The Best Drawing Paper: Product Reviews and Tips

What is the best drawing paper? Which kind of surface should you use for your drawings? There are many different types of drawing papers.

Depending on your needs, you can find a paper that will suit you perfectly. In this article, we are going to explore some of the most popular options for drawing paper and give you our opinion on which ones are worth checking out.

Best Choice
Strathmore, 400 Series Sketch Pad, 9″x12″
Strathmore, 400 Series Sketch Pad, 9″x12″
Best Paper for Pencil Drawing
Manufactured in the United States. The product belongs to arts, crafts and sewing. 400 series - 60Lb - 9x12 inches - 100 sheets
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We also discuss FAQs that will answer all of your questions. This article is full of useful tips that will help you get started with art!

What Type of Paper Should You Practice Drawing on?

It depends on what artistic technique or medium you intend to use. Some techniques, like marker drawing, for example, don’t require erasing so printer papers can be used; however charcoal drawings need more support (meaning better quality) than an ordinary sheet of paper.

Matte-finished surfaces are ideal for artists who want to blend colors smoothly since there’s no tooth (roughness). While most brands won’t advertise their product as archival-safe, matte finish pages will last longer if they’re not exposed to sunlight over long periods of time.

On the other hand, glossy finishes have less surface area touching your artwork, which makes them more ideal for pastels and markers.

Glossy surfaces are also better when it comes to using watercolor because you’ll get a smoother result by allowing the paint to flow easily over the surface.

High-quality sketching paper is thicker than ordinary printer or bond papers so they won’t buckle under your hand while working, making them great for creating art with graphite pencils, charcoal sticks, compressed wax crayons, ink pens (fountain pen), etc.

Paper Basics

First of all, it is important to know the basics. You will find many different types of paper in art stores and online shops. However, there are only a few things you really need to be aware of before buying one for your drawings.

Weight of Drawing Paper

The weight of paper is measured in pounds (lbs) or grams per square meter (g/m²). It is often displayed with the label ‘basis weight’ in art stores.

Weight can be important when buying drawing paper because it tells you how thick and solid your drawings will end up being. The thicker they are, the more detail you can add to them without worrying about the paper tearing apart.

Paper Texture

The tooth of the paper is the roughness. It can be smooth, medium, or rough and it will affect your drawings in different ways.

Smooth papers are often preferred because they provide enough ‘tooth’ to make pencils work well on them while not being too coarse. Such surfaces don’t require lots of effort when erasing lines either which reduces smudging even more!

The rough texture on the other hand tends to catch some graphite but doesn’t cause problems with blending colors together like quite a few people think (it won’t ruin your colored pencils).

However, if you want to use just one color for shading then this kind of surface might not be ideal since there is no good way to blend multiple layers into each other on such a surface.

The medium tooth is the best of both worlds and we highly recommend it! This kind of paper provides just enough ‘tooth’ so your pencils work well, but also allows for smooth blending if you want to add some colors or different shades in between lines. However, this type of drawing paper doesn’t smudge as much and it looks really good when finished since details are sharp and crisp while still having an authentic feel to them (without looking too clean).

Paper Material

Drawing paper made from cotton is the most popular option. It has a very smooth surface that works well with colored pencils and graphite (graphite won’t smudge on such drawing papers). Cotton fiber also tends to absorb liquids faster than normal cellulose which makes it great for watercolors, inks, or acrylic paints!

Cellulose drawing paper is similar to cotton but less smooth. That means your pencil lines will be more visible and darker (useful when you want shading), but they can also get smudged easier by blending colors together if you don’t use fixatives afterward or color lightly. Such surfaces work best for ink drawings since they produce crisp details without any effort while not being too slippery at the same time.

Cold Pressed vs Hot Pressed

There are two different ways paper can be pressed: with or without heat.

Cold-pressed drawing papers don’t use any chemicals to make the fibers stick together and as a result, they produce more ‘tooth’ (texture).

This makes them good for pencils, but also means that blending colors is much harder since it requires applying lots of pressure. Colored pencils will look really nice on such surfaces though!

Hot-pressed drawing paper presses the fibers together using high temperatures which reduces their number significantly and produces a smoother surface. Such drawings have less texture so you won’t need to apply as much force while shading if you’re experienced enough – this results in cleaner lines and smudging being reduced even further! However, colored pencil looks really flat on top of hot-pressed drawing paper due to the lack of ‘tooth’.

Archival vs Acid-Free Drawing Paper

This is a very important factor to consider when buying drawing paper. Not all papers are created equal and some of them will deteriorate much faster than others, which means they’ll be less durable over the years if you want your drawings to last for many decades or more!

Archival materials resist deterioration from things like mold, mildew, and acid because their pH level remains neutral throughout time. Most archival drawing papers have been processed with an alkaline reserve so even if their surface gets damaged somehow it won’t affect anything underneath (which would destroy the whole sheet).

Such products work great as long as there aren’t any acidic components being added into the mix – otherwise, those can damage paper just as easily despite having an alkaline pH.

Acid-Free drawing paper is also great for archiving because usually it’s made from 100% cotton which means that the pH level has been neutralized (which prevents deterioration).

However, even if acid wasn’t used to make such products they can still contain small amounts of acidic components like calcium carbonate or magnesium carbonate in order to give them more texture and color richness while keeping their price affordable. So you should avoid using these papers with watercolors since the liquid will damage its surface over time!

Artist Quality vs Student Quality

Artist quality papers are usually made from 100% cotton and have a much smoother surface which makes them perfect for pencils, pens, or markers. They also don’t need to be stretched before using because they won’t distort when applying pressure (which is why you should always use an acid-free backing board with your drawings).

Student grade drawing paper has less coating on top & it’s not as smooth either – this means that colors will look more vibrant but the lack of texture can make blending harder unless you’re experienced enough! Another thing worth mentioning about student-quality art papers is that they require stretching first (otherwise distortion might occur).

Best Paper for Pencil Drawing
Strathmore, 400 Series Sketch Pad, 9"x12" review
Strathmore, 400 Series Sketch Pad, 9"x12"
  • Manufactured in the United States
  • Paper quality is great for pencils
  • Very smooth surface

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Best Paper for Ink Drawing
Canson XL Series Bristol Pad review
Canson XL Series Bristol Pad
  • 100 pound/260 gram acid free paper
  • Heavyweight, bright white
  • Works well with pen & ink, marker, pencil, and colored pencil

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Best Paper for Graphite Drawing
Arteza 9x12" Sketch Book review
Arteza 9x12" Sketch Book
  • Thick acid-free paper – 68lb./100gsm
  • Resists bleed-through & fading
  • Large sketch book – 100 sheets

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Best Drawing Paper for Colored Pencils
Bellofy Drawing Paper review
Bellofy Drawing Paper
  • Micro-perforated pages for easy removal
  • Smudge resistant
  • Designed to endure frequent erasing

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Best Paper for Charcoal Drawing
US Art Supply Charcoal Paper Pad review
US Art Supply Charcoal Paper Pad
  • Ideal surface texture for graphite, soft charcoal, sketching sticks
  • 32 Sheets - 90lb (160gsm)
  • Tape bound for easy removal

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1. Strathmore, 400 Series Sketch Pad, 9″x12″ – Best Paper for Pencil Drawing

Strathmore has been creating quality products since 1885 and their 400 Series Sketch Pad is no exception. This pad of 100 sheets is great for any kind of creative endeavor and can be used on both sides.

The 9″x12″ size makes it easy to carry around, and the sketch pad has an attractive matte finish cover!

First Impressions

This product is perfect for drawing and sketching. With 60Lbs paper, this pad has a very smooth surface and great quality for pencil drawings. It features 100% alpha-cellulose paper, with a medium tooth that will allow you to create sketches or artwork on any surface.

You can get 100 sheets in this set so there should be enough room for any project! The cover has a nice laminated finish that will impress everyone who sees it sitting out wherever you decide to put it.


The paper is very smooth and easy to work on. The quality of the Strathmore brand means that you can use any type of drawing utensil with this sketch pad and it won’t affect the product at all!

This sketchpad has a really nice matte finish so anything drawn onto it looks amazing! It has acid-free textured drawing paper that will not warp or shrink over time as other brands might do.

The binding makes sure that all of your sketches stay together without any chance of falling out or getting lost between pages. You should definitely consider adding this product into your creative arsenal if sketching is something that comes naturally.

Pros and Cons
Great quality for pencil drawing
Very smooth surface
The best value for your money
The cover is smaller than the actual sketch paper
Watercolor pens and heavy inking tend to soak through a bit


If you’re looking for the perfect paper to go with your pencils, then Strathmore’s 400 Series Sketch Pad is a great option. It has a smooth surface that will allow your drawings to come out beautifully while also being durable enough to last through years of use. The pad comes in three different sizes so it can be used by artists at all levels!

2. Canson XL Series Bristol Pad – Best Paper for Ink Drawing

Canson XL Series Bristol Pad

The Canson XL Series Bristol Pad is the best paper to use when doing ink drawings. It has a smooth surface and can handle heavy-handed drawing without tearing or cracking.

First Impressions

Canson XL Series Bristol Pad includes a smooth surface finish, virtually no feathering or bleed-through making it great to use with pen and ink, marker, pencil, and colored pencils!

This pad of paper even comes with a plastic cover so you can keep it in perfect condition for years to come!


It doesn’t buckle under the weight of wet media, and it holds up well to aggressive washes because it’s 100% cotton fiber which makes it less likely to fall apart when exposed too much moisture.

The paper itself is high quality. It’s thicker than many other artist pads, making it much less likely to bleed through when using markers or pens on the back side.

Pros and Cons
Nice clean thick paper
Holds ink very well
Keeps markers vibrant
Doesn’t soak up too much ink
Sheets can fall apart sometimes because of the glue in the binding


The product is very well made and perfect for any type of pen or marker. The texture makes it great at holding up against bleeding through layers as well which can be difficult in some other types of media like watercolor paint. If you’re looking for a good quality Bristol Pad that you can use over again by flipping pages then definitely give Canson XL Series Bristol Pad a tryout today!

3. Arteza 9×12″ Sketch Book – Best Paper for Graphite Drawing

Arteza 9x12

This sketchbook includes 100 sheets of natural white paper that are great for graphite drawings! It is quite thick to provide enough support when drawing, and it makes erasing pencil work easy without damaging the surface.

First Impressions

This type of sketchbook has everything you need to create your next masterpiece: high-quality paper, spiral binding that keeps pages securely in place, perforated sheets.

Arteza’s Sketch Book is made of 100% cotton fiber. This means it holds up to repeated erasing, unlike other papers that wear down easily or are made with cheap materials like wood pulp. The paper contains no lignin which can cause yellowing over time and the book has a decent weight for its size at 68lb/100 gsm.


The best part about this product is the thickness of the paper. It isn’t too thick to make it hard to handle, but at the same time, it’s not so thin that you can see through or damage it easily! It also has a hard cover that protects your sketches from damage so you can carry them around anywhere you go.

With a sturdy cover and acid-free, fade-resistant pages, these books will last for years to come.

Pros and Cons
Works great with blending and shading
Nice textured surface
The paper is a bit tough to pull on when taking it off the ring
Ink can sleep through sometimes


You can rely on Arteza Sketch Book because it’s engineered with precision and offers every feature an artist needs when creating their art using graphite pencils.

4. Bellofy Drawing Paper – Best Drawing Paper for Colored Pencils

Bellofy Drawing Paper

Bellofy Drawing Paper offers excellent value and performance in just one simple package. Made from 100% cotton fiber paper with acid-free properties, this material works well with many different types of pencils. It has been specially treated so that colors appear bright and vibrant when used with this product.

First Impressions

It is a great option if you love working with colored pencils because it’s a soft and smooth paper that won’t let the colors bleed through!


Sketchbook by Drawing Sketchbook features a thick and smooth surface that is perfect for pencils, markers, graphite, charcoal, and other drawing materials.

The paper is smudge-free and designed to be erased frequently. The sketchbook comes with micro-perforated pages for convenient removal, allowing you to say goodbye to unexpected rips and tears!

Pros and Cons
High-quality paper for sketches and studies
Perforated heavy-weight pages
Mechanical pencils can puncture the paper
The covers aren’t large enough to cover the inside pages


This product has been designed specifically to work with colored pencils, so if you love using these types of materials then you will really appreciate everything that this can do!

5. US Art Supply Charcoal Paper Pad – Best Paper for Charcoal Drawing

US Art Supply Charcoal Paper Pad

US Art Supply Charcoal Paper Pad includes 32 sheets of 100% natural-fiber paper which is perfect for charcoal drawings! Its fine tooth allows you to create detailed work, and it won’t let the dust spread all over your table/drawing surface. If that wasn’t enough then just know that they are made in an eco-friendly way so you can feel good about protecting the environment when using them too.

First Impressions

US Art Supply Charcoal Paper Pad measures 9 x 12 inches and is made from 100% cotton fiber paper which makes for a smoother application of charcoal than other types such as bristol or illustration board.


US Art Supply Charcoal Paper Pad comes in a nice pack and the actual paper inside is even nicer. It’s just as smooth as it looks, making for an easy application of charcoal with no skips or rough patches on your drawing surface.

It has a very nice vellum finish with a smooth texture but is not slippery. The pages themselves are thick without being bulky making it easy to carry around wherever you go!

It’s made from 100% cotton fibers, which are strong enough to withstand erasing and rubbing with heavy applications of charcoal. At the same time, it doesn’t scratch or tear easily as other papers do.

Pros and Cons
High quality paper
Nice texture
Not sturdy enough for repeated erasing
Pages are hard to remove


US Art Supply Charcoal Paper Pad – Best Paper for Charcoal Drawing gives you clean lines without much effort on your end; plus, it comes at an affordable price too!

Tips on Choosing the Best Drawing Paper for Your Needs

There are so many different types of drawing papers out there, it can seem overwhelming at first to figure out what you need for the specific art project you have in mind.

While some artists will use printer paper or bond paper when sketching ideas and working on rough drafts, this isn’t recommended because these kinds of papers aren’t strong enough for repeated erasing/reworking without tearing through the surface.

Choosing the best paper for drawing:

  1. Decide what type of drawing medium you intend to use. If it’s ink or pencil, then small grain papers will work best for this application – choose paper with a fine-tooth if using markers.
  2. Choose quality paper either for traditional pencils, inks, and markers (smooth) or watercolors. Paper made specifically for artists will work well with any type of drawing medium.
  3. Look for acid-free and archival-safe materials so your artwork doesn’t fade over time.
  4. Choose paper that is lightweight if you plan on transporting/carrying around lots of art supplies as part of your business (ie. watercolorists).

People Also Ask

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So, which type of paper is the best for you? Well, it all depends on your artistic preferences and budget. If you can afford to buy a professional pad then go ahead – but if not then there are plenty of other options available that will still let you create great drawings! It just takes some time to figure out what kind of paper works best with each tool or color scheme. Soon enough everything will start making sense.

Keep these tips in mind when buying drawing pads next time around – after all, the right choice will make all the difference at home or even during professional projects!

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