The best watercolor blocks for artist painting projects

A good quality pad of watercolor paper is just as important as the colors and brushes used. Available in a range of fiber types, textures and weights, these sheets can completely transform the performance of your pigments. Watercolor paper really ranges from cheap practice sheets to luxurious archival sheets, and the choice can often come down to price. But it’s important to remember that while an inferior product can save you money, it can also hold you back and prevent you from getting the results you are capable of. Our picks below provide a good overview of the best pads for a range of needs.

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1. Savoir Faire Fabriano pad

When it comes to artist-quality watercolor paper, cotton is king. But 100 percent cotton sheets can be expensive. For frequent use in the studio, whether for practice, experimentation, or for lasting masterpieces, we recommend this high-quality watercolor pad that won’t break the bank. It has 50 sheets of 25 percent cotton and 75 percent alpha cellulose, and the resulting surface feels very much like premium cotton rags. The pigment moves on it nice and evenly and it has a nice thickness that can take a decent amount of water and layered paint and handle it without warping. It’s an excellent option for beginners and experienced painters alike.

Buy: Savoir Faire Fabriano Pad

2. Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor Block

Made from wood pulp, Strathmore’s product is a high quality pad that can do anything you need watercolor paper for. Its sheets are durable and thick enough to absorb water with minimal deformation, and pigments flow well on the clean and flat surface. We also like the block itself, which is nice and sturdy with wired sides. It’s perfect for plein air painting as the back doubles as a portable easel.

Buy: Strathmore 400 series watercolor pad

3. Canson XL series watercolor pad

As a great option for students, we recommend Canson’s budget-friendly watercolor papers, which are suitable for both young artists and more experienced painters new to the medium. Made from wood pulp, these cold-pressed sheets stand up well to water; They are very forgiving and allow you to add more water to correct mistakes without breaking up. While they can warp as you work, they eventually dry flat. Overall, these are ideal sheets for practice and experimentation, with each affordable pad containing 30 sheets.

Buy: Canson XL Series watercolor pad

4. Arteza Watercolor Block

We like this option because it comes in a set of three pads, offering a total of 90 sheets at a fraction of the cost per sheet of our other selections. They are wired and perfect for spontaneous painters as they are small enough to slip into a carrying case and take with you wherever you go. The cold-pressed surface of these 140-pound sheets is highly absorbent and has a quick drying time, which is a nice bonus for those who want to work quickly. Although this paper is more prone to warping than high quality papers, you can easily smooth out your work by placing some heavy weights on it.

Buy: Arteza watercolor block

5. Sheets of watercolor paper pad

Regarded by many as the gold standard for watercolor papers, Arches products are made entirely of cotton fibers, making them thicker and stiffer than papers made from wood pulp. This paper is expensive, but the investment is worth it: colors look particularly vivid on this durable surface, which absorbs water very well. The paper is particularly suitable for wet-on-wet painting; Even with heavy washing and several layers of paint, there is no puddle formation or pilling, and the natural white surface does not warp. While perfect for professionals, this pad is also a great choice for watercolorists just starting out as it can help beginners refine techniques and blend colors more easily.

Buy: Arches Watercolor Paper Pad

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