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Old 02-04-2017, 07:07 PM
popculture chameleon popculture chameleon is offline
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best paper for graphite/charcoal drawings

Im sure this is a topic covered before but I am rather new.
I do use the Faber-Castell 9000 graphite set. and generals white charcoal as long as the General's extra black 555 layout pencils.
I was wondering what people on here like to use for there drawings.
I am starting out practicing with Fabriano artistico watercolor paper 140 hot press in the 11 by 14 50 sheet drawing pads
any help would be appreciated. I am hoping to go for a more hyper realistic style of drawing in my artwork.
thank you

Last edited by popculture chameleon : 02-04-2017 at 08:04 PM.
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Old 02-05-2017, 03:15 AM
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Re: best paper for graphite/charcoal drawings

Use what JD Hillberry Uses: Arches Watercolor Hot Press 140 lb - wrong side.
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Old 02-05-2017, 04:24 AM
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Re: best paper for graphite/charcoal drawings

I'd recommend any hot press watercolor paper. Some are smoother than others. Fabriano Artistico is a popular brand but I understand it recently went through a surface change so I don't know how it is these days. I have couple of sheets myself but I haven't tested them yet.
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Old 02-05-2017, 05:43 AM
tiago.dagostini tiago.dagostini is online now
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Re: best paper for graphite/charcoal drawings

You will ahve to try and try and test a lot. Each one has its own preferences.

Arches, Fabriano Astistico, Fabriano 4 ( my preference), bristol smooth, bristol vellum, mellotex jsut ot name a few of the papers that are the BEST at lest accordign to someone's taste
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Old 02-05-2017, 08:43 AM
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Re: best paper for graphite/charcoal drawings

If you ask 10 artists what they prefer you are likely to get at least 8 different answers. - and not one may be good for you. The only way to find paper that works for you is to try lots of them. I import my paper from the UK since it isn't available on this side of the pond but that's a pretty useless answer for you. I've tried many of the other brands people suggest but some I dislike intensely and others are just not quite right for me. All to show that you have to find what you like and what works for one won't necessarily work for another.

There are a couple things you need to know about decent paper. The weight (thickness) of the paper is important. Don't go lighter than about 90 pounds (140 gsm) but heavier is fine. 300 pounds is about as heavy as I've used. The surface is also important. Most paper is rough, vellum, smooth or plate. Rough shows the texture through the graphite but it easier to get good darks on. Smooth is what most people use for detailed drawings because it is responsive to that. It is generally receptive to darks with graphite as well so it would be a good choice for you. Plate is VERY smooth. Details are simple and it erases wonderfully but darks are not easy and layering is also difficult. I would avoid that surface for a while. Vellum is another surface you will see ... it is a bit rougher than smooth. Good for darks, a bit more work for details but used by many artists. You will also see hot press and cold press which refer to watercolor paper. Hot press is smooth, cold press is rough. Many drawers use watercolor paper.

Then there is the composition of the paper. In the most general terms, paper is primarily wood pulp or cotton (rag) or a combination of those. Wood pulp is cheap but it doesn't last well. Old newspapers turn brown fairly quickly because they are mostly wood pulp. Nobody wants that to happen to their art. Newer newsprint papers are much better, but they are still very lightweight and not what is known as archival. Cotton papers last - we have drawings from the old masters that are hundreds of years old and were drawn on cotton papers. They can be a bit hard to find and you don't really need 100% cotton rag. With the Strathmore papers the series (200-300-400-500) indicates the amount of cotton in the paper with 500 being pure cotton. Many artists use 300 and 400 series with fine results so don't get overly interested in 100% cotton rag papers.

Initially stick with paper that comes in pads because it's inexpensive, readily available and you won't have to worry about cutting larger sheets. I would personally avoid the ring notebooks because the paper is generally lower quality and lightweight. In addition it is not usually very white - remember with graphite alone, the paper sets the whitest white possible - most of us like the whitest white we can get. Most paper is available in sheets which allows you to draw in sizes out of the norm, but it also requires being able to handle cutting it to size which is probably more than you want to tackle initially.

And I would also suggest practicing on the paper you intend to use for drawing. Some people think that it is wasteful and practice on cheap paper (like printer paper) but I think that is a big mistake. First of all, the papers will all feel a little different and you need to get used to the way your chosen paper feels. Secondly, all papers respond differently to the application of graphite. I know you mentioned other mediums but I only work in graphite though different papers undoubtedly respond differently to different mediums. When you are learning to draw, it is difficult enough to learn to get the graphite or your medium to work FOR you as well as fighting to get a likeness. You don't need to have a changing surface to fight with as well.

So try a bunch of different papers when you buy something. Give them a fair shot by doing 1 or 2 drawings as a minimum on each before making up your mind. You will find some you really like and some you really dislike if you are like the rest of us ...

For what it's worth, I like Strathmore Bristol Smooth Series 300, Strathmore Britol Plate Series 500 (2 or 4 ply), Fabriano Bright White 300 lb with my favorite being mellotex which is no longer being made. However, Mike Sibley tells me he has found a replacement that he feels is actually better so I will be trying that soon. I also like Stonehenge by Rising although it is a bit less crisp in details. With that said, I can also say I dislike Arches hot pressed - either side. Just my taste.

BTW - you will see Bristol included in the names of some papers (Bienfang and Strathmore for instance). It refers to a manufacturing method - it is uncoated paper board in multiple plys. Named after Bristol UK where it was developed.

Last edited by SparrowHawk7 : 02-05-2017 at 08:47 AM.
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Old 02-05-2017, 10:34 AM
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Re: best paper for graphite/charcoal drawings

Thank you Ken,

Your reply has precisely covered most of the points. Personally, I too try out different papers before settling down with the one which works best for me.

Manju Panchal
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Old 02-05-2017, 11:21 AM
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Re: best paper for graphite/charcoal drawings

Paper choice is personal so as others have said you really need to try various papers for yourself to discover what works best for you and your style.

One other comment, paper availability depends a lot of where you are in the world. There are some papers that I personally like but are MFG in the USA and I think mostly only available here, Stonehenge which comes in various tints, or Bee Paper Super Deluxe which comes in notebooks.

Have fun exploring the various papers.
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Old 02-09-2017, 03:59 AM
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Re: best paper for graphite/charcoal drawings

I am trying Bristol paper and the darks are very difficult to be achieved... When I smudge, it does it very even and leaves no marks even when pressure is applied, but there seems to be not enough tooth..... maybe I'm using the wrong side, the other side of the paper seems to have more tooth. I've not tried to add charcoal though...
Any comments on Bristol paper someone?
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Old 02-09-2017, 08:49 AM
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Re: best paper for graphite/charcoal drawings

Bristol is a method of manufacturing paper that is used by many companies. Basically it means uncoated, machine made paperboard. Strathmore makes a Bristol paper in a number of series as does Bienfang .. it also comes in a range of surfaces (Here's Strathmore Bristol Pads Series 300 for instance but they have numerous other series - all Bristol style)

So I think we need more information about the paper ...
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Old 02-09-2017, 11:25 AM
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Re: best paper for graphite/charcoal drawings

Thanks Ken for your reply, but I am wondering about the performance of this very smooth Bristol paper for the graphite drawings.... It seems very difficult to achieve darks.
I am using this specific one.
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Old 02-09-2017, 12:45 PM
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Re: best paper for graphite/charcoal drawings

Ah .. it's from Canson. What I find available here in the US is a bit different - it comes in smooth or vellum surface. Since you are having trouble with darks I must assume you are using the smooth. I've never used this paper before but my experience with Strathmore Bristol Plate is that is also is very difficult to achieve darks with graphite because it is so smooth. I moved away from using that for just that reason but I did find that working in many layers seemed to be the best way .. but it still was difficult and I didn't want to fight with it.

Possibly spraying with fixative will allow you to get more tooth for more layers ... then repeat as necessary till you get things whee you want. Bit of a headache IMO, but I think it would work.
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Old 02-09-2017, 05:10 PM
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Re: best paper for graphite/charcoal drawings

So it seems I'm not the only one wondering if this is the correct paper for graphite... , ok it blends very nice, which I find very good to give a soft degradation in the tones...
Going to use a sheet to make experiments before I spend more time in trying to get the drawing darker... I bought this paper for using it with ink, maybe the other side is better for pencil... time for experiment...
Thanks again Ken
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Old 02-09-2017, 06:33 PM
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Re: best paper for graphite/charcoal drawings

Paper drives us all nuts ...
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Old 02-09-2017, 09:54 PM
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Re: best paper for graphite/charcoal drawings

Quote:
Originally Posted by SparrowHawk7
Paper drives us all nuts ...

lol seriously.
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Old 02-10-2017, 03:38 AM
tiago.dagostini tiago.dagostini is online now
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Re: best paper for graphite/charcoal drawings

Quote:
Originally Posted by fedetony
Thanks Ken for your reply, but I am wondering about the performance of this very smooth Bristol paper for the graphite drawings.... It seems very difficult to achieve darks.
I am using this specific one.


Just do not be a purist.. use a black colored pencil for deep darks.. and problem solved.

The absolute lack of glare is also a plus when using CP combined.
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