Paper for colored pencil drawing

Reader Question: Which paper is good for colored pencil? I have a sketchbook with papers of yellowish texture of 130 gsm. Is this good?

For sketching with colored pencils, the 130 gsm sketchbook paper you have will work just fine. In general, sketchbook papers are usually lighter weight than drawing papers, so they are ideal for practicing, sketching, trying out new techniques, planning out works of art, and creating quick studies.

Technically, your 130 gsm paper might also be alright for creating fine art drawings in colored pencils, depending on how many layers of colored pencil you apply. Lighter paper may warp slightly if too many layers of colored pencil are applied, especially if you use heavy pressure when applying your layers (which is something I often do to build up the colors). The paper may appear to buckle and wave if this is the case (which has happened to me when drawing lots of layers on paper that is 130 gsm or lighter).

For creating fine art drawings with colored pencils, I'd generally recommend heavier paper that is at least 160 gsm or higher. For example, one of my favorite papers for colored pencils, Legion Stonehenge Drawing Paper (see below), is 250 gsm, but I have also enjoyed creating colored pencil drawings on the much heavier 640 gsm smooth watercolor paper (which is about 5 times thicker and stronger than your 130 gsm sketchbook paper). These papers have never buckled or warped after I applied many heavy layers of colored pencil.

Heavier paper won't bend or crease as easily as the lighter paper, in case of an accident or mishandling of the artwork. Plus, the heavier drawing paper is able to withstand more erasing and reworking. For these reasons, heavier drawing paper is recommended for creating fine art drawings.

When looking for drawing paper for creating fine art drawings, be sure to choose one that is labeled archival or acid-free. These are the longest-lasting papers you can buy for drawing. If the paper is not labeled as archival or acid-free, that means that it contains acids (as most normal papers do) that will, over time, turn the paper yellow and/or fade and deteriorate, along with your artwork. If you plan to sell your drawings, then definitely use paper that is archival and acid-free.

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Best Paper for Colored Pencils

I’ve since created a comprehensive guide to the Best Paper for Colored Pencils. I cover important considerations – such as quality, texture, and paper weight – to help you navigate the confusing range of drawing papers on the market, and make an informed choice.