I’ve seen the question asked many times, can you use watercolor on regular paper, and I have seen the confusion in the replies. Watercolor is a great medium to work with. And there are many benefits to doing so, but can you use watercolor on regular paper?
Yes, you can. But it will not be as easy as using watercolor paper. The reason is that adding water to the paint will cause it to spread out and bleed through the paper. This makes it harder for you to control the color and makes it harder for you to get nice smooth lines.
This brief answer was only an introduction to the topic, do keep reading the rest of the article as I answer the question in more detail. I also discuss the best practices when it comes to watercolor paper, so you get the best result!
- Can you use watercolor on regular paper or not?
- What kind of paper can I use watercolors on?
- What is the difference between watercolor paper and regular paper?
- Can I use a sketchbook for watercolor?
- What can I use instead of watercolor paper?
- Can you use watercolor pencils on regular paper?
- Final thoughts
Can you use watercolor on regular paper or not?
What is the main concern when I get asked “can you use watercolor on regular paper?”
Well, lightweight papers, such as regular paper and printer paper, don’t hold up well when they get wet and can buckle or tear easily.
Heavyweight papers are more expensive but thicker and stronger; they are best for large paintings that need to be framed.
Now, if you want to use your watercolors on regular paper, there are a few things that you can do.
Use lighter colors and fewer of them. You don’t need as much pigment to get a good color when using regular paper. So go light with your strokes instead of heavy with them!
Use more paint than usual so that it doesn’t blend together as much when wet. This means that your brush strokes need to be fairly straight so they don’t mix together too much on their way down the page.
If they do mix together too much, then just use more paint in each stroke. But I still recommend using watercolor paper for the best results.
This type of paper is made specifically for watercolor, and it will have a nice tooth (texture) to it that will hold more paint than a standard sheet of regular paper.
Watercolor paper is a heavier, smoother paper, which can take the heavy washes of color from watercolors.
What kind of paper can I use watercolors on?
Now, that I’ve established that regular paper isn’t the best to use for watercolors, you might be wondering, what kind of paper can I use watercolors on?
You can use any kind of paper for watercolor, but be aware that some types of paper will not take well to the application of wet watercolor. Some papers are made from wood pulp, which is very absorbent.
This is especially true for student grades and rough-surfaced papers. You may find that your colors bleed or spread out onto the page.
Choosing the right paper is an important step in the process. Knowing what the different types of paper are made from will help you make an informed decision about which one suits your needs best.
The most common types of watercolor paper are cold press and hot press. Cold press is rougher than hot press and has a rougher surface texture.
Hot press is smoother than the cold press, with a smoother surface texture. The texture of the paper affects how it handles paint; some papers hold more than others and require less water in order to keep them from buckling when wetted out with paint.
There are also different weights of paper available, ranging from 90lb all the way up to 300lb!
The weight refers to how thick the paper is; heavier papers tend to hold more paint but may buckle more easily if they get too wet while painting on them (especially if they’re not primed first).
What is the difference between watercolor paper and regular paper?
I’ve touched upon the topic of types of paper. And what is the difference between watercolor paper and regular paper?
Watercolor paper is a special type of paper that’s made to hold water and pigment. Watercolor paper comes in a variety of weights, surfaces, and sizes, and can be purchased at art supply stores or online.
A regular paper can also be used with watercolors, but it’s not as absorbent as watercolor paper.
Watercolor paper has two basic characteristics that make it different from regular paper: its weight and its surface texture.
Watercolor papers are available in many different weights, ranging from light to heavy.
The heavier the weight, the more durable it is when wet; but the heavier weights also tend to buckle more easily than lighter ones when wet.
Waterpainters often use lightweight papers for sketching out a composition before transferring their ideas onto heavier-weighted paper for final painting.
The surface texture of watercolor papers varies depending on what type of pulp was used to make them.
Some types have an even tooth, while others have an uneven one. Uneven-tooth textures can create interesting visual effects when used with certain techniques.
Can I use a sketchbook for watercolor?
I’ve been asked this question many times. Sketchbooks are a great way to do quick drawings, practice your drawing skills, and get ideas down on paper. But can I have a sketchbook for watercolor?
When using a sketchbook with watercolor, it’s important to choose the right paper.
If you want to paint large areas of color, then choose a good quality paper that will allow your paints to flow easily across the surface.
For example, if you wanted to paint an ocean scene then you might want to try using Arches Watercolor Paper (140lb).
What can I use instead of watercolor paper?
Watercolor paper is a necessity for watercolorists, but it’s not cheap. Fortunately, there are alternatives that can be just as effective.
I however advise you to first use watercolor paper, as the alternatives require a bit more skill.
What can I use instead of watercolor paper?
1. Watercolor Canvas
While canvas is mostly used for oil and acrylic paintings, watercolor canvas exists. There is also a normal canvas, that has been primed with layers of watercolor gesso.
The watercolor canvas isn’t as absorbent as watercolor paper, so it can be difficult to add layered washes.
But as it’s not as absorbent, you could also wash off the watercolors quite easily in case you make mistakes.
2. Parchment paper
Another alternative is parchment. This is a textured surface that is created from animal skin, although also plant-based versions exist.
The colors will however look a bit more muted on parchment, as it has a warm tone to it naturally.
You might even use watercolors on light fabric – cotton gauze or even silk. It will be more difficult to control the bleeding of colors, but this all depends on the texture of the fabric you’re using.
In any case, some creative artwork can come out of it and I’m sure you’ll be happy with the result!
Can you use watercolor pencils on regular paper?
Whatever I said in the article before, of course, involved the “normal” watercolors, meaning watercolor pans or paints. But can you use watercolor pencils on regular paper?
Watercolor pencils are a great way to learn about watercolor painting, and they’re also useful for doing small pieces.
The answer is yes — sort of. Watercolor pencils can be used on any type of paper and even other surfaces like wood or canvas, but there are some things you’ll need to consider before doing so.
If you use too much water with the pencil, the regular paper will not be strong enough to absorb it and your painting will ruin.
I recommend watercolor paper over regular paper for the same reasons as stated for watercolor paints. And I really want you to avoid watercolor bleeding on your paintings!
Can you use watercolor paint on printer paper?
You can use watercolor paint on printer paper, but the result won’t be what you want it to be. The problem is that printer paper can’t hold as much water and the result will be a warped painting.
Can you paint watercolor on any paper?
The type of paper that you choose depends on the effect that you’re after and how much detail you want to show. My advice is to always go for watercolor paper – there are so many versions available, so you can get exactly the result you want.
So, can you use watercolor on regular paper? The takeaway is that it will be a lot harder to use watercolor on regular paper than on watercolor paper.
The reason is that watercolor paper is made especially for use with watercolors and has a coating on one side that makes it more absorbent than most other kinds of paper.
But if you have any comments on the topic, please leave me a message below. The same goes for any questions!
I will reply as soon as I can!