View Full Version : surfaces (sandpaper, velour, canson)

02-28-2008, 05:15 PM
what are the advantages and disadvantages to the following surfaces: velour, sandpaper, and canson mi tiennes? :clap:

water girl
02-28-2008, 09:16 PM
I like Canson for life drawing or short pose portrait class because I can blend with my finger. It is less expensive and suitable for charcoal or pastel. It just cannot support as many layers of pastel as the sanded. I use sanded paper most of the time because it can take many layers of color . Some sanded papers can support an underpainting of watercolor or acrylic, although not all.
I have not used velour, but I have used suede mat board and I like the soft effect particularly for animal portraits. I hope that that helps.

02-28-2008, 09:19 PM
I'm sure you will get many more specific answers, since each person seems to have very specific likes and dislikes of the various surfaces, but here's a very general comparison:

Sanded papers hold more pastel. You can create many layers of pastels layered over one another. Blending (especially with the fingers) can sometimes be problematic. By far the most popular choice among the Wetcanvas pastellists. Many different brands and surfaces are available.

Canson (or other smooth papers) usually have two sides. One side has a textured pattern, the other almost smooth. Those who prefer a very smooth blended look often prefer this type of paper. Because it has no "tooth" like a sanded paper, it holds less pastel.

Velour or suede is a bit harder to describe. It is soft and the pastel is held by small fibers. It holds more pastel than smooth papers, but usually considered to hold less pastel than sanded papers. Blending is minimal for the most part, but the soft surface creates subtle blends naturally. It is harder to get sharp lines and details on the softer surface. Some folks have had trouble with the pastel falling off velour. Unless you are pressing the pastel into the fibers, it has a tendency to just float on the outer edge and may fall off if the back of the surface is tapped or smacked to remove excess dust. I have never had this problem myself, but it is worth mentioning.

Hope this helps.


Deborah Secor
02-28-2008, 10:14 PM
This is some information on the different papers I've written about:

The front side of Canson Mi-Tientes, identified by the watermark, is considerably more textured than the back. It has machined dimples dotting the surface showing the texture of the screen used to make it. The backside is much softer without the characteristic screening. Both sides are easily blended.

Sandpapers are all very different in feel. Wallis feels quite deep and fine, while UART is much thinner and has a softer, more rounded grit. An open stroke flows almost like paint on both these sandpapers. Both have enough depth to accept layers without filling the grain, though Wallis is considerably deeper.

La Carte, on the other hand, has a vegetable fiber grit that's soft. Some of the top layer of color flakes off, although itís deep enough to hold many layers and doesnít pollute colors at all. Its even texture allows interesting blending and layering.

Sansfix is much sharper, with a feel reminiscent of furniture-grade sandpaper. The tooth is slick, almost plastic feeling, but the machined grain accepts many layers of pastel. Notice how the charcoal line is fatter and thicker looking, typical of this paper.

Art Spectrum has a half inch border along the edge, revealing paper thatís been coated with colored grit. It has a very fine texture and blends nicely.

Arches Cover, Somerset Velvet and Rives BFK are all lightly textured papers.
Arches and Somerset are similarly textured, which is only slightly more pronounced on the Somerset. The Rives has significantly less texture. All three are similar weight papers. They invite blending on the soft surfaces yet will still accept linear work over the top.


02-29-2008, 07:40 AM
[quote=water girl] Some sanded papers can support an underpainting of watercolor or acrylic, although not all.

Do you know which ones?


02-29-2008, 09:43 AM

My current favorite paper is the Wallis sanded paper, in the gray sort of myst color that makes a nice paper and undercolor for landscapes.
I do use the Canson Mi-Tientes when I want to do a lot of blending.
Also, it comes in many colors for when I need that.
I remember getting some sample packages, when I was considering papers a few years ago, I think from Dakota Pastels. That was a good way to try out
various papers and see what each is good for.
Thanks,Deborah, for the very clear information on each type of paper!:clap:
Also, I remember someone earlier suggested that you make a little collection of samples, can be made from scraps, and put them on a little ring. Write the type of paper, where available on the back. This will give you a quick reference when choosing paper. I think I just might do that!:rolleyes:

02-29-2008, 12:52 PM
The gritty surface of La Carte 'melts' with waterbased media. It is vegetable and cork-crumbles. The grit comes off a bit, so you get these particles everywhere (or I'm very heavy-handed.) Good for layering, but doesn't hold the pastel dust as well as Wallis or Sansfix.

Sansfix works well with water, and is, as already said, smoother/rounder. Good for layering.

For blending and pushing the first layers of pigment into sanded papers (Sansfix and Wallis pro), I've been using packing "peanuts". When you have several layers of pastel on the papers, you can safely blend with fingertips. Some use waterpipe insulation, you know, that foamy stuff one puts around the pipes, I guess that is way sturdier than peanuts.

In the choice between Canson MT and Ingres (think there may be several manufacturers of Ingres, not sure) I prefer Ingres. Although it has rather visible lines on the 'right' side, the 'wrong' is rather smooth and takes pastel better than the 'wrong' side of Canson MT. Watermedia won't work with these thin papers. Cost is way less than for the sanded papers, and both Canson and Ingres are wonderful for quick work. When I can't apply more Rembrandts, because the tooth is filled, they will still take a layer or two of supersoft Schmickes on top of the harder Rembrandts.

Velour also comes in different makes. The one I tried definitely didn't take to a hearty 'smack' on the back (while all other papers mentioned do). My velour also throws the finest dust up/away from the paper at each stroke, about two handsbreadths distance. So I'd advice the use of a mask, so you don't breate it in. Forget blending with fingers or anything, the sticks themselves acheive a certain blending when you layer, but the pigment stays where you put it. That velour gives a lovely softly clear impression of the painting, so it is fabulous for some work. People who paint animals with fur tend to like it a lot.

There is velour and velour. My Dear Hubby was portrayed 45 years ago on a piece of velour (he still looks the same when he sleeps, minus the diapers... LOL). This battered sketch has never been in a frame, been packed for moving multiple times, has a torn corner, and is currently stuck into a booshelf, between two books. (Yes, it hurts to see it, but it is his.) It looks as crisp as when it was painted, and I can't see that any grear amount of dust is missing. It has obviously really grabbed and held on to the pastels. Fixative may have been used, but I don't think so.

There is a pastel paper from Italy called Tiziano, it looks fine, but I've not tried it yet. Is there anybody who has?

02-29-2008, 03:34 PM
I used to always use canson for sticks or even oil pastels, and some Wallis but hard on fingers. But for the Pan Pastels I prefer the colorfix sanded, velour, and even canvas boards or canvas that has been primed with pastel primer, Wallis is too hard on my sponges with the Pan Pastels. The jury is still out on the Canson for the PP's, I will decide when I finish this picture.