There are so many different types of art paper to choose from that it can be quite a daunting task to know which type you should choose for your artwork. Perhaps you are looking for paper for drawing or for watercolor painting. Paper is made from interwoven fibers, the longer the fiber the stronger the paper. In the case of fine art papers these are usually plant fibers.
Newsprint and sugar paper are also ideal backgrounds for quick sketches and working out compositions or ideas, but will not be durable over time. Colored sugar papers will fade and the lignin content in newsprint causes an acidity, making the paper turn brittle and yellow over time (Lignin a substance in the plant that helps to bind cells to make them woody and stronger). Choose acid free or pH neutral paper if you are looking for longevity.
Different types of art papers are made in various weights, expressed in lbs (pounds) or gsm (grammes per square meter). Fine art papers are usually made in the range of 120gsm to 850gsm. Oriental papers tend to be lighter in weight. Drawing papers commonly weigh 130gsm but the heavier weighing Snowdon Cartridge 300gsm is immensely popular. Thicker paper can cope with more erasing and mark making. As a general rule, the heavier the paper (higher the gsm/lbs in weight) the thicker the paper.
There are several different types of art paper surfaces including Hot Pressed/Satinata/Liscia, Cold Pressed/Not/Fina, and Rough/Torchon/Grossa.
Rough Surface has the most texture and during manufacture the blankets presses on either side of the paper creates a heavily textured finish.
Not or Cold Pressed paper is the most common surface for watercolor artists and also popular for drawing. The paper is pressed for a second time without the blanket, flattening the surface that has been imprinted with the blanket.
Hot Pressed is the result of further pressing on a hot cylinder, bonding the fibers closer together and creating a smoother and finer surface. This type of surface is most popular for botanical artists and those who like fine detailing.
Surface for Pastel Paper that has a ‘tooth’ is most important for using pastels. The pastels need to adhere to the surface of the paper. Some printmaking papers with softer unsized surfaces are popular but more commonly there are textured surfaces e.g Canson Mi-teintes pastel paper or fully primed papers.