Print Papers

(Excerpts from ART HARDWARE: The Definitive Guide to Artists’ Materials, by Steven Saitzyk © 1987)

Some print papers are used for drawing and painting. Like watercolor papers, print papers are available in a range of sizes, quality, and content. They are handmade, mouldmade or machine-made. The two important differences are that print papers have a softer surface and contain little or no sizing. This makes them ideal for printmaking but, in most cases, undesirable for painting and drawing. Print papers in general are not as durable, thus the surface finish will not take erasure or hard drawing materials. The absence of sizing causes watercolors to sink in and bleed outward, resulting in a soft, dull look. These characteristics can, however, be used to advantage with such materials as soft colored pencils or acrylics, or for Oriental-style watercolor

Some of the most popular print papers are Rives BFK, Arches, Copperplate, and German Etching (75 percent rag). Arches and Rives come in a limited variety of shades. A category of print papers, called “proof papers,” are usually wood pulp and have a harder and more durable surface.