Same Pen—Different Papers

October 2, 2017
This sketch was made on Fabriano Artistico. The sizing on this watercolor paper allows you to work with the water-soluble pen in a variety of ways—direct from the brush, diluted, wiped off, splattered, etc.

Throughout the spring this year I was testing watercolor papers. I made signatures of the watercolor papers I was testing and then used the same materials in each of the booklets. This is a quick and easy way to compare papers because you only have 16 pages until you can move on to the next paper. The first paper and its reactions to your media choices will still be fresh in your mind.

Two of the papers I tested were Fabriano Artistico Hot Press 140 lb. (Hereafter FA.) watercolor paper and Stonehenge Aqua Hot Press 140 lb. (Hereafter SA.)

FA is one of my all time favorite watercolor papers. I like to test against it as a control, it’s something I know will work a certain way. 

The other paper in today’s test is Hahnemühle Nostalgie (HN) which I had on hand in pads and included just so I could show what happens with an almost plate surface paper.

There are color variations on the three papers. While the papers themselves are slightly different in color—FA and SA are both a bright white and HN is a slightly dull white with a gray cast—the color differences in today’s images are due to scanner problems during the time period when the items were scanned.

The main differences in ink acceptance and workability on each paper, regardless of color shift, can still be seen—both the FA and SA float the ink on the page more. The ink tends to sink into the HN, and that together with the duller white surface creates an overall more dull color look. It’s interesting that despite the non-watercolor paper nature of HN it provides the most workable surface for this ink and is the most fun surface to play with it on. 

You’ll notice when working on the SA that the lift off is more spotty and has more dull, cloudy passages. This has to do with how the ink sinks into the paper and what can be lifted out.

The Sepia brush pen from Pentel is a dye-based ink. Remember that it is fugitive. I recommend that you scan final works and keep your digital file as your original.

How do the papers I’m looking at today hold up to my play with this ink on their surfaces? HN is also the most fun but the grayish nature of the sheet isn’t for everyone.

I found that FA was more suited to the subtractive way I like to work with this pen’s ink—put it on, take it off. For me if I’m going to be working with this Sepia Brush Pen from Pentel I’ll reach for a book with Fabriano Artistico paper if I want a watercolor paper.

You can see me working with this ink in a Seawhite Sketchbook.

I love working in my favorite Japanese Lined Journals with this ink. The pages of these books which are set to take fountain pen ink work great. 

You’ll find lots of other examples in the blog’s Category list or search engine if you use those key words.

The gallery feature still hasn’t been debugged on my site so I’ve got little thumbnails of all the images that you can click on and work through to see close ups. I hope this is helpful as you think about the working properties of the papers you want to use.

Think about the fun ways one pen can look and react differently on a variety of papers and then select the paper that’s right for your current project.


    • Susan S
    • October 3, 2017

    Hi Roz. I love the textures on the FA paper, and I particularly love the way you’ve rendered that mass of hair.

    1. Reply

      Thank so much. It was a fun sketch to do.

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