My Favorite Watercolor Paper for Beginners (Top 3)

Watercolor paper is one of the most important tools for a beginner watercolor painter. I know from experience that it can be very overwhelming trying to decide which paper to buy when you first start painting with watercolors.

For that reason, I thought that it would be helpful if I shared my favorite watercolor paper options for beginners and why I think they are the best option for those just starting out.

*I earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

What to Look for When Choosing Watercolor Paper

When you are looking for watercolor paper, there are a few things you should keep in mind. The first is the weight of the paper.

You want to make sure that you choose heavy-weight paper so that it doesn’t buckle and warp when wet. 140 lb./300 gsm is the most common weight.

The second thing to look for is the surface texture. When choosing the texture, you’ll notice the words “cold press (most popular)” and “hot press.”

Cold Press Watercolor Paper

Cold press watercolor paper is pretty easy to use and works well with most watercolor paintings. Additionally, this paper absorbs more water than hot press watercolor paper, which means there’s typically less time to move your paint around before it begins to dry to the paper.

Hot Press Watercolor Paper

Hot press watercolor paper gets its name because heated rollers are used to give the paper its smooth surface. If you want to show brush details, this is the best paper to use (because it’s so smooth).

Additionally, hot press paper absorbs less water, which gives you more time to move your paint around before it begins to dry.

Watercolor Painting Tutorials

If you want to improve your skills using watercolor painting tutorials, my favorite watercolor artist for this is Anna Koliadych. Everything I’ve learned about watercolor, I’ve learned from her.

If you can get your hands on her book 15-Minute Watercolor Masterpieces: Create Frame-Worthy Art in Just a Few Simple Steps, I highly recommend it. The step-by-step tutorials have been so helpful on my watercolor painting journey. Here are some examples of Anna’s work:

watercolor owl
Artist Credit: dearannart
watercolor flower
Artist Credit: dearannart
chicken rooster watercolor painting
Artist Credit: dearannart

The Best Watercolor Paper for Beginners

Watercolor painting is a beautiful and popular medium, but it can be daunting for beginners. There are so many different types of watercolor paper out there.

Now that you know the difference between the two types of watercolor paper, I’ll share my favorite options for newbies.

1. Strathmore 440 Series

The Strathmore 440 Series was the very first paper I used when I began watercolor painting. I liked that it was affordable and easy to find in stores.

I also found that it was sturdy enough to withstand multiple layers without warping or buckling. This paper is great for trying out new ideas and watercolor techniques.

Strathmore 440 Series

2. Canson 7022446 XL Series

The Canson 7022446 XL Series is a great paper that’s perfect for water media but also works well for other mediums. I have used this paper for watercolor painting and pencil drawing.

It can also be used for pen and ink, charcoal, and pastels. that is Overall, the Canson 7022446 XL Series is a great value for the price and is perfect for any artist or crafter who needs a versatile paper that will stand the test of time.

Canson 7022446 XL Series

3. Arches Watercolor Paper Pad

Currently, the Arches Watercolor Paper Pad paper is my favorite and the one that I started out with. It’s a little pricier than other brands, but it’s worth every penny.

Arches watercolor paper is durable and has a nice texture that allows your brush to glide smoothly across the surface. I also love how the colors are also very vibrant and the paper doesn’t warp when wet.

Arches Watercolor Paper Pad

If you’re new to watercolor, the Strathmore 440 Series and the Canson 7022446 XL Series are both great options. However, if you’ve been doing watercolor consistently, it may be worth it to splurge on the Arches watercolor paper pad.

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Hello! I'm Tiffany, a crochet pattern designer and creator of the Crochet Project Planner. Crafting has always been an integral part of who I am. It’s how I express myself and make something beautiful out of seemingly ordinary materials.