Friday, August 1, 2014

Watercolor Paper Comparison - Watercolor Crayons

Today I wanted to show you what watercolor crayons looked like on each of the various watercolor papers.  I was a bit surprised, some of the more expensive papers didn't IMO preform as well as some of the cheaper ones.  

For this experiment I will be using Lyra Watercolor Crayons.  There are many different brands out there but this is what I've used for quite a while and I like them.  They offer lots of pigment and blend very easily with water. 

I applied the wc crayon using two different methods - direct to paper where I drew a line on the wc paper and blended half of the crayon.  The second method is where I picked up the color from the crayon on my wet waterbrush then painted it onto the paper.  This is the method I use most of the time when coloring with these crayons.  Either way works fine and produces two very different looks.  The second method offers a more traditional watercolor look and I find that you can achieve a wider range of color application from nearly opaque to the faintest hint of color.

Remember you can click on any of the photos to enlarge for more detail.

Arches 140lb Hot Press - Surprisingly this wasn't one of the better results.  The direct to paper blended section didn't blend much at all.  Most of the color was left in the line.  When I applied the color to the paper with the waterbrush there was a grainy look where the most color was applied...almost like the paper was pilling without the pills.  Not sure what caused that but it didn't happen with any of the other papers so I'm assuming it has something to do with the hot press aspect of this paper.

Arches 140lb Cold Press - O.k. this test yielded two very different results.  The direct to paper example didn't blend much of the color when wet BUT the wet application is simply stunning!  I love it - one of my favorites!

Bienfng - Both wet and direct to paper were mediocre - the colors look so much more washed out than on other types of paper.

Canson Mixed Media paper - Direct to paper not the greatest but the wet application is pretty...  nice color concentration without buckling.

Canson 140lb WC - DTP blending o.k. but the wet application is really nice.  Blended easily and great dark to light application. 

Crayola WC paper - Surprisingly this paper worked great with both the direct to paper and the wet application.  There was quite a bit of buckling so I guess it's a trade off.

Dick Blick Mixed Media paper - Worked well with both applications but there was some buckling and it did bleed through the back a bit.

Dick Blick  90lb Student WC paper - Nice results for both application methods.  The paper holds the color well.  No buckling at all which is surprising for a lighter weight paper.

Dick Blick 140lb - Really very nice results with both applications - no complaints or drawbacks at all.

Fabrino Artistico 90lb - I was a bit surprised, this is one of the more expensive papers but it didn't preform all that well.  It's somewhere in the lower mid section of results IMO.  For the price I would have thought it would do better than what it did.

Fabrino Student 95lb - O.k. this was the weirdest result of them all...I have no idea why the wet application turned out as it did.  I didn't use any more or less water than any of the rest but the color seemed to gravitate towards the edges of it's reach.  Interesting for some applications but don't think I'd want this look all the time.

Hero Hues 100lb Felt Finish - Odd results - the colors are really washed out despite using the same amount of color medium as I did on the rest of the tests.  

Ranger - Really nice results on both color applications but this is the 2nd most expensive paper so I guess it should preform well for the price.

Simon Says Stamp WC Paper - Pretty good results on both - the colors are really nice and vibrant and blended easily.

Strathmore 140lb CP - Great results for both applications - no complaints at all. 

My top 5 Over All picks - 
Arches 140lb Cold Press
Canson 140lb CP
Dick Blick 140lb CP
Strathmore 140lb CP.

Best Direct to Paper -
Dick Blick 140lb CP

Best Wet Application
Arches 140lb CP

What do you think?


  1. It looks like I'll be getting the Strathmore 140 lb CP. I do like how the Ranger worked but I can usually find the Strathmore 140 on sale or use a coupon. I have been really disappointed in the Crayola Watercolor paper. I thought it would be a good paper for my grandchildren to use but is not. Thanks for taking the time for this so I don't waste money on paper that I will be unhappy with.

  2. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this. I haven't done much watercolor, but I have just recently started playing around with it. This information is very helpful.
    Chris R.

  3. Thanks again Roni. It's so interesting to see how each paper performed. Are you planning on comparing how the papers do with wc pencils? To date, I'm still planning on using the Blick 140#. This was so informative. Thank you so much for doing the study and for sharing it with us!!!

  4. I found this interesting - thank you for the comparison!

  5. Roni -I really appreciate all your hard work plus pictures of your results when you do comparisons. I have used the Strathmore CP 140 lb for years and have always had great results. It is what I
    recommend to all my stamping & mixed media students!

  6. All your posts are excellent and extremely helpful. I have struggled to get my products to work and these comparison posts are helping to solve why some techniques are not working as they should. Thank you for all your efforts.


Thanks for your thoughts and comments!