How to Stretch Watercolour Paper


Paper is the foundation of almost every watercolour painting. Preparing your surface can significantly impact the outcome of your artwork; and for watercolour artists, this means stretching your paper. This technique will prevent your paper from warping or buckling when wet. You don’t need to stretch paper that’s already on a block, but loose sheets and pads of watercolour paper will really benefit from this easy technique.

Cut your Paper

Choose a paper that is slightly larger than your desired finished size. We’re going to need at least an inch around the edges to secure it to a board or table later on.

Soak the Paper

To stretch the paper, start by soaking it in a bath of cold water for around 10-15 minutes. Make sure that everything is fully immersed – you don’t want areas that are more or less wet than others! Once the paper is completely and evenly soaked, carefully remove it from the water.

Pat & Flatten

Place it on a flat surface (like a wooden board or table). Take a wet sponge and gently work from the centre of the paper to the edges, flattening the paper.

Secure it

Once your paper is flat, you need to secure it so that it is taught. You can either use lightly spaced pushpins, gumstrip tape or painters tape to secure the edges of the paper to your flat surface. Let it dry fully.

Then paint!

Once dry, your paper is ready to use!

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