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How to Prepare Watercolor Paper

how to prepare watercolor paper

Painting on watercolor paper is unlike any other experience you’ve had before. But without a bit of preparation, it can seem complicated and overwhelming at first.

In this post, we will show you how to prepare your watercolor paper so that the paint goes on smoothly and evenly. This information is a must-know for any artist that wants to work with watercolors, so let’s get started.

How to Prepare the Watercolor Paper before Painting?

Step 1: Determine the type of Watercolor Paper for use

The first step is to find out which type of watercolor paper you will be using. There are three main types: hot press, cold press, and rough.

  • Hot Press papers have a smooth finish and are best for detailed work
  • Cold press papers have a slightly textured surface, making them suitable for both detail and blending
  • Rough papers are the most absorbent and, therefore, can create interesting textures with the paint

Step 2: Cut and Soak the Paper

Once you’ve decided on your paper type, it’s time to prepare it for painting.

  • Measure the paper size you want, then cut your paper using a ruler and cutter or scissors
  • Then, soak the paper in water for about 30 seconds- this will help it expand so that it doesn’t buckle when you start painting

Step 3: Dry the Watercolor Paper

  • You want your paper to be a bit damp yet not too wet. Therefore, after soaking it, gently ring out the excess water
  • The best way to do this is by rolling up a paper towel and gently pressing it down along the length of the sheet. Do this step until you have removed most of the moisture without leaving huge wrinkles or imprints in your paper
  • Let your paper dry completely before painting on it. Depending on the humidity level and the weather, this could take 30 minutes to a few hours

Step 4: Tape Down the Edges of the Paper

how to prepare the watercolor paper before painting

Another thing you can do to prepare watercolor paper is tape down all four edges of the sheet. This step will help keep the paper from warping while it dries.

If you’re using a paper pad, you can tear out the pages and prepare them one by one.

Step 5: Prepare your Palette

Determine which paint colors match those you intend to use for your art piece. You’ll also want some small containers filled with clean water- one for rinsing brushes and another for cleaning your palate after each color change (so as not to mix paints).

Step 6: Prepare some Scrap Watercolor Paper Sheets

Finally, make sure you’ve got several sheets of scrap watercolor paper on hand; these will come in handy if any mistakes are made during painting!

And now, Start Painting!

Now we’re ready to start painting. Begin by sketching out your design onto the watercolor paper with a pencil. This will give you a guide to follow when applying the paint and can be easily erased if needed.

Once you’re happy with your sketch, start painting in the colors using light strokes- it’s always better to add more layers of color than to try and fix mistakes later on.

If you make a mistake, don’t worry! Just quickly dab at it with a wet brush until it’s gone and continue as usual.

Do you have to Prepare Watercolor Paper?

The short answer is no.

You can start painting on watercolor paper as soon as you purchase it. However, if you want to get the most out of your paper and create beautiful paintings, you can do a few things to prepare it.

One of the most important things is to make sure your paper is wet before painting. This will help the paint move around more easily and prevent it from soaking into the paper. You can either use a spray bottle or brush on the water until the surface is wet but not dripping.


If you are unfamiliar with watercolor paper preparation, then this is the post for you. The process of preparing watercolor paper is an art in itself. It requires a lot of patience, precision, and skill.

By following these steps, you will create the perfect surface for your artwork from start to finish. Feel free to leave any suggestions or questions to us below!

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