• Kirsty Partridge

Best Types of Paper for Drawing

I’ve had a lot of questions regarding which paper I use for colored pencils and graphite etc. So today I’m simply going to go through my favorite types of paper to use for drawing with these mediums. Links to my favorite drawing papers are at the bottom of this blog!


Getting straight into it, the most common paper I use for lots of different drawings is the Strathmore Bristol Smooth paper. It's cheap and really, really good (you can get more expensive versions, but it’s not necessary I don’t think). I use the 300 series, 9 by 12 inches, one most often and I like to use it for graphite and colored pencil portraits, anything that requires a smooth finish really. However, solvent sits on top of it and doesn’t blend very well, so for colored pencils, I use the burnishing method on this paper. Also, it doesn’t have any tooth/texture, so I wouldn’t recommend it for charcoal.


If that’s too smooth for you, then I do recommend the Bristol vellum as well. This has a bit more tooth and texture to it and your pencils can stick to it. I like using Bristol vellum for charcoal drawings too.


Next up is toned paper. I like to use this as it’s absolutely fabulous for managing values; you already have your mid-tone, so you just need to add in highlights and dark shadows. White really stands out on toned paper too. Strathmore Toned Tan is very common with cartoonists and is great for any sketching you need. Again, it is not great with solvent as it is quite thin (80 pounds in paper weight) and not suitable for wet mediums.


If you want something thicker you can go for the Strathmore Mixed Media Pad, which comes in toned grey. This is much thicker and is great for more finished drawings rather than just sketches.






The last type of paper that I will recommend for colored pencils is the Arches hot pressed watercolor paper, which works great when blending with solvent. It’s a paper that is able to take wet mediums such as watercolor, so solvent is no issue for it. I used this paper for a few years before I decided to go vegan. Since the Arches paper is not vegan I have switched to Fabriano Artistico watercolor paper for my watercolor and colored pencil artwork instead. Watercolor paper is also great for charcoal drawings, as it has a lot of tooth for the charcoal to adhere to.



Finally, for my pastel drawings, I like to use the Pastelmat paper. Again, this is a very common paper, but it is good as it comes in different colors, which you can experiment with alongside your actual pastels for amazing results. It is very thick (170 pounds)!


For more awesome tips, hints and lessons, check out my online courses.


To see me discussing my favorite types of paper, watch the video below:

Materials used:

Strathmore bristol smooth 300s: http://geni.us/Bristolsmooth300s

Strathmore bristol plate surface 500s: http://geni.us/Strathmore500Plate

Bristol Vellum: http://geni.us/StrathmoreBristolPaper

Pastelmat paper: http://geni.us/Pastelmatpaper

Strathmore Toned Tan: http://geni.us/StrathmoreTonedTan

Strathmore Toned Grey Mixed media Paper: http://geni.us/StrathmoreGrayMixed

Arches Hot pressed watercolour paper: http://geni.us/Archeshotpressed

Arches Cold pressed watercolour paper: http://geni.us/Archescoldpressed

Fabriano Artistico watercolour paper: https://geni.us/fabrianowatercolour

Disclaimer; amazon links are affiliated.

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