Try Different Papers!
It is worthwhile to buy a sample of several different kinds of paper to try. You can label them with their names on the back of the paper, so you don't forget which is which. If you have been using the same paper for years, you might be missing something that is new and just terrific.
Paper should be fairly heavy, in the 100 pound range and up to avoid buckling with heavy application.
Good paper will hold more color layers if it has a bit of 'tooth' to the surface.
Colored pencil artists have been using Stonehenge paper for years, it is made of cotton and is fairly heavy. They recently must have discovered that it was a favorite of colored pencil artists, and changed the covers to have colored pencils on them.
Recently Stonehenge came out with paper in several aditional colors besides white. It also comes in a multi-color pad, but is still hard to find since it seems to fly off the shelves as soon as it arrives at the store.
Stonehenge has long been a favorite paper for colored pencil artists. It comes in several sizes and colors, and is heavy enough to withstand heavy layering.
Strathmore 300 series Bristol
Very smooth, heavy weight paper
Canson XL Recycled Bristol
Our new color charts are being made in a Strathmore Multi-Media Journal, since the paper stands up to the addition of water and we don't end up with loose sheets all over the studio as we did with our old charts! Besides that, we could not resist the 60's retro looking cover!
Strathmore Windpower Vellum Bristol has a slight texture to the heavy surface. It is made using 100% windpower, and is therefore a nice 'green' choice of papers.
Papers for Wet Work
Good watercolor paper is best for using solvents over dry pencils, or for brushing water over water-soluble pencil work.
Watercolor paper should be taped down to a board, and the heavier it is the less likely it is to buckle. Use at least 140 pound paper, and 300 pound paper is a dream to work on if you can afford it.
Generally, most water-soluble pencil artists don't get the paper as drippy wet as watercolor artists do, so pre-shrinking it is generally not necessary.
Watercolor paper comes pre-glued on all sides in Watercolor Blocks. You leave the paper glued down, and the block acts as a drawing/ painting board, since it is stiff and won't bend. When you have finished your painting, you peel off that page only with a palette knife, and the pages underneath stay clean.
Arches of France makes good watercolor paper, but there are several good brands on the market. Arches is widely used because it can withstand masking without damaging the paper. The cold pressed paper is rougher in texture than other cold press papers.
Recently I used another paper I really like, Cartiera Magnani Italia Acquerello, and both the water-soluble colored pencil AND bits of the actual paper came up when I mased with masking tape. Which was really alaming given that I had put about 50 hours into the painting by that point!
Hot-press paper has a smooth surface, that is nice for work dry as well as wet. If you do things like detailed signs in water-soluble pencil and want the lettering to be very sharp, hot-press paper is a good choice.
Cold-press paper has nice tooth to it and is a great all-around paper for any kind of watermedia work. including water-soluble pencils. Several layers can be successfully built up with it.
Rough paper has a very rough, toothy texture that is terrific for subjects that do not require sharp detail, such as landscapes. Watercolor pencil tends to ride on top of the paper unless your pencil is very sharp, but worry not, once you add water your paper will fill up and look gorgeous.
Cartiera Magnani Italia Acquerelllo paper has a much finer surface in cold pressed paper than Arches. If you mask on this paper though, the paper and pigment might come up.
Fluid watercolor paper is made by Global Art materials. It is crafted in a European style paper mill that has first milled paper in 1618. It is made in small batches, and made slowly. The cold press paper has a fine surface.
The Langton Prestige is a Mould Made watercolor paper made by the UK company Daler-Rowney. The texture of the cold pressed paper is similar to Arches, a bit on the coarse side.