In the third part of our series titled ‘Hahnemühle´s fabolous world of artist papers’, we turn to surfaces. Have you ever consciously run your fingers over different artist paper surfaces? It’s a great sensory experience. Try it and read on to find out how the various surfaces of artist papers differ. 

Watercolour papers are available in cold pressed, rough and hot pressed variants. The terms ‘coarse’, ‘medium’ and ‘fine’ are also used, albeit more rarely. Alternative terms are ‘matt’ for cold pressed and ‘satin-finished’ for hot pressed. Torchon papers fall under their own surface category. The paper has a very cloudy and almost relief-like surface.

You may also encounter the term ‘grain’ for the terms ‘texture’ or ‘surface’.

Valuable artist papers are given their texture in the paper machine (refer to the article on production processes). The still-moist paper runs between felts made of real wool or wool-blend fabrics. The texture of the felts mark the papers on the front and back. What is known as ‘felt marking’ guarantees a homogeneous, organic surface. In contrast, inferior painting papers are given a texture after mass production is complete by means of simple embossing with synthetic fibre felts. 

Tip: If you’re not sure what texture you prefer, try different ones! For example, in the AquarellSelection block with seven genuine mould-made papers and five watercolour papers. Additionally free sample Sheets of our paper are available from specialist art stores. All you have to do is ask for them! 

We cannot give you general recommendations as to what surface is suitable for which painting technique. But you will certainly hear generalised assessments and perhaps you can follow our Matrix Hahnemühle Künstlerpapiere_Artist Papers to find your perfect suitable paper.

Cold pressed (matt) texture: 

A matt (i.e. light) paper texture allows brushes to glide effortlessly. The surface has little influence on the colour gradient. On matt papers, you achieve rich brush strokes with the dry painting technique and evenly radiating colour gradients with the wet-on-wet painting technique. Matt papers are recommended for soft depictions of flowers or delicate details. Matt papers can be put to universal use and are well suited for beginners. 

Rough texture:  

The surface of rough paper is strong and robust. The texture of the paper can be wonderfully incorporated into a subject as a stylistic element. Fast brush strokes on a dry surface result in evenly closed colouring. White ‘little lights’ in the paper depressions that are not filled with paint bring surfaces such as the sky, landscapes or water to life. When using the wet-on-wet painting technique, paint collects in the deeper areas, creating interesting light/dark effects that influence the colour’s luminosity and brilliance.  

Hot pressed (satin-finished) texture:  

Satin-finished papers feel like they’ve been ‘ironed’ when you brush over the surface. And the paper is literally ironed after production: it is smoothed between hot cylinders, compacted and given a slight surface gloss – what is known as ‘calendering’. It ensures great colour brilliance. The glazing technique causes all the layers to shine. The finest details can be delicately applied to the smooth surface and mixed media techniques with fineliners and colour pencils can also be used on satin-finished paper. 

In further articles we answered questions ‘How is artist paper are made?’ or ‘What are artist papers made of and which properties are important?’ Click over and enjoy here interesting facts, images and videos, as we have written this series of articles together with watercolourist Alona Hryn, who has diligently tested and painted on our paper.

Dry painting technique on Andalucía
reverse side (cold pressed)
Wet-on-wet painting technique on different
Hahnemühle papers.
Mixed media painting with fineliner and paints