Arches Watercolor Paper Review: All About the Product and Tips for Beginners

Arches watercolor paper is a popular choice for both professional and beginner artists because of its high archival quality. It has been around since 1882 and continues to be one of the most popular brands on the market today. It’s strong, versatile, absorbs ink well, and has an affordable price point. When you are looking for the best paper to use for your watercolor painting, look no further!

In this Arches watercolor paper review, we will go over how this paper differs from other types of watercolor paper as well as share some tips about using it! We’re going to explore the product in depth to help you decide if it’s right for you!

What Is Arches Watercolor Paper?

Arches watercolor paper is a 100% cotton, cold press, or hot press paper that has been around for over 125 years. The brand was developed in France by the legendary Moulin de l’Aube and their high-quality product line includes 300+ colors of watercolor papers/blocks!

Arches produces five types of products:

  • Single Sheets
  • Rolls
  • Blocks
  • Pads
  • Panel Boards.

Manufacturing Process of Arches Watercolor Paper

The first step in creating this masterpiece is harvesting cotton from Egyptian cotton fields which are then shipped to an Italian mill where it will be processed into 150 lb, 300 lb, and 500 lb super white paper.

Once the cotton has been processed into pulp, it is sent to France where they will mix inks with color pigments (including titanium dioxide) which allow them to print on their watercolor papers as well as create a beautiful array of colors!

The paper then goes through another process that includes steaming it, adding filler (calcium carbonate), drying the sheets of paper until they are perfectly flat.

The next step is to cut them into A or B sized pieces which will be rolled onto a large cylinder and pressed onto their cardboard backing!


Arches watercolor paper is made of 100% cotton which makes it extremely strong and archival. It’s also acid-free (pH neutral) which means that there are no harmful chemicals involved in the manufacturing process making it perfect for artists like you!

When you decide to work on this type of product, your artwork will last a lifetime which means that you’re not going to have to worry about discoloration or fading. This is especially important if your artwork involves many layers of color since the pigments are what give off vibrancy and richness!


The paper comes in several different weights including 150 lb, 300 lb, and 500 lb which gives you the freedom to choose what type of texture works best for your projects.

  • 150 lb weight is perfect if you are looking for a lightweight yet strong paper that will allow ease when painting fine details. This is a delicate surface which makes it great for detailed work and watercolor pencils. It’s better for advanced users because the texture can make blending difficult if you aren’t experienced with using this type of paper!
  • 300 lb weight means it’s moderately thick and is great for working on multiple layers and mixing colors. It’s made of 100% cotton rag which makes it a high-quality product with an archival rating of over 200 years! It’s acid-free, pH neutral and there are five different sizes to choose from depending on your needs!
  • 500 lb weight means that it’s thick and sturdy which makes painting even easier! If you are looking to use one type of paper for all of your projects, go with the 500 lb weight since it will work perfectly for you no matter what type of artwork you are going to create.
There are two sides to the Arches block which means you have more options when choosing how you want your painting to look!


Arches watercolor paper has a strong texture which is why it’s perfect for both beginner and professional artists! The tooth of the paper gives off an amazing grip so you can easily mix colors together or layer them to create new tones. This also means that your paint won’t slip around while you are working, allowing better precision in your work!

Many people find it difficult to choose between hot press, cold press, and rough watercolor papers when they are looking for the best type of product. The main difference between them is in texture which helps artists determine what their final work will look like!

Arches Hot Press Watercolor Paper

Hot press paper provides an ultra-smooth finish that’s perfect for working on details. The fine tooth also absorbs the ink well, allowing your work to come out looking professional and beautiful. This texture also provides an exceptional amount of control which makes it the perfect choice for beginners since they won’t have to worry about paint slipping or pigment being absorbed too heavily into the paper!

Arches Cold Press Watercolor Paper

Cold press watercolor papers are a little different from hot-press in terms of tooth which gives your artwork a coarse finish when applied with watercolor. This texture provides you with the perfect amount of control while still giving off a smooth finish which is ideal for creating amazing artwork!

Arches Rough Watercolor Paper

Rough watercolor paper has an uneven surface that’s full of tooth so your work will have a coarse, textured appearance when applied with pigment.

Arches 300 lb cold-pressed paper has an absorbent finish and the sizing (a glue-like substance) can make it hard to paint on, especially if you’re a beginner! If this sounds like something you want to work with, we recommend checking out arches watercolor paper pads instead!

Types of Arches Watercolor Paper And How to Use Them for Various Purposes

Arches watercolor paper can be used for a variety of projects which is one of the reasons it’s so popular! But, there are some types that work better than others depending on what you’re planning to do.

Watercolor Paper Pads

This type has an easy-open pad feature that lets you simply flip through sheets until you find the perfect one! It’s perfect for beginners who aren’t quite sure what project they are going to want to work on.

Single Sheet

This is the most common type of watercolor paper that artists use. Since it comes in a large pack, you can even stock up and save money while getting exactly what you need!

Watercolor Blocks

Arches watercolor paper block is ideal for those who are looking for a product that can be cut down into any shape or size. It comes in either hot press or cold press so it’s extremely important to know what texture will work best with your needs.

This type also comes with a handy little guide that tells you which side to use and even how far down the paper should be placed on your watercolor palette.

Watercolor Paper Rolls

This is the perfect choice for when you’re painting on location or if your space doesn’t have much of an area to work with! Simply choose which size will best fit your needs and roll out as much watercolor paper as you need. Then, use masking tape to secure it to your easel and you’re ready to start painting!

Arches Watercolor Paper Block, Cold Press, 9 Arches Watercolor Paper Block, Cold Press, 9
  • The cold press finish has a light texture and is the most common
  • Contains one block with 20 sheets, 300 GSM
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Arches Watercolor Paper Tips for Beginners

If you are just starting out with watercolors, choosing the right type of paper can be difficult. Make sure to choose one that is high quality enough for your needs and can handle the amount of water you use.

Read more about the best watercolor papers on the market in our Watercolor Paper Buyer’s Guide.

If you are just beginning, Arches 300 lb watercolor paper is a great option as it has an affordable price point and absorbs ink well!

Here are some tips to keep in mind about Arches Watercolor Paper:

  • Keep in mind that all surfaces are different so you might have to experiment with the right side of your paper.
  • If watercolor cake is used, use a wet brush for even application and smooth out any bubbles that appear in the paint as it dries!
  • For beginners who are looking for inspiration, check out Arches’ Pinterest page which has many beautiful examples of paintings made with their watercolor paper!

Which Side of Arches Watercolor Paper to Use

Arches watercolor paper is available in two different sides which means that you can choose between smooth or rough.

  • Smooth side works great for various projects since it doesn’t have too much texture to get in the way of your work! The finish provides an exceptional amount of control while allowing ease when painting fine details so if this sounds like something you want to use, go for it!
  • Rough side is perfect if you are looking for a more textured surface that will give your artwork the finishing touch. This texture provides an amazing grip which means the color won’t slip around while painting so you can get the precision you need to make an excellent piece of art without worrying about anything going wrong.

Final Words

The best part about Arches watercolor paper is that it can be easily used with all different mediums which means you aren’t limited by your art supplies. Whether you want to create sketches, paintings, or mixed media artwork; this product will be a perfect addition to your arsenal!

It’s highly absorbent and versatile which makes it easy to use both paint and ink! Keep in mind that every artist has their own preferences when choosing art supplies which is why it’s important to experiment with different products!

If you want an affordable, strong watercolor paper that can handle a variety of mediums, Arches watercolor paper will not disappoint.

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