Paper Tests: Canson Illustration and Fabriano Ecological Drawing

May 29, 2013

130515_AJudgeBestInkLeft: 9 x 12 inch sketch cut out and put on the scanner (that's the scanner bed you see that isn't bright white). Pentel Pocket Brush Pen on Canson Illustration paper.

From time to time I get the paper bug. I need to try different papers, sometimes retry papers. This week I've been posting about papers because I've been trying a lot of different ones—looking for papers that I can take to life drawing with me, and for papers that I can sketch on, cut out images from and use those images for collage.

In other words I'm just looking for papers that will be fun to sketch on and I'll worry about how I'll use them later.

130518_CansonIllustrationTestLeft: As you see in the second image it's also fun to use a watercolor brush on it. This was a magenta brush pen from Bienfang. The paper isn't sized for watercolor so the color did tend to go a bit dull on it, BUT I was able to move the lines around with a brush of clean water, and build up darker layers. And I was able to rework passages several times before the paper started to give out.

So first up is Canson Illustration. I got a 9 x 12 inch wirebound pad of this. A 15-sheet pad was $11. It's ultra-smooth and bright white (the ad copy says so and I'm not going to disagree). It is 150 lb. weight so it's pretty stiff. It feels comparable in weight to my favorite bristols.

I love using the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen on it so that's a good sign.

130518_CansonIllustrationTestDetailLeft: Detail from the magenta watercolor brush pen sketch showing the layers of paint that have been diluted with a clean sable brush and water.

This paper is thick enough that you can paint on it with light washes, and even some heavier applications of gouache, and while the paper buckles a little bit it takes the work. It wouldn't be my first choice for wash work, but if I did a sketch I wanted to add wash too I wouldn't think twice about doing so.

130515_BbaldmanLeft: A Pentel Pocket Brush Pen Sketch on a sheet of Fabriano's Ecological Drawing paper. (Beige areas shown are the scanner bed behind the paper.)

Another paper that really loves the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen is the Fabriano Ecological Drawing paper made from recycled paper—very white. I got it in a pad that's A4 size. Fifty sheets of this 94 lb. paper cost I don't know what because the price was on the label. But I think it was in the $15 range.

I'm pretty sure you can get either of these papers at just about any art supply store because they are popular brands that command a lot of shelf space. I got my pads at Wet Paint in St. Paul, because as you know I like to support my local Independent art supply store, and it's always fun to go in and chat with the folks there.

When you do that you learn nifty things like the fact that the Fabriano drawing paper also comes in ROLLS that are 59 inches wide and several yards or feet long (frankly I don't remember the length, I was really hung up on the width and thinking what fun I could have making really wide, large drawings).

Now you know too.

130518_FabEcoDrawingTestLeft: PPBP sketch with light gouache washes on the Fabriano Ecological Drawing. You'll see areas where I mopped with a paper towel—impressions of the towel. But what is more significant is that I could mop back to the white of the paper—something that isn't possible on most drawing papers which just soak up paint because they aren't sized to deal with it. Yes I was watching Psych again, that's Lassie.

You can see from the image at the left that the Fabriano drawing does buckle when it's wet, but for a drawing paper it does hold up nicely to light wash, and I wouldn't hesitate to push it a little more. The buckling wasn't sufficient to be a deal breaker.


Right: Two strips of paper that I painted on as tests. The top one is the Canson Illustration and the bottom is the Fabriano discused in this post. When you click on this image to see an enlargement you'll see that the Canson Illustration is a bit streaky when painted on but if you're used to painting on other smooth non-watercolor papers you'll find this typical. Building color after earlier colors dry is a great way to proceed. For the bottom scrap you see a closer view of color on the Fabriano drawing paper and can see that it will dry a little randomly when compared to traditional watercolor paper, but it takes the washes well (with a little buckling) and can be quite fun to paint on. 

I wouldn't make books out of either of these papers—the Canson Illustration is too heavy; the Fabriano Ecological Drawing isn't available in sheets as far as I'm aware, and if it were, well there are other lightweight papers I'd rather work on within the confines of a journal. But if you're looking for some paper to work with the PPBP, to do other ink sketches (specifically the Canson Illustration), and want the possibility of light washes these two papers will be fun to have on hand—say for taking to life drawing, or doing the odd sketch now and then…

I haven't tested either for pencil work. I've got that to look forward to. Even if I don't like the way they handle pencil I can have hours of fun with the PPBP.

  1. Reply

    The Fabriano is a real find by the roll: I am hoping to make some bigger drawings by the end of this year. WITH BIG BRUSHES!Much thanks….

  2. Reply

    Will do and thanks for the tips! I want to use SUMI INK so I think the printing papers might be better for that….

  3. Reply

    Thank you for posting all of this wonderful information, Roz.

    I’m looking forward to hearing about your experiments with pencil on various papers. 6B in a lead holder on Strathmore 400 Series Premium Recycled is what my drawings are made with. But I’m thinking I might want to mix that up. I do love the predictability of the combination even though it’s not perfect.

    Again, thanks for an insightful post and a great blog.

  4. Reply

    Thank you Mary, I’m glad this info is helpful. I’ll keep you posted on what I do with this paper—I’m loving sketching on both papers so much with the PPBP that it might be awhile before I get back to pencil!

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