Choosing a Custom Drawing Paper

Choosing a Custom Drawing Paper

All drawing papers are not created equal. The type of paper you choose can make all the difference between a piece that looks great or one that is a struggle to produce.

Different papers have varying textures that artists call “tooth”. In addition, the weight of the paper matters when choosing a surface for your artwork.


The size of a sheet of paper can make a big difference in the drawing process. Depending on the medium you’re working with, different paper sizes will accommodate for the level of pressure and absorption you need. If you’re doing charcoal drawings or life drawing, you’ll want a heavier paper that can stand up to the intensity of your work.

In the ISO 216 standard, papers are sized by their length and width. Each size is a multiple of the previous one, meaning that sheets can be scaled up or down without losing proportions. For example, an A1 sheet is 841 mm by 594 mm, or 23.4 x 33.1 inches. This paper size is commonly used in North America for technical documents and large-format drawings.

There are also ANSI paper sizes that are specific to the United States. These are usually based on traditional architect’s pads, which custom drawing paper are typically used for sketching building plans. An ANSI A1 sheet is similar in size to an ISO A4 sheet, and all subsequent architectural sizes are determined by halving the previous size on both dimensions.

Using the right paper size will help you achieve your desired results and avoid frustration. You can set your preferred paper size in the Print dialog box by selecting the Paper Size menu and choosing a custom option. It’s also possible to set the paper size from the Page Setup tab if you plan to use the same setting for every print job.


Choosing the right paper weight also affects how you draw. Thinner papers are ideal for quick sketches, thumbnails, compositional studies and working out ideas whereas heavier papers can be used for more finished drawings or painting.

The weight of a sheet of paper is usually dictated in pounds, giving an idea of the thickness and stability of the paper. This is particularly important when working with water-based media, as the weight of a paper can determine how much it will bleed. A heavy watercolor paper will be more resilient and durable than a thin tracing paper, allowing the paint or ink to sit on the surface without bleeding through.

Another factor to consider is whether the paper is internally or externally sized. Internally sized paper is treated with a starch or gelatin size during the manufacturing process which improves the surface and allows wet media to sit on the surface even if the paper is damaged. Externally sized paper is not as rigid and is better suited to drawing with dry mediums such as pencil or crayon, but it can be used for wet media such as watercolor and ink washes.

There is also a range Customized bouquet gift box of specialized papers designed to suit particular types of drawing and painting. Charcoal paper for example is designed with a surface which is more toothy than smooth and provides the necessary grip for charcoal particles.


Paper is made from a variety of plant fibers, such as cotton, jute, flax, hemp, rice straw, bamboo, and rattan. The plants are ground and mixed together to create a thin layer of mingled cellulose fibers. The surface of the paper can be smooth or rough depending on how it is manufactured and what type of work you plan to do.

Rougher surfaces are better for high contrast and lower detail works such as charcoal and crayon or for ink washes and watercolors. For finer details, a smoother surface is more suitable and will show more of your marks and textures.

The texture of the paper can be enhanced by a technique called sizing, which is done either through internal sizing or surface sizing. Internal sizing is added to the pulp during the manufacturing process or to the dry sheet after it’s formed, and it helps ink or paint sit on the surface. Surface sizing, on the other hand, is applied to the dry sheet before cutting and is usually made of starch or gelatin.

A smoother surface is more suitable for pencil and crayon work, and you can also add texture by using a sandpaper pad or rubbing your paper on a rough brick wall. You can even tone your paper to make it a darker value, such as for a halftone. In this video, artist Savannah Tate Cuff tones a Fabriano 140-lb. hot-press watercolour paper by sprinkling it with vine charcoal and sandpaper.


As we become more serious about our drawing it becomes necessary to take the time to find the right paper. It could be the difference between a drawing that looks great and one that is difficult to do. The first thing to look for is acid-free paper. Paper that is not acid-free will eventually deteriorate, ruining your drawing. Quality drawing papers will proudly proclaim that they are acid-free and have a neutral and archival pH level.

The type of pulp used and any surface treatments that are applied during or after the manufacturing process will impact the tooth of the paper. The pulp is usually made from natural materials such as cotton or wood. The resulting texture is a combination of the roughness from the cellulose fibers and the smoothness from any sizing that may have been applied.

In general fine point tools such as graphite pencils and pens work best on smoother papers while coarser grained media like charcoal requires a grittier surface that can hold the media better. The level of tooth will also influence the way a medium is applied to the surface of the paper.

If you are going to be using colored pencil it is a good idea to get paper with some tooth in it. This will help the colors grip evenly. Legion Stonehenge and BFK Rives are two examples of paper that has just enough tooth to make it ideal for colored pencil.