Watercolor Paper

Cleaning brushes in important, if you want them to last. To get them clean you must wipe the extra paint off first using a paper towel before rising or use a "washboard" like washer.

What you will find on this page

Watercolor or Gouache Surfaces

Watercolor Papers are selected by finish and by weight. Manufacturers generally sell three or more finishes, usually labeled Rough, Cold Press, and Hot Press.

“Watercolor blocks” keep the paper from buckling up when the paper gets wet or has been water logged.

Press Types
  • Hot Press is a smoother finish (less painterly, great for portraits)
  • Cold Press is rougher (more painterly, great for landscapes)

What is the 'Tooth' or Paper Texture?

All papers have a surface texture that influences the marks on the paper. This surface texture is commonly referred to as the 'tooth'.  The tooth of the paper is produced according to the process that is used to create the paper.

“Hotpress”, “Coldpress” or "Rough” are all designations assigned to watercolor paper.  They are different processes for making paper and each process produces a different tooth or surface texture.

Hotpress paper is extremely smooth.  When it is manufactured, heated cylinders are used to press the paper flat and this causes the paper to mold and flatten, resulting in a smooth surface. Hotpress papers are typically preferred by portrait artists, pen & ink artists, detailed watercolor paintings or anyone looking to have control or precision in their mark making.


Coldpress paper is coarse or textured. When it is manufactured, unheated cylinders are used to press the paper flat, resulting in small groves on the surface. Coldpress papers are typically preferred by landscape artists, watercolor artists, pastelists or anyone looking to exploit the surface texture.


Rough paper is extremely coarse or textured. When manufactured, cylinders are not used to press the paper flat, it is often not pressed at all or pressed mechanically, resulting in extremely textured and rough surfaces. These papers can withstand multiple washes, wet mediums and are typically preferred by pastelists to enhance texture.

See Also

Other pages of interest on this topic.

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