View Full Version : smooth paper vs texture coldpress vs hot

07-31-2009, 04:03 PM
So can anyone tell me why they prefer hot press to cold press?
it seems to me that the surface of hotpressed paper is more fragile than cold press (you can see my mess up in the watercolor studio). I'd like to hear from proponents of hotpress paper please, thanks

07-31-2009, 04:56 PM
I like hot press because its the most amazing stuff to work on... and yes I'm VERY pro hot press. You can get such beautifully smooth washes with no visible brush strokes and yet you can also keep very visible brush strokes if you want to. It is fabulous for portraits of children and babies because you can get such smooth skin,or if you are painting delicate things like butterflies hummingbirds, flowers etc, its amazing to pen on if you are doing combined watercolour and pen paintings. Its a paper you need to get used to... it has its quirks and the technique is different when working on it as opposed to cold press. I wouldn't be without it. I do use cold press sometimes though, it depends what effect I'm trying to achieve.


07-31-2009, 04:58 PM
Its a paper you need to get used to... it has its quirks and the technique is different when working on it as opposed to cold press. I wouldn't be without it. I do use cold press sometimes though, it depends what effect I'm trying to achieve.


So what would you use cold press for?

Cerulean Horse
07-31-2009, 05:17 PM
Hot press is more delicate - it doesn't take lifting and scrubbing very gracefully. It does allow for more precision & is very good for dry brush effects. The paint stays on the top of the paper more (no little cracks to fall into), and so colors are sometimes a bit brighter.

I prefer cold press. Cold press is tougher than hot press paper, and most brands can be scrubbed and reworked. It also holds water differently. Hot press tends to soak up a lot of water, so it's hard to work wet in wet. I like a little texture, a little looseness. I also like the way puddles and backwashes work on cold press - I can get a much better feel of the water on cold press paper. I think the texture makes it easier for someone like me to lay a flat wash - the bumps disperse the water a little and don't show every tiny mistake. Hot press feels less "responsive" to me.

Another option is "soft press" by Fabriano. This watercolor paper has a slight weave, but not really a bumpy surface. It's still delicate, but not as delicate as the absolutely flat surface of hot press.

In the end it's a matter of taste & experience. A lot of the difference comes from the feel and how the paper responds to your unique style of painting. It's good to experiment with them all and learn what best suits you. It sounds like you're doing that. Mistakes are why I like to do my first experiments with paintings that don't matter!

07-31-2009, 05:45 PM
So what would you use cold press for?
If I need to use masking fluid, or if I want a textured look to the paper, If I was going to do a portrait of an older person or I was going to do a lot of layering with large washes. I don't tend to scrub so that's not a problem for me. You can lift very successfully with hot press so if you want to remove some paint just wet the areas and press a paper towel on the areas and hold... not scrubbing needed.

I disagree about working wet on wet being hard.... hot press is wonderful for this technique. You just need to learn when to apply, not too wet not too dry


07-31-2009, 06:26 PM
thank you so much, Ona. I appreciate the time you are taking out to share your wisdom. I tried hot press so I could paint a baby's face.. that part is working out nicely at least. Unfortunately the learning curve is more than expected.

07-31-2009, 06:50 PM
Experiment with a off cut. I find that the wet on wet washes work best wet on damp and then allowing the paper to dry thoroughly before re wetting and applying the next layer. Don't touch the paint on the paper each time until completely dry or it will move around. Once it is dry use your softest brush to re wet the paper and then wait until you have just a sheen before applying the paint. You will need two goes the first time to get the paper to the stage where it doesn't just soak up the water. Have fun


07-31-2009, 08:52 PM
I have painted exclusively with cold press until the last week. I then did four pictures of forest waterfalls using hot press. I had an immediate dislike for hot press. It seemed like painting on plastic.

But, when I finished my picture, I noticed that the paint had greater vibrancy...so I painted a similar scene and did it over again. And, each time I painted with it, I became increasingly happier with the subtleties of colour I had been searching for.

Mona P
08-01-2009, 06:10 AM
I have just tried hotpress (Fabriano 140lb) for the first time in Onas wonderful August class (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=575625). It seams to be quite a bit more sensitive than coldpress. My usual masking tape that I can leave for weeks on coldpress (Langton 140lb), tore the hotpress after a day. The pad is glued on all four sides, but after I had worked on it for a while the paper came loose at some edges. It also didn't take to scrubbing very well. I felt a bit like an elephant in a china shop on that paper :rolleyes: Can you use masking fluid on it? Hotpress is probably best for artists with a good plan and a light touch, then I imagine you can create something really beautiful (like Onas paintings).

I saw your baby painting, it is stunning. I especially love the little hair curls.

08-01-2009, 06:19 AM
Can you use masking fluid on it?

I sometimes use masking fluid for very tiny areas eg a highlight of an eye but not very often... I just use my teeeny tiny brush instead and paint around what I want to leave white. MF is ok to use if you want to leave an area unpainted as long as you take it off very carefully but it does alter the smoothness of the paper once removed and if you try to paint on top of it the paint will take differently... ok again if you are heavily texturing on top of a wash with pen or paintbrush but smooth washes are not possible .Hope this helps.

Oh, and I use the green or blue making tape when I work on hot press. You can place this on the paper and leave it for over a week and as long as you remove it carefully it doesn't leave a mark.


08-02-2009, 09:45 PM
I like the hot and soft presses for watercolor for quite a few reasons - it's easier to get a nice, smooth line as there are no bumps; colors are brighter; colors mix and mingle more; and I like blooms, drips, cauliflowers, etc - and these definitely show up better on these papers.