamental techniques like shading, blending, and creating values. We also discussed the importance of practice and experimentation in honing your skills and developing your unique artistic style.

Remember, pencil drawing is a journey of exploration and self-expression. Embrace the process, learn from your mistakes, and never stop pushing the boundaries of your creativity. With dedication and passion, you can transform simple graphite into captivating works of art that speak to the heart and soul.

So pick up a pencil, find a subject that inspires you, and let your imagination take flight. The world of pencil drawing awaits your artistic touch, ready to be captured in all its beauty and complexity.

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