The Best Watercolor Paper in 2023

Owning the best watercolor paper starts with picking the best watercolor pad, so it’s important for an artist to be armed with the right information to make a wise purchase. This guide has vetted the most popular watercolor pads on the market to bring you 10 amazing pads.

Page quality, sheet count, gsm value, and pad size have been reviewed, so this list gives buyers the chance to get the best product for their needs. Let’s get started!

Best Watercolor Paper:

1. Canson XL Series Watercolor Pad

Canson (100510941) XL Series Watercolor Pad, 9" x 12

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A low price and great paper quality make this product ideal for new painters. Cold-pressed materials are the key to creating traditional watercolor paintings, so this painting book can let new painters begin watercolor painting correctly.

Aspiring painters and professional artists agreed that this product performed exceptionally. The product’s price was praised for being very affordable to almost every class of artists, and the watercolor pads were reported to be of good quality.

Some reviewers bought this item for school-aged children, for kids could create many well-designed paintings with the sheets. All in all, this product gets recommended as the best watercolor paper for illustration.

This product is perfect for students and school-aged children looking to express themselves in watercolor paintings.

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2. Arteza Watercolor Pad

ARTEZA Watercolor Paper 9x12 Inch, Pack of 2, 64 Sheets (140lb/300gsm), Cold Pressed Art Sketchbook Pad for Painting & Drawing, Wet, Mixed Media

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This pad is slightly more expensive than other watercolor painting books, but fantastic customer reviews showed that it is among the best watercolor paper for professionals.

This product was recommended for being a good purchase to make. Some reviews found that the watercolor pad did not live up to their expectations, but other reviews gave glowing comments. Some highly-detailed paintings may require multiple washings, so this paper might not work for everyone.

But one buyer praised the pad for blending a variety of colors very well. The pad is rated at 300 gsm, so most watercolor styles should be able to be used with this product.

Some watercolor books will be more expensive than entry-level models, so this investment in paper quality should help professionals improve the quality of their art.

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3. Canson Artist Series Watercolor Pad

Canson Artist Series Watercolor Pad, 5.5" x 8.5

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Even professionals need practice watercolor sheets, so this high-value pad is recommended for painters across the board. Standard watercolor techniques such as washing should result in minimal warping to draw great paintings.

Many buyers praised this product as the best watercolor paper pad. The unit’s size was seen as being a user to carry around without being too small for advanced artwork. Additionally, the pages had a sufficient thickness to support vibrant colors.

The spiral design of the pad allowed buyers to tear out their own drawings easily after painting as well. This painting book pleased many buyers who would buy it again.

Parents or teachers will find that this pad is perfect for their needs, for many sheets are provided to give children a lot of paper to practice painting.

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4. Strathmore Watercolor Paper

Strathmore Watercolor Paper

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This pad is made from good watercolor paper, for its heavy-duty gsm value and sheet size make it ideal for everyone. Full-sized sheets are not always desirable, so having these smaller cuts may be useful for children, students, and professionals.

This watercolor pad was a hit among buyers. New painters needed something inexpensive to draft practice sketches, and this product fit that criteria well. Another buyer reported that the pad’s cotton material made painting very enjoyable.

Although the pads are slightly smaller than a standard size, customers didn’t feel that it impeded their ability to use them regularly throughout their day.

This pad is a great purchase, for a high number of sheets and affordability makes it useful for painters across the board.

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5. Arches Watercolor Pad

Arches Watercolor Block, Cold Press 9"X12

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This pad is touted as the best paper to use for watercolor painting. Performance is the purpose of this product, so serious artists should look into this pad to create the best art possible.

Buyers loved this watercolor pad. Although the unit is sold as a block, painters didn’t feel that the need to cut out every page caused an inconvenience. The pad quality was the favorite part of many reviews, for some customers expressed that the cotton material was exceptionally phenomenal. One reviewer refused to purchase another brand of paper.

Although it is much more expensive than similar pads, this watercolor book has the build quality to be used to create masterpieces.

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6. Legion Paper Watercolor Pad

Legion Paper L21YUP197WH1114 Tape Binding Watercolor Pad, Acid-Free, Waterproof, 11" x 14

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This pad is ideal for new students and artists who want to broaden their painting horizons. The watercolor paper reviews for this product show that the sheets are not made from standard cotton materials, so paintings will come out a lot differently in this particular pad.

Artists tried this alternative watercolor paper and found that it was recommendable for outputting excellent colors.

Although it is not akin to typical watercolor paper, experienced professionals chimed into a state that this module is a good choice for creating distinct artworks. Another buyer commented that mistakes are easy to correct with this pad, so new painters should enjoy working with it.

Although the sheet count is slightly low, this pad should be bought to explore the limits of what a watercolor artist is capable of.

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7. Strathmore 300 Series Watercolor Pad

Strathmore Paper 300 Series Watercolor Class Pack, Cold Press, 1 Pack, Original Versio, 24 Sheets

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The final painting pad on this list delivers watercolor painting paper that is ideal for intermediate painters. Once a few techniques are picked up, artists may find that they need a paper that has great quality to take things to the next level. This pad offers many pages to paint at a great price.

Some buyers were conflicted about this product. A few felt that it was among the best purchases one could make for being affordable and having high quality, but other shoppers didn’t feel that the pads performed too well in the long or short term.

In particular, a few reviewers felt that their paintings came out with defects despite doing everything well. A bad batch could have been sent to some buyers, for one reviewer noticed that they found great value in this product.

Intermediate painters will find the best value in this product, and experienced artists may find that these pages will offer excellent material for drafting practice sketches before creating a final version of their painting.

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8. Bellofy Watercolor Paper Pad

Bellofy 50 Sheet Watercolor Paper Pad - 130 IB / 190 GSM Weight - 9x12 in Size - Cold Press Paper - Water Painting Art Notebook Pad

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Most pads on the market don’t have 50 sheets, so this module is unique for offering a high amount of pages to watercolor on. It is very affordable, so professionals who have many ideas will have a great time putting all of their inspirations onto paper.

Being called one of the best watercolor sketchbooks to practice on, this pad combined affordability with quality. Many new artists turned to this product as their first official watercolor pad, and many of them were pleased with the difference in painting on paper made specifically for watercolors.

One aspect that struck reviewers was the rough design of the paper, for their art grew distinctive features. Because of the many positive reviews, this watercolor book is highly recommended for aspiring painters to start painting.

When the quantity of sheets is the most important criterion in selecting a watercolor pad, this product has the sheet number and build quality to make it an excellent buy.

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9. Bee Paper Watercolor Paper Pad

Bee Paper Cold Press 140 Pound Watercolor Paper Pad, 9-Inch by 12-Inch (1136T15-912)

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This particular Bee watercolor paper is for artists who need a full-sized pad that can be carried around with them throughout the course of the day. It is light enough to take up a minimal amount of space in a travel bag, and the cold press paper is ideal for creating paintings from many washes.

This product was reported to be one of the best units in the market to use with watercolors, but a bad batch irked a few buyers. One reviewer noted that their product warped with minimal washes, and another customer stated that their paper was too smooth.

Customers who didn’t get faulty products reported that this paper was excellent for beginners and for advanced painters. The cotton build reportedly helped the product mix well with a variety of colors.

For professionals pressed for space, this pad will be ideal. Large sheets can capture a lot of detail, so watercolor enthusiasts might prefer this model over smaller-sized painting pads.

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10. Art-n-Fly Watercolor Paper

30 Sheets 9 X 12 Watercolor Paper (140lb/300gsm) Fold Over Design Cold Press Watercolor Pad

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Art-n-Fly delivers good watercolor paper for beginners in this pad, for many sheets are included at an affordable price. Some experienced professionals might want more in a watercolor pad, but the quality of these sheets will give the majority of watercolor painters the material to create a lot of fantastic pieces of art.

Artists found that this pad was an excellent purchase to make for getting the most value in a watercolor pad.

The cotton in these papers lets watercolor enthusiasts draft amazing pictures without breaking the bank, for over 30 sheets are included with every book.

One reviewer noted that their pad wasn’t excellent at first, but more time was given to the product caused them to change their opinion.

They found that this product was stellar for almost all types of projects, and they wanted to find other pads made by the same company.

Art students learning various styles of watercolor painting may find that this pad will let them hone their skills and keep their costs down.

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Factors to Consider When Buying Best Watercolor Paper

What is watercolor paper, and why is it important to have? Watercolor pads are designed out of cotton materials to soak water-based paint, and these pages can handle being drenched repeatedly while an artist paints.

If you have never purchased watercolor pads, then the following considerations can get you started in finding your perfect painting book.

GSM Value

First-time buyers may wonder about the type of paper to use for watercolor painting. A 300 gsm value means that a watercolor page will be able to handle a lot of paint without wrinkling or tearing.

This 300 rating is the gold standard in the watercolor world, for most art can be accomplished with this level of durability.

Yet a 300 rating is not always needed. Deliberately choosing watercolor pads that are below 300 gsm can save you money, and this saved money can be spent on more paint or brushes.

Not all paintings need to have a lot of watercolors, so accommodating your style to use less paint is another option to maximize your funds.

Shop When the Price Is Right

The prices for different types of watercolor paper fluctuate wildly, so stocking up during a sale is a habit that many artists will find themselves doing. It might limit the ability to pick up a new style on any given day, but the savings from putting this habit into practice helps keep costs low in the long term.

Therefore, doing research on watercolor styles and equipment is crucial to saving money, for an artist doing this will always pick up their equipment at the best possible time.

Practice Versus Final Versions

It may be useful to have different pads for separate purposes. Some pads give you a lot of pages that are best used for practice sketches, while other books have extremely high-quality paper.

Having two pads will let you paint without having to worry about wasting expensive pages, and your high-quality pad can act as your portfolio.

Standard Pad Size

9 inches by 12 inches is the standard size for watercolor pads, but smaller versions may be better for capturing sudden inspirations. Not only do smaller-sized pads save you money, but a smaller painting may be completed more quickly.

If you’re an artist that loves to travel, having a small pad with you may give you the opportunity to create many paintings wherever you go.


It’s important to have watercolor paper when painting with watercolor, and any of these 10 pads can prove to be useful. However, the Canson XL Series watercolor pad is the most recommended pad book for new and experienced painters.

Many sheets are included at an affordable price, and the build quality is fantastic. Additionally, a high amount of sheets in a single pad will let painters showcase their art in a single portfolio. Make the choice today to invest in one of these painting pads today, for this ancient art style is extremely popular.

If you are experienced with watercolor, then picking a watercolor pad from this guide will let you select the module to suit your needs.

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