Grammage, thickness, grain… Should you choose paper depending how you feel about it? Not really. It depends on how much water you use: for an ideal rendering, it shouldn't buckle or bleed. Here are a few pointers!
1. Grammage: a matter of weight
Watercolor paper is ranked by number of grams per square meter, generally between 190 and 800 g. What you need to know: The higher the grammage, the more resistant the paper is to paint and water.
- Under 300 g/m²: while less expensive, this paper has the defect of buckling faster. So it is essential to stretch it before painting by attaching it to a backing.
For whom? For beginners and those who can control the degree of wetness of the paint perfectly.
- 300 g/m²: the ideal grammage for most watercolors, neither too thin nor too thick.
For whom? For everybody, because it is a good compromise, particularly for beginners.
- Over 300 g/m²: this heavier, thicker paper holds moisture better. Paint dries more slowly on it: wait until you are more comfortable with wet techniques before using it.
For whom? For those who like to take their time and/or do detailed work.
Memo: Grammage or thickness?
It is hard to distinguish between these two concepts… Note! Grammage is not the same thing as paper thickness, just as thickness is not the same as paper weight.
- Grammage: weight of a square meter of paper.
- Thickness: that of one sheet of paper, measured in microns.
2 . The grain of the paper: whatever you're most comfortable with
The choice of grain depends entirely on what you want, on your subject, and on the way you'll be working with it. In a nutshell, everyone picks a grain according to their needs!