Hello lovely people,
Some of y’all may remember that towards the end of making my Insecta Deck artwork, I had some paper nightmares when the manufacturer of my preferred drawing paper made some changes… And they weren’t good changes, they were very, very fucking bad. So after managing to pull enough paper together to finish Insecta, I’m now testing alternative brands, and sharing my findings. I’ll be doing the blue tack test for paper tearing (can you tack/untack the paper x 3), a shading test (does the paper surface break up with ~8 layers of colour pencil shading), and then some subjective feedback on how I found each to draw on. There’ll always be a TL;DR review near the top if you’re just passing through.
[Content warning; profanity]
STONEHENGE FINE ART PAPER (WHITE)
Source; Jackson’s art online
Description; acid-free smooth/vellum finish 100% cotton paper, 250 gsm (mmmm weighty.) Specifically aimed at drawing media
Price; £16.95 for 15 8x8 inch sheets (at the spendy end for drawing paper)
Blue tack test; 3 out of 3, no tearing.
Shading test; perfect score, no surface damage after 8 colours. (Details of how that test goes are here)
TL;DR review; fkn excellent if you use colour pencils. Try it, you won’t regret it (but your bank balance might.) Haven’t tried for graphite or mixed media yet, but will update here as and when.
What did I draw? a moth in the genus Macrauzata, drawn in polychromos oil-based pigment pencils. My Patreon patrons can find a digital print of this moth in their updates. Some WIP for this piece is in the drawing experience section below.
I’m not going to lie, this paper is tittyfucking amazing. And frankly, for the price; it chuffing well should be. The cost puts it in the range (for me at least) of commissions and work that will be sold in original form. I wouldn’t use it for work destined solely for print, but for work where the original is what people will see? It’s a keeper.
The surface is smooth, but not too smooth. It has enough tooth for lots of layering colour pencil, but it’s not so rough that you can see white paper after shading an area. You can get nice complete colour coverage without it feeling like the drawing equivalent of wearing too much foundation. How important that is depends on your style, but I’m retentive about shading, which will surprise exactly no-one. The other thing that bugs me about shading on some drawing papers that they can be a real grind on colour pencils - one of the Strathmore mid texture finishes is like drawing on a flippin cheese-grater. (Not to be too harsh on Strathmore tho, I’ll be reviewing 3 of their papers later on and a couple are really nice.) This paper didn’t have that sandpapery/cheese-grater effect though. Which is nice. The feel is heavy but not excessively so, and not too stiff (snortles.) The surface of the paper held up well to a scratchy pencil sketch, repeated layers of colour pencil, and putty, solid, & electric erasers. I loved it tbh.
Basically; this does everything you’d expect of a high quality hot press cotton paper, without being as frickin stiff & heavy as a watercolour paper. I might even go so far as to say I like it MORE for pencil drawing than Fabriano Artistico (which is my usual spendy cotton paper option.) This is, however, only N=1 and Artistico is good for mixed media and painting too. So I’m not going to go really wild over it just yet. We always need more Ns, eh? I’ll update this review if I find it holds up to its initial promise over time.
One of the things that bugs me about some gummed pads is when a lot of the glue comes off with each sheet. That is my only gripe here - well, apart from the fact it’s too spendy to use all day every day, but you get what you pay for to some extent, and this is The Good Shit.
My overall feeling about this paper is; darn good. It’s pricey, but excellent if you use colour pencils. Try it, you won’t regret it (but your bank balance might.)