Yes, one of my favorite things is paper. As an illustrator, I like to experiment with paper and as a designer, I am no different. Always asking printers for different samples and/or the latest swatch books from the mills.
It seemed only natural to do a Paper Study. Using four types of paper in the studio, I experimented using luma dye, prismacolor, Sakura pigma pen, marker and watercolor pencil. The results are pictured for you to compare the effects each medium had on a given paper (click to enlarge for full effect). In this study I used (1) bristol and (3) watercolor sheets. I thought it would be interesting to compare bristol with watercolor. Below is a brief description of the types of paper and my random thoughts on the study.
Watercolor paper is available as three types, rough, cold press (or semi-rough) and hot press. I didn't use a rough watercolor paper, as I don't use professionally, but it is the heaviest textured paper that you can use with watercolors. Cold press is the most widely used for traditional watercolor technique and the most readily available. This paper also works well with pastels or charcoals due to it's moderate texture and tooth. Hot press has a smooth surface and a fine texture which makes it better for soft drawing materials.
Bristol paper is available in a smooth and vellum finish. It is has a stiff, strong surface that is generally described as drawing paper that is pasted together to form multi-ply sheets. A smooth bristol works well with marker, pen&ink, and airbrush. The vellum sheet is recommended for more of a dry medium like pastel, pencil, and charcoal but can sustain light washes without buckling (also may depend on the brand and paper weight).
The 4 papers that I compared in my study are: Canson Bristol, Vellum 100#, Canson Cold Press Aquarelle 140#, Arches Cold Press 140#, Cartiera Magnani Hot Press 140#. When reviewing each study please note that the line at the top is a quick stroke of luma dye, the top flower is watercolor pencil, the crosshatch was done in pigma pen and the blue line of color in marker, the flower at the bottom was prismacolor pencil. I used all the same mediums and colors on each stock and did my best to apply the same amount of pressure as well. The colors have not been tweaked in the scan, this way you can see how the ink/pencil reacted to each paper.
Personally, I believe that each paper works well for certain project needs. Canson being the more moderate paper (studies, practice, comps), Arches and CM more quality papers for finish work. I have come to these conclusions through my use of each and how they compliment my style and choice of mediums. You may disagree, but (thankfully) that is why we have so many different paper options available to us! Bottom line, experiment with papers just like you do with mediums because that is the best way to discover which is best for you.
Conclusion: for my work and the amount of detail I like to achieve, I prefer using Hot Press papers and my latest find is Cartiera Magnani (loving it!!!). Now, some may differ... I did read a review where the artist felt it was "too soft" but that is one of the attributes I love about the sheet. My pencil seemed to flow across the page. It was like drawing on a brushed cotton sheet. And the resulting textures from the pencils were soft and lovely as well. On the flip side, I love working with Arches, it never buckles and has a wonderful natural white color*. Arches cold press, has a medium texture and tooth that appears more compact, more tightly woven, than other watercolor papers. While I can't get the level of line detail on this stock, I do create some wonderful color variances due to the heavier texture. I create most of my pen and ink illustrations on a bristol vellum and if I add a light wash of luma dye to the finish, the vellum will tolerate it without buckling.
Whew...I think this was my biggest post yet! I hope this information was helpful. Feel free to comment on your favorite papers or thoughts on my study. I am always willing to try out a new sheet! Thanks for stopping by.
* Did you know that Arches watercolor paper is mouldmade in France during certain times of the year? Water from the river used to wash the paper becomes muddy in winter. Which is why there is a slight variation in whiteness between batches of paper.