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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)

  1. The differences between papers
  2. The benefits of using the right paper (as well as the bad aspects of using the wrong kind)
  3. Best papers for calligraphy
  4. 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.

You see,

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 :

  1. Rhodia dot pad – the dotted grid is great for drawing guidelines
  2. Canson Marker A4 pad
  3. Canson XL Series Marker Paper Pad
  4. 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:

  1. Canson XL Series Watercolor Textured Paper
  2. Strathmore 361-9 300 Series Watercolor
  3. 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


Probably the most essential tool for hand lettering is a pencil, and along  with the pencil a inking tool is used such as the Sakura Pigma Micron pens.

In that case you can even use regular copy paper as it wont damage your tools.

Another great investment for your hand lettering when we talk about paper is tracing paper. We already talked about tracing paper in one of our older posts – you can check it out here 

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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The best paper for lettering & calligraphy - Lettering Daily
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  1. Hello!

    What do you think about Muji notebooks and their paper – specifically the one called “high quality paper”, for example this:

    https://www.muji.eu/pages/online.asp?PID=14396&qclr=4550002185183 EU Stores
    https://www.muji.us/products/high-quality-paper-bind-slim-plain-notebook-8s62 US Stores

    I use it and it’s very smooth, but I don’t know if it’s “bleedproof”, nowhere does it specify – do you know if they’re bleedproof? How can I know if they are?

    Thank you for the many guides on this website!

  2. Is Canvas A4 Drawing Texture Paper for Hand lettering??

    Please reply soon!
    And I’m using Doms super soft tip brush pens.

    1. For hand lettering maybe. Depending on the tools you’re using. But for brush pens not so much. Any paper with texture will damage your brush pens much faster than smooth bleedproof marker pads.

  3. do you know of any marker / bleedproof paper that comes in a larger size like 12×16 or so? i’m especially looking for spiral bound as i want to use it as a notebook. thanks!

    1. Hey Carmen, sorry about that 🙁 Don’t worry, now that you know which paper to use, you can keep your brush pens alive for longer!

  4. Hi , is there a paper that can be used for brush lettering and water color painting both. Great , if you could suggest a notebook to purchase……that can be used for both ?

    1. Unfortunately, these are two totally different mediums. You can use watercolor paper. Both tools will work on it, however, it will wear out your brush pens faster than if you were using a marker pad.

      1. Actually could you use Canson Mixed Media paper? There is a rough and smooth side and it works well with my sakura brush pens.

        1. You could use any type of paper you want. The problem with brush pens is that they are made out a very sensitive spongy material. Canson Mixed Media paper is great, and although it feels smooth to the touch it has tiny paper fibers that will inevitably damage your brush tip. Mixed media paper will also soak up more ink than bleed proof paper. If you really want your brush pens to last the longest possible, go for bleed proof marker paper. Hope this helps!

  5. Hi,I want to get a journal with nice paper to use my brush pens in. The Leuchtturm1917 journals say they have “ink proof 80 GSM paper”. Is that the same as bleedproof?

    1. Lettering Daily

      Not a 100% sure, i think the best way is to take a marker and just try it out. If you see that the ink spreads then it’s not bleedproof

  6. Pingback: TOP 5 BRUSH PENS FOR HAND LETTERING 2018 | Lettering Daily

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