Hot Or Cold-Pressed Paper?

April 25, 2019

Both types of paper are very different, but here are the key differences. (very short answer – cold-pressed is typically more popular for watercolor)


  • fine-grained/smooth texture
  • paint dries very quickly, as the water sinks into the paper much faster
  • doesn’t work as well for multiple layers of color
  • smooth surface scans well
  • works well for drawing, pen, ink wash, gouache


  • slightly textured, the texture is what you probably think of as watercolor paper
  • used most often for watercolor
  • creates beautiful “bleeding” watercolor textures and designs
  • takes longer for the paint to dry, which allows you to play with the blending and edges of your work

Other paper tips

  • quality can vary, but starting out with student grade papers works wonderfully – Cotman and Arches are a couple of my favorites
  • when you are working on a large surface area, be aware that covering the whole surface can cause paper to warp – to avoid this, “stretch your paper” (tape down the edges to the table with painters tape) or purchase a more pricey watercolor block that will save you lots of time (Arches makes my favorite watercolor blocks)
  • make sure your paper is 140 lb or heavier

I have a long list of favorite watercolor supplies that I would love to share with you too! (this contains affiliate links + I highly recommend anything that I have shared and have used it myself)

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