Paper Review: Canson Montval Artboard: Watercolor Basics

I use regular, pre cut Montval for 7" Kara pages, so I was very excited when I heard that Canson planned on releasing artboards for their Montval range.  Artboard is very similar to illustration board, in that it's a self supporting board that should not need stretching, and should not buckle with water or washes.

These are also referred to as Canson Plein Air boards.

The Stats:
  • 3 sheets per pack, but now also available in 10 sheet, tape bound pads
  • Cold Press finish
  • Cellulose based
  • 140lb paper attached to board
  • Available in 3 sizes: 12"x16", 9"x12", 8"x10"
Canson has a variety of paper types available in their Artboard line:

Montval is available in:
  • Tape bound sheets
  • Artboards
  • Sketchbooks/watercolor field books
  • Rolls
You can find Canson Montval Artboard on:
Jerry's Artarama

The Packaging (3 Pack)

The Packaging (10 Sheet Pad)

The Package reads:

PLEIN AIR: Artists have been painting en Plein Air (A French term meaning "in the open air"), long before the term was made notable by the Impressionist movement of the 19th century.  The Impressionists , such as Monet, Renoir, and Pisarro, with their newly portable tubes of paint, compact easels, and bright colors born from the industrial revolution, flocked to the outdoors to capture nature's beauty and bring forth a new perspective on capturing light and color which has changed the way we view art and our surroundings forever.

The Field Tests:

In this field test, I went for a mixed media application- alcohol markers (Copic markers, Blick Studio Brush markers) + watercolor and wax resist.

Alcohol Marker Application:

I often enjoy using alcohol markers on inexpensive watercolor papers such as Montval, Fluid, and  Blick Studio watercolor paper.  Inexpensive, cellulose watercolor papers are sturdy papers that can handle a lot of blending and layers, and the cold press texture often adds an element of visual interest.  For this field test, I rendered Kara with Copic, Blick Studio Brush, and Prismacolor markers, and applied layers of watercolor to add shading without removing saturation- a technique I often use with my succulent illustrations.

This illustration was inked with a Sailor Mitsuo Aida brushpen, which is alcohol marker and waterproof.  If you have trouble finding the Sailor Mitsuo Aida, I recommend you try Sakura Pigma brushpens- they perform just as well, and are equally marker and watersafe.

Background Application of Brusho:

 Removing the Tape:

And yes, I realize Kara looks like she just set the world on fire, and enjoys watching it burn.  You can't win every time.
Sure, Kara looks kinda crazy in the last image, but she's awfully cute in 7" Kara, my beautiful watercolor webcomic.  Since it's World Watercolor Month, why not enjoy a family friendly comic, available both in print, and for free as a webcomic?

Mixed Media Field Test:

In this November Artsnacks challenge, I used acrylic sprays, watercolor markers, and loads of water to create an illustration of an alien girl standing in a field of poppies.

This illustration was inked with a Sakura Pigma FB brushpen.

Sky was applied with a Molotov refillable watercolor marker, included in the November Artsnacks box.  Washes were applied with a Sketchbox Signature waterbrush.

 Orange is Marabu acrylic spray, spritzed with water to dilute and bloom.

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A 7" Kara page on Montval coldpress paper:

Chapter 6, 7" Kara

The Verdict:

If you don't like Montval, or aren't comfortable painting on Montval, you won't enjoy Montval Artboard.  It is literally just Montval paper adhered to something akin to illustration board- it has many of the same downsides as Montval, minus the proclivity for buckling.

However, if you DO like Montval, and wanted something studier for your field sketches, or for convention commissions, then Montval Artboard is worth checking out.

For those unfamiliar with Canson Montval:

Canson Montval is a cellulose based watercolor paper that generally requires outside support, such as gatorboard and blue tape, to prevent buckling.  It is an inexpensive, easy to find paper that's available in a variety of formats, and is the right quality and pricepoint to facilitate comic page creation for me.  In humid weather, layers become muddy and overworked, and painting in such conditions may cause the paint to slough off the paper, so care should be taken.  Canson Montval can be run through a Canon Pixma Pro 9000 Mk II scanner for printing bluelines, and is about the same thickness as many popular comic papers on the market.

  • No buckling
  • Can be used as mixed media
  • Can handle a fair amount of layering and glazing

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