Watercolor Paper Review: Fabriano Studio

Sample treatment from my Lil Louisiana Cookbook pitch

A few months ago, I wrote a review of Canson Montval, my watercolor paper of choice for painting 7" Kara comic pages.  I listed a lot of caveats in that review- why it's right for me, but perhaps not you.  Today's Fabriano Studio review is going to be an extension of the same.

Fabriano Studio is interesting.  It's a challenging paper and does not take watercolor consistently.  I feel it's best if you're painting with limited layers.  It has a lot of texture, and is a really fun paper to ink on, and could be a great paper for comic inkers who love texture.  The 25/75 cellulose/cottonrag mix doesn't give us the promised best of both worlds- the price of cellulose with the handling qualities of cottonrag- but creates a watercolor paper that can be prone to streaking, is prone to uneven lifting and blending, and is not a good choice if you're a watercolorist looking for an even tempered paper.

So why review it?  I feel like Fabriano Studio is a great economy paper for comic artists, for mixed media techniques, and for inked watercolor pages.  If you're willing to be patient, to limit your layers, and to play around with it first, you may find another affordable paper for your comic paper arsenal. 

SCBWI 2017 Illustrator's Contest Spread

The Stats


  • 25% Cottonrag, 75%Cellulose
  • Student Grade
  • Acid Free
  • Internal and External sizing
  • Available in Hot and Cold Press
  • Both hotpress and coldpress are available in 90lb and 140lb
  • Pads range from 12 sheets up to 75 sheets
  • Pads range from 8"x10"-11"x14"
  • Available in postcard size, sheets
  • Available through Dick Blick, Jerry's Artarama, Amazon  

2017 WebComicChat Spot Illustration- Children's Comics

Price Comparison

Cellulose Papers:

Canson Montval
Canson Montval 140lb 10"x15" tape-bound pad, 12 sheets: $8.35 on Blick

Canson XL
Canson XL 140lb 11"x15", tape-bound pad, 30 sheets- $7.13 on Blick

Blick Studio
Blick Studio 140lb 11"x15", 15 sheets: $7.63 on Blick

Fabriano Studio
Fabriano Studio, 140lb, 11"x14" tape-bound pad, 12 sheets: $8.25 on Blick

Cotton Rag?

Moulin du Roy
Moulin du Roy Coldpress Watercolor Paper, 140lb, tape bound pad 11.8"x15.7", 12 sheets  $22.91 on Amazon 

Kilimanjaro
Kilimanjaro Bright White Coldpress Watercolor Paper 11"x14", 20 sheets- $29.99 on Cheap Joe's 

Arches 
Arches Cold Press Watercolor Paper, 140lb, tape bound pad 10"x14", 12 sheets- $14.11 on Blick

Blick Premiere 
Blick Premiere Cold Press Watercolor Paper, 140lb, block or sheet only, 10"x14", 20 sheets- $21.10 on Blick8

Favorite Use Case for Fabriano Studio

Sample spread from Lil Lilliputian Cookbook.  Spot color+Black Variation

Although Fabriano Studio doesn't shine as a watercolor paper, even by cellulose standards, it is an excellent paper for inking, particularly inking with a traditional brush, or inkers looking for gritty dry brush textures.

Sample spread from Lil Lilliputian Cookbook.  Spot color+Black Variation
I particularly like it for how it handles dye based brushpens like Pentel's brushpens.  Fabriano Studio is a perfect surface for spot color illustration and comics.

Mermay Killifish mermaid.  FW Acrylic Ink- Payne's Grey, Brush
I also find Studio to be delightful in combination with brush inking, particularly large sizes such as 3 and 4.   It takes acrylic ink like FW Acrylic ink like a champ.

Pros:
  • Available in 50 and 75 sheet packs- very economical
  • Takes ink super well- very fun to ink on
  • Loads of texture can be great for watercolor pencil, watercolor crayon
  • Runs through my printer takes bluelines well

Cons:
  • Does not take layering well
  • Does not take blending well
  • Does not take lots of water well
  • Difficult to get even washes
  • Difficult to build up layers of color


Favorite Fictional Femme illustration.  Waterproof India ink, watercolor


The Verdict: 

Favorite Fictional Femme illustration.  Waterproof India ink, watercolor 

Fabriano Studio is an affordable paper that behaves better than many bulk watercolor papers (Canson's Bulk Watercolor paper comes to mind).  I'm not a fan of mixed content watercolor papers generally- I find they behave with the worst aspects of both fibers.  Fabriano Studio is not an exception, but it does have some qualities that make it exceptional for comic work and the needs of comic artists.  I would not choose to paint a longform watercolor comic on Fabriano Studio given it's quirks, but I have used it for series of illustrations including my 2016 Inktober and my 2018 Mermay Mermaids.

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