Kilimanjaro Coldpress Watercolor Paper Review

I've already reviewed the 140lb Kilimanjaro cold press paper, I'm revisiting Kilimanjaro as a way to encourage illustrators to give it a try!

Inked Illustration on Kilimanjaro Watercolor Paper
Christmas 2017 Illustration, Inked with Sakura Pigma FB

Note: All illustrations used in this post were painted on Kilimanjaro Original Bright White 300lb  watercolor paper.

Recently, I thought it would be helpful to write reviews for some of my favorite or frequently used cotton rag watercolor papers.  I feel like as an illustrator and comic artist, I have something unique and interesting to contribute to the watercolor paper conversation, and hope my experiences may be useful to other watercolorists, illustrators, and comic artists.

Other Watercolor Paper Reviews I Recommend: 

The Stats:
  • Cotton Rag
  • Cold Press
  • Available in blocks, paintbooks, pads, and sheets
  • Archival
  • Acid Free
  • Available in sizes: 4"x6", 15"x22", 12"x16", 10"x14", 9"x12"
  • 140lb and 300lb
  • Available in two colors- Bright White and Natural White
  • Natural White is Acid Free, pH neutral, buffered, interally sized- this may not be the case for for Bright White

Penciled watercolor illustration on Kilimanjaro Watercolor Paper
Penciled 1 Year Launchiversary watercolor illustration

Kilimanjaro is an affordable, store brand, cotton-rag watercolor paper that is only available from Cheap Joes Art Stuff, a regional chain of art supply stores.  It works well for both inked and penciled watercolor illustrations, has a nice surface texture, and takes color well.

The 300lb watercolor paper is a little tricky for my Canon Pixma Pro 9000 MK II to handle from front-loading- it generally leaves black marks when I print my bluelines.  These are not noticeable in the finished illustrations but were originally visible on all of the illustrations used in this post.  My Pixma Pro 9000 has been resuscitated from the verge of death multiple times so this may be an issue with my printer, and not with the width of the paper itself.  Otherwise, my printer has no issues handling this thicker paper.

Kilimanjaro 300lb paper is slightly thicker than illustration board, and for most artists, should not require stretching.  I paint really wet, so I usually stretch my watercolor paper first, and 300lb paper is no exception.  Stretching the paper helps dissolve the printed blueline guides, but you may not find it necessary.

I work with both ink and pencil on Kilimanjaro, generally inking with a Sakura Pigma FB or Pentel Pigment brushpen, as both are waterproof once dry.

300lb Kilimanjaro is available in: 

Sheets- Natural and Bright White- 11"x15", 22"x30"
Pads- Natural and Bright White- 9"x12", 11"x14"
Paintbooks- 9"x12", 10"x5.5", 12"x9"

But not available in blocks.

Inked watercolor illustration on Kilimanjaro watercolor paper
Inked ALAC watercolor illustration

I find Kilimanjaro an excellent alternative for Arches for my illustration needs.  It's got nice texture and tooth, stays open long enough for nice blends but not open so long that the painting becomes muddy, and is quite forgiving.  Kilimanjaro is responsive to a variety of techniques, and the cold press does not have so much texture that it's difficult to ink or paint details.

L'Aquarelle Canson Heritage
Heritage Watercolor Block, 140lb, 9"x12", 20 sheets- $38.40 on Blick
Heritage Watercolor Block, 140lb, 9"x12", 20 sheets- $42.07on Amazon

Not available in 300lb

Arches 9"x12" Coldpress Block, 140lb, 20 sheets- $36.99 on Amazon
Arches 9"x12" Coldpress Block, 140lb, 20 sheets-$25.16 on Blick

Arches 9"x12" Coldpress Block 300 lb, 10 sheets, $24.75 on Cheap Joes

Canson Moulin du Roy
Moulin du Roy 9X12 Block, 140lb, 20 sheets- $21.18 on Amazon

Not available in 300lb

9x12 coldpress block, 140lb, 20 sheets $21.09, only available from CheapJoes
9x12 coldpress pad, 300lb, 10 sheets, $21.69 only available from CheapJoes

Inked watercolor illustration on Kilimanjaro watercolor paper
Inked ALAC watercolor Illustration

The Verdict: 

I've used Kilimanjaro 300lb watercolor paper for a while now, and find it a responsive, affordable cotton rag watercolor paper that is fairly affordable and very enjoyable to use.  While I would not recommend 300lb for practice, nor do I think its something every watercolor illustrator needs, I enjoyed trying it, as I'm primarily used to 140lb papers.

I think Kilimanjaro watercolor paper is a great, affordable alternative to Arches or Moulin du Roy.  It's an affordable cotton rag paper that behaves predictably and consistently and is a fantastic option for illustrators who enjoy quality papers but don't have the need or means to pay for Arches.  I highly recommend you give it a try!

Penciled watercolor illustration on Kilimanjaro watercolor paper
Penciled Ink Drop Cafe Launch Anniversary Illustration

Tutorials and Demonstrations on Kilimanjaro Paper

Swinging from the Branches- Inking My 2017 Christmas Card

Swinging from the Branches- Painting My 2017 Christmas Card: 

Happy Anniversary!  7 Inch Kara 1 Year Launch Birthday:

Curled Up In A Good Book: 

Read to Your Pets Watercolor Tutorial: 

Have You Heard the Word?

Ink Drop Cafe is hosting a fanart contest!  To enter, just draw our adorable squid mascot, Squiddy, and you can win wonderful prizes such as comics, prints, or charms!   For more information, visit the Ink Drop Cafe site!

Second Opinions and Outside Resources

Scratchmade Journal: Comparing 4 Favorite Watercolor Brands
Scratchmade Journal: Five Things You May Not Know About Watercolor Paper
Handprint- Kilimanjaro
WetCanvas- Kilimanjaro Natural White


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