Testing vibrancyPosted: September 2, 2015
Warning: this post is for paper nerds.
I’ve been looking for a watercolour paper that is good for drawing on with a fine ink pen and also takes washes well and keeps colours vibrant. It’s become a bit of an obsession for me and I appreciate that every time I write about it, people send me suggestions. In today’s experiment, I thought I’d compare apples to apples by painting the same scene each time on different surfaces. In fact, I was so scientific that I lined up all the sheets of paper next to each other (except for the last one which I did later) and tried to paint each section of the sketch with the same wash from my palette. That’s about as scientific as I can get with paint.
This first sample (of a scene I saw on the river on Thailand) is painted on Canson Moulin du Roy cold pressed paper. I’ve been frustrated with this stock because it seems to absorb too much paint and the colours dry lighter than they should. In watercolour, you can always expect the paint to dry a little lighter but not this much. Compared with the other papers, the colours came out looking flat and were considerably duller than I had hoped.
The second sample is painted on Arches 140 LB cold pressed paper. I usually use this paper for watercolour alone, and as I suspected, it doesn’t take the ink line well. The paper is too textured and seems to dry out the pen, which is not what I want. Predictably the colour washes look fine since this is a premium quality watercolour paper. The third sample is painted on Fluid 100 cold pressed paper (which I also tried a few weeks ago). I am still liking this paper, both for the way it takes a pen line and for how vibrant the colours are. The last sample is painted on Fluid 100 hot pressed paper. Naturally the ink line is great because of the smoothness of the paper, meaning that the pen glides effortlessly over the surface and reacts to pressure, creating a thicker line in some places. That is exactly what I want. And as you can see below, the colours are pretty vibrant too. I’ve worked with hot pressed paper before and while it’s not always my favourite surface to work on, for small sketches where I really need a good combo of dynamic ink line and saturated colour, this seems like the winning paper. And guess what? If you’re still here, reading this, you might be a paper nerd too.