The Best Watercolour Paper for Beginners


So you want to know what the best watercolour papers are; where is the sweet spot between texture, absorbency, durability and price? This article has you covered. I don’t actually define tools as ‘beginner’ and ‘advanced’ – I believe you should buy the best product you can comfortably afford – but sometimes it’s overwhelming to know where to start. These are my tried and tested recommendations, and they won’t lead you astray.

If you want to understand the differences between paper textures, check out my article on the differences between hot-pressed, cold-pressed and rough papers.


Fabriano offers a range of watercolour papers, including the popular Fabriano Artistico series. It has a beautiful surface and uses high-quality cotton, which will help prevent your painting from buckling and give you more even washes.

Saunders Waterford:

Saunders Waterford, produced by St Cuthberts Mill, is another brand known for its high-quality watercolour papers. I love the Bockingford line produced by St Cuthbert’s Mill, and cannot recommend it highly enough. It comes in various textures and is well-regarded for its durability.


Strathmore produces a variety of watercolour papers, and their 400 Series is rightfully popular thanks to its quality and affordability. If your budget can stretch to it, the 500 Series is also available as a more premium option.


Hahnemühle produces a range of artist papers, but my favourites are The Harmony and The Collection. These papers are both excellent for beginners; they handle washes well, and you can practice lifting on both.


Arches watercolour paper is my all time favourite. When I switched to using their cold-pressed paper, I felt my confident improve dramatically. The paper is almost superhumanly gifted at creating smooth even washes, and it is fantastic at both lifting and scrubbing. There’s a reason why it’s considered by some to be the gold standard, and has earned a reputation for its exceptional quality, durability and finish.

Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolor Paper:

Winsor & Newton, known for its art supplies, offers several lovely professional-grade watercolour papers. They are strong enough to handle layering and scrubbing, and can handle wet-on-wet techniques beautifully.

Canson Montval:

Canson Montval watercolour paper is known for its student-friendly price and reasonable quality. I recommend this for hobbyists who are still practicing their brush control techniques, and who are beginning to try layering.

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