The Best Types of Fine Art Papers

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There are many types of fine art papers available to artists and printmakers today. That number is ever increasing with new paper manufacturers emerging all the time.

Here is a list of the most popular paper types used today by artists and printmakers. It is by no means the complete list of all papers, but it provides an overview of the most popular papers currently used. As you will see, there are many different types of papers from which to choose. They vary in color, texture, weight and surface characteristics…

When choosing a fine art paper for your next project, consider its’ surface properties (tooth, texture or smooth), weight and color as these can affect how well it works for your particular application. For example, a heavier weight paper may be better suited for inks with less tooth or a smoother surface than a lighter weight paper. Consider also how you want the final piece to look and feel before selecting a fine art paper.*

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Fine art papers are often called “mediums” when referring to inkjet printers. Inkjet printers have different kinds of paper, which can make all the difference in the quality of the print.

The three most commonly used types of fine art papers are cotton rag, cold press, and hot press. The properties of each type of paper is different, so it is important to know what they are before choosing a particular kind of paper.

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Fine art papers are made of a variety of materials and have different characteristics, which makes the choice more complex than the selection of a regular printer paper. But if you know what to look for, it’s easy to determine which type is best suited for your needs.

The properties of fine art papers can be divided into four groups:1. Roughness and texture2. Permanence and durability3. Color and white4. Surface and sizing

The following is an overview of the most common types of fine art papers, as well as their main characteristics within these groups.

The texture of paper is an important consideration when you are choosing a paper for your printmaking. Fine art papers have different textures, and the texture will affect the print. For example, a smooth paper may allow the ink to spread more evenly over the surface and produce a soft image, while a rough texture may make the ink form deeper grooves as it dries and give a coarser texture to the print. The texture may also affect how easy it is to handle and manipulate the paper during inking and printing.

Properties of Fine Art Papers:

Texture: The feel or surface of a piece of paper. This can range from smooth to rough, depending on the way it was made.

Grain: The directionality of fibers in paper. Grain can be either across or along the roll. When rolling ink onto paper, grain direction will affect how it spreads across the surface of the print. Paper with grain running across will spread more evenly than that with grain running down its length.*

Thickness: How thick or thin the paper is. This refers to its weight in pounds (ppi) rather than its physical thickness.*

Color: Different kinds of fine art papers come in different colors or shades.*

Binding: There are two binding types

The best fine art papers can often be determined by their quality, weight, strength and composition. If you want the best paper for your artwork, regardless if you are a professional or hobbyist artist, it is important to know how to determine the best fine art papers for you. In some cases, this is just what paper you feel most comfortable with and can easily blend with your artwork.

The first thing you need to do is know the differences between the different types of fine art papers available. The three main categories of fine art papers are watercolor paper, watercolor board and photo rag paper. The distinctions between these three types of paper will help you choose the right one for your needs.

Watercolor paper consists of 100% cotton and is available in hot press (smooth), cold press (semi-smooth) and rough. Watercolor boards are made from 100% rag content and are available in smooth or textured surfaces. Photo rag paper is a high quality inkjet printer paper that simulates the look of traditional fine art papers such as watercolor paper and watercolor board.

The best type of paper for fine art printing is a long lasting paper, which can be used for reproductions of both photographs and paintings. The paper should be of archival quality and able to withstand basic environmental conditions. Both textured and non-textured papers are available, with the former giving a more finished look.


It is important to consider what you are going to use your paper for. If you are planning on framing and hanging your fine art print then a heavier weight paper is probably best.

On the other hand if you plan on using your print for framing but you want the option of being able to roll it up or lay it flat without the need of a frame then a lighter weight paper will do.

Treatment: It is always recommended to use papers that have been acid-free, as this helps to protect the artwork from changes in temperature, light and humidity.

If you want your art print to fade slower then using papers that have been alkaline buffered is recommended. It also aids in creating a flat image.

Some papers contain UV protection so that the colors do not fade from exposure to sunlight or artificial light. This can be very important depending on where you are planning on displaying your finished piece.

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