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PLEASE NOTE.       These are NOT scientific tests on the papers listed and the list of papars is not comprehensive.

The intention is simply to work some example shapes and lines on to a variety of papers, using a set of three brands of wax type pencils so that any differences between the papers in handling might show up.  


The pencils used were from Faber Castell ( Polychromos) - an oil based pencil :  Derwent, using Coloursoft - a wax based pencil : and finally Caran d’Ache using Pablo - an oil based pencil. The same colours and the same patterns were used for each paper.  


Most papers have a similar feel, and take coloured pencil in a similar way.  

The differences will be in the surface, the absorbency, and the ability to erase colour.


I have chosen papers from the Cartridge ranges, the Hot Pressed Watercolour ranges, Pastel papers that have a smooth surface, and some papers designed for taking prints ( these last papers will be the most absorbent).



This first set of 15 tests cover papers using three NON SOLUBLE WAX TYPE brands of coloured pencils:

 

Saunders Waterford High White HP W/C paper (190 gsm)

Derwent Pastel Paper (200 gsm)

Hahnemuhle Lana Pastel paper  (200 gsm)

Hahnemuhle Pastelfix cork finish paper (170 gsm)

Fabriano Accademia Cartridge paper (220 gsm)

Fabriano Artistico (300 gsm)   

Fabriano Classico 5  W/C paper HP  (300 gsm)

Daler Rowney Langton Smooth Botanical W/C  HP paper (300 gsm)

Daler Rowney Heavyweight Cartridge  (220 gsm)

Legion Stonehenge (250 gsm)

Legion Stonehenge Kraft vellum Finish  (250 gsm)

Strathmore Colored Pencil 400 series  (163 gsm)

Strathmore series 500 Imperial HP Watercolour paper (300 gsm)

Strathmore  400 series Printmaking paper  (280 gsm)

Unbranded inexpensive white card  ( 280 gsm)


Test results should be posted here before the end of August 2015

Further tests are planned to work samples for Watercolour pencils and pastel pencils which will be presented on associated pages.  The final set of tests will be on similar papers to see how they take  three options in Mixed media


The layout of the test paper was somewhat arbitrary, but having started with the three tests shown here, I have stayed with them for consistency .

The paper was pre-printed with the standard layout and  the coloured pencils selected were used and reserved so that each paper received the same pencils and colours.

The tests were carried out one test at a time on all 15 original papers so that the colour was laid down in a similar way and hopefully at similar pressures.

Test 1 simply laid down a series of blocks of colour.

Faber Castell Polychromos ( an oil based medium hard pencil ) was used for this.

The first block is showing a single even layer of pigment from the pencil, the second, two layers, etc

one additional test was included here,  a light wash of a citrus based solvent

( Zest-It) with a small brush was applied to a duplicate block of 6 layers making a seventh sample. This showed how the paper accepted a damp layer of solvent liquid to smooth the colour. .It also revealed if the solvent caused any bleeding of colour on the paper.


Test 2  produced a set of four overlapping blocks of colour going from a light yellow through to a green and a strong line of red was applied over the top Derwent Coloursoft was used here - a soft wax based pencil ( similar to Prismacolor).  

The line was included to check how the paper took a sharply defined line

The further check in test 2 was to see how the colour erased from the paper surface.  

I expected the softer wax pencils to be a problem here and, true to form, the wax did smear badly on some papers. The little power eraser was a Jakar model costing less than £5, but this is normally effective with oil based pencils on a Hot Pressed watercolour paper.


Test 3 used a collection of oil based pencils ( Caran d’Ache Pablo) in overlapping blocks. The colour was worked in a clockwise direction from the red on the left, through white, pale blue, brown, yellow, purple, brown and finally white.  I was looking at the way the dark colours were accepted over light ones and vice versa.

The same erasing test was set to reveal if the oil based pencils erased better - and they usually did.


IMAGES SHOWN BELOW are linked to PDF files of the individual results which can be downloaded and printed off if required.  Just click on the image for the larger version


HOW WERE THE

TESTS DONE ?

An inexpensive, unbranded white card


This card has a smooth surface and was sold for craft use. It is about 300gsm and plain white in colour.


Test 1 with Polychromos showed the colour built up well in the layering

The Zest-It solvent worked well in smoothing the colour


Test 2, the blocks of colour show the slight grain of the card with the Coloursoft wax pencils - only one quite strong layer was applied.  The red line over the blocks was clean and sharp showing good definition for detail.   The erasing test showed some smearing of the soft colour, but acceptable compared to some other samples


Test 3 effective layering and coverage.  The white does not show up well on the high white surface of the card and I have shown the edges with a dotted line

Erasing was about the same as for the Wax pencils… good but some smearing


Conclusion

Surprisingly good for a cheap surface.

This test provides the marker by which the other tests are considered

Daler Rowney Heavy Cartridge        220gsm


This card is light cream coloured and with a relatively smooth surface.

Test 1 with Polychromos showed the colour built up well in the layering

Some Grain is apparent

The Zest-It solvent worked very well in smoothing the colour


Test 2 , the blocks of colour show up the grain of the card with the Coloursoft wax pencils - only one quite strong layer was applied.  The red line over the blocks is quite defined with clean edges.   The erasing test showed smearing of the soft colour which would not be acceptable

Test 3 showed effective layering and coverage.  The white has been defined with a dotted line. The colour was reasonably well held by the surface.

Erasing was better than the wax sample and acceptable


Conclusion

Reasonable results for an inexpensive paper with a good weight.

Daler Rowney Langton Botanical  HP Watercolour paper        300 gsm


This is a fine surfaced watercolour paper in a light creamy colour. The two sides are virtually the same but the facing side on the pad is the smoothest. The test was carried out on this side

Test 1 with Polychromos showed the colour built up well in the layering

Grain is not apparent (even when worked on the reverse side)

The Zest-It solvent worked very well in smoothing the colour


Test 2 , the blocks of colour show up the different colours strongly with the Coloursoft wax pencils . The two yellows are quite markedly different in this sample.  The red line over the blocks is accurate and strong though not as sharp as in some papers.   The erasing test showed some smearing of the soft colour, but acceptable compared to some other samples


Test 3 effective layering and coverage.  The white shows up well on the darker surface of some of the colours, and the colour was well held by the surface.  Some of the colours smeared when a further darker colour was laid on top

Erasing was better than the wax sample and acceptable


Conclusion

As good a result as expected.  This paper has been  one of my choices for nearly 10 years

Saunders Waterford High White HP Watercolour paper   190 gsm


 A fairly light weight paper with a smooth surface

Test 1 with Polychromos showed the colour built up well in the layering

A little grain is apparent  but smoothed by the solvent check


Test 2 , the blocks of colour show up the grain of the card with the Coloursoft wax pencils.  The red line over the blocks is well defined   The erasing test showed some smearing of the soft colour, not as good some other samples


Test 3 effective layering and coverage.  The colour was well held by the surface. And further layers are clearly seen

Erasing was better than the wax sample and acceptable


Conclusion

A good lighter weight paper with a smooth surface and good take up of colour

Legion Stonehenge      250 gsm


A reliable print making paper from the USA.  Used to be known as Rising Stonehenge until the Rising Mill Closed.  Now made to the original formula and marketed by Legion Paper

Test 1 with Polychromos showed the colour built up well in the layering

Slight Grain is apparent  but smoothed by the solvent check


Test 2 , the blocks of colour show up little of the grain of the card with the Coloursoft wax pencils .  The red line over the blocks is well defined with crisp edges   The erasing test showed a lot of smearing of the soft colour, not acceptable and poor compared to some other samples


Test 3 effective layering and coverage.  The colour was well held by the surface. Further layers are clearly seen both with light over dark and the reverse

Erasing was better than the wax sample and acceptable


Conclusion

A good paper which has been the workhorse of CP in the USA for many years.

It is available in the UK and Europe, but I think there are other papers equally good and more easily found in the UK

These 15 tests of papers from my stock are all considered to be, in one way or another, suitable for using with wax type coloured pencils.  Some are more suitable, some less.   

The list is not comprehensive - merely those papers from my own stock cupboard.

I may see more suitable papers in future months and add to the list, but for now, this is the collection.

I can’t tell you which is the ‘BEST’  -  that depends on what your needs are and what sort of pictures you like to produce.  I have tried to devise a set of tests that will show up the differences and it may be that in the future I will try the same papers again with a different set of tests.  However, I don’t think that further testing will be any more helpful.  Most smooth papers will enable you to work a good picture.  Hopefully the examples above will give you something to think about, to experiment with and also enable you to identify some papers that you  do and don’t want to try !


I excluded polished smooth papers and boards like Bristol board on the basis that they have much more limited use. The above list are all relatively easy for a beginner or intermediate pencil artist to use.  I also excluded special boards like mountboard and museum board that a lot of people like. They are a different area.


I now have to devise a different set of tests to try out papers for watercolour pencils.  Many of the papers shown above will appear again in that next list, and, of course, Pastel papers shown above will be seen again on the Pastel pencil test page.


Peter Weatherill

August 2015

Derwent Pastel Paper Pad  200gsm


This card has a matt smooth surface with little grain. The paper has an ‘open’ feel and is quite absorbent. I would guess it has little or no size content. The paper is sold in one light warm grey colour


Test 1 with Polychromos showed the colour built up well in the layering

The grain is apparent

The Zest-It solvent worked well in smoothing the colour


Test 2 , the blocks of colour show slight grain of the card surface with the Coloursoft wax pencils - only one quite strong layer was applied.  The red line over the blocks is sharp and  covered the undercolour well.   The erasing test showed some smearing of the soft colour, but acceptable compared to some other samples


Test 3 effective layering and coverage.  The white and light colours show up well on the coloured surface of the card. The purple over yellow block edge shows how heavier layers of under colour protect the surface and lighter layering allows more colour over the top

Erasing was similar to  the wax sample and quite acceptable


Conclusion

 Good for wax and oil based pencils despite being sold for pastel use


Fabriano Classico 5  HP Watercolour paper        300 gsm


This paper is a good stand by for wet processes, but proved not as good as some for dry wax type work

Test 1 with Polychromos showed the colour built up well in the layering

Grain is hardly apparent on the smooth paper

The Zest-It solvent worked very well in smoothing the colour


Test 2 , the blocks of colour show up well with the Coloursoft wax pencils - only one quite strong layer was applied.  The red line over the blocks is clean and strong.   The erasing test shows too much smearing of the soft colour, one of the poorest tested

Test 3 effective layering and coverage.  The white and yellow show up well on the darker colours         Erasing was better than the wax sample and just acceptable


Conclusion

This has been the ‘go to’ paper for some time, but the tests show that some of the other papers give superior  overall performance

Fabriano Artistico  HP Watercolour paper  300 gsm


A quality hot pressed watercolour paper with a smooth creamy coloured surface

Test 1 with Polychromos showed the colour built up well in the layering. Virtually no grain is apparent

The solvent makes a small difference and would probably be best used to bed down underlayers in a painting


Test 2 , the blocks of colour show up well on the paper with the Coloursoft wax pencils. The red line over the blocks is well defined and has crisp edges  The erasing test showed some smearing of the soft colour, but acceptable compared to some other samples


Test 3 effective layering and coverage.  The colour was well held by the surface. The white over red shows the burnishing effect and the light blue over white shows how the white works as a resist

Erasing was better than the wax sample and very acceptable


Conclusion

A very good paper for wax and oil based pencils. More expensive than Fabriano Classico but probably worth it.

Fabriano Accademia 220 gsm cartridge paper


This card has a matt smooth surface with a slight grain. Typical of cartridge paper.

This is a student quality paper.


Test 1 with Polychromos showed the colour built up well in the layering

The grain is quite apparent

The Zest-It solvent worked well in smoothing the colour


Test 2 , the blocks of colour show up the grain of the card with the Coloursoft wax pencils.  The red line over the blocks is slightly fuzzy but covered the under colour well.   The erasing test showed some smearing of the soft colour, but acceptable compared to some other samples


Test 3 effective layering and coverage.  The white does not show up well on the white surface of the card and I have shown the edges with a dotted line

Erasing was better than the wax sample and quite acceptable


Conclusion

 Good for a student quality white cartridge paper


Hahnemuhle Pastelfix cork surfaced pastel paper     170 gsm


This is not really a CP paper, but it was included to see how it compared.  The pads are supplied with an assortment of colours so there is a choice available.  Could be good for backgrounds

Test 1 with Polychromos showed the colour built up well in the layering

Slight mechanical grain is apparent from the lay down of the cork surface but smoothed by the solvent


Test 2 , the blocks of colour show very strong take up of colour with the Coloursoft wax pencils - only one quite strong layer was applied.  The red line over the blocks is reasonably defined   The erasing test showed some smearing of the soft colour, but acceptable compared to some other samples


Test 3 effective layering and coverage.  The colour was well held by the surface, and later layers are still clearly seen

Erasing was better than the wax sample and acceptable


Conclusion

Not an obvious choice for wax pencils, but the paper acquitted itself well.  I would consider it as an option if I had a picture to complete with a dark background

Hahnemuhle Lana Pastel paper  ( moonstone)         200gsm


This card has one grained and one smoother surface with less grain.  The Lana papers come in a wide range of colours. The test was carried out on the smooth side

Test 1 with Polychromos showed the colour built up well in the layering

Grain is apparent even on the smooth side

The Zest-It solvent worked very well in smoothing the colour


Test 2 , the blocks of colour show up the grain of the card with the Coloursoft wax pencils - only one quite strong layer was applied.  The red line over the blocks is quite rough.   The erasing test showed some smearing of the soft colour, but acceptable compared to some other samples


Test 3 effective layering and coverage.  The white shows up well on the darker surface of the card, and the colour was well held by the surface.

Erasing was better than the wax sample and acceptable


Conclusion

 Not as good a result as expected.  The paper colours may give some users wider options for backgrounds, but not really suitable for coloured pencil.

Legion Stonehenge Kraft  Paper Pad         250gsm


This card has a matt smooth surface with no obvious grain.  It has a strong orange brown colour and is only sold in this shade.


Test 1 with Polychromos showed the colour built up well in the layering

Very little grain is apparent

The Zest-It solvent worked well in smoothing the colour, though the colour is sample 6 is already quite smooth


Test 2 , the blocks of colour show up the slight grain of the card with the Coloursoft wax pencils .  The red line over the blocks is clean edged and covered the under layers well.   The erasing test showed some smearing of the soft colour, but acceptable compared to some other samples


Test 3 effective layering and coverage.  The white shows up well on the darker surface of the card, and the colour was well held by the surface

Erasing was better than the wax sample and very acceptable ( almost a clean erase)


Conclusion

 Very good result though the paper colour may put some people off

Strathmore  400 series Colored Pencil pad       163 gsm


 A light weight paper sold in pad form with a pronounced grain

Test 1 with Polychromos showed the colour built up well in the layering

Grain is apparent  but smoothed by the solvent.


Test 2 , the blocks of colour show up the grain of the card with the Coloursoft wax pencils - only one quite strong layer was applied.  The red line over the blocks is reasonably defined   The erasing test showed some smearing of the soft colour, but acceptable compared to some other samples


Test 3 effective layering and coverage.  The colour was well held by the surface.

Erasing was better than the wax sample and acceptable


Conclusion

A new paper to me in the UK.  I found it better than expected from the initial sight of a well grained lightweight paper.  Results proved acceptable.

Strathmore  500 series Imperial HP Watercolour Paper      300 gsm


 A heavyweight ‘top of the range’ watercolour paper.  I tested it as a Hot Pressed paper assuming it would have a smooth surface.  The sample described as HP is more like a cold pressed paper with a pronounced grain to the surface

Test 1 with Polychromos showed the colour built up well in the layering

Grain is apparent  but smoothed by the solvent check


Test 2 , the blocks of colour show up the strong grain of the paper with the Coloursoft wax pencils.  The red line over the blocks is reasonably defined   The erasing test showed a lot of smearing of the soft colour, poor compared to some other samples


Test 3 effective layering and coverage.  The colour was well held by the surface.

Erasing was better than the wax sample and acceptable


Conclusion

A new paper to me in the UK.  This is an expensive watercolour paper and I would not pay the price for using it with wax or oil based coloured pencils.  I will test it with Watercolour pencils - I would expect the results to be better

Strathmore  400 series Printmaking Paper Pad         230 gsm

 A medium weight paper sold in pad form designed for taking prints. It has quite an absorbent feel to the surface and has an open grain

Test 1 with Polychromos showed the colour built up well in the layering

Grain is apparent  but smoothed by the solvent check. There was some bleeding from the solvent sample


Test 2 , the blocks of colour show up the grain of the card with the Coloursoft wax pencils.  The red line over the blocks is well defined   The erasing test showed a lot of smearing of the soft colour, poor compared to some other samples


Test 3 effective layering and coverage.  The colour was well held by the surface.

The paper grain indicates that the paper may not be as useful as some other print making papers

Erasing was little better than the wax sample and not really acceptable


Conclusion

A new paper to me in the UK. I tested it to compare with Stonehenge and found it wanting for CP work.  It may be excellent, however, when used for what it was designed for

NON STANDARD PAPERS POSSIBLY SUITABLE FOR WAX TYPE PENCIL USE

Which at first sight may not appear to be suitable

but are white ( or nearly white ), have a smooth surface with a tooth,

and ‘take’ pencil well


Matte surfaced Ink Jet Paper

of the type manufactured and sold for Epson, Canon and other ink jet printers may prove to be suitable although there will be snags….after all the paper is not designed for coloured pencil use.

The coating applied to the paper to take the coloured ink is absorbent and designed to lock down the colour where it is put.. The paper may well not be archival.  These papers are sold at weights from around 100gsm through to 250gsm and the surface may be intense white or an off white in colour.

Tests have been carried out on a number of these papers in line with the standard paper tests shown above


If you are interested in seeing those results and some conclusions,

please use this link to go to the associated page

Next Page

Tests of paper for Watercolour pencils


Having fully revised this section and included the Derwent paper as a sample, I now learn  that Derwent have withdrawn their pastel paper pads.

I have not changed the content here at present but may do so as part of a future update


PAPER AND SIMILAR SURFACES

COMPARISONS


PAPER SUITABLE FOR

WAX TYPE

PENCILS

PAPER FACTS & SURFACES COMPARED

strathmore 400 cp test.pdf strath print 400 series.pdf strath imp paper test.pdf