Thursday, May 24, 2018

Arches Cold Press Watercolor Paper Review

For many painters, Arches reigns supreme over other watercolor papers.  Its frequently the go-to recommendation, and I'm not here to remove its crown.  I've had nothing but positive experiences with Arches watercolor papers, although as you'll read in this post, this is not unilateral- many artists struggle with Arches for various reasons.

Throughout this post, I share illustrations created on the types of Arches paper I've used, to give an overview of how their papers handle.

Papers discussed in this post:

  • Arches Watercolour 140lb Rough Press, Block Bound
  • Arches Watercolour 140lb Cold Press, Pad Bound
  • Arches Watercolour 300lb Cold Press, Block Bound, but removed
  • Arches Watercolour 140 lb Cold Press, Block Bound

Arches 300lb Cold Press, originally block bound but removed for blueline printing
Arches 300lb Cold Press, originally block bound but removed for blueline printing
Before we get much further in this post, I'd like to clear something up.

The Misconception:

Arches is owned by Canson.

Those slightly more in the know might think Canson originally owned Arches, and now ColArts, Winsor and Newton's parent company, have acquired it.

The Truth:

Arches watercolor paper is produced by one mill in France, which was founded in 1492.  Over the years, it has merged with three other mills to form a company called Arjomari, and in the 70's Ajomari acquired Canson, and produced papers for Canson's distribution.  Recently, Canson has been acquired by Hamelin, and ColArts became the Arches distributor in 2017.  ColArts handles Winsor and Newton, Liquitex, Reeves, Conte a Paris and several other art material manufacturers, and is owned by Lindengruppen, a Swedish business.

Arches is currently owned by Ahlstrom-Munksjo  and this partneship would give Munksjo access to ColArt's worldwide network of distribution.  Ahlstrom-Munksjo makes a variety of fiber based products- wallcoverings, tape backings, beverage and food packaging, fine art papers, and even electrotechnical papers.


Arches isn't just watercolor paper.  The Arches mill produces fine art papers for oil and drawing, as well as papers for art publishers.

Arches manufactures two types of watercolor paper- Lavis Fidelis/En-Tout-Cas (a double sided watercolor paper- one side hot press, one side cold press, made of 25% cotton with gelatin sizing, which we will not discuss today as I haven't tried it), and Arches Aquarelle/Watercolour paper, which we ARE discussing today.

Arches 140lb Cold Press, Pad Bound
Arches 140lb Cold Press, Pad Bound

The Stats:

  • 100% cotton rag paper, machine made
  • Gelatin sized
  • Available in Cold, Hot, and Rough press
  • Available in:
  • Sheets- (hot, cold, and rough press, 140lb and 300lb)- 16"x20" (CP, 140lb only), 22"x30"
  • Rolls- (90lb, cold press)- 44.5"x10 yards
  • (140lb, cold press)-44.5"x10 yards
  • (140lb, hot press)- 44.5"10 yards
  • (156lb, hot press)- 51"x10 yards
  • (140lb, rough)- 44.5"x10 yards
  • (156lb, rough)- 51"x10 yards
  • Blocks (hot, cold, and rough press, 140lb, 20 sheets)- 3.9"x9.8", 5.9"x11.8", 7.9"x7.9", 7"x10", 8"x10", 9"x12", 10"x14", 11"x14", 12"x12", 12"x16", 14"x20", 16"x20", 18"x24"
  • (cold press, 300lb, 10 sheets)- 9"x12", 10"x14", 12"x16"
  • Pads (140lb, hot, cold, and rough) 9"x12", 10"x14", 11.7"x16.5"
  • Available in Bright and Natural White

Arches 140lb, Cold Press, Block Bound
Arches 140lb, Cold Press, Block Bound


Arches 9"x12" Coldpress Block, 140lb, 20 sheets- $36.99 on Amazon
Arches 9"x12" Coldpress Block, 140lb, 20 sheets-$25.16 on Blick

Arches 9"x12" Coldpress Block 300 lb, 10 sheets, $24.75 on Cheap Joes

L'Aquarelle Canson Heritage
Heritage Watercolor Block, 140lb, 9"x12", 20 sheets- $38.40 on Blick
Heritage Watercolor Block, 140lb, 9"x12", 20 sheets- $42.07on Amazon

Not available in 300lb

Canson Moulin du Roy
Moulin du Roy 9X12 Block, 140lb, 20 sheets- $21.18 on Amazon

Not available in 300lb

9x12 coldpress block, 140lb, 20 sheets $21.09, only available from CheapJoes
9x12 coldpress pad, 300lb, 10 sheets, $21.69 only available from CheapJoes

Fluid 100
9"x12" coldpress block, 140lb 15 sheets- 16.27 on Blick (bound on 2 sides)

Saunders Waterford
9"x12" coldpress block, 140lb, 20 sheets-$30.98 on Blick
9"x12", coldpress, block, 300lb, 23.68 on Blick

Stonehenge Aqua
9"x12", coldpress, padbound, 140lb- $16.49 on Blick

Although Arches has gotten a reputation for being a bit pricey, when compared with comparable products, Arches is just about in the middle of the pack.  While both Fluid 100 and Stonehenge Aqua perform quite well as watercolor papers, they may not offer the tooth and taut block options that the other papers on this list offer.  I would say a good block of Arches is worth the investment, however many other artists have noticed issues with recent sheets and blocks.  There have been complaints about areas of resist that won't accept water or pigment, and there's some speculation that this is due to changes in management and quality control as the Arches mill shifts ownership over the years.  I have not encountered such a problem personally, but I know that if I did, I would find it very frustrating in a paper as expensive and lauded as Arches.
Arches, 140lb Cold Press, Pad Bound
Arches, 140lb Cold Press, Pad Bound

  • Arches Watercolour 140lb Rough Press, Block Bound
A very rough watercolor paper that feels similar to sandpaper, and may chew up brushes.  I really love the texture on Arches Rough- it's very satisfying.  The gum used to bind the paper to the block does an excellent job holding the paper taut.  Paper does not buckle or cockle despite paper saturation, and should not need further stretching.  Paper may be difficult to remove from block without knife.  Paper accepts color well, and colors remain vivid after drying.  Paper can accept multiple layers of color- both wet over wet and details.  Paper may be difficult to ink on, given texture.  Overall, a pleasant experience.
  • Arches Watercolour 140lb Cold Press, Pad Bound
Paper needs to be stretched or will buckle, especially if a lot of water is used.  In my experience, slightly less tooth than the block version of the same color- this may be due to batch, as papers were purchased several years apart.  Performs comparably with Moulin du Roy (I often can't tell the difference once the papers have been removed from their pads, if unlabeled), but is easier to find.  Paper is a bit soft, and details may get fuzzy- not suitable for comics work in my experience.  Paper accepts color well, allows for gentle subtle blending, and can handle multiple layers of water.  Overall, a pleasant experience, and an easy paper to work with.
  • Arches Watercolour 300lb Cold Press, Block Bound, but removed
Paper is almost the width of illustration board- very sturdy paper.  I needed to run my illustration through my printer, so paper was removed from block beforehand using a knife.   Paper released printer ink upon stretching (not necessary, but made for easier handling, and I intended on using a lot of water for this illustration).  Brusho did not disperse as much as I had wanted, but colors are still very vibrant (so vibrant that the scan does not do the final piece justice- it's beautiful in person).  300lb block bound CP seems to have more texture than 140lb Pad bound CP- might be batch differences.
  • Arches Watercolour 140 lb Cold Press, Block Bound
The gum used to bind the paper to the block does an excellent job holding the paper taut.  Paper does not buckle or cockle despite paper saturation, and should not need further stretching.  Paper may be difficult to remove from block without knife.  Paper accepts color well, and colors remain vivid after drying.  Paper can accept multiple layers of color- both wet over wet and details.  Paper accepts ink from brushpen well.  Overall, a pleasant experience.
Arches, 140lb Cold Press, Pad Bound
Arches, 140lb Cold Press, Pad Bound
Have You Heard the Word?

Ink Drop cafe is hosting a fanart contest to celebrate their one year launchiversary!

The rules and the theme are simple- we'd love to see how you draw Squiddy, our tea loving squid mascot!  For a full list of rules, and information on how to enter, please visit Ink Drop Cafe!

The Verdict:

Arches is generally one of the first papers recommended by traditional watercolorists.  It seems to have some batch issues, but in the past, Arches has been a predictable, high quality watercolor paper that yields vivid results and beautiful blends.  My experiences with Arches have all been positive- from my printmaking years using BFK Reeves (a pleasure to print on, from lino to screenprint) to pad and block bound watercolor papers.  For me, it's great for illustration and an excellent sometimes treat, as it's too expensive for comic pages, and details are frequently fuzzy.

It's probably very obvious that my watercolor style does not make me Arches' target demographic- my style does not make me the target demographic of ANY watercolor supply or paper company.  Watercolor manufacturers in the US do not cater to illustration nor to comic artists, so it's up to us as illustrators and comic artists to find papers and products that suit our needs, regardless of whether these are the supplies other artists utilize.  However, this also puts me in a unique position- few illustrators or comic artists review their supplies regularly.  Most reviews are in fact written by those who wish to pursue watercolor in a traditional sense.  I know this because for every review I write, I include a list of outside resources to help others continue their research, and I highly prize an educated dissenting opinion as it helps me refine my own.

So I hope the reviews I've shared here have been useful for those of you who love watercolor, but wish to use it for illustration or comics.

Outside Resources and Second Opinions:

Arches Site
Ahlstrom-Munksjo: Products
Wet Canvas- Arches
ColArt: Arches
ColArt: Our Story
EuroInvestor: ColArt Distributor of Arches Fine Art Papers
Arches Papers
Painting Watercolor: Arches Cold Press Watercolor Paper Review
Amazon Reviews- Arches ColdPress Sheets 
Amazon Reviews-Arches Coldpress Blocks
Arches, the basic to compare watercolor papers
WetCanvas: Is Saunders Waterford Watercolor Paper Better Than Arches

Monday, May 21, 2018

Kilimanjaro Coldpress Watercolor Paper Review

I've already reviewed the 140lb Kilimanjaro cold press paper, I'm revisiting Kilimanjaro as a way to encourage illustrators to give it a try!

Inked Illustration on Kilimanjaro Watercolor Paper
Christmas 2017 Illustration, Inked with Sakura Pigma FB

Note: All illustrations used in this post were painted on Kilimanjaro Original Bright White 300lb  watercolor paper.

Recently, I thought it would be helpful to write reviews for some of my favorite or frequently used cotton rag watercolor papers.  I feel like as an illustrator and comic artist, I have something unique and interesting to contribute to the watercolor paper conversation, and hope my experiences may be useful to other watercolorists, illustrators, and comic artists.

Other Watercolor Paper Reviews I Recommend: 

The Stats:
  • Cotton Rag
  • Cold Press
  • Available in blocks, paintbooks, pads, and sheets
  • Archival
  • Acid Free
  • Available in sizes: 4"x6", 15"x22", 12"x16", 10"x14", 9"x12"
  • 140lb and 300lb
  • Available in two colors- Bright White and Natural White
  • Natural White is Acid Free, pH neutral, buffered, interally sized- this may not be the case for for Bright White

Penciled watercolor illustration on Kilimanjaro Watercolor Paper
Penciled 1 Year Launchiversary watercolor illustration

Kilimanjaro is an affordable, store brand, cotton-rag watercolor paper that is only available from Cheap Joes Art Stuff, a regional chain of art supply stores.  It works well for both inked and penciled watercolor illustrations, has a nice surface texture, and takes color well.

The 300lb watercolor paper is a little tricky for my Canon Pixma Pro 9000 MK II to handle from front-loading- it generally leaves black marks when I print my bluelines.  These are not noticeable in the finished illustrations but were originally visible on all of the illustrations used in this post.  My Pixma Pro 9000 has been resuscitated from the verge of death multiple times so this may be an issue with my printer, and not with the width of the paper itself.  Otherwise, my printer has no issues handling this thicker paper.

Kilimanjaro 300lb paper is slightly thicker than illustration board, and for most artists, should not require stretching.  I paint really wet, so I usually stretch my watercolor paper first, and 300lb paper is no exception.  Stretching the paper helps dissolve the printed blueline guides, but you may not find it necessary.

I work with both ink and pencil on Kilimanjaro, generally inking with a Sakura Pigma FB or Pentel Pigment brushpen, as both are waterproof once dry.

300lb Kilimanjaro is available in: 

Sheets- Natural and Bright White- 11"x15", 22"x30"
Pads- Natural and Bright White- 9"x12", 11"x14"
Paintbooks- 9"x12", 10"x5.5", 12"x9"

But not available in blocks.

Inked watercolor illustration on Kilimanjaro watercolor paper
Inked ALAC watercolor illustration

I find Kilimanjaro an excellent alternative for Arches for my illustration needs.  It's got nice texture and tooth, stays open long enough for nice blends but not open so long that the painting becomes muddy, and is quite forgiving.  Kilimanjaro is responsive to a variety of techniques, and the cold press does not have so much texture that it's difficult to ink or paint details.

L'Aquarelle Canson Heritage
Heritage Watercolor Block, 140lb, 9"x12", 20 sheets- $38.40 on Blick
Heritage Watercolor Block, 140lb, 9"x12", 20 sheets- $42.07on Amazon

Not available in 300lb

Arches 9"x12" Coldpress Block, 140lb, 20 sheets- $36.99 on Amazon
Arches 9"x12" Coldpress Block, 140lb, 20 sheets-$25.16 on Blick

Arches 9"x12" Coldpress Block 300 lb, 10 sheets, $24.75 on Cheap Joes

Canson Moulin du Roy
Moulin du Roy 9X12 Block, 140lb, 20 sheets- $21.18 on Amazon

Not available in 300lb

9x12 coldpress block, 140lb, 20 sheets $21.09, only available from CheapJoes
9x12 coldpress pad, 300lb, 10 sheets, $21.69 only available from CheapJoes

Inked watercolor illustration on Kilimanjaro watercolor paper
Inked ALAC watercolor Illustration

The Verdict: 

I've used Kilimanjaro 300lb watercolor paper for a while now, and find it a responsive, affordable cotton rag watercolor paper that is fairly affordable and very enjoyable to use.  While I would not recommend 300lb for practice, nor do I think its something every watercolor illustrator needs, I enjoyed trying it, as I'm primarily used to 140lb papers.

I think Kilimanjaro watercolor paper is a great, affordable alternative to Arches or Moulin du Roy.  It's an affordable cotton rag paper that behaves predictably and consistently and is a fantastic option for illustrators who enjoy quality papers but don't have the need or means to pay for Arches.  I highly recommend you give it a try!

Penciled watercolor illustration on Kilimanjaro watercolor paper
Penciled Ink Drop Cafe Launch Anniversary Illustration

Tutorials and Demonstrations on Kilimanjaro Paper

Swinging from the Branches- Inking My 2017 Christmas Card

Swinging from the Branches- Painting My 2017 Christmas Card: 

Happy Anniversary!  7 Inch Kara 1 Year Launch Birthday:

Curled Up In A Good Book: 

Read to Your Pets Watercolor Tutorial: 

Have You Heard the Word?

Ink Drop Cafe is hosting a fanart contest!  To enter, just draw our adorable squid mascot, Squiddy, and you can win wonderful prizes such as comics, prints, or charms!   For more information, visit the Ink Drop Cafe site!

Second Opinions and Outside Resources

Scratchmade Journal: Comparing 4 Favorite Watercolor Brands
Scratchmade Journal: Five Things You May Not Know About Watercolor Paper
Handprint- Kilimanjaro
WetCanvas- Kilimanjaro Natural White

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Canson's L'Aquarell Heritage Review

Today's review is for Canson's L'Aquarell Heritage watercolor paper, another frequent request from readers.   L'Aquarelle Heritage seems to have taken the place of Moulin du Roy, and is far easier to find in a variety of art stores.

Heritage L'Aquarell is available in Rough, Cold, and Hot press, but we're looking at 140lb Cold Press in today's review.

For a glossary of common watercolor terms, please check out this post!
For common watercolor paper terms and types, check out this post!
For recommendations on watercolor papers for comics, check this post out.

Note: Illustrations in this post were painted on Heritage L'Aquarelle 9x12, 140lb coldpress paper.

The Stats:
Machine made using a mould
Cold, Hot, and Rough Press
140lb and 300lb
Cotton Rag
Sheet- 56 cm x 76 cm
 Roll- 1.52 cm x 4.57 m
Top bound pad- 23 cm x 31 cm, 26 cm x 36 cm
Block- 23 cm  x 31 cm, 26 cm x 36 cm, 31 cm x 41 cm,  36 cm x 51 cm
Acid free
No optical brighteners added
Where to Buy: Amazon, Blick, Jerry's Artarama
Starch Sized (not gelatin sized)

At one point, Canson acted as a distributor for Arches papers, a very popular choice for watercolor artists.  Arches has since left Canson and is now distributed by Col-Arts (Winsor and Newton's parent company) and Canson has launched L'Aquarelle/L'Aquarell (I've seen it spelled both ways, but I assume the proper spelling is the feminine aquarelle) Heritage in its place.  Some claim that L'Aquarelle handles just like Arches- I really think that boils down to how you handle your watercolor, and your experience may vary.

L'Aquarelle Canson Heritage
Heritage Watercolor Block, 140lb, 9"x12", 20 sheets- $38.40 on Blick
Heritage Watercolor Block, 140lb, 9"x12", 20 sheets- $42.07on Amazon

Arches 9x12 Coldpress Block, 140lb, 20 sheets- $36.99 on Amazon
Arches 9x12 Coldpress Block, 140lb, 20 sheets-$25.16 on Blick

Canson Moulin du Roy
Moulin du Roy 9X12 Block, 140lb, 20 sheets- $21.18 on Amazon

L'Aquarelle Heritage is much easier to find than Moulin du Roy, but I wouldn't consider it an apt replacement.  I find the longer open time frustrating and struggle with fuzzy, bleeding lines when trying to apply fine detail.

When toning paper and working with large washes, I find my colors end up muddier than on similar cotton rag artist papers.  I find the texture of the paper to be too uniform as well.  Although I only use handmade papers occasionally, I do prefer a bit of texture to my watercolor papers, and will occasionally paint on rough press.

I use L'Aquarelle Heritage infrequently, as it's a struggle to get it to handle the way I wish.  When painting an illustration where I need reliable results and predictable handling, I'll reach for Kilimanjaro or Arches over L'Aquarelle Heritage.

I used the above illustration in my post Pushing Through The Ugly.  The post is about pushing past the worst to create something truly good, but I feel fighting with the quirks of the L'Aquarelle Heritage paper contributed to a lot of that ugly.

The Verdict:

Despite both being Canson products, I find L'Aquarelle Heritage temperamental and somewhat difficult to use compared to Moulin du Roy.  I struggle to achieve the desired effects, and find my paintings often end up muddy or difficult to control.  This could be due to the fact that L'Aquarelle Heritage is designed to stay open and workable longer, and is also designed for lifting- two properties that do not always lend themselves well to the type of illustration I do.

Compared to other cotton rag watercolor papers, I prefer Kilimanjaro, Moulin du Roy, Fluid 100, and Arches Cold Press to L'Aquarelle Heritage.

Not every paper is designed as a general use watercolor paper, or designed to please every artist.  I'm not a fan of Canson's L'Aquarelle Heritage, and don't enjoy using it for my illustrations.

Resources and Second Opinions: 

Open Canvas: Has anyone used the new Canson Heritage Paper?
Canson Heritage- An Exceptional Paper and We Prove It To You

L'Aquarelle Canson Heritage- Comparative Test- Rendering
L'Aquarelle Canson Heritage- Comparative Test- Feeling
L'Aquarelle Canson Heritage-Comparative Test-Lifting
L'Aquarelle Canson Heritage-Comparative Test-Lifting

Blick Reviews: L'Aquarelle Canson Heritage
Canson Heritage- The Arches Killer
The Art Cart- Its Finally Here: L'Aquarelle Canson Heritage Watercolor Paper
Jackson's: Trying Out Canson Heritage Watercolor Paper

Monday, May 14, 2018

Funding the Future of Comics: NATTO Scholarship 2017 Retrospective

The NATTO scholarship 2018 is going strong, but I thought now would be a good time to revisit the first year of the scholarship. I contribute what I can to charities, but Going Merry made a good case for giving directly to students. Nattosoup Studio has interviewed artists who have received funding to aide their comic work and it has sometimes launched their careers. But many of those scholarships have dried up, so last year seemed like a perfect time to launch my own scholarship to promote sequential art.

Where to Begin?

Getting started was a manual process. I created an account on Going Merry which was straight-forward and free, but found there was and still isn't an interface to create a scholarship on the site. So I emailed the creator, Charlie Maynard, and he got the ball rolling. He was easy to work with; he asked what my goals were for the scholarship, was clear on what role Going Merry would play, and helped answer questions I had about running a scholarship since I was new to this. After 8 rounds of emails and a short call I had a live scholarship in two weeks and felt confident things would proceed. Some of that time was spent being distracted by life or creating assets, but I think it came together in a reasonable amount of time.

You should keep in mind that Going Merry does not promote scholarships- that part is up to you. 

Overview of the scholarship on Going Merry for approval.

How Do I Reach Students?

The biggest obstacle we faced was launching the scholarship so late in the school year. By May 22nd, colleges had let out and high schools were sending their seniors off. So I focused my efforts on contacting other artists to spread the word about the scholarship. I wrote a blog post and created a whimsical Youtube video to garner attention. I asked a variety of people (art educators, bloggers, artists, and podcasters) through social media and emails (directly and indirectly) to signal boost. I got some response. I'm not sure if I just wasn't reaching people, if they didn't see a benefit in sharing the opportunity, or if they were skeptical of the scholarship, but it was difficult to get traction.

I hadn't expected sharing the scholarship to be difficult (it's $1000 for 30 minutes of time!), but we managed to get 18 fantastic applicants by July 1st. When we launched we were shooting for between 10 and 100 applicants, so we were on the low end. But there were so many strong portfolios featuring wonderful illustration work, amazing animation, and creative comics.

Reviewing applications on Going Merry in 2017.

Picking a Recipient

I was able to review the applicants through Going Merry's application portal, but they've since moved away from that to a PDF offline format. I didn't see a good place to take notes on applicants, so I just used a Trello board since it's easier to have images and readable notes than a spreadsheet. It took a few weeks of deliberation—July can be hectic for me—but I contacted the recipient and made the announcement. We were hoping to have some information on Eliana Falc√≥n at the time of her winning, but we just got busy, and wasn't able to get those details until we announced the scholarship for 2018.

What Would I Change?

$1000 is the minimum most students will apply for. Obviously their time is valuable, and chances are they won't be the recipient of the scholarship, so in 2018 we decided to expand the awards to a 2nd place ($500) and 3rd place ($250) to further encourage students who otherwise might not have the confidence.

It's hard to get a scholarship going on grass roots alone. This go-around I created a press release and contacted comic news outlets, local news outlets, high schools, colleges, conventions, and more podcasters to get enough syndication to reach a broader audience. Maybe at some point I'll consider paying to advertise the scholarship, but I'd prefer to have those funds go to students than social media platforms.

I would love to be able to write-off the NATTO scholarship on my taxes, but Going Merry doesn't currently have the legal infrastructure to offer this and I don't either obviously. I plan to stick with the service, if for no other reason it might encourage more people to create scholarships, but this is the main disappointment for me in the process.

How Do You Start a Scholarship?

If you aren't concerned with tax write-offs, nothing is stopping you from creating an online form to accept submissions, promoting yourself, and mailing a check to the recipient. Going Merry is certainly helpful for a sense of legitimacy and for verification the applicants are students / citizens, but if those things aren't a priority for you, it may not be worth the 3% fee they charge for hosting.

So if you have the financial means, around 25 hours of free time, and a desire to help educate the next generation, either sign up for Going Merry or create a Google Form and get going! I definitely recommend you create assets to promote the scholarship. Having a clear name (a difficult task!), possibly a logo, and some graphic assets which are easy to share on social media can definitely have an effect on the visibility.

Finally, while having criteria for your scholarship is a wonderful means to promote your cause, if the requirements are too strict, you may not get enough applicants to justify formally creating a scholarship.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Canson Moulin Du Roy Review

Today we're taking a look at Canson's Moulin du Roy watercolor paper!   This is by popular request, and I've mentioned using and enjoying Moulin du Roy on Twitter several times in the past.  Moulin du Roy is available in both hot and cold press, but today's review focuses on their cold press offering.

For a glossary of common watercolor terms, please check out this post!
For common watercolor paper terms and types, check out this post!
For recommendations on watercolor papers for comics, check this post out.

Note: All illustrations in this post were painted on Canson Moulin du Roy 24cm x 32cm paper.

The Stats:
Available in tape-bound pad, roll, or on blocks
Available in Cold, Rough, and Hot Press
100% Cottonrag Watercolor Paper
Machine made using moulds
140lb and 300 lb weights
Available through Amazon, Jackson's Art
Sizes Available: 
Sheet- 56cm x 76cm
Roll: 1.30m x 9.15m
Block: 23cm x 30.5cm and 30.5cm x 45.5cm
Pad, top glued: 24cm x 32cm and 30cm x 40cm
Acid free, naturally white
Made without bleaching agents

watercolor illustration on Moulin du Roy watercolor paper

I've used Canson's Moulin du Roy for a few years now, particularly for my larger watercolor illustrations.  Although it's a bit pricier than cellulose papers, it's an affordable alternative to Arches that may be appealing to illustrators who work with pad and block bound papers: 

Moulin du Roy 9X12 Block, 140lb, 20 sheets- $21.18 on Amazon
Arches 9x12 Coldpress Block, 140lb, 20 sheets- $36.99 on Amazon
Arches 9x12 Coldpress Block, 140lb, 20 sheets-$25.16 on Blick

Compared to Arches, Moulin du Roy is soft and a bit fabric like.  Colors dry a bit muted, and may require additional layers.  Otherwise, I find it quite comparable, and use it as an alternative to Arches for larger illustration sizes.

Although there are some claims that this handles similarly to handmade papers, Moulin du Roy does not handle anything like the handmade watercolor papers I've had the pleasure of trying (Shizen and Khaldi).
Moulin du Roy is capable of soft, subtle blends, and handles layers beautifully.  If you're working on 140lb Moulin du Roy watercolor paper, I recommend stretching or stabilizing your paper first, or working on block bound paper.

Cold Press Moulin du Roy has minimal, fairly soft tooth, and may be suitable for those who do not enjoy aggressive tooth on watercolor papers.  It's a fairly soft paper, and may not take fine detail in watercolor well.  It may also be too soft for heavy graphite work, and may not take sketching, erasing, and revision well.

I'm able to run sheets of Canson Moulin du Roy through my large Canon Pixma Pro 9000 Mk II (this seems to be the new version) printer in order to print water soluble bluelines, making this an excellent paper option for artists who enjoy working with one foot in the digital realm, or for artists who work in successive stages.
watercolor illustration on Moulin du Roy watercolor paper


Moulin du Roy (Roi) translates to Mill of the King.  It seems that many artists in the fine art vein find this paper inferior to Arches, although I've also gotten feedback that Arches has had a recent bout with bad batches.  When it comes to watercolor paper, its best to try it for yourself- if you'd like to try Moulin du Roy on the cheap, you can request a sample at your local mom and pop art supply store, or write to Canson to request a sample.

I really enjoy painting on Moulin du Roy.  I find it comparable in quality to Cold Press Arches, without quite as much tooth.  It does require stretching and support (for 140lb at least, which is all I've used), but it handles blends and illustration beautifully.  It has gotten increasingly hard to find- it seems that Canson may have replaced it with L'Aquarelle Heritage, but if you can find it, I recommend giving it a try.

Outside Sources and Second Opinions
Canson Moulin du Roy
WetCanvas: Canson Moulin du Roy
Jackson's Art Blog- Moulin du Roy
Moulin du Roy Watercolour Paper with Pascal Pihen
See Be Draw: Canson Moulin du Roy
Watercolor Paper Review of: Strathmore 500, Canson Moulin du Roy, Bee Paper
The Ultimate Watercolor Paper Comparison| Comparing 24 Types of Watercolor Paper (Part 1)

Monday, May 07, 2018

Combating Art Cognitive Dissonance

We all know it.  Our friends like our art, but when we look at it, it looks terrible.  We can nitpick each and every flaw on command, but not at a stage when we could actually fix things, oh no.  Only after the piece is finished, when it's too late to salvage, and now we're too embarrassed to share it.

This is Art Cognitive Dissonance.  It stops us from sharing art we've worked hard on, talks us out of applying for jobs we should be qualified for, and generally makes us feel like crap.

First off, accept that the fact that you can now see all the flaws is proof that you've grown as an artist in the process of creating that piece.  The flaws are good to be aware of- you can address those in your next piece!

Actionable Steps for the Future:

1.  Ban "Not Good Enough" from your vocabulary
2. Focus on actionable immediate goals
3. Add 'yet' to sentences to allow for improvement
4. Acknowledge milestones, even small ones
5. When requesting critique, ask for specifics
6. Only compare yourself to your past work
7. Find aspects of the piece you enjoy, feel are successful, or represent what you've learned.

If you absolutely can't shake the feeling and continue to struggle with feeling positive about your work try:

  • Developing an improvement plan that focuses on areas of weakness.  Working towards an end goal will help you see your art as a journey.
  • Reach out to a trusted friend for help.  The wrong friends are more than happy to tear your work apart, so ask someone who's been supportive and in your corner- someone you can trust.  Ask them what they like about the specific piece, and TRUST THEM.  Sometimes it helps to write it down.
  • Actively stop yourself when you start feeling bad about your work.  Go for a walk, exercise, listen to music- remove yourself from the situation.

Keep in mind:  Not all displeasure is bad!  Being dissatisfied with your work can drive improvement- just harness it in a positive, productive way.  Keep notes on self critique and work towards addressing those issues in the future.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Spray Techniques- Watercolor Basics

In today's tutorial, we're covering basic Spray techniques!  From water in a spray bottle to dye-based inks to mixing your own custom watercolor sprays, there are loads of ways to utilize spray techniques in your art and illustration!

This post is part of my Watercolor Basics series, a series designed to get you painting!  These simple tutorials and reviews explain the nuts and bolts of watercolor illustration and watercolor for comic art.

Some of these techniques demonstrated in today's post were covered or touched upon in All About Brusho, which I highly recommend you read if you haven't yet!

Utilizing sprays (both diluted watercolor and just plain water) can be a fun way to add an element of freedom and chaos to your watercolor work.  There's numerous ways you can approach this technique, and it's great for experimentation or loosening up overly tight pieces.

Water Reactive Inks: 

How it works:

Inks are applied to page (either as random swatches, like in the below example, or in a tighter render, and water is sprayed on the ink from a spraybottle or flicked from a brush.   This reactivates the dyes and causes them to run into one another, giving a mottled, splatter effect depending on the amount of water used.

MozArt Watercolor markers on Fluid Watercolor Paper.  Markers were randomly applied, then sprayed with water.  Allowed to dry, then hydrangea were sketched, painted, and inked on top.

Typically dye based, but not always.  This technique will work with pigment based watercolor markers like Winsor and Newton Watercolor markers as well- so long as the ink has not dried.  This technique also works with still wet India and Acrylic inks as well.

These techniques work particularly well with dye-based watercolor markers, such as Kuretake Clean Color Real Brush Markers, Akashiya Sai markers, or even MozArt watercolor markers.

Watercoloring Wild Hydrangea Timelapse: 

Kuretake Clean Color Real Brush.  Base color applied, sprayed with water, then illustration tightened up and details added.

Kuretake Clean Color Real Brush.  Base colors applied, sprayed with water, then illustration tightened up and details added.

Kuretake Clean Color Real Brush.  Base color applied, sprayed with water, then illustration tightened up and details added.

Waterbased Sprays and Inks

How it works:

Pre-mixed (or mixed at home) waterbased or pigment based particles suspended in water are sprayed onto the surface of the paper.  Water may or may not be sprayed on top.

Tattered Angels sprays, cherry blossoms sketched and paintied on top.

These sprays can be purchased pre-mixed, and typically feature dye based, water reactive inks intended for this purpose.  These are frequently used in cardmaking, art journaling, and stamping.  Artists often make their own sprays as well by diluting tube watercolor paints in water.  Finely ground mica or pearlescent/iridescent additives may be added for shimmer.  Pre mixed sprays include Tattered Angels Glimmer sprays, Ranger Dylusions Ink Sprays , and Recollections sprays.

Tattered Angels sprays, cherry blossoms sketched and painted on top.

With Water Reactive Watercolor Crystals 

How it works: 

Illustration is inked or pencilled.  Masking fluid is applied if desired to mask out areas for white or reserved painting at a later time.  Brusho is applied, spritzed with water or water is applied and Brusho is sprinkled into the water.  Illustration is allowed to dry, then may be further spritzed for better color movement.  Allowed to dry again, excess Brusho is brushed away with a drafting brush, masking fluid is removed.

Mixed Berry Timelapse 

This works with any powdered, crystalline, dye based watercolor- Brusho or Ken Oliver's Colorburst, and is a simple, fun technique with bright results!

Inked illustration, Brusho was sprinkled on and sprayed, then paint applied once Brusho removed.

Inked illustration, Brusho applied then sprayed.

Starting Point for Tighter Watercolors

How It Works:

There are many variations on this method, from applying your watercolor wet into wet on the paper, then spraying with water for movement, to spraying your watercolors directly onto the paper!

Inked illustration on Winsor and Newton cellulose watercolor paper, sprayed paints, watercolor.

For this technique, a bit of tube watercolor can be mixed with a spray bottle of water to create an instant watercolor spray, or you can use a spraybottle full of clean water to help push wet or semi-wet pigments around on your paper.  For this technique, I really recommend working on heavier watercolor paper (at least 140lb) and SECURE YOUR PAPER.  Cellulose and cotton rag papers will both work for this, but you may have better blending results with cotton rag paper.

Hidden in Flowers- Spray Techniques Tutorial Watercolor Basics

Inked illustration on Winsor and Newton cellulose watercolor paper, sprayed paints, watercolor.

For Backgrounds and Atmosphere: 

In this technique, sprays are mostly reserved for the background- to add interest to an otherwise boring background.
Qor Quinacridone Gold diluted in water and spritzed onto background.

Winsor and Newton Payne's Grey+Indgo and Qor Quinacridone Gold.  Quin gold was sprayed and used to dilute Payne's Grey+Indigo mix, Indigo mix and Payne's Grey allowed to drip freely. 

Using Sprays To Lift and Add Dynamism:

How it's done:

Sprays are utilized throught the process to move pigments around and to encourage wet into wet randomized blends.

I hope this post has inspired you to give spray techniques a try!  Some are very simple, and some require a lot of practice to master, and some will continue to surprise you for years to come!  Spray techniques are a great way to loosen up stiff painting styles, and add a fun element to your watercolor illustrations.

This post was brought to you thanks to the generosity of my Artnerds on Patreon!