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View Full Version : Bristol board vs Cartridge paper, difference?


indraneel
08-20-2018, 09:34 AM
I've heard of Bristol board, but not sure what it is. They are slowly becoming available here but are very expensive. OTOH, cartridge paper is pretty common and comes in different types (both sides extremely smooth, to one side not smooth, to both sides not smooth; from 100gsm to over 300gsm; brilliant white to creamy ivory in color).

I have tested the cartridge papers here and they are all around pH 7-8. The smooth side is excellent for technical pens and nibs, and "meh" for watercolor. The "not smooth" side varies in roughness. The roughest is passable for technical pens and fine for watercolor.

So I'm curious, what is this Bristol board, and how is it different from cartridge paper? Can someone who has used both, please explain?

Charlie's Mum
08-20-2018, 12:22 PM
I like the Bristol board I have... more expensive than cartridge, thicker, smooth.
The cartridge is mostly suitable for drawing with graphite (widely used in schools here in UK because it's a lot cheaper!) ..... not very good for paint unless stretched first.
The cartridge I've used has always had a texture of sorts but some is OK for penwork.

pedlars pen
08-20-2018, 02:32 PM
Hi Indraneel, Bristol board has a very smooth & hard surface & is considered the "Rolls-Royce" of papers for pen drawing.
I say "paper" but really it is like a thin card, it is made by coating several very thin cotton rag paper sheets with very finely ground plaster of paris & gluing them together.
The main advantages it offers a penman are -
1. It is hard a sharp dip pen will not scratch , dig into or catch on the surface nor pick up bits of fibre from the surface of the paper.
2. The ink will not spread out (bleed) at all & the thin delicate lines will remain crisp & sharp.
3. It is robust & tough - often in a complex job, inking can extend over a number of days, the board will remain flat & the corners will not turn up.
Also that toughness extends to erasing apencil marks -Providing a pencil is used with a light touch, you can pencil underneath your pen drawing again & again without ill effect. DO use a "plastic" or quality putty eraser though.
Another method of erasure (& white line making) is to scrape through the ink to reveal the paper underneath with a sharp knife point or razor blade. After you have scraped away the unwanted ink you burnish the surface smooth & hard again & the new surface is good to work on again.
4.You can lay down very large solid black ink sections without the board cockling or distorting in any way.
5. You can use light washes of dilute ink or watercolour too.

Brilliant ! What else does any pen person want of paper?
A cheaper paper is all I can think of.
It really is the best DIP PEN paper that there is , if you don't use a dip pen there are still many advantages to using Bristol board like it's smoothness, no bleeding & robustness qualities for serious work.
For the most sensitive & subtle line work it can not be beaten.
BTW. some Bristol board makers have more recently been offering Bristol board with a textured surface - this makes little sense to any dip pen person as the very smooth surface was one of its very strengths - I consider it as a compromise for any pure dip pen person & steer well clear of it.

Cartridge paper or Drawing paper(US) is such a wide catch all term so as to make it almost meaningless !
Basically it means a reasonably high quality ,thickish type paper but it does vary enormously - some are well sized ,quite hard & smooth & suit pen drawing very well ,others have a lot of texture &/or are soft & don't work well at all.Some look good but have insufficient sizing in them & while they might be good at pencil drawing & wash work the ink lines spread alarmingly.
It is best to read reviews on the net & then try one out to see if it suits you because what feels good to you won't suit another person.
Cheers Mike

indraneel
08-21-2018, 12:05 AM
Thanks Maureen and Mike! Mike, especially, for a very thorough answer! So if I understand correctly, bristol has the plaster of paris, while cartridge does not. I'm guessing the thick cartridge paper is already made from plies as it is probably cheaper. It might even be that it has gypsum as a filler.

Guess I'll never really know unless I get some. Not that I do any finished pen drawings.... Any idea of the quality of 250 gsm Fabriano Bristol board? It's the cheapest one here (at 10 times the price of 300 gsm cartridge!).

pedlars pen
08-21-2018, 04:36 AM
No the cartridge paper is made from your normal wood pulp then rolled & sized it has no plies nor filler.
Fabriano Bristol board is actually good quality it has two sides one side is plate which is very smooth & the other vellum which is textured. That textured side is much used by pencil artists to take advantage of the toughness & longevity of Bristol board.
Bristol board is expensive here too,I suppose it is the method of manufacture, I recently picked up 20 sheets of quality thick card in a pound shop & it takes ink just like Bristol board although it does lack it's other unique capabilities, I went back the very next week to get some more after testing it & it had all been snapped up & they were not getting anymore.
My point is that you can find good drawing paper for a fraction of the price of Bristol & then often it can be inhibiting to use expensive paper.
It is just finding it !
Certainly you should try it out at some point so you get to know its qualities but do consider whether you need to use it.
BTW. I remember that the pen work I have seen in the past of yours were lively landscape scenes done from life. -You may very well find that ink dries much too slowly when using Bristol board for you & end up feeling frustrated waiting for the ink to dry ! or end up smudging your previous work with your drawing hand.Ink dries very slowly on Bristol board.
Mike

indraneel
08-22-2018, 12:33 AM
Thanks Mike! I've considered a lot on whether I need Bristol, and so far have come up totally empty on any excuses :( So while pondering this, I decided to pick at the corners of my 300 gsm cartridge paper. It seems it may have 4 plies... 2 outer thin ones and 2 inner thicker ones. I could take them apart just by pulling, something that should not happen if the paper is made in one step, like watercolor paper. The shopkeepers do refer to this thicker cartridge as "ivory board" (irrespective of the color, whether white or creamy), particularly if both sides are smooth. Costs 25 cents, as opposed to $2.5 for the imported Fabriano Bristol.

I think it may be easier to make thicker paper from plies... less inventory to store for the paper company for differing thicknesses, as well as they might source the plies from different vendors.... not unlike plywood manufacture actually. I will not be surprised if all thicker grade cartridge papers are made from plies. As for fillers, I do know that copious amounts of calcium carbonate is used, being much cheaper than wood pulp. A side effect is that all the cartridge papers are now acid free (pH always reads above 7), maybe even archival if the wood has been processed properly.

It's good that you mentioned the drying time. Washes, and even thicker ink lines, are taking a lot longer to dry on the very smooth surface, particularly on the 220 gsm and 300 gsm cartridge paper I have. It was actually driving me crazy, although I am not smudging anything yet (loose strokes mean I actually hold the brush / pen a bit higher, so fingers rarely touch the paper). OTOH, drawing with the Hunt 100 seems to be a real pleasure on this... glides effortlessly on the upstrokes, and the thin lines dry quickly. Actually, that is what got me wondering about the Bristol board (apart from the window shopping!). [maybe should just get some...]

PS: it may be that the bristol board has cotton content. The Strathmore seems to be all cotton ($30 pad :eek:)

tiago.dagostini
08-22-2018, 05:09 AM
The stacking of plies is not related to easy of production (in fact it is harder). It is because each sheet is 90 degrees from the previous so the fibers are in a mesh pattern. That makes the paper more resilient and not bend so easily.


You can find bristol both in 100% Wood pulp, and 100% rag cotton and several mixes in between.


Rag cotton makes the paper MUCH more resilient to sunlight

pedlars pen
08-22-2018, 05:19 AM
No I have never seen Cartridge paper with layers in it, never !
In the past here were some types of art board whose name escapes me at the moment & is not available in the UK nowadays which are made up of layers & were known as decent pen & ink papers. THAT sounds like what you have got there- nice.
The truth is the term"cartridge paper" has been degenerated to such an extent it has become a generic term for drawing paper.
What is the manufacturer of this layered 300gsm board ? -it sounds interesting !
Cheers Mike

indraneel
08-22-2018, 10:56 AM
Thanks for all the replies! There are slums here which are filled with plywood ply making companies. They make 2'x2' plies and then those are shipped off to the actual plywood making companies. I wonder if something similar may be going on with the paper industry too.


What is the manufacturer of this layered 300gsm board ? -it sounds interesting !
Cheers Mike

Your guess is as good as mine! Once their stocks run out, the shops switch to whichever manufacturer can supply them. Yes, this also happens for watercolor paper, so I wouldn't hold my breath for card stock.

PS: I just found this: http://cameo.mfa.org/wiki/Ivory_board So maybe I'm wrong in thinking of it as thick cartridge. Ivory board is the correct name probably. And I guess, that would mean Bristol board is a type of Ivory board [similar to how champagne is a wine from, Champagne]. :confused: :confused: :confused:

blackandwhite
08-23-2018, 04:22 AM
Iíve been using thick copy&print paper for my ink drawings. Just recently I bought 250gsm Xerox Colotech+ paper that is extremely smooth, uncoated, acid free and archival and it did cost less than 20 USD for 250 pcs in A4 size. It works wonderfully with all kind of ink pens that Iíve tried. When using with light ink washes or watercolor that paper produces slight speckle pattern, which can be good or bad according to personal preferences. Iíve started to like it.

Iíve also used lot of Clairefontaine Trophee tinted 160gsm office paper and it works really nicely with ink. It is bit less smooth than the Xerox paper, so it holds pencil marks better and is very good paper for drawing in general.

I believe most of the office paper manufacturers have something similar available, so there is probably no reason to stick just to those brands.

pedlars pen
08-23-2018, 06:13 PM
Yes B&W you are right, there are a good number of paper types designed for inkjet or laser printing which are really good for pen & ink & while they don't have the all round robustness or ease of erasure of Bristol board, their price alone must make them worthy of serious consideration.
Mike

tiago.dagostini
08-24-2018, 12:19 PM
Iíve been using thick copy&print paper for my ink drawings. Just recently I bought 250gsm Xerox Colotech+ paper that is extremely smooth, uncoated, acid free and archival and it did cost less than 20 USD for 250 pcs in A4 size. It works wonderfully with all kind of ink pens that Iíve tried. When using with light ink washes or watercolor that paper produces slight speckle pattern, which can be good or bad according to personal preferences. Iíve started to like it.

Iíve also used lot of Clairefontaine Trophee tinted 160gsm office paper and it works really nicely with ink. It is bit less smooth than the Xerox paper, so it holds pencil marks better and is very good paper for drawing in general.

I believe most of the office paper manufacturers have something similar available, so there is probably no reason to stick just to those brands.



those are basically photo printing paper. They are not much cheaper than bristol depending where you live.

blackandwhite
08-24-2018, 02:53 PM
those are basically photo printing paper. They are not much cheaper than bristol depending where you live.

Here any ígoodí brand bristol costs about 3x ... 5x the amount that I pay for those quality print papers. Note that those papers are not the expensive inkjet photo paper type, which doesnít work for pen drawing. Not huge price difference, but switching to bristol wouldnít give any benefits to me, so I decided to save some money there since I consume five inch pile of that paper in a year.

tiago.dagostini
08-28-2018, 05:29 AM
Here any ígoodí brand bristol costs about 3x ... 5x the amount that I pay for those quality print papers. Note that those papers are not the expensive inkjet photo paper type, which doesnít work for pen drawing. Not huge price difference, but switching to bristol wouldnít give any benefits to me, so I decided to save some money there since I consume five inch pile of that paper in a year.



Here the price difference between those is very small (there is Bristol produced in BRazil but not those papers so they need to be imported.. adn therefore are taxed).

blackandwhite
09-02-2018, 11:31 AM
I did some comparison tests between Canson Bristol Paper and the Xerox Colotech+ paper that was discussed above. I did put the pics and everything to my blog: https://engineermeetsart.wordpress.com/2018/09/02/bristol-paper-vs-laser-printer-paper/

indraneel
09-02-2018, 12:35 PM
Excellent review! It seems the grain of the bristol is oriented, although, they don't say if it has any cotton. I wonder if you tried prying open from a corner and tried to count the plies if any, especially for the xerox paper. The test is revealing in that the bristol is the harder paper, as was probably expected.

blackandwhite
09-02-2018, 02:15 PM
Thanks! I did try to pry open the papers wet and dry, but I couldn't reliably separate the plies. Both of them look similar in that sense that there is no clear ply structure. If I would have to guess something I would say that there are 3 plies in both papers, but that might be just because the surfaces are harder and separate from the softer inner part of the paper. 3 ply would also make sense since 'normal' paper is made in 80 gsm, so 3 times that + some glue would nicely result in 250 gsm.

pedlars pen
09-02-2018, 03:03 PM
Interesting B&W,I haven't tried that Xerox Colotech paper -it definitely sounds close enough for the price to give a go.
One thing I don't like about laser paper is that it very often has a glossy looking finish to it as opposed to a matt one. For the money it sounds great !
Have you tried "IQ selection paper" while it's not Bristol thickness it is a gorgeous pen paper ? it's the best printer paper I know of for sharpness of line.
Thanks Mike