DRAWING Art materials, Beginner drawing 2 min read

A Beginner’s Guide to Artist’s Drawing Paper

Drawing papers
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Not sure what drawing paper to buy? Here are the best drawing papers for drawing with graphite or charcoal.

Paper is the most common surface for drawing, and it’s often overlooked in its importance. The surface on which you draw has as much, or even greater, impact on your success as an artist as your other materials do. Experiment with different brands and styles of drawing paper to see what works best for your style and preferred medium. There are papers made for general drawing that can be used with various media, and others that are more specialized. Charcoal paper is designed to hold charcoal with its rough texture. Smooth paper might work well for graphite, but not charcoal. Some papers “release” material easily, allowing the graphite or charcoal to lift off the paper.

If you find that your graphite or charcoal is not erasing or having trouble sticking to the paper, try a different brand or type of paper. Paper can vary in its stiffness (weight), smoothness, and material. My favorite drawing surface is heavyweight cotton rag paper. While most papers are created using wood pulp, rag paper is created using cotton. The tooth (surface feel) of rag paper works best for me when working with charcoal, but it’s not right for all drawing applications. For example, I prefer a smoother drawing paper when creating detailed drawings with graphite, or when I want to work with white charcoal on toned paper.

Charcoal Drawing Papers

Hahnemuhle Nostalgie Sketch Book

Hahnemuhle makes excellent paper. This is one of the best sketchbook for drawing with charcoal, featuring premium paper that works well for a variety of media. It also makes for an excellent travel sketchbook!

Strathmore Charcoal Spiral Paper Pad

It’s hard to beat this Strathmore Charcoal paper. Designed specifically for charcoal, it holds charcoal very well, while also erasing cleanly. The “Laid” surface allows for a regular, predictable texture

Arches 100% Cotton Dessin Drawing Paper Pads

Working with Arches Drawing paper is an absolute treat! It’s made from 100% cotton and free of optical brighteners, giving your work a unique texture and durability like no other. Whether you’re using graphite pencils, charcoal or pastels – this special rag has got all the tools for creating beautiful finished art pieces in pen & ink.

Graphite Drawing Papers

Strathmore Drawing Paper

A well-balanced paper, the medium surface of this paper works well for graphite and a variety of other drawing media. If you’re not sure what to get, this is a great place to start! Balancing price, quality and versatility, this is one of the best options for an all-around paper option.

Strathmore Bristol Drawing

The smooth surface of Bristol paper allows for a higher level of detail than other surfaces. Bristol paper would be challenging for use with charcoal. With other drawing media, like ink, marker, and colored pencil, it makes for an exceptional surface.

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Meet the Artist

Scott Maier is an artist and a content contributor to artistsnetwork.com. He’s also the author of the instructional art book See, Think, Draw: An Easy Guide for Realistic Drawing and Beyond.

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