All you need to do is start searching the internet to be confronted and snowed under by soooooo much information and choice.
Paper choice is very personal and something that has to be tried out, literally.
Pencil (your pencil) has to make contact with the paper.
No amount of reading what other artists like and use will guaranty your own success.
Trial and error (sadly) are in this case your best friends.
As a guide and to help you shed a little light on the question "what paper?" here are a few relevant points to watch out for:
- If you want a drawing with strong contrast, lots of spontaneity and are not too bothered about detail and realism then a "toothy" rough paper would suit you well. Strathmore Drawing paper is a nice quality toothy paper as is Fabriano Artistico .
- However, if your drawing style is more fine, detailed and sharp then a smooth "toothless" paper is the way to go. Papers such as Strathmore Bristol Vellum , Strathmore 500 series plate finish, Winsor & Newton's extra smooth Bristol Board , Strathmore 140lb cold press series, are recommended by many realist pencil artists. Personally, I use Mellotex which is very smooth, I love it's silky thickness and the way it holds fine lines, responds to layering and feels under my pencil. Note: the terminology plate finish refers to the absence of grain in the paper. Vellum also refers to the finish of the paper andsuggests quality. Vellum paper is very smooth and has very special soft feel.
- Always always make sure you choose a good quality art paper. All quality papers are acid free. This ensures your work of art does not turn yellow a few years down the line. I also like my paper to be thick (at least 250g), this way it can withstand much more handling (or in my case manhandling) without creasing or showing too many signs of wear.
- Determine which colour you like the best for your work. Each paper will be of a different white. I find that by putting a selection of different papers together you can really get a good idea about the variation in shades of white. As a rule of thumb : realism works well on a crisp white paper whereas a softer more flowing drawing is better suited to a warm-toned paper.
- Once you have found your paper, made the paper choice you know fits like a glove, make sure you stock up and have enough to last the waves of inspiration. Nothing is worse than running out of paper when you are under pressure from both your muse and dead-lines.
- Make sure you use a piece of paper larger than you need. This will insure extra room for spontaneity, miscalculation and a all over nice drawing experience. (I've had a few drawings falling of the edge the paper and it is the most infuriating thing.)
Take your time in choosing a paper. Make sure you like the feel, the look (ie colour), the quality and the way it responds to your drawing.
Most art stores will allow you to sample papers, discover their qualities, before committing to buying. Use this opportunity to make your own personal choice, put a bunch of quality samples together, take them home and get scribbling!
p.s: this is #1 in my series of Short Drawing Tips. Hope you've enjoyed it. Over the next ten weeks, there will be a small tip a week. Stay tuned for #2....