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PAPER: THE MOST IMPORTANT SKETCHING INGREDIENT

Yes, you read it right: paper is more important than paints or markers. You can get away with using cheap paints on good paper, but no matter how good your paints are, you can't do much if the paper's wrong.



In this Youtube video, I show the most common types of paper that can be used in urban sketching. Watch the video and read the key points below.

If you find my content useful, support me by buying me a coffee!

Key Takeaways

Watercolor paper works great for wet mediums: gouache, watercolors, and ink washes. Hot press paper is smooth, while cold press paper has a rougher surface. Rough surface is great for textures but is not so good for using fineliners. Smooth surface does not give you much texture, but you can use fineliners and pencils to add all the texture you need.


Go to my post Hot and Cold Press Watercolor Paper: Is There Really Much Difference? for a detailed guide to watercolor paper (surface types, cellulose and cotton paper, quality and formats, plus examples of sketches done on different paper types).


My suggestions for watercolor paper:

Arches | 100% Cotton | Cold Press | 12 Sheets

Arches | 100% Cotton | Cold Press | 20 Sheets

Baohong | 100% Cotton | Cold Press | 20 Sheets


Mixed media paper is awesome for urban sketching! It can handle a variety of mediums, both dry and wet. It is usually a combination of cotton and cellulose fibers and cheaper than watercolor paper. Mixed media paper comes in different colors, which can give your sketches an extra twist.


My suggestions for mixed media paper:

Winsor & Newton | Mixed Media Pad | 30 Sheets:

Clairefontaine | Mixed Media Black Paper Pad | 20 Sheets

Clairefontaine | Mixed Media Pad | 20 Sheets


Sketching paper is meant for dry mediums (pencils and fineliners). It is great for practicing and doing drills: lines, shading, hatching and cross-hatching. Here's a quick exercise you can do on this paper: How to Draw Long Straight Lines.


My suggestions for sketching paper:

Strathmore | Sketch Pad | 100 Sheets

Bachmore | Sketch Pad | 100 Sheets


Marker paper is meant for alcohol-based markers. There are different types of marker paper. Go to my Guide to Perfect Paper for Alcohol-Based Markers.


My suggestions for marker paper:

CANSON The Wall | 200gsm A4 Paper | 30 Sheets


If you would like to learn how to create colorful urban sketches with watercolors, gouache or markers, join Brave Brushes Studio, my membership for amateur artists. It includes weekly video lessons available exclusively to members, an archive of my past classes, a vibrant community of fellow artists, regular live Q&A sessions, and sketching workshops.


I created Brave Brushes Studio to give artists simple, actionable tools for improving their sketching techniques, expanding their creative range and growing into confident, independent artists.

Join now and get immediate access to all the resources.


Disclaimer: some links in this post are affiliate links, which means I get a small commission when you buy something (at no additional cost to you). I appreciate every sale because this is a way for me to continue creating free content for you!

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Hello, I'm Julia Henze.

 

ARTIST | URBAN SKETCHER | TEACHER ​

Art is my passion. Urban Sketching is my love.

My work (and this site) is devoted to sharing ideas, tools, and resources that will help you to find your way in the world of art.

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