Exploring and Experimenting with Different Watercolour Papers

DeSerres ambassador Lysa Jordan shares tips and tricks for choosing the right paper for your watercolour projects.

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The paper you choose greatly affects the results you obtain when painting with watercolours, as different textures create different effects.

A high-quality watercolour paper may be more difficult to work with when starting out. A student-quality paper offers great value for money, allowing you to experiment without having to worry about wasting a more expensive paper.

Here are some examples of affordable watercolour paper.

For each test: I use the same pigments on all three papers to compare colours and textures. I also add a little pen ink (Micron) to compare the results.

Painting with cold-pressed watercolour paper pads

Fluid paper is available in pads that are glued on two sides, which keeps the paper flat and allows you to work directly in the pad. It has a nice texture – it's not as smooth as Yupo or hot-pressed watercolour paper. It has a fine grain, so it's not too textured like rough paper either. It absorbs water quickly and gives a more diluted and less saturated effect than Yupo paper.

Painting with Yupo paper

Yupo paper is translucent and very smooth. It’s an interesting choice when working with watercolours and alcohol-based inks. It does not absorb water and pigments tend to glide over it easily. Colours are rich and vibrant, and when compared to watercolour paper, it allows for different effects. You can have fun using several colours on one sheet with a good amount of water – you’ll be amazed at the unexpected results!

Painting with Fabriano cold-pressed watercolour paper

Fabriano 1264 is a very affordable paper that comes in a single sheet (it’s not glued on the sides, so we recommend securing it to your working surface to prevent it from warping). It’s a very interesting paper option because it can also be used with gouache, acrylics and acrylic inks. It features a very fine grain and colours glide well over it, making it a real pleasure to work with. Ideal for experimenting and exploring.

Comparing the three types of paper: