How to choose the drawing paper

drawing paper

How to choose the drawing paper. For people who are not involved in art or technical drawing, one sheet of paper is as good as another. Those who delight in graphite, charcoals, and drawing markers, on the other hand, are of a completely different opinion. The drawing paper has various formats, thicknesses, weights, and grains, and the choice, for beginners, is often complicated. How to choose the right drawing paper for you? To do this, you must know all the characteristics of the sheet you are going to draw. It is possible to achieve the best results: a sheet that is too smooth or too rough, for example, can ultimately compromise a job. So whatever do you want to believe about before buying your sketch pad? What secrets of the card do you need to discover to ensure that your support, rather than an obstacle, can help you?

The characteristics of the drawing paper

Let’s start immediately and understand together what is the fundamental characteristics of drawing ideas easy on paper are. In the beginning, you will always have to keep them in mind whenever you find yourself choosing the paper for your next design. Over time this will become automatic, and I am also sure that after you have tried all the different types, you will know which one is your favorite, and you will immediately know which one to choose depending on the type of work you have to do. But let’s not consume any more extra time, and let’s start with a bit of paper history!

A brief history of paper

drawing paper

Once upon a time, papyrus, parchments, clay, wood, bone, bamboo, or simply stones were used for writing and drawing. Indeed, these supports did not stand out for their practicality, nor did they shine for their lightness or ease of use. It was only in 105 AD that someone in China invented what we now call ‘paper.’ The inventor, according to legend, was a Chinese minister, Ts’ai Lun, who replaced animal fibers with vegetables according to pleased intuition ones in the processing of felt. It is said that Ts’ai Lun, observing the washerwomen as they washed clothes in a pond, ended up looking at the fibrils that were going to detach from the clothes during the rubbing and then pile up in a small corner of the body of water. Intrigued, the man collected the veil of vegetable fibers and then dried it: this was how the first sheet of paper in history was born.


Starting from that first almost casual experience, Ts’ai Lun made a trellis with excellent bamboo sticks, which he used to shape the previously macerated and beaten mulberry bark fibers: the sheet thus obtained was then left to dry in the air, to then be used for writing and drawing. This method was presented to the emperor, who was favorably impressed. Not long after arriving in Japan, Buddhist monks began to make paper for their religious writings. In the eighth century, however, the invention of paper began to spread westward: first, in 750, a Chinese prisoner taught the technique to the Arabs, who consequently started the first small paper mills in Spain.


Around the year 1000, the paper finally arrived in Italy: think that we have news of the first paper mills in Fabriano around 1283. Moreover, the Italian paper makers introduced the mechanical milling of rags, the sizing with animal gelatine, and watermarking. Well, now that we’ve summarized the origins of paper, let’s move on to the drawing paper buying guide. What should your next sketch pad look like?


Rough drawing paper and smooth drawing paper: which one to choose?

Is it better to use smooth or rough drawing paper? The answer, of course, depends on the type of design you want to make! By its continuous surface, the smooth paper gives us the possibility to draw with greater precision and, therefore, to create tiny and well-finished details. The cutting paper has an uneven surface on the other round, which breaks up the traced lines. Therefore, the first and fundamental criterion to be considered is that those who want greater precision and more details will have to turn their gaze towards a relatively smooth card. Conversely, those who do not aim for detail but rather for large drawings will look to the textured paper. The grain of the paper, however, also changes the final atmosphere of the drawing markedly: the rough paper emphasizes the very structure of the paper, mainly if used with pastels and charcoals, while the smooth paper enhances the drawing itself, mainly if you use hard pencils or markers.


The size of the drawing paper

Easier to choose the size of the drawing paper than the grain type. But what exactly is meant by format? In simple terms, we mean measuring the two sides of the sheet, which can express in millimeters, centimeters, or inches (mainly used by English or American brands). We usually tend towards the classic A4 format, and therefore for 210 x 297 millimeters sheets. However, sketch pads often come in smaller formats, such as A5. In drawing courses, on the other hand, there is a tendency to use larger drawing paper, such as the A3 format or even the A2 format, with its 420 x 594 millimeters strong. There are also exceptions to these standard sizes: manufacturers of craft paper, especially in single sheets, may have unconventional sizes, which make them twice as unique, both in quality and in size.


Technical drawing paper

Okay, probably technical drawing paper doesn’t have to be as delicate as art drawing paper (and some might contradict me here), but it still has to respect some basic rules. Weight is significant, primarily if you work with tough pencils and don’t want to tear your paper. Often liners, markers, and inks are used, so it is essential that the fiber can absorb color without smudging, keeping the edges clean and precise. Rough or smooth? It depends a lot on your tastes. We prefer smooth paper, as it allows for a higher level of detail and hard tip pencils are easier. But you may also be comfortable with rough-grained paper.

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