Wait, it makes a difference if i use a specific type of paper?
Yup, it most definitely does!
In our experience most lettering beginners, when they are just starting their lettering journey, think only about getting the proper writing tools while the proper writing surface gets often overlooked.
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 on different types of paper, and how to use them to your advantage.
Well probably many of you know that there are different types of paper on the market, but unfortunately till this day i manage to stumble upon beginner videos online where they use a water brush on regular printing paper.
I mean, you can’t simply know these things if someone doesn’t explain them to you.
This is exactly the reason why we decided to create this quick guide in order to give you a sense of direction, because once you understand the difference as well as the benefits of it, the only thing you will regret is not doing it sooner!
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
Keep in mind that all of this is based on personal experiences and there might be better options out there, and if you believe there is something better out there, feel free to reach out and we will definitely hear you out 🙂
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
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:
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!
We have made 2 reviews about some of the best brush pens available on the market and you can check them out here below.
Until the next time, keep practicing! 🙂
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