Best Drawing Paper – The Right Paper For Your Drawing Style

One of the most common questions people ask me about drawing are: “What kind of paper do you use” and “What is the best drawing paper”. The simple answer is, that it depends on what you want do to. In the following article I want to show you what could be the best paper for your drawing style.

Paper Texture, Paper Tooth or Smoothness

When you think about choosing the best drawing paper for your purpose, then you normally should start with the paper texture. The paper texture can be smooth of rough. Some artists also talk about the paper teeth, when they want to describe the texture a paper. So what is the big difference? Some people would suppose, that you need the finest possible paper for a realistic drawing, because you don’t want to see the texture of the paper, like on a photograph. Till some point that is true but on the other hand it’s also wrong. I want to explain why. Let’s take printer paper as an example for a very fine paper. There are two problems about using printer paper for your realistic drawing. The first thing is that it is to fine, or in other words it has no teeth, where the graphite, the charcoal or whatever can stay. In easy words that means you can’t get a very dark spot, because the pencil material slides over the smooth surface without sticking to it. Another problem is that it is to thin and you can destroy it very is by erasing or drawing. I am sure there an even more facts against printer paper.

Now we should look at the other extreme, a very rough paper. What happens when you draw on a rough paper, is that you will see the texture of the paper very strong. But seeing the texture very strong doesn’t mean that it’s something bad. Maybe exactly that is your style. You could use the texture of the paper to create a very special surface look on your drawing or you could create details without drawing them directly with the pencil. There are a lot of artists that prefer rough paper for charcoal drawings.

For photo realistic drawings you should indeed use a fine paper, but the paper should still have a texture to adhere the graphite or charcoal better. Don’t worry I will tell you which kinds of paper I use for my realistic drawing.

In my opinion one of the best paper for realistic drawings is “Canson – The Wall”. This is a fine paper, but it also has a texture which you can use to create realistic skin etc. It also works really fine when it comes to erasing and correcting errors. I used this paper for a long time and I still use it. You can get it almost everywhere, but the easiest way is Amazon of course.

Link to Amazon:
Block The Wall A3 30 FG 220 GR Extra Smooth

 Canson - The Wall

Paper weight – Thickness

The first thing that you see when you look at a paper product, is the paper weight or thickness. It normally looks like on the following picture.

Paper Weight





The paper weight tells you how thick and how “strong” a paper is.
I want to give you some examples:

  • Printer paper 80 g/square meter
  • Drawing paper about 180 g/square meter (Cansons – The Wall 220 g/square meter)
  • Good drawing carton 1300 g/square meter

If you just started with drawing I would recommend you the “Cansons – The Wall”. When you plan a very special drawing, that takes you very long you could consider using a good drawing carton. I normally use the schoellershammer drawing carton. It is made by a German company. If you can’t find a similar product on the internet send me a message or leave a comment and I will search a way to ship it to your country.

Cold Pressed or Hot Pressed

To be honest I don’t use this description very often, because I only care about the thickness of the paper and the smoothness. Nevertheless, I want to explain you what the difference is.

The most important difference between hot pressed paper and cold pressed paper is the texture. When people talk about hot pressed paper, they normally refer to a very fine paper. The cold pressed paper is much rougher. Like you learned before it depends on what you want to create. Some people use cold pressed paper for charcoal drawings, because the charcoal adheres very good to the paper. On the other hand it is hard to create very realistic drawings with a very rough surface.

If you think the “Cansons – The Wall” paper is to fine for you, I would recommend you the “Canson – C a Grain”. It is a bit rougher but still suitable for realistic drawings.

Please try what works better for you. Like I said, for me the first one works better for realistic drawings.

Link to Amazon:
Canson C a Grain 224gsm Heavyweight drawing paper, fine grain texture, A4 pad including 30 sheets

 Canson C a grain

It’s all about you

Like most of the time, there is no right or wrong in art. The same counts for the different papers. Every paper has its own character, and you can use that character to develop your own style. One thing that I learned about art is, that you have to try a lot of different things out to explore different effect. Only with that experience you can use the right tool at the right time, to create exactly what you have in mind.

Please try different kinds of paper, and let me know what your favorite one is.

If you have any questions or comments I am more than happy to answer them.


All the Best



Please note that I receive compensation if you use my links, and eventually I may earn enough to buy a pencil or two 😀





  1. asmithxu says

    It is very interesting to learn all about the different types of paper and what you can expect from them. The best drawing paper seems so personalized- I definitely agree with your suggestion that you should try out different styles and see what works for you. In art, the tools that you use are so important. I will definitely have to try out Canson- the wall!
    I wonder how charcoals and papers line up. Do some brands of charcoal work better for thicker paper than thin? Thanks!

    1. admin says

      Yes, I really think the first step is always trying out different things to see what works well for oneself. A few month ago I was at a drawing workshop of a very famous artist and what we did in the first few hours, was trying out different pencils to learn how they work together. The same you can do with paper. 

      Regarding to your question I would say that you can use every charcoal with every paper, that has enough texture to keep the pigments on the paper. In general I think that it is always better to use thicker paper, but of course it is more expensive. I use the Schoellershammer 4g carton. For beginners that could be to expensive because one paper costs about 8 € (10 $). You should defenitely try Cansons – The Wall. It has a good price and works very well for  me. 🙂

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