Perfect Papers for Calligraphy
Paper is one of the most important things to consider when practicing or doing calligraphy projects.
There are lots of factors to consider with the aesthetics of paper like colour, weight, texture or size… But just as important is the form, make-up and structure of paper we use.
If you don’t have the right type, you’ll notice paper may:
- Absorb too much ink and bleed, ruining your precise, sharp edges
- Fray and become stuck in your nib’s tines
- Curl and bend from the weight of ink
Although textured paper is tempting, if you’re a beginner, practicing drills or time poor on a job, smooth paper is best.
Regardless of paper thickness, if the surface isn’t smooth, you’ll notice your nib snag across the page. Smooth paper allows your nib to glide easily across, making it much easier to produce even lines. That’s not to say you can’t use textured paper, but it’s not ideal for practice.
Uncoated papers are more likely to bleed, where visibly coated papers sometimes create ink puddles.
Now, it might sound like I’m ruling all paper types out, but I’m categorically speaking—I have compiled a list of papers you can count on!
Paper for Practice
Marker Paper or Layout Paper
This paper is just slightly transparent, which allows for tracing. I love it because it saves me so much time having to draw in grid lines! Marker paper is super thin and smooth meaning it never bleeds, rarely snags and is pretty much
Rhodia Pads win for me on convenience factor. They come in different sizes, making it handy if you practice while travelling. They also come in dotted, blank or lined which again, can save time. Like Marker Paper, Rhodia Pads have a low absorbency level.
Clairefontaine Triomphe Notepad
This fine French paper is another great option for dip pen calligraphy. My tip: Grab the blank paper—it comes with a handy guide sheet to place underneath your page so you get the best of both pads!
Using Printer Paper isn’t perfect but it is hands down the most inexpensive, making it perfect for drills and practice. Plus, you can print your free Typerie guidelines right on it!
Not all printer papers are ideal, so be sure to try these HP Premium Choice Laserjet Paper (32lb) or Georgia Pacific Standard Multipurpose Paper (20lb).
Paper for Projects
You can of course use practice papers for projects, in fact, if you are transferring your type to the computer, I recommend you use the above as these papers allow for high contrast, making it easier to edit type digitally. The below papers are my go-to’s I use for projects where I give people my original work, like a greeting card, poster, gift tag or framed piece.
Also known as Bristol Paper, Bristol Board is a very versatile paper making it great for lots of calligraphy projects. A very white, very smooth uncoated paper available in different sizes and weights.
I mostly only use Watercolour Paper if I am using watercolour as ink. The texture of these can add a lovely effect to calligraphy pieces, but, you’ll need a bit of patience as your nib will catch paper fibres. Most Watercolour Papers work fine, I like Canson Aquarelle Paper.
Tip & Tricks
- Warm up on the same type of paper so you know what to expect.
- Always have extra’s of paper on hand. It’s a good idea to have a spare scrap piece of the same kind for testing first.
- The oils in our skin can affect the way ink sits on our page. Wash your hands and use other scrap pieces to protect your work and keep paper clean.
- When all else fails, gouache generally works! Because it’s a paint it won’t bleed on most paper types.
There are so many beautiful papers out there—I’d love to hear what paper types you use, share them in the comments below!