Can You Use Watercolor Paper for Colored Pencils?

Colored pencil enthusiasts often find themselves at a crossroads when it comes to choosing the right paper for their artwork. The question that frequently arises is, “Can you use watercolor paper for colored pencils?” The answer is a resounding yes.

If you’re eager to enhance your artistic journey, this article aims to provide a comprehensive guide, addressing various aspects and angles to help you make an informed decision for your artistic endeavors.

Use Watercolor Paper For Colored Pencils

What Makes Watercolor Paper Special?

Before we explore the coordination between watercolor paper and colored pencils, let’s take a moment to appreciate the unique characteristics of watercolor paper.

Typically, thicker and more textured than regular paper, watercolor paper is designed to withstand the moisture of watercolors. Its textured surface provides an interesting environment for pigments to show their brilliance.

Advantages of Using Watercolor Paper for Colored Pencils

Some advantages of using these papers are:

Enhanced Texture and Durability

The texture of watercolor paper is a game-changer for colored pencil enthusiasts. It provides a toothy surface that allows colored pencils to grip and release pigment more effectively. This enhanced texture not only aids in detailing but also contributes to the overall longevity of your artwork.

Improved Color Blending

Witness a metamorphosis in your color blending techniques on watercolor paper. The absorbent nature of this paper allows for seamless color transitions, giving life to your artistic vision. Blend and layer with ease, achieving gradients that captivate the viewer.

Resistance to Buckling

One of the primary concerns when using colored pencils is paper buckling. Watercolor paper, known for its resilience, resists warping even under heavy layers of colored pencil application. This feature ensures a stable surface, allowing you to focus on your creativity without worrying about the integrity of the canvas.

How to Choose the Right Watercolor Paper?

Selecting the right watercolor paper is akin to choosing the foundation for a building—it forms the basis for the success of your artwork. Let’s explore the crucial factors that contribute to a harmonious marriage between colored pencils and watercolor paper.

Weight and Thickness

Understanding the weight and thickness of watercolor paper is paramount. A heavier weight accommodates multiple layers of colored pencils, offering versatility in your artistic expression. Strike the perfect balance based on your preferences and techniques.

Surface Texture

The texture of watercolor paper varies, influencing the final appearance of your colored pencil masterpiece. Experiment with hot-pressed or cold-pressed options to find the texture that aligns with your artistic style. Each variation contributes a unique character to your artwork.

Acid-free Characteristics

Preserving your artwork over time requires choosing acid-free watercolor paper. The acid-free nature ensures that your colored pencil creation remains vibrant and intact, resisting the yellowing and deterioration that can occur with non-acid-free alternatives.

Tips for Using Colored Pencils on Watercolor Paper

Now that we’ve established the advantages and criteria for selecting watercolor paper, let’s delve into practical tips that will elevate your colored pencil creations on this unique canvas.

Layering Techniques

Master the art of layering colored pencils on watercolor paper. Experiment with building layers to create depth and intensity in your artwork. The toothy surface of watercolor paper allows for multiple layers without compromising the structural integrity of the paper.

Blending Strategies

Refine your blending skills to achieve seamless transitions between colors. Watercolor paper’s absorbent quality facilitates smooth blending, enabling you to create gradients and subtle color variations that add sophistication to your artwork.

Experimenting with Techniques

Embark on a journey of experimentation with advanced techniques that showcase the dynamic possibilities of using colored pencils on watercolor paper.

Wet-on-Dry Approach

Explore the wet-on-dry approach, a technique that involves selectively adding water to specific areas of your colored pencil artwork. This method allows for controlled blending and shading, providing a unique dimension to your creative expression.

Incorporating Water

Take inspiration from watercolor techniques by incorporating water into your colored pencil creations. Experiment with the fluidity of watercolor effects on watercolor paper, adding an extra layer of dynamism to your artwork.

Breaking the Myth: Watercolor Paper Isn’t Just for Watercolors

Here are some common myths about water colored paper and colored pencils:

Myth 1: Watercolor Paper is Exclusively for Watercolors

Contrary to popular belief, watercolor paper isn’t bound by the exclusive company of watercolors. Its robust texture welcomes a variety of mediums, including colored pencils. By challenging this myth, artists can unlock a realm of possibilities and broaden their creative horizons.

Myth 2: Colored Pencils Stick to Smooth Surfaces Only

Smooth surfaces have their charm, but breaking away from this norm can lead to exciting outcomes. Colored pencils on watercolor paper challenge the conventional, offering artists an avenue to play with texture and create visually stunning effects.


Embrace the synergy between watercolor paper and colored pencils to unlock new dimensions in your artistic journey. From enhanced texture to improved blending and resistance to buckling, this dynamic duo offers a canvas for boundless creativity. Experiment, learn, brake the myths and let your colored pencil creations flourish on the versatile medium of watercolor paper.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

These common questions will definitely help you to enhance your artistic journey:

Is watercolor paper suitable for all colored pencil brands?

While most colored pencils work well on watercolor paper, it’s advisable to test a small area before committing to a complete artwork.

Can you use watercolor paper for colored pencils in detailed drawings?

Absolutely! The enhanced texture of watercolor paper is ideal for intricate details in colored pencil drawings.

Do I need to seal my colored pencil artwork on watercolor paper?

Sealing is recommended to protect your masterpiece. Use a fixative spray to ensure longevity.

Can watercolor paper handle heavy layers of colored pencils?

Yes, watercolor paper’s durability allows for heavy layering, enabling artists to build rich and vibrant colors.

What is the ideal weight of watercolor paper for colored pencils?

The ideal weight depends on personal preference, but a minimum of 140lb (300gsm) is recommended for colored pencil work.

Can I use watercolor techniques with colored pencils on watercolor paper?

Absolutely! Experiment with watercolor techniques to add dynamic effects to your colored pencil artwork.

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