The type of drawing paper you use depends on the medium with which you work. Charcoal, pencil and ink require different kinds of paper to create a final work of art that is sustainable and holds the true colors and lines of your work. The bond and sheen of the various types of drawing paper also contribute to the final look. Experiment with different types of drawing paper to find the kind that gives you the matte and finish you desire.
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Paper is made from pressing different kinds of fiber together and rolling it out into sheets. The least expensive paper is made from chemically processed wood pulp, while paper made from cotton and linen tend to be more expensive, hold color better and last longer. Wood-pulp paper and woven-fiber paper that are hot pressed make the surface smooth and shiny. Hot-press paper comes in different weights and is good for ink and pencil. It isn't coarse enough to hold charcoal or chalk drawings. Heavier weights are more forgiving and do not crumble after repeated erasures.
Coarse paper is made from a cold press. It provides a grainier surface that holds chalk and charcoal well. Thicker coarse paper is ideal for watercolors and can withstand slight washing without curling and buckling. Ingres paper is a kind of coarse drawing paper that holds graphite medium well. Vincent Van Gogh used Ingres paper for many of his watercolors. Arches is a brand-name paper that comes in 140-pound weights and is coarse on one side and smooth on the other, allowing the artist to work in a variety of mediums.
Early artists used goat and sheepskins for their drawings. These translucent parchments were the precursor to the modern vellum drawing paper that is used for tracing, calligraphy and drafting. Vellum can be made from both wood and cotton. Processing involves boiling and rolling the fibers into thin layers. Textured vellum in bright or pastel colors is available, to add variety to an artist's work.
Acid-free paper is used to store and archive drawings. It is made from cotton or linen fibers and uses no chemicals in the finishing process. The paper does not yellow and curl over time. Environmentally friendly paper companies support acid-free paper production and utilize other materials such as hemp to produce a quality drawing paper. Acid-free paper preserves a high Ph level after being immersed in water and is easily recycled. When exposed to air, the paper is slow to deteriorate. The natural fibers are dried in low temperatures to maintain their integrity.
One of the most popular brands of drawing paper used by all kinds of artists is Strathmore, which has been making paper for the drawing industry since 1892. Known for its quality and fine-art paper, Strathmore makes paper for every medium, uses wind energy to keep its lines environmentally friendly and is available through most artists' sites and retailers. Other brands most popular with artists are Arches, Stonehenge and Canson.