View Full Version : The "Good" side of paper

04-26-2003, 09:42 AM
In the "Cool stuff you've discovered " I noticed Javier posted the following:

Originally posted by Javier
Here is something I only heard about last week from an art instructor.

Watercolor paper really only has one "good" the side where you can read the water or emboss mark. The other side is considered the back of the paper.

The Best,

This caught me by surprise as I was not aware of this. Doing some more digging I was lead to this excellent site:


which describes the paper making process. Here it is stated that the "felt" side is considered the better side - but nowadays you can use either side effectively.

I'm interested in opinions on this topic - which side do you use?


04-26-2003, 10:40 AM
Hi David,

I usually use the side with the watermark on it first. I guess that is supposed to be the "good" side. However, if a painting doesn't work out on that side, I have often turned it over and painted one on the other side, and, frankly, I don't notice a heck of a lot of difference.

It seems like a real waste of perfectly good paper to only use one side if you don't turn out a painting you think is worth framing.

04-26-2003, 10:47 AM
:D I agree Sylvia - the side with the painting on it no doubt is the "good" side !

However - some people may think otherwise -

What I found interesting about the link I posted is that it was stated that Arches watercolour paper has its watermark embossed to read from the "wire" side of the paper, which is apparently the poorer side - the "felt" side being the better side. It would seem you have to know which side the manufacturer puts the watermark on as this is variable.

Also agree that the paper should not be wasted - but if there is a better side to start from I want to know what that is.


04-26-2003, 10:52 AM
Originally posted by DavidBR
:D I agree Sylvia - the side with the painting on it no doubt is the "good" side !

However - some people may think otherwise -


LOL! Dave! That was a really dumb typo, comes with only using half your brain when typing responses.

I meant to say "Watermark" and I've changed it now. Thanks for a chuckle!:evil: :evil: :evil:

Didn't know Arches did that, I use Arches paper and always thought I should put it so the watermark was in the lower right corner and visible when I used their paper.

04-26-2003, 10:54 AM
I always use the side of Arches that has the watermark.

However there is a brand of paper made for use on both sides. I can't think of the name but one side is like cold press and the other side is smoother.

When I use a watercolor sketch book with cp paper I use both sides. This is meant to be especially if you're painting panoramic style on two sheets at once.

04-26-2003, 11:05 AM
Interesting. My teacher has said the same thing re the watermark of the Arches, so that you can read it. However, I forgot that when I started the second class and was very proud of myself to have the paper torn, mounted on the foam core and ready to go the first night only to find out that I had the WRONG side:o of the paper. But I had felt and looked at both side and I actually chose the wrong side of the paper as it was Arches 300 rough and that side felt rougher to me and looked rougher. I left the paper as it was , am painting on it and it seems fine, so to me I think it is just a little technicality.

My ten cents worth.:D

04-26-2003, 11:08 AM
Just to make the issue muddier (no pun intended) the link I posted states:

"The wire side usually has a more assertive and complex texture (both the screen and felt textures are visible), is more consistently flat (because the pulp settles against the taut screen), and also reveals any inclusions (impurities or bits of decorative fiber) that are heavier than the pulp and sink toward the wire during draining. The watermark (and chopmark, if present) is historically oriented to "read correctly" from the felt side of the sheet, considered the better side to paint on. But some manufacturers -- especially in England -- place the watermark or chop to read correctly from the wire side, which makes the manufacturer lettering less obtrusive to the eye. You must learn the practice of each mill."

I looked closely at a sheet of Arches 140 lb rough paper and could not visually see much difference on either side. But a sheet of Whatman paper showed one side to be smoother than the other.

I guess its up to the artist which side they prefer - there doesn't seem to be one rule to stick to.