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Buying Paper and Art Supplies (Canson and Scratchmore)
on December 29, 2013
I hate buying paper online for my drawings. I like to be able to hold it and feel the paper; examine it like a monkey examines a banana; see its color. These are all vital things to determine if it’s the paper for you. BUT. I put my name on Canson paper—it’s fantastic paper.
FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE SHOPPING BUT DON’T KNOW TOO MUCH ABOUT THE PAPER
I don’t know about paper for pastels, charcoal (it’s not my best medium), watercolor, etc., but I do know about graphite or colored pencils for portrait drawing. So, this review is greatly geared towards paper for the purpose of drawing in pencil.
Notice how the pad reads something like 65lbs or 100lbs—something like that? Obviously, the drawing pad isn’t going to weigh 65 pounds. This refers to the stock. 60lbs is what I consider Sketch paper, and it’s usually the pound of paper you’ll get for a book called a Sketch book. But I draw traditional realistic portraits, and 60lb doesn’t hold up against all of the wear-and-tear the paper will undergo for my 12 hours of drawing on it. My minimum requirement for “finished” pieces is 80lb. 80lb is great. It’s not too thick, but not thin enough that it’s going to crinkle from a misplace stroke. 100lb is also very nice paper, and I’d suggest that as well.
If you are buying paper that is meant to be PRACTICE PAPER, you don’t need to get thick paper. If copying paper is fine for your purposes, I’d suggest about 60lb paper. For more finished pieces, get 80lb. With thicker paper, however, you tend to get less per pad (about 24 sheets compared to 100 sheets for something like 60lb), but SPEND THE MONEY if you want quality paper that is going to still be presentable at the completion of the artwork.
SKETCH vs. DRAWING
As briefly mentioned above, Sketch paper is traditionally thin-stock paper. Drawing paper is more “fancy,” so it’s usually thicker and sturdier. Sketch paper is for practice, and Drawing is for the real-deal stuff, in my opinion. Sketch paper is cheaper per sheet than drawing paper (usually), but it comes down to quality. For starting artists, I suggest one of each pad (both drawing and sketch) of about 12 inches tall, that way they have enough room to explore their talents in the Sketch pad, and then exhibit them on a grander platform in the Drawing pad. For the Drawing paper, 80lbs at minimum! That’s the lowest paper I ever use for my portraits. For the Sketch paper… well. That’s up to you. I use 60lb, which is just fine, practically like copying paper, I suppose.
The thing about me and VA is this: I LOVED THE BOOKS. Oh, I’ve been going through New-VA-Book Withdrawal since the last one came out. Then I decided to purchase for myself a birthday present, and I bought the 1st and 2nd Graphic Novels for the Vampire Academy. The illustrations are fantastic and expressive, and the story is beautifully adapted. I love how Christian and Adrian (in the 2nd book) are drawn, especially. EXACTLY and PERFECTLY how I figured they’d look. These are a wonderful addition to your bookshelf, especially if you’re a VA fan in withdrawal.
BIG PAD vs. LITTER PAD
Ah, the question! What size of paper to buy! That’s completely up to you, and what sort of drawing you’re looking to get into. I have paper pads that are as small as 6x8, and as large as 24x18. The kind of paper you get is utterly your preference. Honestly. If you want to do large-scale portraits, a big pad is definitely for you. If you want portraits that are about the size of a copying sheet of paper (ABOUT), then 9x12 is great to buy (I use that size most frequently). My only suggestion to you is to get a pad with spiral binding. That makes it so you don’t have to worry about pending pages or destroying glued-in or sewed-in bindings. I like the spirals so that I can flip through with ease, and never have to worry about wrecking a previous portrait just to draw a new one.
Some paper has… oh… “pot holes” in it. I draw on smooth paper, medium texture/smooth, with my graphite pencils. THE TYPE OF TEXTURE YOU GET IS IMPORTANT TO THE MEDIUM YOU USE ON IT. Make sure you read what type of medium the paper was designed for, because the paper IS different and will take your art-implements differently.
Ah. Color. To me, I don’t really care, so long as it isn’t stark like gray or pink. I have used bleached white paper, and then just the regular paper that doesn’t even specify color on it. I guess it’s really just up to you and what you’re drawing for and with.
OTHER THINGS YOU OUGHT TO PURCHASE
Of course, the type of drawing you do is going to affect what tools you need. However, if you’re into realistic portraits of people, etc., I might have a few suggestions:
- A set of blending stumps—or as many as you can get! I use these more often than my pencil in a drawing!
- White charcoal pencil. ESSENTIAL for making things completely, stark white, like highlights. Some people also use white pens, but my preference is the charcoal.
- If you’re not a black-charcoal kind of person like me, but still need an alternative to get really black color, I HIGHLY recommend the General’s Layout Extra Black No. 555 pencil. It has to be my favorite pencil!
- PLENTY of different sized erasers. I have big pink ones, pencil erasers, kneaded erasers, and tiny mechanical erasers to get into small spaces easily.
- And, of course, some pencils! I really don’t have too much of a preference as to what pencil I use—a regular old one you find in a school classroom works! But, if you want to get fancy, you CAN definitely buy some nice Prismacolor or Derwent pencils (both are fantastic, EXPENSIVE pencils). I suggest a Medium or Soft set of 12, if you can. The hard sets can be sort of non-necessity, and you might find yourself only needing a few of those, particularly in the 2H-4H range. 9H is EXTREMELY hard. The guide to pencils is this: 9H-H are hard pencils, and 9B-B are soft pencils. I guess the standard #2 (which is an HB) is the “neutral” ground.
BRANDS I RECOMMEND
Canson is GREAT paper. Fantastic. Scratchmore is also FANTASTIC paper. I own pads in both Canson and Scratchmore. In Scratchmore, I tend to buy the ones that have a brown cover with the woman’s portrait on the front. Good paper. Canson, I like the Recycled Drawing 80lb, but that’s sort of hard to find as it turns out, so any other Canson paper works brilliantly as well.
Generals pencils are nice and cheap, and they tend to work just fine for me. A MUST have itemis the General’s Layout Extra Black No. 555.
White charcoal pencils. Mine are just Generals brand.
Collection of blending stumps and some sandpaper to re-point their tips as they start to flatten out. Also, you can use this type of leather (I do not know the name, but it comes in some shading sets and is a goldeny color when new). I happened across this neat tool recently when I bought a set of blending stumps and I LOVE it. You can also use tissues, I’ve heard, as well as your finger.
ERASERS! Buy a ton of them. Little ones, big ones, etc. I’m not too much of a fan of kneaded erasers myself, but go for it if you please!
GOOD sharpener. I have one that sharpens three kinds of tools, and it’s by Faber-Castell (it’s called the Blackberry Grip Trio Sharpener). I DO NOT suggest using mechanical sharpeners, sine I find that it gives off chips on the end of the pencil and eats away too much of your very expensive pencil sets way too fast. Hand-helds are my preference, even if they are cheap ones from the dollar store!