Whenever you’re doing art with the use of pastels, it is always necessary to check first the quality of your paper as it has a huge effect in changing the look of your artwork. Hence, it’s imperative to find the best paper for pastels. Whether you’re a professional or an aspiring artist, I’m sure you’re interested in what types of paper can complement pastels.
However, choosing what type of paper you will use mainly relies on your preferred drawing style and desired effects. Working with pastels not only requires you to focus on the art tools you have but also the surface you are using.
The paper you’ll be using will play a big role in showcasing your art skills and techniques. What are the important factors you must assess first when choosing the best paper? In this article, we will walk through some of the best recommendations that will assist you in finding the top paper picks for pastels.
- Best Paper for Pastel Reviews
- 1. Strathmore 400 Series Pastel Pad
- 2. Canson Drawing Mi-Teintes Paper Pad
- 3. UART SandedM-148931 Grade Pastel Paper
- 4. Ampersand Art Supply Pastel Painting Panel
- 5. SENNELIER LaCarte Pastel Card Block
- 6. Arteza Spiral-Bound Sketch Pad
- 7. Canson XL Series Watercolor Textured Paper Pad
- 8. Speedball Premier Sanded Pastel Paper
- 9. Northland Wholesale Wired Sketch Book
- 10. Strathmore 400 Series Artagain Pad
- 11. AmberCity Sketch Pad Art Paper
- 12. Clairefontaine Pastelmat Pastel Card
- What to Look for When Buying Pastel Paper
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Paper for Pastel Reviews
1. Strathmore 400 Series Pastel Pad
This Strathmore paper for pastel drawing is among the most favorite selections because it makes using pastels a lot smoother and easier. While this set provides a large variety of colored pastel papers, it is also one of the papers that has the most ideal level of thickness and best texture quality that fully grasps pastel pigments and offers ultra-easy pastel application.
Although some papers are compatible with pastels, most of them are not able to carry the pigments of your pastels well. Even worse, pigments tend to bleed. However, the bleedproof quality of this paper pastel effectively displays the beauty of pastels without smearing.
In this pastel paper, I am able to use both soft and hard pastels. Some of the papers I’ve used before made soft pastels look dull, and some of them make hard pastels look overly bright. So I am glad that this paper makes all types of pastels look perfect.
Because of its textured finish and very subtle colors, oil pastel colors produce an outstanding effect with this pastel paper. It makes combining oil pastel colors so much simpler, making every color and texture enhancement effective.
Moreover, one thing I admire about this pastel paper is that it is acid-free. It is beneficial as it maintains the quality and longevity of my pastel drawings and paintings. The colors remain pleasingly vibrant for a very long time. Therefore, if you’re looking for the best paper for pastel painting, this will also do.
I also love how this set has a huge array of colors. It helps me properly choose what pastel color to use to make my work of art well-blended and eye-pleasing.
Furthermore, the paper quality is perfect for both beginner and advanced artists. It makes me freely experiment with different pastel colors. Making portraits will be so much fun and easy with every paper color.
On the other hand, because of its slightly irregular texture quality, I had a mild problem using my pastel pencils for intricate detail work.
2. Canson Drawing Mi-Teintes Paper Pad
This Canson Mi-teintes pastel paper has an amazing dual-surfaced quality; one side has a heavy texture, while the other side has a lighter texture. This is very beneficial for both novice and expert artists as it allows them to enhance and highlight the effects and colors of their artwork.
One of the things I love about this is its versatility. Working with various art mediums will be so much easier and practical with this paper. On the lighter texture part, I can easily apply soft pastels, while I can apply hard pastels on the heavier texture.
The texture quality is outstanding as it can completely hold the color without skipping and smudging, and because it is also acid-free, it conserves the artwork’s color quality and vibrancy.
Other than its texture quality, its thickness is also very ideal for intensive pastel painting or drawing. The pigments of the pastel do not bleed onto the other side of the paper.
I find the dual-texture feature useful as it helps me perform my different pastel drawing techniques. I can effortlessly create shades and depths. Each side of the paper allows me to layer and blend every color seamlessly.
Another amazing feature of it is that it’s made out of 50% cotton, which makes the paper much longer-lasting than any other pastel paper.
Personally, I love this black pastel color paper. It complements perfectly with various art ideas. It makes light-colored pastels look ultra-vibrant and deep-colored.
The only downside of this paper is its price. Although it gives you an excellent experience of doing your art, it may be a little bit overpriced.
3. UART SandedM-148931 Grade Pastel Paper
Among the sanded pastel paper reviews, this UART pastel paper is one of my favorites. It highlights its unique sanded surface created through a computer-controlled coating system. Its surface is tough and consistent, making it highly responsive and reliable to all types of pastels.
If you are fond of creating multiple pastel color layers, this bleedproof pastel paper will be your all-time favorite. Layering will be so smooth and enjoyable. You won’t have to worry about making errors because you can always easily cover them with another layer.
This paper is available in seven grades. You can prefer working from 240 to 803. The color of the paper is in resemblance with sand and it makes it an ideal choice for making commissioned paintings and drawings.
In this paper, either it has a superfine texture or a bigger tooth, I can still use both soft and hard pastels without sacrificing the quality. I can smoothly layer and blend the colors. There will be tiny amounts of dust left but it will be easy to clean.
Even after the underpainting procedure, the surface’s tooth still grasps a lot of pastel layers and the grains stay attached to the paper. Each acid-free paper keeps my artwork in its best condition.
In my pastel painting and drawing experience, my artworks look more vibrant and luminous in this paper. Rich-colored pastels work very efficiently with this pastel paper.
On the flip side, if you’re just a novice in making art, you might find this paper pricey. But anyway, it’s excellent quality makes it worth every penny.
4. Ampersand Art Supply Pastel Painting Panel
If you’re looking for a durable and firm pastel paper that will preserve the quality of your chalk artwork, you might find the best paper for chalk pastels in Ampersand Pastelbord. Its hardboard core is high-density and does not need any mounting as it can strongly hold your artwork.
This chalk pastel paper also highlights its marble-dust finish that can grasp numerous layers of pastels. For pastel painting and drawing, I must say that this pastelbord provides incomparable color effects and vivid layering results to my work.
The surface used in this paper is also sanded and its backboard is surprisingly solid. Because of this, this paper can effectively block excess pastel colors from smudging through the paper.
Unlike some of the pastel papers that are easily crumpled and warped, this pastelbord is made out of high-quality and ecological materials that make it warp-resistant, sturdy, and environment-friendly.
Moreover, I like how the tooth in it helps in holding the pastel pigments. It also made it easier for me to freely do my pastel work techniques. In my experience, combining some layers of chalk drawing on paper with some filtered water makes my artwork look more professionally painted.
Because of its unique texture, creating intricate details with my pastel pencils becomes possible. I can smoothly use my pencils without skipping and experiencing color irregularities. That’s why I also consider it as the best paper for pastel pencils.
I had several pastel paintings made on this acid-free pastelbord and I’m quite amazed that my artwork did not discolor over time.
The drawback, on the other hand, is that lighter pastel colors can’t properly adhere to the paper.
5. SENNELIER LaCarte Pastel Card Block
This LaCarte pastel paper made by Sennelier has a uniquely-designed surface that is made out of pH-neutral vegetable fiber cork. Pastel pigments will properly adhere to the paper because it has a very soft texture that is a bit sanded.
Pastels, either soft or hard, both work seamlessly with this paper. It has plenty of tooth that can fully hold and absorb multilayers of pastels without even requiring the use of fixatives when committing errors.
Even though there are some parts where the texture is a little bit rough, I can still feel its naturally smooth and sand-blasted surface that allows my pastels to glide flawlessly. It leaves a very subtle effect and it leaves only a very minimal amount of crumbles.
I love how easy it is to experimentally mix and layer various pastel colors on this paper. It amazes me to see how the colors coherently blend and achieve different beautiful shades. Even adding multiple layers won’t conceal the other colors underside.
This pastel paper is available in a wide variety of 14 colors and they are all fade-resistant. I like using dark-colored papers as they look outstanding on my artworks that require the use of lighter pastel colors.
I also find the paper quality thick enough to prevent warping and crumpling. This is the usual problem I experience with other papers as their quality is very thin.
However, when I accidentally dropped a drop of water on the paper surface, the coating was slightly damaged. That only proved that this paper will not be reliable if you’ll combine watercolor and pastels.
6. Arteza Spiral-Bound Sketch Pad
Are you looking for an inexpensive sketch pad for your pastel paintings? Well, this sketch pad by Arteza might become your favorite! It is spiral-bound so it makes a perfect partner for your on-the-go pastel artworks. It also comes with 60 micro-perforated black papers.
Each page sheet can be ripped out with its true size which is also ideal for framing. Also, each paper is acid-free, which means it can efficiently maintain the quality of every artwork it is holding.
Using dry pastel media perfectly blends with these pastel papers. I like using white media as it beautifully pops on every black sheet. It makes my artwork look so elegant. I don’t experience any hard time achieving a contrast with these papers. Soft pastels and light-shaded pastels also flawlessly blend with the black background.
With this black sketch pad, I was able to try various art techniques. I’ve tried transitioning my artwork from colors gray to white shades using dry pastel media. It looked so awesome and the colors were looking vivid.
The paper quality is so smooth that it makes my pastel drawing so fun and relaxing. My pastel pencils glide very seamlessly on each paper.
I also love how I can simply flip it back whenever I want to sketch something again. It is very easy and practical to use. Plus, it measures 11” x 14”, making it a large pastel paper, especially if you want to upscale your art pieces.
The drawback, on the other hand, is the paper’s smell. I think it uses chemicals that help preserve the paper’s quality. However, the chemical used kinda smells weird. It has a strong smell.
7. Canson XL Series Watercolor Textured Paper Pad
What makes this textured Canson pastel paper competitive is its fold-over bound feature with a cold press texture, durability, and bleedproof quality. Its textured finish efficiently keeps the pastel colors’ vibrancy. It does not break even if you mix liquid media on it and each paper is warp-resistant.
Its acid-free paper quality ensures that the pastels will not smudge and fade out easily. It also features a very durable paper quality as it has a weight of 140 lbs which makes it possible to carry watercolor or pastels even with multiple layers, and it can withstand repeated washes.
Each paper has a size of 11”x 15”, making it an ideal size for creating commissioned portraits. At times, I prefer using smaller paper sizes especially when making cards, but that’s not a problem with this one because I can effortlessly cut these into smaller pieces.
Although it is a watercolor textured paper, it can be suitable also for dry pastel techniques. The colors won’t look dull even if you use soft or hard pastels.
Each sheet’s color is plain white. When I first saw this watercolor paper for pastels, I thought it’s just a simple and basic surface to have my artworks on. Amazingly, when I tried using these with pastels, it deliberately displayed beautiful and colorful effects.
Aside from its durability, this set also contains 30 sheets which allow me to create various pastel drawings and paintings. It is perfect for both amateur and expert artists.
On the other hand, although it can withstand repeated washes, my only issue with it is that the paper does not dry out easily sometimes after doing various techniques with watercolors and pastels. It will take time before it completely dries.
8. Speedball Premier Sanded Pastel Paper
This Speedball sanded pastel paper is all about long-lasting quality as it is made out of 100% cotton paper. It is primed twice with an aluminum oxide coating, making it warp-resistant. You can always go for either a rough or smooth finish with its perfectly sanded texture.
This set contains 8 sheets of medium grit pastel paper. It is truly perfect for pastel artists like me because we love working with medium grit surfaces. Pastels seamlessly glide with these papers.
Because the surface is firm and durable, it allows me to use different drawing and coloring techniques with soft and hard pastels. The Terracotta sheet is my favorite as it makes my pastel paintings look intense.
Each sheet can also withstand continual erasures. It does not tear up quickly and it can resist hard pressures. You can also notice that your artwork’s color quality remains at its best condition even for a long time as each paper is acid-free.
Although it isn’t that thin, I have observed that each sheet is impeccably lightweight. It also has a toothy surface that truly helps on holding pastel pigments.
Its archival quality increases every artwork’s longevity, and it helps prevent the pastel colors from fading and deteriorating.
It effectively holds, especially the soft pastels, while providing a very subtle and soft background. Therefore, if you’re looking for the best paper for soft pastels, I recommend using this one.
This pastel paper not only works best with dry media, but it can also work with wet media. I did experience trying it with my underpainting artworks and it had a good result.
The downside, however, is that it can’t take multiple layers of pastel that much. Blending and layering could be very hard to execute with this pastel paper.
9. Northland Wholesale Wired Sketch Book
This wired sketch book by Northland might be a good addition to your art arsenal. It is an ultra-smooth and versatile pastel paper that can be used with a wide variety of art media. Each sheet has an off-white shade which provides a subtle underlying color.
I find it very easy to use as it is a top double spiral-bound and it can be opened flat. Also, it works excellent with dry pastel media and it makes the colors look vivid and intense. For those beginners who are practicing their pastel painting skills, this sketch book would be an ideal choice.
I like how every sheet color looks stylish and elegant. Its quality is not ordinary. The paper’s subdued color makes every pastel color stand out.
This sketch book is versatile as it can efficiently adapt with a wide variety of art media other than pastels. In your pastel painting, you are free to include other art media such as crayons and charcoals.
I observed that each paper is lightly textured, not like the other pastel papers that are more textured and rough. Its lightly-textured finish makes me smoothly glide my pastels without skipping and globbing. I must say it has a competitive surface quality.
Light-colored pastels look intense and rich with these papers. Because of its ultra-smooth layout, the colors look very pigmented. In my experience, it is also perfect for drawing using my pastel pencils.
I just can’t seem to properly execute my blending and layering of colors. Maybe because the paper is lightly textured and the quality is thinner than the other pastel papers. Multiple layers of pastels tend to bleed through the paper.
10. Strathmore 400 Series Artagain Pad
Strathmore has always been a favorite brand by several artists. This 400 series artagain pad contains 24 sheets and it is highly recommended for beginners who are fond of using pastels in their artworks. The grit can withstand multiple pastel layers without smudging.
Its fiber-enhanced paper works best with soft pastels, although there’s no issue if you’ll be using hard pastels. That’s why I recommend this if you need a soft pastel paper.
I am also amazed by this paper because I was able to apply thick strokes on each sheet. The finish was smooth and flawless and the tooth holds the pastel pigments beautifully.
Even though dry pastel mediums are more recommended to be used in this paper, applying subtle amounts of wet media wouldn’t be a problem. The paper quality is durable enough to resist water-based art materials.
My personal favorite is the paper with gray tones as it brings deepness to my artworks. They look elegant whenever I use heavy-colored pastel pencils.
Talking about the paper quality, I observed that it is also ideally thick and sturdy. Repeated erasures won’t be a problem as this paper can withstand rigorous erasing without even leaving any dust.
It’s a relief to know that this pastel paper is acid-free. I have a lot of finished portraits using these papers, and I wanted to maintain their quality at its best condition. Good thing these papers can preserve them.
The only minor drawback is that it absorbs too much color. It might sometimes require you to use too many pastels.
11. AmberCity Sketch Pad Art Paper
If you’re searching for a sketch pad that can help you improve your pastel drawing and painting skills, this premium sketch pad by AmberCity might be a practical choice. It is a professionally-designed durable sketch book that is designed to last for a long time. It can be a perfect choice for beginners to perfect their techniques.
Because of its durability, it is sure to resist multiple layers of pastels. It won’t bleed through this paper. I can erase errors over and over again without tearing out the paper.
Moreover, its lightly textured surface offers a medium tooth yet providing a seamless pastel gliding. It enables me to apply pastels without experiencing any filthy smudges and leaving any dust.
I love how it can secure all of my portraits in one place. It also comes very handily whenever I do my sketches. I am also able to easily tear each paper out of the book whenever I want to put one of my portraits into a frame.
I find the surface very reliable for holding the pastel pigments. It enables me to exhibit my portraits confidently. This paper emphasizes the best details of my artwork. My personal favorite is the white-toned paper as it complements both soft and hard pastels.
Its binding design allows you to do pastel drawing and painting without any hassle because its pages can be flat all the time. You won’t experience any hard time doing your artwork.
Although the papers are all long-lasting, my only concern is that they do not preserve the artwork’s quality for a long time. I had several artworks done using this paper but sadly, the color faded out over time.
12. Clairefontaine Pastelmat Pastel Card
This pastel card by Clairefontaine is one of my favorite choices as it is ideal for rough coloring and sketching. It renders a very light and flawless texture and a fair thickness size, making it perfect for dry pastels.
I can glide my pastels seamlessly because of the paper’s very smooth finish. I can also do intricate details and even produce a variety of color combinations. I am free to try different pastel coloring techniques without having to worry about smudging and bleeding.
This set contains 12 unique-colored sheets. Moreover, the paper comes in a glued pad and each sheet includes a crystal divider in order to completely secure each sheet.
Because of its durable quality, I was able to produce multiple layers of colors and blend them seamlessly. The paper does not tear out and it remains at its best condition even though I am continually adding layers of pastels. Truly a good choice for creating impasto effects.
Furthermore, it has an archival quality that can preserve your artwork’s quality over time and prevents it from discoloring and fading over time. I was hoping to maintain the color vibrancy and vividness of my artwork and this pastel card did not disappoint me.
If you prefer sketching using pastel pencils, this will also do. Because of its smooth surface, the usage of pencils will be so much easier.
The drawback, on the other hand, is its price. It’s very expensive. It might be a great pastel paper but it won’t be recommended for aspiring artists because of its price.
What to Look for When Buying Pastel Paper
Art Medium Compatibility
Finding the perfect pastel paper will depend mainly on the type of art medium you are going to use. The most common art mediums are graphite (regular) pencils, oil pastels, soft pastels, hard or chalk pastels, charcoal pencils, color pencils, crayons, ink, markers, coloring pens, and watercolors. Every medium needs a special or specific type of pastel paper to create a vibrant and durable work of art.
However, even though there is a specific paper for every art medium, the artist may have the ability to interchange their uses and compatibility depending on the result he needs to obtain. This is where much creativity, as well as versatility, comes in. Anyway, that is what art is all about, creativity and imagination.
Paper Weight and Thickness
Some art mediums are more liquid in form while others are solid in preparation and availability. Paperweight and thickness must be considered depending on whether it is of a liquid or solid art medium. Heavy and thick pastel paper can readily and safely absorb liquid art medium to waxy preparation.
But of course, paper quality should also be a priority because not all thick and heavy pastel papers are durable. Solid art mediums like pencils and chalks may be used on thinner pastel paper. But then again, it is all up to the artist’s decision and creativity to use them interchangeably.
Quality and Texture
Generally, the most important thing to look out for in buying pastel paper is its tooth and texture. The quality and texture of pastel papers play an important role in the effective adherence of every media the artist is going to use. The pastel paper tooth refers to the bumps and edges you can see and feel on its surface which allows the binding of art medium to the pastel paper. Such texture is vital in effectively shaving the art medium so it adheres to the paper vibrantly.
We take pride and value in every artwork we make. It is practical enough to store them securely and conveniently. Here is where binding design comes in. Not only that it enables the artist to draw or paint securely and conveniently but I also give him the ability to beautifully showcase the works of art in an organized and fashionable way. It all depends on the motif and personality of the artist we should say.
The thing is, there should be factors affecting working convenience while preparing the art and securely storing them for proper presentation or showcase.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is This for?
Pastel papers are for a visual artist or pastel artist that meticulously needs to showcase their craft and creativity in such a way that his art medium can be vibrantly defined and adhered to a compatible surface.
The use of quality pastel paper may seem to be an ordinary consideration. But for expert artists and art enthusiasts, pastel paper quality and specifications play great roles in the vibrancy and vividness of every artwork.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a Pastel Paper?
The advantages and disadvantages of pastel papers are very much dependent on their texture. For example, Ingres or laid surfaces are more affordable types and very much easy to blend. The downside, on the other hand, is it will not take several layers of the medium being used and there are grid lines evident mostly.
Pastel paper with honeycomb or dimple–like surfaces may also be affordable and easy to blend while offering an alternate reverse side with a more subtle texture to work on.
There are visual effects of the honeycomb patterns that might be showing on your finished product.
However, if you need effective layering capability that allows gradual color blending or shades with vivid details, gritty surfaces have the advantage. They are quite expensive though and will drain your pastels quickly.
What are the Different Types of Pastel Papers?
The different types of pastel papers are mainly based on the following characteristics that you may need to consider: pastel paper colors, texture and tooth, and weight as well as format. Pastel paper surfaces may come in several tints, texture and thickness (weight), and numerous sizes. Generally, types of pastel paper depend on your needs and craftsmanship. It will also rely on your style and requirement.
What are the Most Popular Pastel Paper Brands?
Identifying the perfect pastel paper brand you need is considered one of the most challenging parts of preparing a work of art. You need the right pastel paper with good quality texture and specification that will perfectly match not only your art medium but also your execution of ideas and creativity.
It is good to know that popular visual artists have shown their trade secrets which include their pastel paper of choice that you will appreciate with the following brands:
- U.S. Art Supply
How to Use a Pastel Paper?
Since pastel paper is textured paper that comes in a variety of colors, textures, tones, and sizes, their uses are very much versatile and limitless in the field of pastel art. Your art medium plays a major role because it demands compatibility to be able to extract the needed shades and colors to your artwork.
Care should be given however to pastel paper that is less resistant to liquid or waxy art medium. Some low-quality pastel paper does not allow proper adherence and blending.
Creating art in terms of drawing, painting or coloring requires the ability to identify the compatibility of your art medium with the correct paper quality and specification. In this way, you can make your art more vibrant, lasting, and extraordinary. Hence, finding the best paper for pastels is a must.
Taking care of these masterpieces demands proper handling and storage which an artist must consider is the type of binding needed. Having the knowledge of reputable brands with their specific uses including advantages and disadvantages, every work of art will indeed develop utmost value and lasting beauty.