The Best Paper for Charcoal Drawing in 2024

When you use the wrong type of paper, charcoal has problems with smudging and bleeding. We’ve reviewed the paper for charcoal to help you choose a paper that won’t frustrate you. We’re knowledgeable about what makes a paper good because we enjoy artistic activities and have committed ourselves to the planner and art products niche.

Keep reading to learn about your top 10 options in charcoal drawing paper. We took texture, paper weight, longevity, and durability into consideration.

Best Paper for Charcoal Drawing:

1. Canson XL Series Watercolor Textured Paper Pad

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The Canson XL Series Watercolor Textured Paper Pad is great for mixed media. It can handle charcoal, pastel, acrylic, ink, and paint. The paper has an excellent tooth, so charcoal applies well. You can do numerous washes without damaging the paper.

A generous number of sheets come in each pad. This paper is suitable for creating finished pieces because it’s acid-free and of excellent quality. You can choose between different pad sizes, including 9″ x 12″, 11″ x 15″, 12″ x 18″, and 18″ x 24″.

If you use charcoal for creating portraits, you may prefer the side wire binding version. It comes in 7″ x 10″ and 9″ x 12″ sizes.

Customers say this textured paper pad is great for beginners and experienced artists. Colors show up vividly on the paper, and it has excellent tooth.

With a heavy paperweight, this is some of the paper for charcoal portraits and mixed media art. The paper pad is under $15, making it a good value for your money.

Features

  • Size: 11″ x 15″in. Also available: 12″ x 18″(Fold Over), 18″ x 24″(Fold Over), 7″ x 10″(Side Wire), 9″ x 12″(Fold Over), and 9″ x 12″(Side Wire)
  • Number of Sheets: 30 Sheets
  • Paper weight: 140 pound/300 gsm paper weight prevents problems with bleed-through
  • Quality: Acid-free to prevent yellowing and deterioration over time
  • Cold-pressed to create a good texture for charcoal
  • Designed to appeal to art students and enthusiasts from middle school through college.

Pros

  • Great texture for charcoal
  • Acid-free
  • Can be used with pastels, watercolors, and other media
  • A lot of sheets in the pad
  • No bleed through

Cons

  • Sheets are difficult to cleanly remove

2. Strathmore 400 Series Wire-Bound Sketch Pad

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If you’re looking for the highest number of sheets possible, we recommend the Strathmore 400 Series Wirebound Sketch Pad. It has 100 sheets to truly last a long time. The sheets are perforated, so you can remove them as needed.

This sketchbook has a double-wire binding that keeps the pages neatly together through the repetitive turning of the pages. Single-wire binding tends to fall apart easily. You can use charcoal, graphite, oil pastels, soft pastels, sketching sticks, colored pencils, and markers on this paper.

Customers describe this paper as some of the sketchbook paper they’ve used. The sketchbook is also sturdy. People who’ve used charcoal and watercolor pencils on the paper say there was no bleedthrough.

We think this is some of the paper for charcoal sketching. As you’d expect in a sketchbook, it has a lot of pages to keep you busy. If you want to use wet media, however, this paper isn’t heavy enough.

Features

  • Size: 9x12in. (Wire Bound)
  • Number of Sheets: 100 Sheets
  • Paper weight: 60lb. / 89 gsm
  • Quality: Acid-free to improve the longevity of your artwork
  • Micro-perforated sheets that are easy to tear out of the sketchbook
  • Heavy chipboard backing helps prevent the paper from becoming bent

Pros

  • A lot of sheets in the sketchbook
  • Suitable for mixed dry media
  • Works well for sketching
  • Durable
  • Acid-free
  • Erasing is easy

Cons

  • Not suitable for wet media

3. Canson Artist Series Universal Sketch Pad

If you’re looking for a top wire-bound sketch pad for charcoal that has a landscape orientation, the Canson Artist Series Universal Sketch Pad is one of the best choices. It has 96 gsm acid-free paper. The paper is designed to be smudge-resistant.

Because it has a fine texture, you’ll find erasing and detailed work easy to do. The sheets are easy to tear out without accidentally ripping them. Canson says this sketch paper is for charcoal, pencil, and crayon, but it’s also good for ink and colored pencils. This sketch pad is also available in the top wire at 14″ x 17″.

People who have used this sketch pad for charcoal drawing say it’s easy to erase and the pages turn smoothly. The paper is of good quality. They warn that you need to spray fixatively over your charcoal drawings to prevent smudging.

Designed with ease of erasing and smudge resistance in mind, the Canson Artist Series Universal Sketch Pad is easily considered one of the sketch pads for charcoal.

Features

  • Size: 18″ x 24″In. Other sizes are available: 18″ x 24″ (Side Wire), 14″ x 17″ (Top Wire), 5.5″ x 8.5″ (Side Wire) and 9″ x 12″ (Side Wire)
  • Number of Sheets: 35 Sheets
  • Paper weight: 65 lb/96 gsm
  • Quality: Acid-free to prevent yellowing and other deterioration over time
  • Erasable to prevent smudges and other problems when you erase charcoal
  • Micro-perforated sheets that are easy to remove without damaging them

Pros

  • Easy to erase
  • Suitable for detailed drawings
  • Durable
  • Great for other media besides charcoal
  • Acid-free
  • Sheets are easy to remove
  • Smudge resistant

Cons

  • Watercolor can’t be used on this paper

4. Arteza 100 Sheets Premium Sketch Book

Do you love using graphite and charcoal? We think the Arteza 100 Sheets Premium Sketch Book has the drawing paper for graphite and charcoal. It has a paperweight of 100 gsm and a bright white color.

The sheets are perforated and true to size, which means they will still be 9″ x 12″ if you detach them from the sketchbook. You can use pens and pastels as well as charcoal and graphite in this sketchbook without bleedthrough problems.

Two sketchbooks come in this pack, and each sketchbook has 100 sheets. They can easily last you a year of drawing.

Artists say they could erase charcoal without the paper tearing. They are happy with the thickness and quality of this paper.

If you need a high-quality sketchbook for charcoal and graphite drawings, the Arteza 100 Sheets Premium Sketch Book is a good choice. It has thick paper that’s easy to cleanly erase.

Features

  • Set: Pack of 2
  • Size: 9″ x 12″In.
  • Number of Sheets: Each of them has 100 sheets. (Total 200 Sheets)
  • Paper weight: 68 lb/100gsm
  • Quality: Acid-free to protect your artwork from yellowing and degradation
  • True to size sheets that are 9″ x 12″ when you tear them out of the sketchbook
  • Double-wire binding securely keeps the sketchbook together
  • Perforated sheets that cleanly tear out of the sketchbook

Pros

  • Erasing is effective and doesn’t tear the paper
  • Sheets are a perfect 9″ x 12″ when detached from the sketchbook
  • A lot of sheets in the sketchbook
  • Durable
  • Suitable for graphite, pastels, and pens

Cons

  • Can’t use watercolor on this paper

5. Castle Arts Premium Sketch Book

The Castle Arts Premium Sketch Book features erasable and smudge-resistant paper. Because it has a sturdy backing, you can sketch in this sketchbook when you’re at the park or anywhere else you don’t have a desk.

Each sketchbook has 100 pages in it to last a long time. The paper is acid-free as well. It has a decent tooth, making it easy to draw with charcoal. You can also use graphite, colored pencils, crayons, and pastels on this paper.

Consumers find the Castle Arts Premium Sketch Book to have quality paper for charcoal drawings but warn that the paper is thin compared to other sketchbooks. This paper is 89 gsm.

If you like your paper as thin as possible, you’ll enjoy this charcoal drawing pad. The paper is thick enough to handle charcoal drawings but not very thick. It’s also designed to withstand erasing well and reduce problems with smudging.

Features

  • Set: Pack of 2
  • Size: 9″ x 12″In.
  • Number of Sheets: Each of them has 100 sheets. (Total 200 Sheets)
  • Paper weight: 60gsm
  • Quality: Acid-free to prevent your artwork from deteriorating over time
  • Erasable makes it effortless to thoroughly erase charcoal and other dry media
  • Smudge-resistant to improve the appearance of your sketches
  • Double ring binding enables seamless turning of the pages

Pros

  • Sheets can be cleanly torn out
  • Durable
  • Sturdy backing
  • Can erase without damaging the paper
  • The high number of sheets in each sketchbook
  • Acid-free

Cons

  • The Paper is on the thin side

6. Conda Hardcover Spiral-Bound Sketch Pad

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This sketch pad has both a hard backing and a hardcover for a durable build. The hardcover is waterproof, providing additional protection for your sketches. 60 sheets come in each sketch pad, providing an in-between option if you think 30 is too few and 100 is too many.

The sketch pad’s 90 gsm paper is most suitable for charcoal, ink, and pencil. You can erase it numerous times without ruining the paper. It’s excellent charcoal drawing paper for beginners as well as more experienced artists.

Customers say this sketchbook has held up well for their outdoor sketching needs. Numerous students also love this sketchbook.

The Conda Hardcover Spiral-Bound Sketch Pad is a great choice when you’re looking for a sketch pad you intend to last for decades. We also recommend it as an outdoor or a student sketchbook.

Features

  • Size: 9″ x 12″In.
  • Number of Sheets: 60 sheets
  • Paper weight: 60lb / 90gsm
  • Quality: Acid-free to protect against time-related deterioration
  • Guarantee: One Year
  • Fine texture supports detailed drawings
  • The waterproof cover protects the sketch pad if you accidentally dribble water on the cover
  • The double-spiral binding provides easy flipping of pages

Pros

  • Water-resistant cover
  • Durable
  • Long-lasting
  • Suitable for dry media

Cons

  • The sheets aren’t perforated

7. Colore Spiral Sketchbook

The Colore 9″ x 12″ Spiral Sketchbook has quality charcoal drawing paper with a fine texture. You can erase it without worrying about the paper becoming damaged. 100 sheets come in each sketchbook.

It’s designed to be smudge-resistant and erasable. The paper is also acid-free and chemical-free. You can use graphite and colored pencils in addition to charcoal on this paper.

Customers describe this sketch paper as high quality and suitable for serious artists. It has a smooth surface that displays charcoal, graphite, and colored pencils well.

This sketch paper is one of the cheapest options on this top 10 list. The paper is of great quality and can work well for students and beginners.

Features

  • Set: Pack of 2
  • Size: 9″ x 12″In.
  • Number of Sheets: Each Contains 100 Sheets (Total of 200 Sheets)
  • Paper weight: 60lb. / 89 gsm
  • Quality: Acid-free prevents the paper from yellowing over time
  • The fine texture that makes intricate sketches easy to do
  • Erasable to protect the paper’s surface from repeated erasing
  • Smudge-resistant for quality charcoal drawings
  • Double-wire binding keeps the sketchbook securely together
  • Perforated sheets that make it easy to cleanly detach them from the sketchbook

Pros

  • The high number of sheets in the sketchbook
  • Sheets can be cleanly removed
  • No smudging problems
  • Can handle erasing
  • Great for intricate drawings
  • Acid-free
  • Durable binding

Cons

  • The Paper isn’t heavy enough for watercolor

8. Strathmore 300 Series Wire-Bound Charcoal Pad

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This charcoal art paper features a traditional laid finish, which means it has excellent tooth. Not only is it good for charcoal drawing, but the paper can take layers of pastel too.

The downside of this pad is it comes with fewer sheets than the previous sketch pads. However, some people prefer smaller sketch pads, so it’s a matter of personal preference. You’ll have 32 sheets in the Strathmore 300 Series Wire-Bound Charcoal Pad.

Plenty of customers who used this paper say it’s perfect for charcoal and pastels. The tooth is just right for this media.

The Strathmore 300 Series Wire-Bound Charcoal Pad is a great choice for final sketches because of how high quality the paper is. You can also use it for practice or art classes if you don’t mind the price.

Features

  • Size: 9″ x 12″In. Other sizes are also available: 11″ x 17″ and 18″ x 24″
  • Number of Sheets: 32 Sheets
  • Paper weight: 64 lb. / 95 gsm
  • Quality: Acid-free to prevent yellowing and deterioration
  • Traditional laid finish that provides ideal tooth for charcoal
  • Wire binding makes it easy to lay the pad flat on your desk
  • Microperforated sheets are easy to pull out of the sketch pad
  • True-to-size sheets remain at the marketed size after being pulled out of the sketch pad

Pros

  • Perfect tooth for charcoal and pastels
  • Sheets can be torn out cleanly
  • The sheets are still 9″ x 12″ after being pulled out
  • Acid-free

Cons

  • Slightly more expensive than other options

9. Bee Paper Company Big White Bee Black Charcoal

Most sketch pads have a rectangular shape, but this one is square-shaped. It can be fun to try a different size you’re not used to. The paper is also black, making it suitable for white charcoal drawings.

This charcoal drawing paper is 104 gsm and acid-free. Its rough surface is suitable for less detailed styles. 50 sheets come in each spiral-bound drawing pad. You can use all dry media on this paper. If you want this drawing pad in a different size, Bee Paper Company also has it in 6″ x 9″ and 9″ x 12″.

Consumers say this sketch pad has excellent tooth for charcoal while having a nice, soft feel. They also stated that gel pens work well on paper and show up vibrantly.

We’ve found this charcoal drawing pad the sketch pad for white charcoal drawings. The paper is of premium quality and specially formulated for charcoal and pastels.

Features

  • Size: 9 x 9In. Other sizes are also available: 6 x 9 in. and 9 x 12in.
  • Number of Sheets: 50 Sheets
  • Paper weight: 64 lb. / 104 gsm
  • Quality: Acid-free to protect the paper from time-caused deterioration
  • Jet black paper suitable for white charcoal drawings
  • Double-wire binding prevents the sketch pad from falling apart

Pros

  • Suitable for white charcoal drawings
  • Can take all dry media
  • Durable binding
  • Acid-free

Cons

  • Expensive

10. Arteza Gray Toned Premium Sketch Pad

Toned charcoal paper is great for enhancing your charcoal drawings. If you often work in neutral colors, you’ll love this gray-toned sketch paper. The paper in this sketch pad has heavyweight charcoal paper at 120 gsm. You can use gel pens, chalk, graphite, and colored pencils in addition to charcoal on this paper.

People who’ve used this paper for charcoal drawings say it’s toothy enough to easily draw thick strokes. They also love the way the gray tone complements black and white colors.

The Arteza Gray Toned Premium Sketch Pad boosts the contrast of your whites and highlights for a more dramatic finished piece.

Features

  • Set: Pack of 2
  • Size: 9″ x 12″In.
  • Number of Sheets: 50 Sheets Each (Total 100 Sheets)
  • Paper weight: 80lb/120 GSM
  • Quality: Acid-free to prevent the paper from becoming brittle or yellow over time
  • Gray tone enhances your artwork
  • Double-wire binding keeps the sheets together longer
  • Microperforated sheets that can be torn out with clean edges
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee

Pros

  • Erasing doesn’t damage the paper’s surface
  • Good tooth
  • Acid-free
  • Durable binding

Cons

  • Not suitable for watercolor

Factors to Consider

Smooth paper isn’t good for charcoal drawing because it doesn’t hold the medium well. You’ll have a frustrating drawing experience when the paper is too smooth. The charcoal can smudge and apply inaccurately.

Texture

How do you know if the paper has the right texture? The product description will state that charcoal is a suitable medium.

Some types of paper are even specially made for charcoal drawings. You can have confidence these products will let you draw beautiful charcoal drawings.

Charcoal paper on the smooth side is best for intricate, detailed drawings. If you have a fluid, loose style, then you want charcoal paper on the rough side.

Do you erase a lot?

If you erase a lot, it’s essential to choose paper that can withstand erasing. We’ve listed several options on this list that can handle heavy erasing. Ink is usually safe to use on charcoal paper, but you wouldn’t be able to use watercolor.

GSM

The best type of paper for charcoal drawing is around 100 gsm, acid-free, and made for this medium. The acid-free paper doesn’t become brittle as it ages as acidic paper does. If you want your drawings to last a long time, acid-free paper is a must.

Making the Decision

Although the Canson XL Series Watercolor Textured Paper Pad has a higher paperweight than most charcoal paper, we chose it as our top pick because it works well for charcoal and provides versatility. It’s one of the few charcoal papers you can use watercolor on.

The paper for charcoal meets your needs. If you need a smoother surface for your detailed charcoal drawings, we recommend the Canson Artist Series Universal Sketch Pad, Conda Hardcover Spiral-bound Sketch Pad, or the Colore 9″ x 12″ Spiral Sketchbook.

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