Test Your Drawing Paper

Quick note, when doing pen and ink drawings, be sure to test your paper. Not all papers are created equal even if they have the same specifications…so I’ve learned.

For my current peacock drawing I’m using Canson Classic Cream, 9×12, 90lb paper that’s heavy weight with a medium tooth surface good for charcoal, pastel, pencil and pen. I thought this would be no different from the Strathmore I typically use for smaller drawings, which is actually 80lb rather than 90lb yet everything else is the same as the piece of Canson I’m using. Unfortunately, I’m wrong. While testing out a shading technique on a scrap piece of Canson paper I discovered that if I hold the tip of my pen against the paper for 10-20 seconds the ink bleeds. I grabbed a piece of 9×12 Strathmore and did the same thing, no bleeding. Luckily I discovered this halfway through doing my base drawing rather than halfway through inking. Fortunately I have a 12×12 lightbox I can use to trace what I’ve completed so far of my drawing on to some Strathmore without having to recreate freehand all over again.
This may not seem like a big deal but trust me, it is. It makes all the difference between having a crisp and clean pointillism drawing and one that looks fuzzy and muddled. Plus the dots come through much sharper when doing prints. So if you’re into doing pen and ink art, whether your doing pointillism, hatching or line drawing, test your paper, you don’t want to end up with feathering or bleeding…unless you’re into that sort of thing. 😋