Looking for the Best Paper for Colored Pencils | 11 Top Rated Options (2023)

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Do you love to express yourself through art? Are you looking for the best paper for colored pencils? As an artist and art teacher, I am always on the lookout for great art materials.

Fortunately, there are many options available that provide the perfect drawing surface for a range of different skill levels, whether you’re just starting out or an experienced artist.

To help take some of the guesswork out of it, I’ve compiled the 11 top-rated papers specifically designed for colored pencil artists.

Let’s explore their features and benefits so you can find exactly what suits your needs best!

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Top 11 Best Paper for Colored Pencils

Colored pencil is a and convenient medium for creating beautiful artwork, but the type of paper you use can make a big difference in the final result.

Not all papers are created equal when it comes to coloring with pencils, and choosing the right one can be a daunting task.

To help you find the best paper for your needs, we’ve reviewed and rated 11 of the top options on the market in 2023.

**This page may contain affiliate links to products I have used or recommend. If you purchase something from this page, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.**

Strathmore 400 Series Colored Pencil Pad

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As an artist, I can confidently state that the Strathmore Colored Pencil Paper is a game changer for anyone interested in colored pencil drawing.

Its toothy yet clean surface is perfect for allowing even coverage with various techniques so that you can experiment to your heart’s content.

Furthermore, its heavy weight and vellum surface support multiple layers of color while simultaneously increasing the paper’s durability.

What else? Well, it’s also ideal for use with graphite pencils, charcoal, and sketching sticks – plus, it has great qualities such as it being acid-free and wire bound.

The sheets are true to size when removed at the micro-perforation too! All in all, just an amazing piece of paper for many types of art projects.

Strathmore 400 Series Pastel Paper Pad

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I was delighted to discover the Strathmore 400 Series Pad.

Its slightly textured finish gives my colored pencil drawing a unique artistic look.

Not only do the vibrant yet neutral colors in the pad bring out different depths of hue, but they also can make my finished product stand out on their own without looking too busy or distracting from what I’m trying to capture.

Plus, each pad includes 24 sheets (4 sheets each of 6 different colors) and is 80 lb, acid-free, and bound on the short side; it’s easy to work with and holds up for both sketches and completed works of art.

If you’re looking for a versatile paper that offers a special creative vibe, check out the Strathmore 400 Series Pad!

Canson Mi-Teintes Pad

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As an artist working with coloured pencils, I am always looking for quality art supplies that showcase my work.

I recently discovered the Canson Mi-Teintes Pad, which is lovely to draw on.

The heavy weight of the paper allows for an even coverage of pigment, giving my finished pieces a beautiful professional quality.

The Vellum texture provides a great canvas for me to work on and allows my colors to pop out in stunning arrays.

I also appreciate that this paper works well with multiple mediums such as oil pastel, chalk, pencil, watercolor, and acrylic.

It’s an added bonus that each pad contains four sheets of six different colors, so I can test out color combinations before committing to them.

Legion Stonehenge Drawing Paper Pad

I love how affordable and versatile the Legion Stonehenge Drawing Paper Pad is.

Stonehenge paper is made from buffered and acid-free 100% cotton paper with a smooth and flawless construct that compliments my drawing style perfectly – plus, it’s a medium surface drawing pad with a slightly toothy texture, provides a great grip for my coloring tools, so it that even thin layers of color adhere well.

The pad has an archival quality that would otherwise cost a fortune, yet it doesn’t break the bank.

One of the best features is definitely its versatility – it can be used for a range of media such as etching, screen printing, embossing, drawing, and painting with colored pencil, pastels, pen-and-ink, pencils, charcoal, acrylics, and watercolors to name a few.

For any portable project such as outdoor (Plein) sketching or on-site drawing in art classes, Stonehenge Drawing Pad is one of the best choices out there.

Winsor & Newton Drawing Pad

For an artist looking for a quality drawing pad to get creative with their colored pencil work, look no further than the Winsor & Newton Drawing Pad!

With 25 sheets of acid-free, archival-quality warm white paper that is 70 lb weight and sized both internally and externally for long-term stability, this drawing pad offers superior versatility.

Whether I’m sketching traditional illustrations or hand lettering some modern calligraphy, the smooth paper ensures a clean line every time.

Plus, it’s available in both medium and smooth surfaces and spiral bound on the short side for ease of use during longer sessions.

Fabriano Studio Drawing Fat Pad

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The Fabriano Studio Drawing Fat Pad is a dream come true for any artist who loves to use colored pencils!

It’s the perfect size – at 9″ × 12″, it fits perfectly in my bag, so I can bring it with me wherever I go.

Plus, with 150 sheets of 70 lb paper, I never have to worry about running out of drawing space.

And the best part? The high-quality paper is lignin-free, acid-free, and externally and internally sized, making it resistant to erasures and ensuring that colored pencil drawings stay vibrant and beautiful forever.

What’s more, it’s FSC-certified and sourced from responsibly managed forests — I’m proud to be planet-friendly as I pursue my passion for art!

Bee Creative Drawing Book

As an artist, I want my artwork to be unique and special – the same goes for my sketchbook!

Honestly, the Bee Creative Drawing Book is one of my favorite sketchbooks because it allows me to express my personalized sense of creativity.

The sturdy black chipboard covers are perfect for decking out with bright colors or interesting designs – letting you show off your style while you draw.

And what about the paper? Well, it’s just great for colored pencil! It’s acid-free and has hard, clean, textured surfaces that can handle pretty much any medium.

Plus, it comes with a double wire binding, so you can draw across two pages and still have a smooth flat surface.

And lastly, I love that the cover is made from recyclable materials – making this book the perfect eco-friendly option for sketching everything from portraits to landscapes!

Canson Universal Sketch Pad

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Canson has been around for years, and their paper is top quality.

I love the Canson Universal Sketch Pad.

The 65 lb weight is perfect for staying put and adding detail, while the acid-free paper allows my advanced techniques to stay vibrant forever.

It’s even manufactured from French-made Crobart paper, giving it near drawing quality standards that add a professional touch.

This awesome sketch pad also comes with micro-perforated true-size sheets and is bound with double wire on either side, depending on the pad size.

As an artist who loves utilizing colored pencil, I was on a quest to find the perfect sketchbook, and that’s when I discovered the 2 Pack of Papelsino, Bristol Paper Sketchbook – it’s a great sketchbook to use!

With a velvety-smooth surface specifically designed to make dry media- such as oil pastels or colored pencils- glide effortlessly across the page, it makes creating lines and shading so enjoyable.

I love how easy it is to mix and layer colors on the paper. It’s also thick enough to erase mistakes without ruining your drawing!

What is Bristol Paper?

Bristol paper is a game changer when it comes to colored pencil drawing.

It’s somewhere between an illustration board and watercolor paper–yet much smoother, with a velvety texture that intensifies the vividness of any pencil color.

Plus, it has enough weight not to be affected by excess layering, so your masterpiece won’t buckle or warp as it dries.

Bristol has become the premier choice for colored pencil artists because of its archival quality, which prevents fading and color shifts throughout time.

Bottom line: if you’re serious about creating professional and exquisite colored pencil art to sell, frame, or exhibit with, Bristol paper should definitely be your go-to canvas!

Strathmore Medium Drawing Paper is a perfect combination of quality and convenience with 24 sheets per pad of 80-pound / 130gsm paper – strong enough to capture all my designs, doodles, and sketches.

I love how the fine, uniform surface has a non-reflective finish that readily accepts crayons, pencils, pens, charcoal, or paints, so I can blend colors easily to achieve the exact look I’m going for.

This paper is great for artists who love to draw portraits or landscapes in full detail with multiple mediums (like me) 😉

It is also handy that it is spiral bound because I can easily flip the pages and draw across two-page spreads.

Plus, this paper is also acid-free, which keeps it from yellowing over time and helps preserve my art for years to come.

I’m so excited to have the U.S. Art Supply 11″ x 14″ Top Spiral Bound Sketch Book in my own arts and crafts repertoire.

Each pack comes with two premium sketch pads (30 sheets in each pad and a total of 60 sheets) that feature high-quality, heavy-weight paper specifically made for all types of mixed media and all skill levels of artists.

Not only that, but each pad has a top spiral binding making it easy to move between pages and keeping you organized while you work.

Plus, they come with cardstock covers and heavy chipboard backing for extra protection and durability!

These are perfect for me and great for adults or kids looking to practice their coloring or drawing skills.

Drawing on the U.S. Art Supply Premium Black Heavyweight Paper Sketch Pad is a dream come true for any artist.

I love the crisp black of the 65 lb paper and its smooth texture – it’s perfectly suited for my colored pencils and gel pens.

Not to mention, it is acid-free and has a neutral pH, so my artwork won’t fade over time!

It’s no wonder both beginner and experienced artists can use this sketch pad – it works great with charcoal, chalk markers, metallic marker pens, oil pastels, graphite pencils, opaque pens, and more!

Most of all, I appreciate that they come in packs of two 11″x14″ pads, giving me a total of 60 sheets (30 per pad).

Your artwork will pop with this heavyweight sketch paper.

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What is colored pencil paper, essentially?

Colored pencil paper is specially designed to enhance the appearance and blending of colored pencils, allowing you to get the most out of your artwork.

This specific type of paper consists of a heavyweight that accepts multiple layers without the color becoming too dull or smearing.

It’s preferably acid-free for longevity and comes with either a matte or glossy finish depending on what look you’re going for.

Not only does this paper make layering colors easier, but it also provides an ideal base for darker shades to stand out.

If you truly want to capture the subtlety of color in your drawings, then colored pencil paper needs to be your go-to.

[Related article: 15 Best Mixed Media Sketchbooks]

What to Consider when Choosing the Best Paper for Colored Pencil:

Before we get to the list, let’s first take a look at some of the characteristics you should consider when choosing paper for colored pencils.

Paper Types

One of the most important factors to consider is the type of paper you’ll be using.

There are several different options to choose from, including bristol board, drawing paper, watercolor paper, and pastel paper.

Each type has its own unique characteristics and is best suited for certain applications.

Paper Texture

The surface texture of the paper can also have a big impact on the final result.

Some papers have a smoother surface that allows for more detailed work and easier blending, while others have a rougher texture that can create more texture and depth in your artwork.

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Paper Weight

The weight of the paper, measured in pounds or grams, refers to its thickness and durability.

Heavy paper is generally more resistant to wear and tear and better suited for color pencil drawing, mixed and wet media. For pencil and paper drawing, heavier good, quality paper is best for framing.

Archival Quality

If you’re planning on displaying or selling your artwork, it’s important to consider the paper’s archival quality.

Archival-quality paper is acid-free and designed to resist fading and deterioration over time, making it a better choice for preserving your artwork in the long run.

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Smooth vs. Textured Papers for Coloring with Colored Pencil

When it comes to coloring with colored pencils, smooth paper can yield a much more polished outcome than textured paper.

Smooth paper has few or no grooves or bumps, which helps the pencil pigment distribute evenly and gives a glossy finish.

On the other hand, textured paper (with a rough paper surface) creates an interesting patterned look due to how the grooves and bumps on the surface work with the pigment of the pencil.

That being said, how you move your hand when shading is especially important when using textured paper; small circular motions help create a softer texture, while sharp diagonal strokes will create sharper lines.

As an artist who enjoys working with colored pencils, I like using smooth paper textures for coloring with colored pencils.

The smooth surface allows me to achieve a higher level of detail in my artwork and makes blending the pencils much easier.

I find that the smooth texture allows for a more consistent application of the pencils, resulting in a more professional-looking final product.

One of my favorite papers for colored pencils is the Strathmore 400 Series Colored Pencil Paper.

It has a super smooth surface that is perfect for detailed work and easy blending, and it’s also acid-free and archival quality, which is important to me since I like to frame and display my artwork.

Overall, I find that smooth paper textures make the coloring experience more enjoyable for me.

I can get lost in the details and really focus on creating the artwork I envision without worrying about the paper getting in the way.

If you’re someone who enjoys coloring with colored pencils, I highly recommend giving smooth paper a try.

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Cold press Paper vs. Hot Press Paper for Colored Pencils.

If you’re an art enthusiast using colored pencils, you want to make sure that the quality paper you select is worth your time and effort.

Hot-pressed art paper is smooth and has a more unified finish, which is ideal if you want finer details in your artwork.

Cold-pressed paper offers a more textured surface; while this can be rougher on pencil leads, it offers more tooth in order to lay down denser layers of color without smudging or bleeding.

So depending on your coloring preferences, the choice of hot or cold-pressed art paper for drawing with colored pencil can mean all the difference.

Drawing on Toned Paper with Colored Pencils

Drawing on toned paper with colored pencils can dramatically enhance your artwork.

This artistic technique gives you the ability to create depth and shadowing in the pieces you create.

By layering colors, each layer appearing a bit darker than the last, you can achieve unique results that have a 3D-like effect that stands out.

Additionally, using an array of colors can add vibrancy and richness to whatever is illustrated.

Toned paper allows for extensive color blending so that whatever picture or design you are working on looks rich and vibrant.

For those passionate about creating amazingly realistic art, this effect helps bring projects to life in an entirely new way!

Drawing on Black Paper with Colored Pencil

A person drawing on black paper with colored pencils

Colored pencil artists are always looking for new ways to explore their craft and challenge themselves.

Drawing on black paper with colored pencils can be a great way to do this.

Not only does it provide an exciting new canvas for them to work with, but the vivid colors of the pencils pop off the dark background creating vibrant images that draw in viewers from across the room.

Working with black paper also provides an interesting color contrast, allowing an artist to explore ways of creating dimension within their piece.

How to Draw on Black Paper with Colored Pencils: Beginners Guide

a drawing of a parrots head in bright colored pencil on black paper

Drawing on black paper with colored pencils is a creative way to express yourself and bring your artistic vision to life!

While it may feel intimidating at first, it’s actually a very simple and enjoyable process.

The key is to start out by making sure you have the right supplies, specifically high-quality black construction or drawing paper, along with quality colored pencils.

Once you have those materials picked out, begin sketching your design lightly in graphite or a white charcoal pencil so that you can erase mistakes if need be.

Once you are happy with the design, use your colored pencils to fill it in – starting with lighter colors and shading darker at the end.

Remember that since dark paper absorbs more of the pigment from the colored pencils, you should press down firmly when coloring for a more vibrant outcome.

How to Use Colored Pencils for Beginners:

Using colored pencils on paper is a fun and easy way to create beautiful artwork.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to get started:

1) Choose your paper.

The first step is to choose the right paper for your project. Some papers are better suited for colored pencils than others, so be sure to select one that will work well with your pencils.

Some options to consider include bristol board, drawing paper, watercolor paper, and pastel paper.

2) Select your pencils.

Next, choose the colored pencils you want to use.

There are many brands and types of colored pencils to choose from, so consider your needs and preferences when selecting your pencils.

3) Sketch your design.

Once you have your paper and pencils ready, it’s time to sketch out your design. Use a light pencil or pen to draw your outline onto the paper, keeping in mind the level of detail and complexity you want in your final artwork.

4) Start Coloring.

Now it’s time to start adding color to your artwork. Begin by coloring in the largest areas first, using long, smooth strokes to fill in the space.

Then, move on to smaller details and areas of the design, building up the layers of color as you go.

5) Blend and shade.

Colored pencils can be blended and shaded to create a more realistic and lifelike effect.

To blend, use a blending tool or your finger to smooth out the edges of your coloring gently.

To shade, use a darker pencil to add depth and shadow to your artwork.

6) Finish and display.

Once you’ve completed your coloring, you can display your artwork as is or frame it to protect it.

If you’re planning on framing your artwork, be sure to use acid-free matting and backing to ensure it stays in good condition over time.

Colored Pencil on Pastel Board

So, what is a pastel board? It’s a special surface that is designed specifically for use with pastels.

Pastel boards are usually made from heavy-weight paper or cardstock coated with a clay surface, providing a slightly rough texture that is perfect for holding pastel pigment.

These boards are also acid-free, which helps to preserve the artwork over time.

Now, you may be wondering if you can use colored pencils on pastel boards. The answer is yes! In fact, many artists like to use a combination of pastels and colored pencils to create rich and vibrant artwork.

The clay surface of a pastel board can provide a good base for coloring with pencils, allowing for easy layering and blending of the pencils.

Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that pastel boards may be slightly more prone to smudging and smearing than other types of paper, so you may need to take extra care when working with them.

But with a little practice and patience, you can create some truly stunning art using colored pencils on pastel boards.

So, what is a wooden panel? It’s a flat surface made from wood that is typically used for painting or drawing.

Drawing on Wooden Panels with Colored Pencil

Wooden panels come in various sizes and can support various media, including oil paints, acrylic paints, and colored pencils.

Now, you may be wondering if you can use colored pencils on wooden panels.

The answer is yes! In fact, wooden panels can be a great surface for coloring with pencils, as the wood provides a firm and stable base for your artwork.

Just be sure to choose a smooth and sanded panel to avoid any rough or uneven surfaces that might catch your pencils.

To use colored pencils on a wooden panel, you’ll want to start by sketching out your design with a light pencil or pen.

Then, you can begin coloring in the largest areas of your design, using long, smooth strokes to fill the space.

From there, you can move on to smaller details and areas of the design, building up the layers of color as you go.

One thing to keep in mind when using colored pencils on a wooden panel is that the pencils may not blend as easily as they would on a paper surface.

However, with a little practice and creative techniques, you can achieve beautiful and unique artwork on a wooden panel.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Paper for Colored Pencils…

What paper works best for colored pencils?

The best colored pencil paper is thick, heavy-weight paper that has a slightly textured surface. Paper with an acid-free base will help to ensure your artwork stays in good condition over time.

Can I use watercolor paper for colored pencils?

Yes, you can use this for colored pencils. However, since this paper is usually textured, it may be difficult to achieve clean, precise lines when coloring with pencils.

Is printer paper good for colored pencils?

This is not recommended for colored pencil artwork, as the paper is too thin and prone to smudging, fading, and creasing.

You should rather use a light to medium grain paper with a heavier weight.

Is watercolor paper good for Prismacolor pencils?

Yes, this is a good option for Prismacolor pencils. Just be mindful that the texture of the paper may make it more difficult to achieve clean and precise lines when coloring with pencils.

What to use to blend Prismacolor colored pencils?

You can use a colorless blender or white pencil to blend Prismacolor color pencils.

You can also try blending tools such as stumps and tortillons for the best results.

Alternatively, you can apply mineral spirits with a brush on the colored pencils to create a smoother finish.

Is cardstock good for colored pencils?

Cardstock is a great option for colored pencil artwork. It’s thicker than printer paper, making it more resistant to smudging and fading.

Cardstock is similar to fine texture paper. However, be aware that cardstock may be slightly prone to warping when used with wet media such as markers or watercolors.

What kind of paper do you use to print a coloring book?

The best paper for a coloring book is a slightly glossy, heavy-weight paper with an acid-free base.

This type of paper will help ensure your artwork stays in good condition over time and enhance the printed colors’ vibrancy.  

What GSM paper is best for colored pencil drawing?

A paper with a weight of 100-140 gsm (grams per square meter) is best for colored pencil drawing.

This type of paper is thick and heavy enough to prevent your artwork from smudging or fading while still allowing you to achieve smooth and precise lines when coloring with pencils.

Additionally, the heavier weight will help your artwork stay in good condition over time.

What kind of paper is best for blending colored pencils?

Smooth and slightly toothy paper works best for blending colored pencils. The toothier the surface, the more grip it will provide, which can help you achieve smooth and even layers when blending with a colorless blender or white pencil.

Can you use colored pencils on mixed media?

Yes, you can use colored pencils on mixed-media paper. Just keep in mind that the type of paper and surface you are working on may affect how easily your pencils blend and layer.

Opt for a thick, heavy-weight paper with a slightly textured surface for best results. This type of paper will provide the best grip for your pencils, making achieving smooth and even layers of color easier.

What kind of paper do you use for watercolor pencils?

For best results, use a slightly rough cold-press watercolor paper for watercolor pencils. This type of paper has a slight texture which will help to create subtle variations in the color when you add water. Additionally, it’s best to choose a heavy-weight paper that is acid-free and archival quality for the best results.

Conclusion

Now that you’re better informed, it’s time to find the best paper for colored pencils. Weight, tooth, absorbency, and texture can all meld together to give you an ideal drawing surface. Above all else- play around with different types and sizes.

There is no definitive answer as to which paper is the best suited for your artwork. It really depends on what look and feel you’re going for. Experimentation is key when finding the right paper for colored pencils art!

Take some time to go through the list above and allow yourself to change your favorite whenever inspiration strikes. So go ahead and explore the joys of creating artwork with colored pencils 😉

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