When you’re painting with watercolour, choosing your paint is only half the battle. You must also make sure you have the right paper, and it's not just about choosing cold press vs. hot press paper.
Look for paper made especially for watercolour because most paper can’t handle getting wet. You’d think that that would narrow down the choices a lot, but there are still many options!
Block paper is nice to have on hand because you can make individual paintings without dismantling a sketchbook. Another benefit of the block is when the paper comes put together in a block, it doesn’t buckle nearly as much.
Here are our top picks for watercolour paper blocks for any and every artist!
Best Budget Friendly Wood Pulp Paper Block for Beginners
Etchr 300GSM Hot Press Wood Pulp Paper Block
This is one of our paper blocks. Wood pulp paper is a great budget-friendly place to start when you're just getting into watercolour. 300GSM is an excellent quality weight, and this one in particular can hold a lot of water.
Just keep in mind that it behaves differently than cotton, so you’ll have fun comparing and contrasting the effects you get with this paper vs some of the others on this list.
Best Budget Friendly Cotton Paper Block for Every Artist Level
Etchr 300GSM 50% Cotton Paper Block
This 50% cotton block is a dream to paint on and is at a great price point. Professional artists prize cotton paper above all other types because it can take loads and loads of water.
For a different shape, try our 8x8” square block. The square shape opens the possibilities for different compositions that might not be as effective on oblong paper.
It is advantageous when making a picture specifically to post on Instagram, and it needs to fit that format. It might take a little more effort to evenly wet cotton paper, but it takes longer to overload it, too, so you’ll like this blend.
Another great thing about this paper block is that it comes in 4 sizes, so you don't need to go in and cut a huge block. You can also find them on Amazon, Aquarelle et Pinceaux, and Art Supply Warehouse.
Best Cotton Paper Block for Mixed Media Artists
Arches Aquarelle 300GSM Watercolor Paper Block
If you’re comfortable with a higher price point, Arches Aquarelle paper is a great choice. So far, I have only invested in the hot press paper. I like it for layering watercolour and coloured pencils because the smooth paper doesn’t wear down the pencils.
To stretch a block of Arches further, you might consider using a paper cutter to slice one sheet into smaller card-sized pieces. That way, you are painting cute mini-paintings, and also, if you mess up a painting, you have only messed up a small part of the paper instead of the entire sheet.
Best Cotton Paper Block for Advanced Artists
Winsor and Newton Professional Watercolor Paper Block, 300GSM Cold Press
I have enjoyed this paper for a couple of years now. The cotton can take lots of washes, and the cold press texture has a way of hiding my mistakes that I appreciate.
I do not recommend this paper for those who like to layer coloured pencils over watercolour because the texture will wear down your pencils too quickly, and you’ll end up wasting them. However, for watercolour, ink washes, and pen drawings, this paper is superb.
Best Heavyweight Cotton Paper Block
At a whopping 425GSM, this is the sturdiest and thickest paper on this list. The price per sheet is a great deal for the quality. The smooth texture is deliciously creamy, and the colour is a crisp white.
Why 425GSM, you may ask? Because Hahnemuhle has been in business for 425 years! They don’t call this the Anniversary Watercolor Block for nothing! This brand has stood the test of time and is trusted by professionals all over the world.
I recommend that you try a couple of these papers at a time and learn about watercolour paper labels, especially if you’re new to watercolour. Your painting results will differ drastically depending on the kind of paper you use, even if your paint and techniques are the same.
With so many brands and prices to choose from, it can get overwhelming. Lucky for you, we've also got an article on when (and when not) to buy quality art materials to help you out.
If you’re having trouble getting the hang of a particular technique, try another kind of paper because it may work better for your painting style. I hope this list helps you discover your new favourite paper!