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Why I prefer hot press paper

blonde mermaid painted on hot press watercolor paper

Keep in mind, there is no perfect tool. There are no right answers. What works for you may not necessarily work for me. And vice versa.

I personally prefer hot press paper. Why? Because the beef of my art isn’t the colors. It’s the drawing under the colors. Hot press paper is the most smooth, and the easiest to draw on.

If you’re wondering the difference between the two papers, cold press paper has a bumpier texture. It’s slightly better for multiple washes. However, I paint my skin tones seven times wet on wet on hot press paper and don’t have any complaints.

Hot press paper rules for drawings

For practice sketching, I just used plain, cheap copy paper. Since I’m not going to do anything with those sketches anyways, I don’t care. They’re for practice, and if they turn out really good, I’ll give them to a friend. But when it’s time to actually paint, I’m using either Arches or Blick Premier hot press paper.

Note the most important thing here – it comes down to style. If you’re a pure painter, you’ll more than likely prefer cold press paper. Cold press paper is more popular. You’ll notice this when you go into any art store and actually count how much cold press is available vs how much hot press is available.

I’m not a pure painter. I do fantasy pinups. Stylistically, hot press paper serves me better than cold press paper.

Not that that’s all I’ll ever use. Sometimes, I’ll paint on wood or clay. But when it comes to paper, I’m using hot press.

mermaid drawing on hot press watercolor paper
Pigma Micron 005 on Blick Premier block 140 lb hot press paper

For my style, the drawing is my bread and butter. I’ll still need to do seven layers of wet on wet to make her skin smooth and lovely. But both Blick Premier and Arches hot press paper can take that much water, no problem.

Negatives of hot press paper

It takes longer to dry

Hot press paper takes longer to dry than cold press paper. I’m not a blow dryer guy. I go and do something else in between layers.

For cold press, I can usually start painting again in a half an hour. For hot press, I’ll wait at least 45-60 minutes between layers.

Washes are different

This isn’t necessarily a negative. Although since most watercolor artists start off with cold press paper, they’re thrown off by how hot press paper acts differently.

The colors on hot press wash off faster after multiple washes. Cold press papers tend to “keep” the colors more than hot press. This is neither here nor there. It’s just something to be aware of.

mermaid work in progress
Work in progress – after a few washes. Yes, my wife and I eat a lot of kimchi

That’s one reason why some folks with start off with cold press, try hot press, then move immediately back to cold press. They don’t like how hot press doesn’t keep the colors as well.

As with anything, you get used to how things work with the method you use the most. That includes the tools. You get comfortable with the tools you use the most.

I’m now more comfortable with hot press paper. I’ve adjusted accordingly, despite actually starting with cheap cold press paper (which I will strongly not recommend – another story for another day).

Try them both

I strongly suggest that you try them both and see which one you like better. You may completely disagree with me. Which is fine. You be you. You and I may have completely different styles, or may need different aspects from the paper. That’s part of art.

Try having a conversation with ten different people about what is the best car and you may get eight, nine, or ten different responses. Same thing.