Best Paper for Pastels

If you’re looking to create incredible works of art, it’s essential that you have the right tools for the job. When you’re using pastels, you can’t simply just buy any random pad of paper and expect amazing results. You need something that will work best with your pastels.

Thankfully there’s a lot of paper for pastels on the market that can help you to achieve incredible results. The only question is, how do you find the best choice for you and your level of skill?

We’re here to help to make your decision so much easier. Read on for our picks of the best paper for pastels. We’ve also written a nifty buyer’s guide to help you to narrow down your decision.

OUR TOP PICK

Canson Drawing Mi-Teintes Paper Pad, Dual Sided Textures for Pastels, Charcoals, Pencil, Fold Over, 98 Pound, 9 x 12 Inch, Black, 24 Sheets, 9'X12'

Coming with 24 pieces of paper and with great lightfastness properties, the Canson Drawing Mi Teintes Paper Pad is the perfect choice for artists looking to work with pastels. The paper is great at dealing with pastels, and you don’t need to worry about any fading colors or color changes.

The paper consists of 50 percent cotton and it’s 160 gsm thick, making it a good choice for rough work. In fact the paper is actually highly versatile across the board, allowing you to use different kinds of materials on it. The paper features a dual textured surface - lighter on one side, and router on the other side. 

The paper is acid free too. The quality of this paper is outstanding, so you can be sure that your art will look fantastic on it. It’s worth considering a different option if you’re on a budget though, as there are only a couple of sheets inside the pad and this may not be affordable, especially if you’re a beginner who may be prone to making mistakes.

Pros

  • Dual textured surface
  • Fade resistant
  • Can work with other artistic mediums

Cons

  • Not many sheets in the pad

EDITORS CHOICE

Strathmore 400 Series Pastel Pad, Assorted Colors, 9'x12' Glue Bound, 24 Sheets

You’ll be pleased with variety of different shades available for this particular product. You can choose from tan, to light blue, light gray and off white. This is ideal if you want to play around with using different colored backgrounds to your paintings.

What’s especially great about this pastel pad is just how well it works with other mediums. Indeed, it can work with charcoal, graphite pencil, colored pencil and pastels. If you’re looking for versatility then this is most certainly the choice for you. The paper is very lightweight and the pad is relatively small, making it easy to carry for artists that are constantly on the move and get struck by inspiration easily. 

The tooth of the paper works fantastically well with pastels, and the paper is also acid free. There’s no end to the things that you can do with this paper, making it ideal for any artist.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Acid free
  • Versatile - you can use it with a range of different mediums
  • Portable

Cons

  • Doesn’t hold chalk very well

BEST VALUE

Speedball Art Products Premier Sanded Pastel Paper, 12 x 16, Italian Clay 6 Count

Any artist looking to use pastels is sure to love the Speedball Art Products 513046 Premier Pastel Paper. Indeed. The paper pad features 6 neutral sheets of paper and you can get it in a few different colors including Buff, Terracotta, Slate, White and Italian Clay.

The paper is made out of 100% cotton, and you will also be pleased to know that it is acid free too. The paper only weighs around half a pound, making it very lightweight. You will also have two surfaces to choose from, a smooth and fine surface made of grit and a more aggressive and toothy surface. 

With so many color selections available, you are sure to love this pastel paper. It’s even evenly coated using an aluminum oxide abrasive. What’s particularly cool about this paper is that it can sometimes work on wet media, so if you wish to incorporate paints into your work then you may be able to do so with this paper.

The biggest issue with it is that it’s not the best for taking numerous pastel layers. This can make it challenging for blending purposes, but with so much else to love this is a relatively minor complaint for many.

Pros

  • Acid free
  • 100% cotton
  • Smooth and toothy surfaces available

Cons

  • Not a good choice for layering

RUNNER UP

UART Sanded Pastel Paper M-148931 9-Inch/12-Inch No.400 Grade Paper, 10-Pack

The UART Sanded Pastel Paper M-148931 is a great choice both for beginners and professionals alike. This is because of the sheer diversity of paper available with your purchase.

The UART paper can come with seven different grades, including some incredibly coarse grits to ones that are more fine. The paper is a sandy color that will look great as a background for a number of paintings, especially some that are more nature based! It can work with pastels and with colored pencils. In fact, it also works well for charcoals and some wet media. Thankfully not a lot of dust is left behind on the paper either so cleaning it is fairly simple. 

When you use this paper you can expect some vivid results, which is ideal if you’re looking to create works with a massive amount of color. It’s even pretty easy to layer a number of pastels, and there’s no need to use a fixative on your work either. The paper can handle water washes too. It is worth noting, however, that while this is a fairly decent choice for beginners in many respects, it is not cheap. If you are on a budget then it’s best to look elsewhere as this paper is pretty expensive indeed.

Pros

  • You don’t need fixatives
  • Seven grades available
  • Can work with wet media

Cons

  • Very expensive

RUNNER UP

Mi-Teintes Pastel Pad, Assorted Colors 12'X16' Fold Over

If you’re looking to play with a wide range of different colored backgrounds in your pastel art, look no further than the Mi Teintes Pastel Pad - available in assorted colors! These will look fantastic with pretty much any painting.

The pad comes with a double sided surface. On the one side there is a vellum texture, and a flat surface on the other side. The paper works exceptionally well with oil pastels, but it can also work with acrylics, watercolors and chalk pencils, making it very versatile. Overlapping different colors and layers is not a problem with this paper, allowing you to create rich, deep colors for your work. You don’t need to worry about damaging the paper either.

The paper can come in a range of different neutral colors too, such as champagne, buff, moonstone, steel gray, light blue, moonstone and eggshell white. The only real problem with this paper is the number of pages that it comes with. It only comes with 24 sheets inside of it in total, which may not be ideal for a beginner that may need to restart their work a few times to get it right. Otherwise, it’s ideal for wet and dry mediums, it’s acid free and the paper is high quality. What more could you possibly want?

Pros

  • Dual surfaced
  • Acid free
  • Durable
  • Works for wet and dry mediums

Cons

  • Only comes with 24 sheets

Best Paper for Pastels Buying Guide

Why Should You Get Special Paper for Pastels?

It’s possible to use pretty much any kind of paper with pastels, but it’s not recommended to just pick up the first thing that you can see. Pastels are incredibly messy if you’re not careful, so choosing the right paper is important. Sometimes little pieces of the pastels can fall off which isn’t ideal.

Ultimately it’s essential that any paper you use with pastels has tooth - something that the pastels can hold onto. If the surface is rougher then it means that you are capable or applying more colors to it, and you can add layers more easily. 

Alternatively, mixing pastels on the surface while you are applying  with a toothy piece of paper may end up stopping the colors from blending, and making smaller details can sometimes be better on smoother pieces of paper. In short, you need to choose a piece of paper with a texture that can best help you to achieve the results that you need.

Things to Consider

Don’t just buy any old pad of paper - you need to think it through! Here are a couple of things that you should think about when buying paper for pastels.

Surface Color

You also need to think about the color of the surface of the paper. If you have decent pastels then you should have no problem coloring over even some of the darkest papers, so you don’t necessarily have to buy a white or similar color like you would with another art medium such as watercolor.

The color of the paper that you buy can have a large effect on how your painting will look overall, however. In fact, a different colored background can even make the painting more interesting, depending on what exactly it is that you’re trying to depict. Consider what you’re likely to be creating and then choose paper color based on that. 

What situations are good for certain colors? So, if your work is going to have a lot of the paper peeping through, then a mid tone or a neutral tone can be effective. If you are employing the Trois crayons technique then a gray or medium cream paper is ideal as it works well for red, white and black pastels. Dark or black paper can work well for certain types of drawings - you will need to consider if this is the case for your work before you start.

If you are creating a more developed drawing then work with an undertone that contrasts - a bright color will be effective. Small slivers of the paper can make the painting look more cohesive throughout, though having large areas of the paper exposed can make the art look a little overpowering. 

Texture of the Surface

Another important aspect to consider when buying your paper for your pastels is the texture of the surface. There are a range of different types available, though you may find that the texture of the paper is sometimes referred to as the ‘tooth.’ This refers to the little bumps on the paper’s surface, and the tooth can have a big impact on what the finished result of your art is going to look like.

The first kind of texture that you can consider is an Ingres or laid texture. These look quite distinct and you will usually feel a pattern akin to a cross cross on the paper’s surface. This type of paper is incredibly affordable thanks to the fact that the paper is both popular and can be manufactured easily. It’s also ideal because blending is simple with this paper and it’s easier to glide the pastel across the paper. It can be more challenging to get sharp detail on the paper though as a result of the peaks and troughs on the surface. 

You could also opt for a honeycomb surface. This is somewhat like Ingres paper except that there will be a honeycomb pattern on the paper instead of the criss crosses. It can cost a bit more money but it won’t break the bank to buy. It’s pretty decent in terms of blending, though certainly not the best. 

Or, what about a gritty surface? This feels a little bit like sandpaper though it’s nowhere near as rough as it. This surface is great because pastels grip to it well even if you put a lot of colors on it. It’s even possible to layer white highlights on top. This isn’t the best choice for people that are on a budget, however, or if you are a beginner and just dabbling with different styles of art. Wait until you’re more experienced to try and play with this kind of paper.

The final choice is velour surfaces. These papers feel like velvet in a way, so it’s a little bit slippery. Thankfully pastel can stick to it incredibly well. It’s the most expensive type and it’s not really suited to beginners as it can take a lot of time and technique to get used to it.

Weight and Thickness

The weight and thickness of the paper that you buy is going to be determined on what style you’re going for. For instance, if you do a lot of rough work, layers, hard strokes and blending then getting thicker paper is essential for ensuring that it doesn’t rip and you still get great results. If you’re working with other materials such as wet paints having rough paper is also ideal.

As far as weight is concerned, you should be looking for around 175 gsm or more.  You can also get translucent pastel paper just in case you want to trace. 

Price

If you’ve only just started working with pastels then you shouldn’t be going for incredibly expensive, hard to use paper. The chances are that you’ll make mistakes and even one sheet of paper can translate to a substantial amount of money lost. If you want to imporve your skills then ultimately you should be getting affordable paper that you can make mistakes on. If you’ve improved then sure, invest in more expensive paper.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is mixed media paper appropriate for pastels?

Perhaps you want to play around with different art mediums when you’re doing a piece. In this case, mixed media paper can look like an attractive option.

Thankfully, mixed media paper has been designed with enough teeth that it can work with opaque or non translucent inks, markers and paints. Likewise it also works with a variety of pastel types. In this case, if you can’t find paper for pastels that is suitable for you then mixed media paper is a viable option.

Is it possible to paint on pastel paper?

This is a pretty common concern, especially among beginners wanting to experiment with what medium will work best for them. Unfortunately, you can only paint on pastel paper when you are using acrylic paints. 

How do I take care of my pastel paper?

Taking care of your tools is important when you’re an artist! There are a few things to consider to ensure that your paper stays in prime condition.

First of all, make sure that you keep your paper far away from water. Water can sometimes impact the quality of the paper, and can soften the tooth of the paper. This can change your technique. In general you should just keep water away whenever you’re working with pastels.

You should also keep your paper away from any hot objects or fire. Fire and hot objects can ruin the paper, making it curl and staining it brown.

Finally, make sure that you keep your paper well protected with a plastic cover or an envelope. This will allow you to keep it in great condition, even if you have accidents.

WonderStreet is not affiliated with any of the brands mentioned in this article. However, we sometimes receive a referral fee from online retailers when our readers buy on their website after clicking from our website to theirs. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases, which supports the operation of our blog and helps to keep all our content free for everyone. In any case, when we conduct our analysis, our intention and focus is to remain objective and unbiased at all times.

What’s your favourite Paper for Pastels? We’d love to hear from you... Please leave your comments below.

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