Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Choosing the Right Paper


One of the fun parts about urban sketching is experimenting with different sketching materials, finding which you enjoy using the most, testing how each react with one another and even which compliment your personal sketching style.  While many sketching kit reviews tend to focus on pens, paints, inks, markers, brushes or other materials we use to draw or paint with, not nearly as many reviews (at least from what I have seen) talk about different types of paper.

Here are some things to consider when deciding on the next, all important sketchbook or paper purchase:


  • Do you want a sketchbook that fits in your back pocket or a larger one to carry in a backpack or purse?  
  • Do you prefer loose leaf paper or a sketchbook?
  • Do you want to use a square or rectangular paper/sketchbook?  Scrap paper?  Paper cups?
  • If a sketchbook, spiral bound or hardbound?
  • What color paper do you use?
  • Is your paper bright white or toned grey?  Off white? Tan?  Black?
  • How does the color of your favorite ink, marker colored pencil or watercolor paint appear differently on two different colored papers?
  • How does the color of the paper help tell a story about the scene you are sketching?
  • Is your paper smooth or textured?  
  • How much texture is there?
  • Hot pressed or cold pressed?
  • Thick or thin?
  • What is the weight of the paper?
  • Can it be painted on?
  • Which papers are best for ink?  For pencil?
  • Is your paper water resistant??  Yes, there is water resistant paper...
  • How strong is the paper?
  • How many times can you shade that one specific spot before you rip a hole in the paper?
  • Does watercolor buckle the paper?  How many washes can it take?  How fast does it dry?
  • How fast does your ink dry on the paper?  Does it smudge?
  • Does the paper enhance or dull out your drawing?
  • Does your sketch bleed through to the other side or even on to the next page?
  • Does your pen or marker glide across the paper or feather and skip?  Which do you like and why?
  • Do you feel feedback on the nib of your pen, tip of your pencil or hairs of your brush?
Perhaps you are new to urban sketching and you have never considered any of these questions.  Or you are a long time sketcher but have never considered why you use the paper you have been using all these years.

I have been an active sketcher since 2008. One of the biggest observations I have made over the years is in which types of papers I like to sketch with.  There are so many different factors that come into play when selecting the right type of paper.  I hope that these questions give you a preview of the next installment of Choosing the Right Paper, where I will give some more specific tips that will help you think about the paper you have been using, why and how you have been using it, and how to develop and expand your sketching skills in light of all of the different types of sketching papers and options available to us.

Until next time, do any of the questions above resonate with you?  How has your experimentation with different paper types evolved since you started sketching?  Which brands do you prefer and why?

Andrew Banks

No comments:

Post a Comment