The Best Paper for Charcoal Drawing in 2023

When you use the wrong type of paper, charcoal has problems with smudging and bleeding. We’ve reviewed the best 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

Canson XL Series Watercolor Textured Paper Pad for Paint, Pencil, Ink, Charcoal, Pastel, and Acrylic, Fold Over, 140 Pound, 11 x 15 Inch, 30 Sheets (7022446)

View at Amazon

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 best paper for charcoal portraits and mixed media art. The paper pad is under $15, making it a good value for your money.

View at Amazon

2. Strathmore 400 Series Wire-Bound Sketch Pad

Strathmore 455-3 400 Series Sketch Pad, 9

View at Amazon

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 pastel, soft pastels, sketching sticks, colored pencils, and markers on this paper.

Customers describe this paper as some of the best 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 best 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.

View at Amazon

3. Canson Artist Series Universal Sketch Pad

Canson Artist Series Universal Paper Sketch Pad, for Pencil and Charcoal, Micro-Perforated, Side Wire Bound, 65 Pound, 18 x 24 Inch, 35 Sheets

View at Amazon

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 best 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 fixative 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 best sketch pads for charcoal.

View at Amazon

4. Arteza 100 Sheets Premium Sketch Book

ARTEZA 9X12 Sketch Book, Pack of 2, 200 Sheets (68 lb/100gsm), Spiral Bound Artist Sketch Pad, 100 Sheets Each, Durable Acid Free Drawing Paper, Ideal for Kids & Adults, Bright White

View at Amazon

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

View at Amazon

5. Castle Arts Premium Sketch Book

Castle Art Supplies Artists Sketch Books (2 Sketch Pad Pack) 9" x 12

View at Amazon

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 a 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.

View at Amazon

6. Conda Hardcover Spiral-Bound Sketch Pad

conda Hardcover 9"x12

View at Amazon

This sketch pad has both a hard backing and a hard cover 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.

View at Amazon

7. Colore Spiral Sketchbook

Colore Sketch Pad - Durable Sketching Paper And Notebook Material - Great For Drawing With Colored Pencils - 9x12 Spiral Sketchbook - Perfect Art Book & Craft Supplies Set For Teens & Artists - 2 Pack

View at Amazon

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.

View at Amazon

8. Strathmore 300 Series Wire-Bound Charcoal Pad

Strathmore 300 Series Charcoal Pad, White, 9"x12

View at Amazon

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.

View at Amazon

9. Bee Paper Company Big White Bee Black Charcoal

Bee Paper Company BEE-204CB50-909 Big White Bee Drawing Pad, 9 by 9-Inch, Black Charcoal

View at Amazon

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 best sketch pad for white charcoal drawings. The paper is of premium quality and specially formulated for charcoal and pastels.

View at Amazon

10. Arteza Gray Toned Premium Sketch Pad

ARTEZA 9X12" Gray Toned Sketch Pad, Pack of 2, 100 Sheets (80lb/120 GSM), Spiral-Bound, 50 Sheets Each, Heavyweight Acid-Free Paper, Perfect for Graphite & Colored Pencils, Chalk, Charcoal, Gel Pens,

View at Amazon

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 looks 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.

View at Amazon

Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Paper for Charcoal

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.


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.

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.


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.

[su_divider top=”no” style=”dotted”  divider_color=”#ffb0b0″ size=”2″ margin=”20″]

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 best paper for charcoal is one that 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.

Scroll to Top