Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Compare 300 lb watercolor papers: Arches, Fabriano Artistico

This is part eight of twelve in my series of watercolor paper tests, comparisons, and reviews. Here I am testing five 300 lb. (640 gsm) papers: Arches Watercolour Bright White (rough, cold press, and hot press) and Fabriano Artistico Extra White (cold press and soft press). See this post for introduction and photos of all the papers and this post for conclusions.


Arches Watercolour, Bright White


  • Finish and weight: Rough, cold press, and hot press, 300 lb. (640 gsm)
  • Composition: 100% cotton, acid free, no optical brightening agents, fungicidal treatment to prevent mold
  • Manufacturing: Cylinder mould
  • Sizing: Sized to the core with natural gelatin
  • Website info


Fabriano Artistico Extra White



  • Finish and weight: Cold press and soft press, 300 lb. (640 gsm)
  • Composition: 100% cotton, archival, chlorine and acid free, no optical bleaching
  • Manufacturing: Mould made
  • Sizing: Internal and external sizing
  • Website info


Paper color


Fabriano Artistico is white, Arches a slightly creamy white.


Watercolor brightness


Yes, but to me, colors on Arches look slightly darker or paler, possibly due to more absorption and less sizing than Fabriano Artistico.

Arches Watercolour Bright White 300 lb. cold press with watercolors, pencil, pen, brush and ink
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Arches Watercolour Bright White 300 lb. rough with watercolors, pencil, pen, brush and ink
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Arches Watercolour Bright White 300 lb. hot press with watercolors, pencil, pen, brush and ink
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Fabriano Artistico Extra White 300 lb. cold press with watercolors, pencil, pen, brush and ink
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Fabriano Artistico Extra White 300 lb. soft press with watercolors, pencil, pen, brush and ink
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Paper texture


Arches rough and cold press and Fabriano Artistico cold press feel rough to the touch. Fabriano Artistico soft press is the smoothest to the touch followed by Arches hot press.

With granulating colors, Arches rough shows a distinct “alligator”pattern, more pronounced than Arches 140 lb. Arches cold press, in contrast, shows a subtler pattern, just right for a cold press in my opinion and close to the 140 lb. paper.

Arches hot press, surprisingly, shows a “cloudy” pattern similar to Strathmore 500 Series Imperial hot press and Strathmore 500 Series Ready Cut hot press, two papers which are really more of a softer cold press! The jagged edges of paint puddles indicate that the paper is more textured than it seems due to its sizing, as is often the case with hot press papers.

Fabriano Artistico soft press shows the least pattern of the five, followed by its cold press. Both show less texture and granulation patterns than Fabriano Artistico 140 lb.


Paper sizing and absorbency


Arches rough and cold press are even more absorbent than their 140 lb counterparts and quite a bit of water is needed to paint. Still, the colors keep spreading for a while before drying. Arches hot press is the least absorbent of the three Arches surfaces.

Fabriano Artistico is harder sized than Arches and easier to paint on as it needs less water. Though, paint puddles sit on top and can take hours to dry out and sink in! Paint sinks in faster on cold press than soft press. Still, I did not experience any backruns.

Arches Watercolour Bright White 300 lb. cold press with watercolors
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Arches Watercolour Bright White 300 lb. rough with watercolors
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Arches Watercolour Bright White 300 lb. hot press with watercolors
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Fabriano Artistico Extra White 300 lb. cold press with watercolors
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Fabriano Artistico Extra White 300 lb. soft press with watercolors
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Paper cockling


Despite the thickness, a slight cockling of these papers was noted! The corners curl up a bit and slight waves remain, more in the rough paper as expected. (It is actually recommended to prewet also a 300 lb paper prior to painting, but it should not need to be stretched.)

It may be of interest here to mention that the only papers in my tests that did not have any distortion when wet were not papers at all but boards, specifically the Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Boards!


Pencil/pen/brush and ink


Arches rough and cold press and Fabriano Artistico cold press are rough for a pencil with some ghosting visible after deletion. They also feel rough for a pen and in the case of Arches, drawing feels more like etching. Arches hot press has a smoother texture with less ghosting but some indent left after deletion.

Pencil lines on Fabriano Artistico soft press turn out well although some indent is left after deletion. It is still difficult to get a completely smooth black pen line due to the sizing.

Still, I thought that brush and ink work very well on all five with glossy, black ink strokes, the smoothest edges on Fabriano Artistico soft press.


Joy factor


I find it very joyful to paint on a 300 lb. paper! The brush glides smoothly despite the rough surfaces and the thickness of the paper together with the hard sizing combine to make it feel as if I deposit colorful jewels one by one on the paper! For future explorations of 300 lb. papers, I personally choose Fabriano Artistico soft press and maybe also Arches cold press.


Cost and availability

 I only found Arches Bright White, 300 lb., available as sheets (Natural White is also available in blocks).
  • List price for a 22”x30” sheet is $25.05, online it can be found for a bit over $10. 
Fabriano Artistico Extra White, 300 lb., is available as sheets.
  • List price for a 22”x30” sheet is $23.50, online it can be found for less than $10.

History and continuity


See prior posts for more about the background of Arches, Fabriano, and Canson.


Conclusion


It is worth the expense to experience painting on a 300 lb paper, but for me, it would not be an everyday paper.

Arches rough and hot press have more of a pronounced texture than their 140 lb. counterparts, whereas the texture of Arches cold press was similar to the 140 lb. paper. Fabriano Artistico cold press and soft press have less of a pronounced texture. Despite the thickness, they all cockled slightly with heavy washes. On the rough side for pen and pencil, they worked quite well with brush and ink.


Översättning. I detta test så jämför jag tre 640 gsm akvarellpapper: Arches Bright White med grov, fin och slät gräng, samt Fabriano Artistico Extra White med fin och mjuk gräng. Som vanligt testar jag utan att först fuktspänna dem.

Alla dessa är vita, men Arches drar lite åt det varma hållet. Arches grov och fin gräng samt Fabriano Artistico fin gräng känns alla mycket grova att ta på. Fabriano Artistico mjuk gräng och Arches slät känns mjukast av de fem. Arches grov gräng, men även slät(!), uppvisar de mest distinkta mönstren med granulerande pigment, medan Arches fin gräng liknar Arches 300 gsm.

Det krävs en hel del vatten för att måla på Arches 640 gsm då det absorberar en hel del vatten. Fabriano Artistico är betydligt hårdare limmat och jag tycker att färg på Fabriano Artistico har större lyskraft. Det kan dock ta timmar innan färgen torkar, men ändå såg jag inga blomningar.

Trots tjockleken så bucklar sig även dessa papper vid mycket vatten, om än betydligt mindre än de tunnare papperen. Det kan vara värt att notera att de enda “papper” som inte bucklade var Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Boards!

Vad gäller blyerts och tuschpenna så känns Arches grov och fin gräng samt Fabriano fin mycket grova att rita på, medan Fabriano mjuk gräng uppvisade jämnare linjer. Jag tyckte att alla fem ytstrukturerna fungerade bra med pensel och tusch.

No comments: