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Calligraphy is a beautiful art that made me fall in love with it from the first moment in which I began to use the special pen to create amazing shapes that, in my opinion, are tiny pieces of art on paper.
My personal experience with calligraphy began when I decided to enroll in a course. The other students and I together with our teacher used to gather at a cozy local tea house to study the art of lettering. My favorite way to do calligraphy is with pigments instead of ink but that’s based on each individual’s preferences.
During that period, I’ve discovered that not all paper is good for calligraphy. For instance, you cannot simply take a standard notebook and start writing in a special style with the calligraphy pen. Also, there are multiple available calligraphy styles but that’s a topic for another time.
The proper type of calligraphy paper allows you to do steady strokes. It may be more expensive than regular paper but the investment is necessary and worth it if you want to master this timeless handwriting. Below, I have listed some of the best paper for calligraphy that you should consider.
Top 10 Best Papers for Calligraphy Purposes
The following products were listed in no particular order. I’ve chosen them based on their quality and characteristics.
Rhodia 80 Sheet
I’ve personally used this dot pad plenty of times because my calligraphy teacher recommended it in the beginning. This little Rhodia pad is one of the most loved and popular lettering and calligraphy paper on the market. It has great smoothness and it can be purchased in several different sizes.
Therefore, you can use this pad to either create small pieces or for drills. It is more expensive compared to other pads but its surface treats your calligraphy tools very well. There are two available cover colors: black and orange. Make sure you choose the dotted pattern.
Canson Tracing Paper Pad
The Canson paper pad works well for brush calligraphy as well as inking. It has a super smooth surface and it isn’t very absorbent. Because of this particular trait, you must pay attention when you write and give the ink a few moments to dry. Otherwise, your work will become a total mess.
This paper pad measures 9×12 inches and it contains 50 individual sheets. The paper is free of acid and non-toxic. Moreover, it is made in the US and it was created in such a way that will be easy for you to use and store it. Most of those who have purchased this pad use it with a tracing pencil.
HP Laserjet Paper
The HP paper is smooth but it isn’t really calligraphy paper per se. On the other hand, it has the advantage of being affordable, being the economical choice. It represents an excellent method that saves you money while you’re still practicing your handwriting skills.
Therefore, you can keep your special calligraphy paper for your work projects. With the HP smooth paper, your brush pens won’t be affected like they would be when you use standard copy paper.
Accent White Cardstock Paper
This cardstock is super smooth and has a thickness of 100 lbs. Due to its wonderful characteristics, the ink will quickly dry without being absorbed into the paper more than it should. The weight of this calligraphy paper is among the best choices on the market.
Every single ream features no less than 200 heavy-stock paper sheets. Due to its thickness, this paper is completely opaque. The surface of the paper is proper for ink projects and the company uses the materials it works within a responsible manner by harvesting renewable forest resources.
Strathmore Mixed Media Pad
This Strathmore pad is very versatile because it can be used for both dry and wet mediums. On the other hand, it features a pretty light texture. Therefore, I wouldn’t really recommend it for intense practice sessions. Each glue-bound pas comes with 15 individual sheets. They also have flip-over covers.
The weight of this paper is 184 lbs. which is an amazing perk that will reflect on your work. Simply put, all your artwork will be long-lasting. The pad is created from good-quality fabrics; it’s made in the United States and it is very suitable for scrapbooking as well. The way it was designed allows for easy storage and easy use.
Fabriano Mixed Media Pad
Fabriano pad is characterized by mixed media which means that the paper has strong layers that are able to withstand numerous dry or wet techniques. It is all just a matter of texture and sizing. One Fabriano pad contains 150 sheets. One sheet measures 9×12 inches and weighs 108 lbs. Moreover, this calligraphy paper is acid-free.
The surface of the paper is very smooth and feels like satin but there’s also a rougher version. Most buyers say they love working on the Fabriano pad watercolor paper. Besides calligraphy, this paper is also excellent for landscapes due to its rough surface. There are multiple sizes available for purchase.
Strathmore Marker Pad
This is the Strathmore 400 series marker pad that features a very smooth surface. Its paper’s surface works well with both brush pens and markers because they will easily glide on the paper. The 24 sheets of this pad are all acid-free and they weigh 50.5 lbs. That means the paper is both feather-resistant and bleed-resistant.
This pad is suitable for many art projects such as crafts and arts, including calligraphy. It was created in a way that’s easy to store and use. It may be the ideal choice for finished artwork. Finally, it is manufactured in the United States and it provides great value for the money.
Southworth Linen Business Paper
Many people who’re into calligraphy use the Southworth paper due to its ideal 24 lbs. weight. One possible drawback is the fact that one side of this paper is textured. Because of that, the paper might catch the nib of your pointed pen and that can mess up your writing rhythm.
However, it is an excellent choice for all other types of calligraphy. It is a pretty affordable calligraphy paper that provides a good value. You can order it online or find it at certain local shops that are specialized in marketing these types of tools for arts and crafts.
Studio Series Paper Pad
These heavyweight sheets work amazingly if you’re used to create your projects with either brush pens or dip pens. Studio Series calligraphy paper provides optimal thickness that holds the ink well while helping you avoid any bleed-through or smudge-related issues. The surface of this paper is rigid which is great for those of you who’re heavy-handed.
This paper is a real treat, especially for beginners because it will help you improve your technique and style. The application of the ink is effortless due to its smooth yet rigid surface due to which you will be able to create bolder and thicker lines. One minor drawback comes from the fact that this pad is a tad smaller compared to other similar products.
Patrick Crawford Calligraphy Paper
If you’re an avid calligrapher and you like to play with intricate lettering styles or if you’re simply practicing this art on a daily basis, the Patrick Crawford paper is one of the best options you should consider. This artist-grade paper has a complex layout made of grid lines that help you train to obtain the perfect form of your letters.
You should be careful, though, with the amount of ink you apply on this paper because, in certain situations, it might bleed through. The surface is lightly textured for consistent writing which is the ideal characteristic for beginners. One pad contains 100 individual sheets.
What to Consider When Buying Calligraphy Paper
When choosing paper for your calligraphy practice or projects, you should take into consideration certain aspects and characteristics such as the following ones:
- Thickness – this aspect is important because too thin paper can rip and tear. Thicker paper is also less transparent and looks more professional. In calligraphy, the thickness is measured by the paper’s weight;
- Finish – this characteristic refers to the type of treatment used on the paper’s surface that makes it glossy, matter, etc. This layer of finish will influence the absorbency level;
- Smoothness – how even is the paper’s surface? Is it porous or not? This varies based on the material type and the paper’s surface treatment. Rough surfaces might damage your nibs and brush pens;
- Size – some people like to do calligraphy on larger pieces of paper, whereas others prefer smaller paper. It depends on whether you’re just practicing or you’re about to complete one of your work projects. Small sizes are great for sketching while large pieces of paperwork for practice;
- Price – obviously, premium paper or good-quality calligraphy paper isn’t cheap but if you want your creations to be flawless then you will make this investment;
- Acid-free – this type of paper has basic or neutral pH when infused in water. It helps preserve your artwork and projects for longer periods. In other words, the paper won’t become yellow.
If you don’t use the right kind of paper, you will have to deal with the following issues:
- Regular paper can absorb too much pigment or ink which will further ruin your sharp and precise edges;
- Standard paper will fray and get stuck in the tines of your nib;
- Normal paper will bend and curl because of the ink’s weight which is not your average type of ink.
Tips and Tricks
Here’s a shortlist of useful guidelines that will help you improve your calligraphy skills:
- Practice or warm-up using the same paper type as the one you will create the final project on. This way, you will know exactly what to expect;
- Wash your hands before beginning to write because your skin’s oils could impact how the ink sits on the page. Protect your work with additional scrap pieces to keep the paper clean;
- Make sure to have a few extra paper pieces close by or at least one spare scrap piece to test the tools first;
- If you feel like everything else doesn’t work, you will find that gouache normally helps you do a great job. It is a form of paint so it will not bleed on the paper.
Question: Is Printer Paper Good for Calligraphy?
Answer: Yes and no. It depends a lot on what type of printer paper you’re about to use. Like calligraphy paper, printer paper comes in many varieties regarding its smoothness and thickness. For instance, regular printer paper isn’t good for calligraphy because it could ruin your brush pens. It’s porous which means it won’t absorb the ink very well. It’s also very thin.
On the other hand, premium alternatives of printer paper have all the proper characteristics that calligraphy enthusiasts and professionals are looking for. The high-quality print paper has the right level of thickness, the proper size, and a smooth finish.
Question: What Are the Most Popular Calligraphy Paper Brands?
Answer: You will find dozens of brands of calligraphy paper on the market so the process of choosing just one can be a tad stressful. I personally believe that the most popular and most trusted brands of this kind of paper are the following ones, in this exact order: Strathmore, Southworth, and Studio Series.
But I am also a fan of Rhodia pads. You should know that even less popular brands can market good-quality and affordable calligraphy paper. It depends on what your projects are and your budget as well as your preferences.
Question: What Should You Look for When Purchasing Calligraphy Paper?
Answer: First of all, you must establish your pen type and skill level. Are you an amateur, a beginner, or an expert in calligraphy? Do you use brush pens or another type of lettering tool? Then, you must think about the surface of the paper you’re about to buy. The best kind is the one that features a very smooth surface.
You should normally avoid cover stock and bond paper. Weight and thickness are probably the most important features of any calligraphy paper. They are measured in either pounds or grams per square meter. Again, aspects such as thickness and size vary, and you should opt for those options that suit your types of projects the best.
Question: Should You Use Watercolor Paper for Your Calligraphy Work?
Answer: Yes, you can use watercolor paper but make sure to opt for the proper variant. This kind of paper can be hot or cold press and for calligraphy projects, the best sort is the one that’s hot-pressed because it’s not as absorbent as the other one.
The Best Paper for Calligraphy – Bottom Line
There are thousands of types of papers out there, so, unfortunately, I couldn’t review all of them. Still, I made sure to include some of the best and most popular paper options that people use for calligraphy purposes.
To sum it all up, you are free to use whatever paper you want for your work projects, but you should definitely try several of them and experiment a bit before opting for one single type. The key is a great combination between high-quality ink and premium calligraphy paper rather than one thing or the other alone.
My personal favorite calligraphy paper brands and the ones I use the most are Rhodia and Strathmore.