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Watercolor Paper FAQ’s
Can you print on watercolor paper?
Yes is the short answer but there are quite a few things to take into consideration.
Check that your printer can take the paper. Paper over 140 gsm (grams per square meter) often jams in the printer. I have found that the best type of printer is inline i.e. not a front feed where the paper is not fed and bent 180o through a roller. Cheap printers for general use are for the most part unsuitable for printing on heavier paper. It is worth spending time looking at various models that can take up to 300gsm paper and check directly with the manufacturers. There is nothing worse (and I have done it!) than spending money on a printer that doesn’t print on thicker watercolour paper.
Be aware that the color varies with watercolour paper and you generally won’t get the colors you see on the monitor. It is best to try this out on a small scale to see if your print finish is acceptable. Prints are generally darker on watercolor paper than on your monitor.
What is the difference between hot press and cold press watercolor paper?
The main difference between between cold press and hot press paper is the surface texture.
Cold press watercolor paper has a textured surface. This is created when the paper manufacturer runs the paper through cold rollers which tends to separate the fibres giving a textured appearance. The indentations on the paper create peaks and troughs and the water and color pigment is held allowing paper absorb the the water rapidly. Cold press paper is great if you want to add texture to your painting.
Hot press watercolor paper is much smoother with no texture and doesn’t absorb the water. This is created when the manufacturers run the paper through hot rollers which tend to compress the fibres creating a smooth compact finish. This allows a bit more scope for adding water to pigment to get special effects like graduated pigment and hard edges.
What is watercolor paper?
Watercolor paper is a specially processed paper for the watercolor medium generally with a surface treatment that prevents water and pigment bleeding quickly into the paper. There are two other factors affecting watercolor paper – processing and weight. Processing can be divided into hot and cold press. Hot press is where the paper is fed through hot rollers and gives the paper a smooth finish which is less absorbant. Cold press is where the paper is fed through cold rollers which tends to open up the fibres giving a rougher surfave making the paper more absorbant. The weight of the paper measured in grams per square meter (gsm) will dictate the thickness of the paper.
Can photos be printed on watercolor paper?
Yes they can but don’t expect the colors to match what you have on the monitor screen. Any type of image can be printed on watercolor paper and you can often get some great effects using textured cold press paper. Try out some sample sheets before investing in larger quantities of paper. Photo’s generally print darker on watercolor paper and there is often a slight loss of definition especially on cold press paper which has a rougher surface.
Which is the best paper for watercolor and ink?
There is no simple answer for this because it will depend upon the style and finish that you require. If you like playing around with ink and color washes on the paper a hot press paper would be the way to go as it does not allow water to absorb quickly. This gives you more time to experiment directly on the paper with washes, creating hard and soft shades and mixing effects. If you prefer a textured finish or like your paint and ink to be absorbed quickly a cold press textured finish would be better. I have created a review of five different water color paper blocks which will give you further information right here… My own personal favourite is the Arches Aquerrelle watercolor block which is a cold press paper of extremely high quality that gives me a superb finish when creating watercolor and ink cartoons.