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There are attractions in working on a pre-coloured surface and there are a range of options.

The General CP Techniques section has a topic on working CP on Coloured Paper.

That topic describes and demonstrates some more of the techniques involved.

This topic looks at the paper itself,

and the surfaces available

Black paper is looked at separately in the next section

as it has some potential problems in use, through it’s tendency to fade in strong light.

Watercolour pencils usually demand hot pressed watercolour paper

The notes below look at papers suitable for wax type ( Dry Point) Coloured Pencils

April 25th 2012   Stonehenge Kraft Paper.

I have just received a sample of this mid toned coloured paper and I have now had a chance do spend a little more time looking at how the surfaces behave.

The Paper is a 250gsm vellum surfaced, archival paper which is acid free and pH neutral.

The colour is a good all-purpose brown with a smooth finish. The reverse side is folded down and the front of the paper is therefore shown as the lower example in the image below.

A piece of white paper is shown along the right hand edge to enable you to see the colour depth of the original paper.

The front is slightly smoother than the reverse and both sides take colour well.

The test was done with Derwent Coloursoft and Faber-Castell Polychromos to show up any differences in the takeup from soft wax and medium soft oil based pencils.

The image below shows the results of the test and the scan was taken against a sheet of grey Stonehenge paper :  

The first impression was of a useful paper with a good mid toned colour.  The back of the paper is slightly rougher, as is shown up by the shaded test on the extreme right of the sample.  The top right corner of each shape was burnished with the Caran d’Ache FullBlender and the result can be seen.

White soft pencil takes well on the rougher side of the paper ( Coloursoft) but the colour take up on the front was also very good and - because of the smoother surface - produced a nice even colour without blending making much impact.  As you can see from the two fine black lines, the vellum finish enables fine detail.

The white test strips show the build up of several layers ( up to 7 ) but with skilled use I have no doubt more finer layers would be possible.  The white/colour block shows the effect of a white underpainting layer.

The right hand oval shape demonstrates the smooth layering of colours on the two sides of the paper.

With an archival quality, the paper should prove lightfast, and in common with the other Stonehenge coloured papers is probably pigmented rather than dyed.  We will place a test piece in sun conditions this summer to check the stability.

A good paper which is available in the USA through Dick Blick and should be available in the UK later this summer through the normal UK Stonehenge suppliers.  More information will be provided when received.

What papers are on the market place in the UK, and what we know about how they perform when used with Coloured Pencil

Possibly the widest UK retail and Internet availability of coloured card is from Daler Rowney :

Canford black and coloured card/paper The pads come in a range of sizes and two weights and there are 37 colours - many of them very bright.  The version most frequently found is described by Daler Rowney as Craft paper and is quite lightweight for a card at 150gsm weight. This is sold in single sheets and in A4 and A3 and A1 sized pads which include a range of colours - or black alone.

Pads of A4 size ( 8.25ins x 12.75 ins) are sold at around £8 and the larger A3 size for around £14.

For CP work you would be advised to search out a supplier of single sheets in the paler colours of which there are around 12 colours which I believe would be usable as background colours for artwork

This product has been around for years and I have used it quite a lot,  The surface is smooth and has some grip - though it will not be capable of many layers of Coloured Pencil colour.

Daler Rowney also sell the heavier weight 300 gsm card in sheets and pads.   See the Daler Rowney site for more information on colours, weights and sizes  ( http://www.daler-rowney.com/canford-paper-card)

Canford is not an archival paper, and is sold for craft work. Colours should not be considered stable enough for valuable images though the paper is good for practice work as it is relatively inexpensive

Stonehenge ( Rising Stonehenge as marketed by Legion Paper )

Is probably one of the best surfaces for Coloured Pencil with it’s smooth absorbent surface.

Stonehenge comes in a variety of 4 pale colours ( as well as a new Kraft (mid brown) shade - Summer 2012 ) and white and black.  250 gsm weight and 100% cotton, archival and the colour is pigmented and therefore light stable.

Imported from the USA through Global Art Supplies and sold by a number of Internet based outlets such as Jacksons Discount Art and Tim Fisher’s CSC  ( http://www.thecsc.co.uk/stonehenge.html )

Stonehenge will take a lot of colour layers and as it is absorbent ( originally made as a paper for printmaking), it is worth leaving a saturated colour surface for a week or so and then return to add more colour.

Some people have criticised the paper for raising threads of material if it is overworked and there is also a slight difference between the two sides which you need to watch.  The paper does not take water kindly.  

Canson Edition paper

Fairly new, this is a 250gsm paper with a smooth surface on one side and a soft fine grain surface on the reverse.

100% cotton it comes in five pale natural colours, and white and black.   I haven’t tried this paper, but it appears to mirror Stonehenge.  Available through Great Art ( Gerstaecker Group )

See : http://www.greatart.co.uk/CANSON-EDITION-PAPER-drawing-sheets-rolls.htm

Somerset Velvet

Made in the UK at St Cuthbert’s Mill, in Somerset

Velvet has a slightly rougher surface than Stonehenge, is fully archival using pigments rather than dyes to colour the papers.

It is sold for pastel use, but I guess that it will still work well for CP .... It is certainly not as grained a surface as most pastel papers .  

Sold in a small range of pale colours 250gsm and white at 300gsm  Most of the Somerset coloured papers are shades of white and Buff with the one deeply coloured Black paper

A sample pack of Somerset papers are available through the Society of All Artists (The SAA) who offer members discounted prices but also sell to non members.   Sheet Somerset is also sold by Pegasus art who also sell a wide range of other print making papers, most of which will be suitable for CP

Other Papers

From other comments received - and some of those reported above - some of the major manufacturer’s pastel papers are probably light stable, though the surfaces will leave something to be desired for detailed Coloured Pencil work.

The same low fading requirements will apply, though, for pastel pencil work ( though in many cases much of the paper surface will be covered by pastel and will not be visible to fade in strong light ).

Amongst Pastel papers,  Canson Mi-Teintes has been suggested

- as have Winsor & Newton’s Lana papers and Fabriano Tiziano ( suggested by Great Art ).

I have used Daler Rowney’s Murano paper for CP but it does have quite a rough patterned surface

To summarise

Canford is widely available and relatively inexpensive

It is is not lightfast, however, and should be used with care

Somerset Velvet is an exceptionally good paper for Coloured Pencil and in view of it’s archival quality and stability, should be high on any list of potential papers

Stonehenge is available in a range of colours and has a smoother surface.  Availability may be a problem in the UK but check with retailers The CSC, and Jacksons Art

As at the end of September 2014, I don’t have any direct information about other suitable coloured papers, but I welcome contributions from readers who have used good coloured paper for CP.

NOTE BELOW : report on Stonehenge Kraft paper


Bear in mind that we can include a wide range of papers and card under the heading of ‘Coloured Papers’.

There are a number of Pastel Papers that are smooth enough to use for Wax type Coloured Pencil although the grain will have to be considered in the type of subject chosen.  There is a fairly comprehensive review of pastel papers in the Pastel Pencils Topic so I will not repeat all that again here.

Mountboard also offers a wide range of choices for the Coloured Pencil artist with many of the board coloured surfaces acid free and archival.  There are textured surfaces and perfectly smooth ones and I have used both.  In the UK most mountboard is supplied from stocks manufactured by or for Daler Rowney , Crescent , Britannia, Arqadia, or Great Art.  If you are buying for CP use, it would be advisable to check out the archival quality of the board you select and actually see samples of the surface first.  Possibly a local framer may be able to assist in both selection and sale. This would be better than buying blind.

Many coloured papers most suitable for Cp use are sold for printmaking or pastels and as you will see below, there are also craft papers which are suitable as to surface - but not as to stability of colour in strong light.

My suggestion is to first try a print making or drawing paper, and whilst you will find that most are sold only in pastel shades, this is not a bad thing.

Latest revision of this page August 2015

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A full set of tests of different papers (in mid 2015) is posted up in the earlier pages of this section and includes a comparative test of the paper shown above together with two or three other coloured papers.

There is also a page covering the actual working of CP on Coloured Paper ( mostly black paper)  in the section covering General CP Techniques and this link will take you there direct