Top 5 Best Watercolor Papers In 2020

Getting your art right means that you must pick everything else right as well. If you are planning to use watercolor papers for your art, you must know the right brand to go for otherwise you will end up playing the trial and error game which in my estimation you do not have the time to.

To save you that precious time and money from investing in watercolor papers which will probably end up in your trash can because of their underperformance, we have listed the best that are available in the market today.

Canson Montval Watercolor Block

Canson Montval Watercolor Block

This French paper is an excellent choice especially if you are an artist who is more inclined to Plein air painting. This watercolor paper easy to carry is designed to fit right into your bag. This means that you can carry it around without feeling any additional bulk and you can whip it out whenever necessary to make a quick sketch.

The surface of this watercolor paper is tough enough to tolerate any vigorous scraping and erasing. It can also be washed out repeatedly without wearing it down or causing any damage. Color absorbency is something that this paper has taken into great consideration. Unlike many brands out in the market, this paper has been cold-pressed to hold the color well.

These mold-made pads weigh 300gsm with acid-free 15 sheets of paper. Canson Montval Watercolor Blocks are not designed rough or hard. They are not smooth either but what they possess is just the right kind of texture that will hold your watercolor paints well.


  • They are portable and perfect for Plein air painting.
  • It performs excellently with wet media.
  • The surface is tough enough.
  • They have excellent color absorbency.
  • They are mold-made.
  • They are acid-free.
  • They are versatile.
  • They have a range of sizes.
  • They have adequate weight and thickness.


  • They do not last long enough.
  •  They are not compact enough.


Arches Aquarelle Watercolor Paper

Arches Watercolor Paper Pad

This is one of the most popular and well-performing watercolor paper in the market. Besides that, it is manufactured by one of the manufacturers with a household name in the art world. When it comes to Arches, it is not just about the name, it is largely about the quality of products they release to the market.

Being one of the high-quality watercolor paper, this particular line has been designed with a cold-pressed finish that has a light texture. Its light reflection is excellent, but it still manages to maintain its transparent quality as a watercolor paper.

Like the other Arches watercolor papers, Aquarelle Watercolor Paper is cylinder mold-made with long fibers. The stable sheets of this one are thick and long-lasting. They also have a resilient nature to them, and they can resist whatever the gruesome processes the artists put them through.


  • They are immersed in gelatin and air-dried to increase their strength and durability.
  • They are inspected thoroughly for quality control.
  • They are mold-made.
  •  They have long fibers.
  • They are resilient and long-lasting.
  • They have an excellent light reflection.
  • They have excellent color absorbency.
  • They are acid-free and PH neutral.
  • They come in various sizes.
  • They have a variety of textures.
  • They are highly reliable.


  • They are very costly.
  • They cannot be easily accessed.


Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolor Paper Journal

Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolor Paper Journal

This 100% cotton watercolor paper is exceptionally resilient and durable. Comprising 15 pieces of sheets, they are held neatly together by a dual spring. This makes it easy to remove or pluck out a leave without disturbing or destroying the rest of the papers. The design of the paper is resilient enough that it does not warp or cockle when immersed in a bath of water.

The manufacture of this watercolor paper is a traditional cylinder mold. With the fibers well and closely weaved for maximum strength. To withstand several layers of color and various techniques, these papers are cold-pressed for dimensional stability. As a result, they have a less textured finish for brilliant paintings.

The increased surface area on this watercolor paper absorbs more color and refracts more light making the colors more brilliant and intense. They are made with pure spring water and they are both high quality and versatile paper journals.


  • They are resilient and durable.
  • They do not warp or cockle.
  • The fibers are closely kneaded together.
  • The material is pure cotton.
  • The double spirals allow safe sheet plucking.
  • They withstand roughest techniques.
  • Their color absorbency is excellent.
  • The colors are brilliant and intense.
  • They are cold-pressed.
  • They reject a lot of light.
  • They have dimensional stability.


  • Dark colors turn lighter on the surface.
  • They bleed through with too much water.


Canson XL Watercolor

Canson XL Series Watercolor Textured Paper Pad

Canson XL is a very versatile art paper that accepts many other types of media besides the watercolor technique. It has a durable and resilient surface that can resist several washes and rubbings. This translates to the fact that the material of this watercolor paper is of excellent quality.

The texture of the surface is cold-pressed to enable the paper to hold a lot of water between the sheets. This also means that it can withstand layering and blending of colors on its surface. This makes it very easy to use both sides of the sheets without the pigments bleeding through.

Excellent for both beginners and professional artists, the sheets are held together by a fold-over bound. Canson XL has 30 sheets in it each weighing 300gsm. They are acid-free to mean that the colors do not turn pale after a while and they are very sturdy. They are also durable and if you are thinking of gifting an artist with a watercolor paper, this is an excellent choice to go for.


  • They are sturdy and durable.
  • They are an excellent choice for giftings.
  • They are of superior quality.
  • They are highly versatile.
  • They accept other media apart from watercolors.
  • Great for beginners and professionals.
  • They are affordable.
  • They do not warp.
  • The colors do not fade away.
  • Both sides of the leaf can be used.
  • They are cold-pressed.


  • They do not absorb pigments well.
  • Water application can cause them to crumble.
  • They are not 100% cotton.


Strathmore 300 Series Watercolor Paper

Strathmore Paper 300 Series Watercolor Class Pack

This 300 Series Watercolor Paper is one that has put all the features that favor beginner artists into consideration. You can never go wrong with this brand because of its excellent characteristics that are 100% reliable. Just like Archies, Strathmore is another household name in the artists’ world because of the excellent quality products.

This watercolor paper is designed to accept most techniques without budging. The sheets have been cold-pressed to make the color absorbency excellent and on point. The sheets are thick enough to withstand washing off of the colors. They do not warp or cockle when immersed in the water, but its color absorbency is quite slow.

Strathmore 300 Series Watercolor Paper weighs 300gsm with very excellent texture. This means that it holds the colors on the surface very well. Runoff and spillage are also minimized on this watercolor paper. This is a superior quality yet affordable watercolor paper for artists.


  • They are very affordable.
  • They have excellent texture.
  • They hold the color well on the surface.
  • They offer minimized runoff and spillage.
  • The paperweight is excellent.
  • They are an excellent choice for beginners.
  • The sheets are decently thick.
  • They do not warp.
  • They weigh 300gsm.
  • They are of excellent quality.
  • They adapt to a variety of techniques.
  • They are cold-pressed.


  • They do not absorb the colors well.
  • Their drying process is very poor.
  • They are not durable.
  • They are not portable.
  • They are not ideal for professional artists.


Things to Consider When Buying Watercolor Papers

Buying watercolor papers is not as easy as picking a packet of sugar from the supermarket shelf. There are several factors you need to consider to invest in the best brand available in the market.

You should also keep in mind that the best quality does not always translate to expensive. There are a ton of products that are both pocket friendly and of superior quality even compared to the ridiculously priced ones.

  • Paper Quality – When it comes to shopping for art materials, there is always quality for beginners and the ones for professionals. Knowing your category will make things much easier for you so that you do not end up investing in what does not suit your grade.
  • Manufacturing Process – The manufacturing process of a watercolor paper will determine its quality. Always go for handmade or mold-made products.
  • The Weight Always choose a watercolor paper that is thick and heavy. These ones have excellent absorbency and need minimal stretching. Also, consider the weight of your paper journals in terms of portability. Are you a travel artist or studio-based artist?
  • Texture – Although the texture of a paper is very dependent on your personal preference, you need something suitable for your style. There are cold-pressed, which is popular, hot pressed, and rough textures. The choice is entirely yours for the making.