Watercolor Basics: Selecting A Paper for Your Comics

If you're a fan of watercolor comics, comics in general, beautiful children's books, or even this blog, you should check out my published, full watercolor comic, 7" Kara Volume 1.  It's available in dead tree format through Amazon and my shop, or in bits and bytes through Gumroad.  If you enjoyed reading Volume 1, please keep a lookout for in-progress Volume 2 (you can follow progress over on my Instagram), and please leave a review over on Goodreads and Amazon.  It would be a huge help, and much appreciated!  And of course, if you enjoyed it, please tell your friends, family, and local library to check it out!

In All About the Paper, I went over a variety of watercolor papers and covered my favorite uses.  In The Importance of Stretching, we went over methods to prevent those papers from buckling.  Now that you're passingly familiar with watercolor paper, the types, and the textures, it's time to pick one that's right for you.

Although I have some experience with watercolor for illustration and watercolor for fine art, I am most familiar with watercolor for comics, so all advice given below is relevant to that use.  I encourage you to experiment to find the papers that work best for you, but hope to give you a starting point.

Other Useful Posts in the Watercolor Basics Series:

Why Watercolor
Watercolor Terms You Should Know
The Difference Between Watercolor for Illustration, Watercolor for Fine Art
The Great Brush Off
Materials You'll Need to Get Started
All About That Paper
Pick a Palette

For watercolor comics, you want to look for a paper that is the following:

  • Affordable
  • Tape Bound
  • The Right Size
  • 140lb weight
  • A surface treatment you like (generally cold or hot press)
Recommended Papers: 

Image Source
Recent page from 7" Kara,Chapter 6,painted on Canson Montval watercolor paper

For me, that paper is currently Canson Montval.  I can order it through Dick Blick (it can be annoying to find in stores, so I order several pads at a time), it comes in the right size (10"x15", which scales well for the comic page format I use).  The 140lb paper is thicker than the 90lb student grade watercolor paper I used for Chapter 1 of 7" Kara, and although it does require stretching for the amount of water I put on a page, it's fairly sturdy but still goes through my Canon Pro 9000 Mark II printer, my large format comic printer of choice.  Being tape bound, sheets are easy to remove for running through the paper.

Image Source

Page from 7" Kara, Chapter 1, painted on Canson Foundation Watercolor Paper.

I started 7" Kara with Canson Foundation Watercolor paper, because at the time,I didn't have a clue as to what I needed, and found it prone to buckling despite stretching, prone to muddy watercolors, and difficult to control.  This 90lb paper is student grade, and not recommended by the author.

Image Source

Cast of Characters page from Gizmo Grandma: A Twisty Tale.  The cast of characters illustrations were originally painted on Blick Studio paper, and were digitally composited later.

I have also painted a number of illustrations on Blick Studio watercolor paper (http://www.dickblick.com/p/14035).  These affordable pads work well enough-they are tape bound, affordable, available in 140lb, and available in 11"x15" (http://www.dickblick.com/items/10180-1215/),which worked well for Gizmo Grandma illustrations.  For awhile they were only available in stores, so I also used Canson XL paper.

Image Source

Illustration from Gizmo Grandma: A Twisty Tale, written by Lenore Salazar and illustrated by me. 

Canson XL watercolor paper (http://www.dickblick.com/p/12916) is another contender for affordable watercolor paper.  Tape bound, 140lb, and also available in 11"x15", it is a suitable substitute for Dick Blick's Studio Watercolor paper.

Image Source

Illustration of Laura Ingalls, drawn and inked for last year's Inktober mini comic, Favorite Fictional Femmes, available in print or digitally.

If you enjoy papers with more pronounced textures, Fabriano's Studio Watercolor pads offer a cold press paper with more tooth,and is available in both cold press and hot press options.  Fabriano Studio watercolor paper not available in 10"x14" or 11"x15", but 11"14", and could be cut down for a comic page ratio.

There are many other watercolor papers out on the market that might be suitable for watercolor comics, but the above papers are papers I have used regularly and have experience with. If you'd like to recommend I try a paper, you can send me an email using the lefthand email field, or donate the cost of the paper via the Paypal tip jar- just make sure you link the paper in your message section.

I hope this post helped you decide on a watercolor paper to begin with, and maybe helped you rule some out as unsuitable before you spent your money.  If you enjoyed this post, please take a moment to share it to your social networks- Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, or even give me a shout out on YouTube!  Your kind words go a long way, and really mean a lot to me, and I thrive on your praise.  You can find some handy social network sharing buttons below the post. If you'd like to help fund future posts like this, please check out my Patreon for information on how to join the Nattosoup community.  And if you'd like more content including live demonstrations, please subscribe to our YouTube channel.


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