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Wait, it makes a difference if i use a specific type of paper?
Yup, it most definitely does!
If you are working with brush pens (felt tips) the single best type of paper you can get is always smooth, bleedproof (non absorbent) paper.
By using bleedproof paper not only will your ink last longer but it will also prevent your brush tips from fraying.
Let’s take a deeper look into this so you can have a better understanding of different types of paper, and how to use them to your advantage.
Here is how we will break down this guide (in case you wish to skip to a specific part)
- The differences between papers
- The benefits of using the right paper (as well as the bad aspects of using the wrong kind)
- Best papers for calligraphy
- Best papers for hand lettering
Without any further delays, let’s begin.
The difference between papers
So probably the first noticeable difference is made by touching the papers. Some of them are smooth on the touch and others are rougher, and on top of that on some papers you can spot the grain difference just by looking at them. Now, depending on the lettering tool you wish to use you will pick a certain type of paper, however, we will talk more about it in a few moments.
It’s important to understand that regular copy paper may feel smooth on the touch but it’s actually damaging the tip of your brush pens (felt tips) – that is definitely something you want to avoid, and here is why…
The benefits of using the right paper
The biggest advantage of getting the right paper is that it saves you money on a long run. Brush pens are a tool which have a certain life span – depending on the frequency of usage, and by using the proper paper you are able to prolong the lifespan (to it’s maximum potential) of the brush pens.
You are prolonging the lifespan of the brush pen because the ink is not getting soaked up into the paper – hence the name bleedproof!
So, what does this mean?
It means that you are spending less money on supplies!
Another benefit from using smooth, bleedproof paper is that you are preventing fraying of the brush tip.
Fraying causes the brush pen to lose the original elasticity which makes the transition between thick and thin much more challenging. Regular copy paper has longer and more coarse fibers which are literally tearing apart your brush tips with every single stroke that you are making.
Finally, by using bleedproof paper the ink from the brush pen will not spread on the paper which will keep your lettering nice and clean 🙂
Just trying to keep in mind. That all these benefits are mostly related to felt tip brush pens so who’s the depends on what letter refuel you are using.
Another example could be the complete opposite. Let’s say you are working with a water brush and some watercolors. In this scenario you wish to get proper watercolor paper which is significantly thicker than regular copy paper or even bleedproof paper.
Soaking regular copy paper with water will change its own fiber and molecular structure and once its dry it will look all weird and bent.
Best papers for calligraphy
Now you’re going to talk about some of the best papers for calligraphy and we are going to mention some of the most popular calligraphy tools and what paper is most suitable for that specific tool.
Brush pens (felt tips) – as we already mentioned at the beginning, the best paper for your brush pens is smooth, bleedproof (non-absorbent) paper.
Here are a few different brands that you simply can’t go wrong with :
- Rhodia dot pad – the dotted grid is great for drawing guidelines
- Canson Marker A4 pad
- Canson XL Series Marker Paper Pad
- HP Printer Paper, Premium 32 – a great choice if you are looking to print some practice sheets and its also a great deal considering the price-quantity ratio!
This is a personal choice of paper, but generally you can get whatever brand you wish as long as it is bleedproof so you can extend the life of your brushes.
Another important mention is that bleedproof paper will work great with dip pens – whether its copperplate or blackletter calligraphy.
Watercolors and water brush
When you work with watercolors, either with a regular brush or a water brush that will require a different type of paper.
Being a different writing medium, watercolors are going the opposite way when compared with felt tip brush pens.
You need to use watercolor paper which is usually much thicker and absorbs the excess liquid. Unlike with the brush pens which are made from felt tips, the water brush and regular brushes are made from synthetic hairs (some brushes even with real hair) and that means that you don’t need to worry about fraying your tip due to the rough paper surface.
Regular paper is not suitable for watercolors because it simply can’t absorb that much water and gets easily destroyed or loses its shape.
Here are a few recommendations for watercolor paper:
- Canson XL Series Watercolor Textured Paper
- Strathmore 361-9 300 Series Watercolor
- Arches Cold Press Watercolor Pad
Best paper for hand lettering.
As you probably know, hand lettering and calligraphy are two different things.
Calligraphy is the art of beautiful writing while hand lettering is the art of illustrating letters (drawing each shape separately)
Essentially this means that for hand lettering you mostly use different tools compared with calligraphy. If you are interested to find out more about hand lettering you should definitely check out this tutorial written by Chandan where he guides you step by step through his hand lettering process
In that case you can even use regular copy paper as it wont damage your tools.
The great thing about tracing paper is that it works wonders in combination with a light tablet – you can literally endlessly refine your piece, or at least until you are satisfied with it 😀 Think of it kinda like layers in Adobe Photoshop.
Now that you know more about which paper to choose be sure to find the right brush pen for your lettering style!
I wrote an in-depth review on the best brush pens for calligraphy beginners. You can check it out here.
Until the next time, keep practicing! 🙂
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Lettering Daily is an online community that provides educational and inspirational content for hand lettering and calligraphy beginners. Our mission is to help artists and enthusiasts from all around the world to learn and improve their hand lettering and calligraphy skills.