Certain papers work best with certain media so it pays to match the drawing implement to the support. There are three distinct paper surfaces.
Rough is, as the name suggests, a paper with a pitted, highly textured surface. It is best suited to bolder, expressive work using charcoal, chalks, pastel pencils, and soft graphite.
Papers with a very smooth surface are known as “hot pressed” due to the fact that when being made the drying sheet of pulp is passed through hot steel rollers. These papers are best suited to pen and ink work, wash drawings, and fine pencil work and are less satisfactory when used with softly pigmented drawing tools like charcoal and chalk. This is because the pigment dust needs a textured surface to cling to.
Papers with a medium textured surface are known as “cold pressed” or “NOT” (meaning not hot pressed). Papers in this group work well with most drawing materials and are perhaps the most widely used types of paper.
High-quality paper, usually labeled “acid-free,” is neutralized to counteract acidity and will not become brown or brittle. Cartridge (standard drawing) paper is the type of paper most often used for drawing. It can be white, cream, or colored and is available in various weights, sizes, and qualities. Watercolor paper is available in various weights and is good for all kinds of drawing.
Pastel paper comes in a range of tints and has a “tooth” or grain, which is designed to capture and hold the tiny particles of color. One side of the paper is usually textured, which is the side most people draw on, but you can use the other side if you prefer. Pastel paper comes in two weights; thicker paper can take heavier rubbing and reworking than lighter paper.
Paper can be purchased as loose, single sheets or in sketchbooks and pads. Single sheets enable you to try out several different papers and can be cut or torn to size. When drawing buildings on location, however, you will find using a sketchbook invaluable. They are made with paper of various surfaces, colors, and weights, and come in many sizes and bindings in both portrait and landscape formats. Pocket-sized books can be carried anywhere, but may be restrictive when you’re tackling larger subjects. Big sketchbooks are tiring to hold, but offer adaptable space, with the option of making several studies on one page.